Exercise— and especially biking— is, in many ways, a solo activity. You can ride on your own to be alone with your thoughts, push yourself farther and harder or let so of stress. But mountain biking can also be a very social sport, one that puts you squarely into a supportive community that encourages you to achieve your goals.
Looking for reasons to take on mountain biking? Are you already biking but want to learn how to make it more social? Here are 6 ways mountain biking can boost your social life.
Ride With a Group
Riding with others once or twice a week has numerous benefits. You can feel safer on new terrain riding with folks who have been there before. On a group ride, you can push yourself to go faster and farther when— had you been alone— you might have turned around and gone back. And there are social benefits, too. Often these group rides break or end at a casual breakfast spot where you can refuel on food and conversation.
Take Workshops to Learn New Skills
Many outdoor retailers, like REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods, offer free community classes to help outdoor adventurers build new skills and take on new experiences. You can take classes with other mountain biking enthusiasts on how to repair your bike, fix a flat, strategies for going on longer rides or even mountain bike-packing.
Train for a Race
Sign up for a mountain bike race and look into training with a partner. Having company during long rides— when you are going 50 miles or more— can help you feel a sense of companionship and camaraderie as you continue to push yourself. Training for a race with another mountain biker also gives you an opportunity to hear some corrective feedback on your form and style, and you both can share different tips on improving stamina.
Meet Like-Minded Thrill Seekers
Mountain biking is a popular sport, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Moving on two wheels on rugged terrain mostly appeals to people excited by an adrenaline boost. When you mountain bike, you meet other people who have similar interests, hobbies and lifestyles. For example, a cycling buddy can easily turn into a buddy for other thrill-seeking sports, like skiing, snowboarding and rock climbing.
Interact With New People
If you are part of a group ride or a bike club you will have access to people from all walks of life. Some people will stick around and become regulars, while others will simply pop in and out from time to time. This opens doors for you to meet new kinds of people with different careers, values, beliefs and experiences— people you might never have had the chance to get to know, but who all come together through the love of mountain biking.
Try Before You Buy
Even being part of an online mountain biking community has some bonus social benefits. One of the best is being able to try out equipment before you go out and buy your own. Many people who are part of local mountain biking Facebook groups can ask to meet up with a fellow biker to test out some of their equipment so you can decide if it’s the right brand for you.
Setting out on the trails with other mountain bikers will ultimately help everyone improve upon their own technique and endurance, as the group ride will push you in ways you may not have on your own. What’s more, by engaging in a little friendly competition, a unique bond and camaraderie will form.
Making friendships and joining groups that support and challenge your biking goals is one of the more fundamental reasons people fall in love with mountain biking. However, there are also a whole slew of mental, physical and emotional benefits— from getting out in nature to learning to live in the present moment.