by Kristin Butcher
As the odometer clicks over to reveal a new year, it’s a good time to look ahead and find ways to make next year a little better than the last. Whether you prefer to ride on the dirt, road, city streets, or are brand spanking new to riding, here are a few ways to expand your bicycling comfort zone in the new year:
If you like mountain biking, try:
Enduro racing. Featuring the climbing and endurance demands of cross-country racing with the technical challenge of downhill competitions, enduro racing offers a little something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re not the best climber or the fastest descender, enduro racing will help you become a better and more balanced rider.
Bike camping. Park the car, set up a tent, and wake up in the morning with your bike greeting you ready for the day’s adventure. Bring friends. Bring a dog. Bring marshmallows. Don’t turn on your Strava app. Instead, spend the days riding until your heart is content and your legs are tired.
If you like road riding, try:
Cyclocross racing. If crit racing, mountain biking, and a costume contest had a baby, that baby would be cyclocross. After running up hills, riding through sand pits, and hopping over barriers, be prepared for the biggest dirt-encrusted grin you’ve ever worn. But the biggest reason to try cyclocross racing is the crowd. If you win, they cheer. If you fall, they cheer. If you wear a banana costume, they cheer no matter what you do.
Bike touring. If you usually measure your rides by mileage, try measuring them by the number of days it takes to get to the ocean, the mountains, a campsite, or that fancy hotel you’ve always wanted to try. Bike touring is the perfect excuse to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
If you like bike commuting,
Donate time at a local bicycle co-op. Each year, bicycle co-ops and other non-profit bike programs give used bikes to at-risk youth and others dependent upon bike transportation, but lacking the means to buy new bikes. Volunteering to fix up a few donated bikes helps put more riders on bikes and might just end up making some kid’s day.
Offer to help a friend or coworker with their commute. Maybe you have coworkers asking about your bike or friends expressing interest in riding, but are too nervous to go out on their own. Find out what has been stopping them?help fix their flat tire and broken chain or even pick them up and ride in together. Be the domino that causes the rest to fall into place.
If you’re a new rider,
Go to a bike festival. The best part about the bike community is that you don’t have to know your cranks from your calipers to be a part of it. Head to a festival and enjoy what happens when people get together whose only commonality is the love of bikes. If folks ask how long you’ve been riding, tell them you’re just getting started and watch their eyes light up as they reminisce back to the moment they first got hooked on bikes.
Learn to change a flat. It’s easier than you think?as long as you’re not trying to learn on the side of a trail or sitting on the sidewalk. Ask a friend to teach you or pull up a video on YouTube, sit back in the comfort of your own living room, and without the pressure of time or circumstance, learn how to take care of one of the most common mechanicals. Next year, your New Year’s resolution can be to teach someone else how to do the same.
Kristin Butcher is a freelance writer based out of Boulder, Colorado, she spends her time writing about people, the outdoors and, of course, bikes. You can read her column, Butcher Paper, in BIKE Magazine.