Many of us probably learned to ride a bicycle when we were little. My bike had a banana boat seat, streamers on the handlebars and those colorful plastic things on the spokes that moved as you rode. For Brad, a bike meant freedom to bike around the neighborhood and explore with friends. But for us, sometime between being a kid and being an adult, we stopped riding our bikes for fun and pleasure. Fortunately, we both later picked up cycling as an adult when we got into triathlons (swimming, biking, running). However, competing in tris came with a lot of structure in cycling. We love racing and going fast on the bike, especially in sprint tris, but something was definitely missing. We realized it was the pure enjoyment of riding our bike for fun. We still love to train hard when we are ‘in-season’ and preparing for a tri but Brad has shown me that you can gain some really decent fitness and have a lot of fun in the off-season by looking at cycling differently. Here are a few things we have done to put the ‘fun’ back in biking.
We use biking to get to work. It is empowering to get to work fueled by your body and a bike instead of a car. We commute to work when it makes sense for us, bringing a change of clothes in our saddlebags and having a bright front light and back blinking red light to bike home in the winter when it’s dark when we get off work. There is nothing more refreshing (no matter the temps) then getting on our bikes after work, biking the short distance to the trail and cruising along the trail to home, avoiding traffic. We love biking home together and it provides time to catch up on our day, burn off some steam if it’s been stressful and is so much better than driving home and having to get on a bike trainer if you need to get a workout in.
We use biking to do errands. How often do you get into a car and drive less than 5 miles somewhere to run an errand? We did (and still do) it often but definitely have tried to incorporate biking more into helping us run errands. We’ve used our bike to grab a few items at the grocery store, to go to the library and do miscellaneous shopping. All you need are some saddlebags or a bookbag/drawstring bag and a bike lock and you are set. Part of the fun is planning out a safe route. We are fortunate in Columbia to have a vast trail system and lots of bike lanes. So we plan out a route we feel comfortable with (even if it’s a bit longer), hop on our bikes and go. It’s a great way to get some extra mileage in while accomplishing some needed errands.
We bike for social activities. Turn biking into a social activity with friends. This past fall, we got a group together that rode to the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival using the Katy Trail, rode up to Rocheport to sit out on the A-frame for a Columbia Multisport Club (CMC – our triathlon club that we belong to) social event, participated in Cranktivus (a bike ride, food-drive, where you meet at Walt’s Bike Shop (our favorite bike shop), are given a list of items to buy at certain stores and then you bike there, purchase the items, meet back at Walt’s and then the items are donated to the Central Missouri Food Bank and are about to head to the City of Columbia’s It’s a Wonderful Ride: Holiday Lights Bicycle Tour (we meet at Lucky’s grocery store and bike around the downtown area and Columbia’s old Southwest neighborhood to look at Christmas lights). We’ve also had date nights and have biked downtown, grabbed a bite to eat and then rode home. It’s a great way to be active and have fun with your friends (and meet new ones) while enjoying being outside.
Biking is fun. It’s one of those sports that you don’t necessarily have to be good at to enjoy. It’s fun to just get out there and ride. If you find yourself unmotivated to ‘workout’ on the bike, bored at ‘training’ or don’t even know where to start on getting back on a bike that you haven’t ridden since childhood, we hope you’ll consider some of our ideas above. Think about using the bike as a mode of transportation – a fun way to get you from Point A to Point B. Having a destination in mind and riding with friends can make biking some much more enjoyable and fun. It’s just a better way to do and see life by your bike seat. We hope this post will inspire you to look at your bike (or a new one if you don’t have one) with a twinkle in your eye and to find that kid again who used to love to ride for the pure pleasure of it. Please comment and let us know how you use your bike for fun and/or if you do something new and fun on your bike.