Riding a bike is kind of like drinking—you can do it alone, but it’s a lot more fun to do it with friends. Throughout my life, bikes have always brought together my favorite people. From the early days of riding BMXs around the neighborhood, to long summer days exploring mountain trails, to exploring my hometown on weekly cruiser rides, some of my best and most genuine relationships were born from riding.
Here are some of my tips for making friends on bikes:
Ride when you travel
Cycling is a unique way of traveling, and I’ve found that locals are always interested in striking up conversation with a dude on a bike in the middle of nowhere. One time I was struggling up a steep mountain in West Virginia when a guy came out of nowhere in a red truck. To make a long story short, he ended my suffering that day. I still talk to Danny and he’s become somewhat of a mentor in my life. I would never have met him without my bike.
Connect with local bike shops
I’m a bike nerd and one of the best places to find fellow nerds is in a bike shop. When I get bored, I walk across the street and pretend to be interested in new gear, when all I really want is to talk bikes. I’m pretty sure that the more you hang out at your local shop, the more likely you are to find people to ride with, or at the least, nerd out with.
Go to the places with the most bikes outside
We have no problem going to bars with lots of pretty people in an effort to meet the person of our dreams, so we shouldn’t be bashful about searching out places with loads of bikes locked outside. A bar or restaurant with packed bike racks means that the place is jammed with awesome bike loving people! Go in, buy a beer and make some friends. Accidentally lock your bike to someone else’s and when you untangle the mess it’ll serve as a good icebreaker.
Stop and help a fellow rider
There’s no better feeling than being a hero, and helping a distressed cyclist with a busted bike is always a powerful way to connect. Carrying tools and extra tubes ensures that you’re always prepared to save the day, for yourself, and especially for others. This method relies on chance, but when the time comes, you’ll be ready to make a new friend.
Find a group ride
There are groups for practically every type of riding and I guarantee that in each of these groups, there’s loads of future friends. The wheels may get us places, but it’s the people beside you who push you, make you laugh, and high five you at the end of a ride.
Volunteer at a community bike shop
Community run shops not only sell bikes at a discounted rate, they also offer classes and workshops. These shops are geared toward the average person, many times total beginners, and empowering them with bike knowledge. If you have the time to volunteer, the rewards are endless, as are the potential friendships.
Bikes bring people together and build community. Some people like to go fast, some like to go slow, and some simply like to get outside and breathe in the fresh air. There’s no wrong way to ride and no matter how you do it, bikes are friend-makers plain and simple.
Ryan Van Duzer is a 365 day bike commuter who has never owned a car and has criss crossed much of the planet by bike. He often incorporates cycling into his work as a travel filmmaker, appearing on the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, Men’s Journal and other media outlets.
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