Along for the Girlz Ride
How you attract new people to cycling, how you encourage them to keep at it, to raise their game, to become more proficient at the activity are questions that advocates and aficionados have long sought answers to. There are tried and true methods that have been utilized since the beginning of time, or at least since the beginning of bicycling for recreation. You reach out to beginners and novice riders, you hold special rides just for them, rides where everyone is of a similar level or ability, non-competitive rides where no one feels like they are out-matched or under pressure. Most of all you make riding fun, because in the end, that is what matters, that is what will keep people coming back for more.
A few weeks ago, while tooling around the hills of Bonelli I, on a couple different occasions, passed a group of women riders who were clearly having a good time. A couple days later I noticed a post pop up on the Coates Cyclery Facebook page and connected the dots linking the two. When a notice for their next ride came up I told the wife that she should consider it. Though she has been riding at least as long as myself, her experience is mostly on the road, and I figured finding a group of women to ride the dirt with would be good for her confidence. Anyway, this morning the bikes were loaded up and we made our way to the park. I figured to say hello and wish everyone a good ride and then head out on my own ride, meeting up later. Though the day started out according to plan, I rejoined the group a shortly after and tagged along with the spouse of the groups' ride leader. It worked out well that way, as I was able to direct them onto a little side trail that was new to everyone else.
Everyone rode well, there seemed to be just enough challenge to make the ride interesting, without anyone feeling overwhelmed. In fact, on more than one steep aside, many of them decided to do some extra credit and see how far up the pitch the could make it (you didn't see me attempting any of those, did you?). The ride leader did a superb job of keeping the group together, giving pointers, and making suggestions along the way. When all was done, I think there was probably just the right amount of tired in all those pairs of legs. The post ride taco stop began the refueling and recovery process, and was a perfect ending.
Girlz Gone Riding is a women only group though, like today, there might be a spouse or two tagging along from time to time. The women are of all riding abilities, from beginner to expert, but the group does seem to periodically hold beginner-specific rides and are worth checking out. Girlz Gone Riding and GGR Inland Empire. Thanks for letting me tag along today.