Earning some cycling brownie points  

Usually on the Coffee Stop blog we look at how to focus on our riding and consider how to become better cyclists. But in the aftermath of a big race it can be really important to focus on those who enable our riding and consider how we can become kinder individuals.

header photo credit: Ben Queenborough for Prudential RideLondon

words: Dr. Josephine Perry


Training seriously for a race or sportive can make even the nicest of us quite selfish. If we want to be successful in our sport, we sometimes need to put our own needs first. We may need to prioritise our own goals, spend lots of time on the bike or at the gym and we may get more tired, hungry and nervous than usual. We may use up half our weekend out on the bike and forget that those at home need us too.

To ensure long term harmony it can be helpful to think of our intense training periods as a block of time when we openly focus on our goals, and the times around those training periods as our opportunity to give back to others. Here are five ways we can pay back the time and support that others have given to us.

1. Giving your family some focus

The people who may lose out most on your time if you have been training hard are your loved ones. Giving them full attention for a while is important for family harmony and their wellbeing. Going on a weekend away where you don’t get up early to go out for a ride, going to support them doing their hobby or using the time to catch up friends you sometimes neglect can all mean when you get back to training fully you have more support behind you, and feel less guilty.

A family wait for Ben and Waheed at the end of the sportives on The Mall. The Prudential RideLondon Sportives. Sunday 29th July 2018
Photo: Andrew Baker for Prudential RideLondon

2. Riding with a friend or club mate who needs some support.

Research has found that being side by side with someone in a non-formal environment can make it much easier to talk. Going for a ride is a perfect way to do this. It can give someone who has been struggling with their mental health or family or work issues the space and opportunity to open up and share how they have been feeling – without feeling judged and without having to see anyone else’s reactions. To be the person they are able to open up to could be a real privilege for you and help them cope better.


3. We all want the roads to be safer for ourselves, our friends and our families.

Improvements are only made because other riders have campaigned for the infrastructure needed; segregated bike lanes, regular bike lanes, driver education and safer cycling strategies. There is still a very long way to go but by finding out what campaigners in your area are pushing for and putting any skills you have towards their objectives you could benefit a huge number of people.


4. Teaching someone else to ride.

Whether it is your own children, nieces or nephews or a friend who never got the chance to learn as a child, teaching someone else to ride can be an absolute joy. By teaching others not only do you get to pass on a key life skill and hopefully a love of riding to someone you care about, but you’ll also improve your own skills. This is because when we teach other people we actually embed that knowledge deeper into our own memory. And the process of having to think through the elements involved in riding a bike and the skills you need to do it well and safely mean we become more aware of what we are doing, making us better at it.

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5. Setting up rides for others.

Cycling Club forums often have calls out for members to lead rides so if your big event for the year is over this could be the time to take out the novice or junior riders for a couple of weeks to show them some good routes and pass on your knowledge. If you are not in a club you could still volunteer at a charity race or sportive or offer to give a skills session for junior riders you know. You are stepping up to help gives those you help real, valuable support and you get an enriched experience, knowing you are facilitating the success and enjoyment of others and giving yourselves some good skills in the process. You get to join in the social side of cycling while giving your body a bit of recovery time and you may even learn a lot from watching coaches closely and seeing how other people train.


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