15 Apr Creating Community Within The Cycling World
Not only is cycling great for your physical health but getting outside and moving your body is also important for your mental health. What else is important for mental health? Community.
Humans are social animals. No matter how introverted you may be, we all benefit from some measure of social interaction with our fellow human beings. It only makes sense that you can combine the mental health benefits of riding your bicycle with the benefits we experience from socialization. Creating and maintaining community among cyclists has a lot of benefits.
A cycling community isn’t all about being local either. You can create community virtually too, with people from all over the world. This is especially important when many of us are under orders to shelter in place due to the COVID-19 viral outbreak. So even when you can’t get outside or organize group bike rides, there is still plenty of community to create from home.
Why Community Among Cyclists Is So Important
In addition to the socialization factor of having a cycling community, there are additional benefits. If you need help fixing your bike or gathering information, having a forum of like-minded cyclists is an invaluable resource. If your local infrastructure or laws could use some updating to make the roads safer and more accessible for cyclists, having a group to come together to push for those changes makes a world of difference.
So let’s discuss some options to create community both locally and worldwide, virtually and in-person, with your fellow cyclists.
Creating Cycling Community In a Virtual Space
It’s no secret that we can’t exactly meet in large groups right now. Whether you’re under an order to shelter in place or not, most governments have protections in place discouraging groups from gathering. Just because we can’t gather in a physical space right now doesn’t mean we can’t gather virtually. Once you find a community of like-minded and local cyclists, you can make plans to physically gather at a later date.
Social media has completely integrated into our society. It only makes sense then to turn to social media when creating a virtual community. Facebook groups can be used to network with people all over the planet, or even just in your town or neighborhood. Search for groups that already exist or create your own.
If you aren’t really into social media, there are plenty of other types of online cycling forums to join. Use a search engine to look up forums that include your cycling interests and location. Connect with people through those forums or, if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, create one unique to you.
Do you already have a cycling group but are now unable to meet? Take your community online using a video conference call. While it may not be as exciting as biking, you can use this time to plan future events or to just keep in touch. Zoom and Google Hangout are both easily accessible and free apps for video conference calls online.
Online Cycling Classes
Find your community and get a great workout with online cycling classes through an app like Zwift or Peloton. These classes have you join completely virtual cycling or spinning classes in order to get a good workout as well as motivation from your peers.
If you live in Colorado, use Bicycle Passport’s App to access routing maps and area information for Colorado’s 41 highest mountain passes. The “passport” is a fantastic resource to plan your future rides as well as a challenge to look forward to in the future.
Plan Future Events
If you already have a community in place, take this time-out at home to plan future group cycling events. Not only can this give you something cycling-related to fill your time, but it can also leave you hopeful and excited for the future.
Ideas for Community Rides
Gather your fellow cyclists to organize a group ride just for the fun of it.
- “Kidical mass” rides for kids around the neighborhood
- A company ride with the CEO
- A ride with a local elected official
- Themed costume ride
- “Connect the trails” ride to highlight gaps in bike infrastructure
- Bikeability audit: locate potential hazards and issues for bikes and report to a local council or mayor
- Neighborhood historical tour
Creating Cycling Community In-Person
While we may not be able to gather right now, there will come a time when we can once again participate in group bike rides. When that time comes, here are some ways to build up your cycling community in person.
Plan A Cycling Event
What better way to create a community than to throw a community event that revolves around biking. Contact your local bike shop or clubs to get people involved in the planning and implementation of a fun event.
Ideas For Community Events
- Fund-raising for a bike-related (or other) cause
- Scavenger hunt by bicycle
- Bicycle film night: bike to a bicycle-themed movie night in the park, at a movie theater, etc.
Once you’ve decided on an idea for an event, plan the logistics. Find a location: where will your event begin and where will it end? Will there need to be rest stations along the way? Will you need a permit? All these questions need to be answered early on in the planning stages. Pick a date that will ensure a good turnout of participants.
Promote your event on social media and bike-related forums. Contact local bike shops to help to spread the word or even sponsor the event. Let companies, schools, religious organizations, etc all know about the event you are throwing. Maybe even create posters and put them up around the neighborhood or put an ad in with the local paper or radio station.
To encourage others to bike and to improve your town or city’s infrastructure, consider contacting your mayor or local governing board about installing bike racks, assessing the feasibility of adding bike lanes, etc. The easier it is to traverse your community by bike, the more people will be willing and able to do so.
Start A Club
Organize your own club and schedule regular weekly or monthly bike rides. Spread the word and acquire members to grow your cycling community.
A Big Thank You To Our Cycling Communities
Whether your cycling community is a regular group meet-up or a completely virtual assembly born of coronavirus and cabin fever, cycling communities are an important part of our sport. We depend on our communities for support, information, and entertainment, especially during such trying times as we now find ourselves. No matter how you find or create your community, lean on them to reassure you that things can and will always change. Our circumstances will improve and we will be back outside exploring the world on 2 wheels in no time.