The Bend Bella’s are all about encouraging riders to having fun and improve their riding. Whether you’re a road rider or a mountain biker, deciding which rides are most appropriate for you will help you to have more fun and meet other riders who ride at a similar pace, distance, and ability.
- It’s important to note that your level of ability can fluctuate from day to day, month to month, or season to season, depending on life circumstances. Illness, injury, weather, and time constraints can all take away from your chance to ride and stay as fit as you might like. After an injury or a scary fall, your riding may drop temporarily as you rebuild your confidence.
- Showing up for a ride and being reluctant or unable to ride at the posted ride pace can be discouraging, both to you and other riders. Regardless of what ride you end up with, do your best to be a good sport and fit in.
- If you pick a ride that goes faster or has tougher terrain than you’re comfortable with, you may feel discouraged and pushed to ride beyond your comfort level. Bella ride leaders are committed to not dropping any rider … but they also have a responsibility to the entire group, so it’s important to try to stay together.
- If you choose a ride that moves more slowly than you like, you may feel frustrated if you came looking for more of a workout than a social experience.
- If you’re a faster rider who ends up waiting for the rest of the group to catch up, you can ask your ride leader if you can ‘opt out’ of the ride and be responsible for finding your own way home. However, this can discourage more moderate riders if you do this on a regular basis, so it’s not a good practice. If you’re a fast rider having trouble finding rides of your ability level, think about leading rides that meet your needs.
- If you’re new to riding, unsure of your fitness or skill level, or moving from one sport to another (from road to mountain or vice versa), your safest option is to start with a Beginner or Advanced Beginner ride. If you don’t feel challenged and find yourself riding in the middle to front-half of the group consistently, you may be ready to move up to longer, faster rides with more challenging terrain.
- Every time you move up a level, you may find yourself moving further back in the pack as you adapt. That’s o.k. and a natural part of learning new skills.
When riding with a group, there are some important rules of etiquette to follow, to keep everyone safe and happy.
- Never pass a rider on the right.
- Use your voice to warn riders behind you of upcoming obstacles or changing conditions (on the road, glass and other debris can be a danger; on the trail, a heads up about a downed tree or rider, rocky section, or approaching cyclist can be helpful.)
- Try to ride at a consistent speed if there are riders behind you. If you’re slowing down or stopping, let them know to avoid a collision.
- Don’t ride too close to the rider in front of you. Allow a little extra space in case the rider in front needs to swerve or slow down to avoid or tackle an obstacle.
- If you’re falling behind, do your best and catch your breath as needed. However, don’t delay things further by stopping to take pictures, have a snack, answer phone calls, etc.
- Give faster riders the opportunity to pass you. With road rides, this isn’t as big of an issue, but on a mountain bike trail it’s nice to ask “Do you want me to pull over?” if someone is on your tail and might want to go faster than you are able to ride.
- Come prepared with a spare tube or fix-it kit in case of a flat. Have the tools and know-how to to make a repair if needed.
More than anything, Bella rides are about having fun, learning, and being supportive. Put a good attitude in your pack or tool kit. I’ve met some wonderful riders this season and it’s really enhanced my riding. I hope you’ve all had similar experiences. Looking forward to riding with you and enjoying other great Bella activities!
by Lauren Baker