May is National Bike Month. The perfect time to celebrate what biking means to you and how you can give back to the sport and your community. One of the best parts about being a cyclist is the community involved around it. This sense of community reaches all different facets of the sport from cycling transportation in the town or city where you live, to being a part of a trail workgroup that maintains and builds new mountain bike trails. It doesn’t matter what kind of biking you do, you can always find a way to be involved and advocate for more people to find their passion and love for the sport of cycling. Even by reading and signing the PEARL iZUMi Pact you are taking a step towards positive bike advocacy.
I am lucky enough to be involved in several communities of cycling; The PEARL iZUMi Amabdors, my local bike racing team, several local mountain bike groups, including a few women-specific groups, and even the bike community at my job. The one single event of national bike month that really gets me excited is the Bike More Challenge. My workplace, Grand Central Bakery, participates in the challenge as a company. I see it as an opportunity to challenge myself not only to ride more but to also encourage others to step up their game and ignite their love for riding.
Fortunately, I work for a company that values being sustainable and environmentally conscious and the owners themselves are avid bike commuters and cyclists and have always been involved in promoting National Bike Month to their employees. The Oregon Street Trust provides fun incentives for all who sign up and participate, but my work takes it one step farther by hosting our own intercompany challenge with awards for just logging one bike ride during the month all the way to a paid day off for the person with the most miles for the month. We even encourage our customers to ride more by offering a free baguette to all customers who ride their bike to work on May 18th, National Bike to Work Day.
I’ve gone from participating in the challenge for the first time 6 years ago to being the Grand Central Bakery team co-captain the last several years. Here are some tips for you to become more involved in your own cycling communities.
Challenge Others – I will encourage the beginner, the professional and everyone in between
During the month of May, there is a good chance that the area you live in has some kind of bike challenge for you to participate in and to get you inspired to ride more! A good place to start is by visiting Lovetoride.net and search for a challenge in your area. You could also start your own challenge within your community of cycling friends and be creative about it. Remember a big part of being an advocate is to get new people to participate. Here are some suggestions on customizing your own local bike challenge:
–IN THE WORKPLACE–
• Challenge your co-workers to try commuting by bike. If you already have an avid group of bike commuters in the workplace challenge them to increase their distance each week or to increase the number of recreational rides they may do.
• Host group rides before or after work, or have a lunch ride to encourage people to ride more miles. Group rides are also a great way to get new people involved especially if you focus the ride around bike commuter friendly routes, safety when riding with traffic and tips on riding to work.
• Organize a basic bike maintenance class. Knowing correct tire pressure and keeping your chain lubed can be a game changer to a new rider’s experience.
With apps like Strava it’s likely you are already competing with your teammates on a regular basis for most miles or hours on the bike. Why not get creative and challenge yourselves to ride more in different ways? Such as:
• Most miles ridden to work (I have teammates that ride a lot but don’t incorporate commuting)
• Most elevation gain.
• Most activities recorded.
• Most variety (the person who incorporated the most disciplines of riding in the month; i.e. gravel ride, commute, road, mountain bike.)
Challenge Yourself – Good cyclists help new cyclists who become good cyclist who help new cyclists.
Community involvement is a big part of being an advocate for more cycling and better cycling. Maybe you already are a year-round bike commuter or competitive cyclist who doesn’t really need to focus on biking more. There are numerous ways to get involved in your cycling community and have a positive impact:
• Volunteer at any local bike event that encourages bike awareness and safety.
• Join your local bike transportation board.
• Offer your time and volunteer at your local community cycling center
• Instead of racing, volunteer at a bike race. You will have a greater appreciation for all the volunteers and race promoters during the races you do participate in. Sometimes you can even volunteer your time for a race you are already racing in by setting up or breaking down the course, which usually means a waived entry fee for yourself.
• Host a racing clinic and/or skills clinic for people who want to try racing or that are new to the race scene.
• Volunteer or organize trail work days to help maintain your local trails. You are usually rewarded with being the first to ride the new and improved trails.
• Host a group ride. You can offer your expertise to new riders by leading the ride and offering tips or it can be for intermediate to advanced riders in your area who just want to check out some new trails they have never ridden.
• Join your local trail stewardship group. These groups usually are a forum for organizing group rides, organizing trail maintenance days, and advocating for keeping well-maintained bike specific trails in your area as a well as advocating for the development of new ones.
Riding your bike more because you enjoy it and encouraging other people you know to do the same will further the positive impacts cycling has to offer as a sport. So jump on your bike during the month of May and show everyone what being a representative of this sport is all about and carry your love for riding into the rest of the year, #endureandenjoy365.