Finding "Your Thing" when it come to cycling

 

What kind of cycling is for you?
Cycling isn't one thing, it's dozens of things.  The challenge it to sort through all the options and find the perfect fit for you!

For a number of years (if we rode at all), it was loading the bikes on the car's bike rack, driving to a multi-use path, and riding 5 miles or so.  After we got our tandem recumbent we went crazy!  Our rides gradually grew to 20 miles, then 40 miles, then 60 miles!  Now what?  Other than riding the same paths over and over, what else is there?  We were now hooked on cycling and were looking for the next logical step.  The activities below are some of the things we tried.

Warning:  Riders can be passionate about their type of cycling.  That may make you feel that YOU need to participate in that activity as well, if you are to be considered a "serious cyclist."  It may be their thing, but is it your thing?
   
Riding with Bicycle Clubs...  
One of the first steps for us was connecting with a local bike club, OHPV.  It's a group of folks that ride recumbent bikes.  We've had a lot of fun on local club rides (pictures here).  Each August they host a Recumbent Retreat at a State Campground.  There are usually around 200 recumbent riders there!  It's one of the few times you don't feel weird and out of place for riding a "bent."  The picture to the left is a very rare moment, capturing 3 Rans Screamer, tandem recumbents at the same time!

As much as we really like a lot of the people we have met in this club, most of them are into aspects of riding that we are not.  Consequently we participate at some level, but never felt it was a perfect fit to jump in with both feet.
   
Commuting to work...  
Riding your bike to work is especially hard on a tandem, since most couples don't have the same work schedule.  There actually was a period of time when the two of us worked in the same building with approximately the same schedule.  We really enjoyed riding to work while that schedule lasted.  We'd grab our morning latte' and enjoy it along the way.  It was a fairly easy 32 mile round trip. 

Commuting is one type of riding that many riders can add along with their other activities.  Obviously if your commute is a just few miles, it's petty easy to consider.  On the other end of the scale, I have know people who have a 40 - 50 mile daily round trip who ride 12 months a year, rain or shine!  (That wouldn't be me!)
   
Organized Rides...  
In most regions, there are lots of organized rides each year.  Some may be hosted by local bike clubs, and others are fundraisers for charities.  Our first ride was the LIVESTRONG Challenge, a fundraiser for Lance Armstrong's fight against cancer.  Michelle being a cancer survivor was our motivation (her story here).  You can see our pictures for the rides in 2007 and 2008.  Most organized rides are well staffed with rest stops every 15 miles or so, with bathrooms and refreshments.

There are some riders who fill their calendar with dozens of these rides each year.  We enjoyed the many rides we've taken over the years, but came to realize that a more leisurely pace with just the two of us, was something we liked better.
 
Century Rides (100 mile rides)...  
When we got more serious about riding, we started getting questions about which "centuries" we had ridden.  It was as though you weren't really a serious rider if you hadn't ridden a century.  In 2009 we rode Reach The Beach, a 102 mile ride from Beaverton (near Portland) to the Oregon Coast.  It was really a great experience!  There is another standard of measure in the Northwest, the STP (Seattle to Portland).  It's a two day 200 mile ride with 10,000 riders.  I don't know how many times I've heard the question: "Have you ridden the STP?" 

We can ride centuries, but it's not what we enjoy most.  As far as the STP, we'd rather take a week, load our gear and ride round trip to Seattle, camping along the way!
 
Touring (traveling by bike)...  
What led us to touring, was just identifying the kind of riding we enjoy most.  Our favorite kind of ride is going for a couple hours and stopping for coffee.  We then ride another couple hours, and stop for lunch, before continuing on.  Touring seemed like the next logical step, making it a multi-day trip.  We have discovered that this is something we love!  We have some pictures posted here.

You may also feel some pressure here by those who are into touring.  That is, if you are really serious you will make a Trans-America trip.  Yes, that's cross country, Atlantic to Pacific.  We have friends who've done it, and we may do that some day (we've talked a lot about it).  But for now, we're excited about week long excursions.
 
The most important thing you can do is to try all different types of cycling activities.  In each case, honestly evaluate what you liked and what you didn't.  You will gradually narrow your focus, and begin to target that which you really like, and motivates you.  Your goal is to find what fits YOU and gets YOU excited!  Along the way, you will get lots of opinions from other riders.  Try to accept the encouragement, and ignore the pressure to go in a direction other than what you love.
Our best advice:
Try lots of things, keep what you love, discard the rest!
 
 
 

 
 
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