Stow the excuses, saddle up and let your leader guide your ride.
WHEN IT COMES to incorporating cycling into your life, Cascade Bicycle Club has all your excuses covered. Are your tires flat? Ride leaders will help pump up your tires. Are you unsure whether your bike is fit for the road? The leaders will take a look. Are you nervous about how to change gears on an incline? They will teach you how.
I know all the excuses when it comes to cycling because I am full of them.
Then I looked at Cascade’s extensive free-group-rides calendar, and realized I had run out of reasons not to ride this summer. I’m pretty sure that’s the idea.
Cascade Bicycle Club
The club is a nonprofit devoted to bike riders statewide, and that includes getting people out on their bikes as much as possible. The free group rides are available to anyone.
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Sandi Navarro leads rides ranging from an introduction to cycling to training for STP, the 200-plus-mile Seattle-to-Portland ride.
Navarro went to her first Cascade ride in 2012. Her doctor told her she had to stop running and to pick another sport, so she turned to cycling. But she didn’t know anyone else who biked.
On the way to that first ride, she couldn’t find the right location, and she was nervous, so she turned around and drove home. The second time, she messaged the ride leader, who told her he would keep an eye out for her car, and he flagged her down.
“Once I got there, I wondered, ‘Why didn’t I do this ages ago?’ ” she says. The beginner rides range from 10 to 20 miles on mostly flat terrain. They are an opportunity to move your legs, learn more about your bike and get tips from ride leaders. The average group size of a beginner ride is probably 10 to 12, though you might get a small group and a more personalized ride.
As you progress, you can take on different levels of challenges. Some rides might be short, but hilly. Others are longer, to train for endurance. You can pick a faster pace to challenge yourself.
There also are trainings designed specifically to help you build in structure for a race. Navarro leads a Wednesday ride for people interested in bigger races, including STP. While there might be fast riders there, leaders accommodate paces for all levels. For these trainings, sometimes the size of the group can grow. One way to know: Look at the ride leaders; those with multiple leaders are more likely to offer multiple paces, or speeds.
Spend more time looking at the options, and you also might find other ways to motivate yourself — like gelato.
“Beer rides, pie rides; we look for any excuse we can,” Navarro says.
You creative types might come up with other reasons not to come, like you don’t have the proper Spandex. Navarro has an answer — wear cargo shorts. Or any shorts.
“There’s no rules,” she says.
The group ride also keeps you accountable. I know if I had RSVP’d to a ride, I would go, even if I wouldn’t have been motivated to do so on my own.
I have learned that working out with someone else is, in general, more fun than doing it solo. If you don’t have a neighbor or friend to bike with, or they can’t go when you can, these group rides function essentially as a stand-in friend. You might find new riding buddies there.
Like I said: No more excuses.