KJ's bike outside a mural on Music Row in Nashville, TN

What Makes a Bike Rider a Great Rider?

One of the statements I hear the most is, “I’m not a cyclist, but…” I will generally ask them if they ride a bike, and if the answer is yes, I’ll say, “Congratulations! You’re a cyclist! You’re a bike rider!” They’ll scrunch their face up and come back with, “But I’m not a real – or great – bike rider.”

How to Become a Great Rider

Since its inception, Bike Fun has worked with dozens of people, ranging in age from 6 to 67, to help them either learn to ride a bike or to gain confidence in their handling skills. I’ve taught classes through the Nashville Community Education Commission (and have another session coming up this summer!) and have been a featured instructor on their blog. Bike Fun has helped people find bikes that fit them, routes that please them, and a way to connect with their community.

One can talk about handling skills and climbing skills and emergency maneuvers and miles logged in the saddle, but I think what makes a bike rider a great rider is the ability to enjoy the ride, even under challenging circumstances.

  • Flat tire? A chance to meet people who can help you or to practice your tire-changing routine
  • People in your way on the greenway? An opportunity to find other neighborhood routes to ride – and to expand your mental map
  • Rain in the forecast? Well, you get to practice riding in the rain!
  • Bike lane blocked by a vehicle? Report it via the hubNashville reporting tool
  • Too hot/too cold to ride? Kick back with a delicious beverage and get to know your bike better by doing a thorough cleaning of the drive train and frame and making minor adjustments if you can.

To be sure, there are nuances to being a great rider – deliberate practice, consistency, self-confidence, and mental strength will go a long way towards making your bike life satisfying.

Get Out There and Ride!

If the late, great Warren Zevon can exhort us to “Enjoy every sandwich,” I would like to hook into that sentiment and encourage you to “Enjoy every ride.”

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