I’ve had a couple of odd conversations this week. I paraphrase, but they went something like this:
“I’m not fit enough to go one of your rides.”
“yes you are, why do you think you’re not?”
“Because you’re really fit, you’ll get bored.”
“The point of the rides is that they’re about you.”
“But I’m still not fit enough.”
From here they became slightly circular.
However, they really made me think.
Both conversations were with women who were thinking about taking part in one of my Get into Mountain Biking rides, but were being put off by perceptions of how fit I am. I was confused to say the least: these rides are designed for people who have never (or almost never) ridden a mountain bike before, so how could you not be fit enough?
So let me state, for the record:
You are fit enough to take part because the Get Into Mountain Biking rides are a fun introduction based on the fitness and ability of those taking part.
Or, to put it another way:
The ride is based on your fitness so you must be fit enough because you only need to keep up with yourself.
The length will be determined by your fitness and the difficulty by your ability. I’m offering these rides because I want people to share my love of riding mountain bikes. I’ve designed them so that they’re fun whatever speed we’re going at. They’re about meeting people and having a great time on two wheels. I’m going to enjoy myself because I get to ride my bike, which I love.
Notice how fitness, speed, difficulty didn’t come into that statement? That’s because they’re irrelevant. I want you to have fun because, if you don’t then I’m not doing my job properly. If you hate it, then you’ll never come back. If you love it, you will. It’s in my interests for you to enjoy yourself as well as meaning there are more people riding bikes, so I promise that I will look after you.
However, I can see where both people were coming from: they’d seen pictures of me with my bike and I look fit. I’m a professional mountain bike leader, being fit and healthy is a matter of professional pride and discipline. The Mountain Bike Leader qualification is pretty exacting and the standard is pretty high, so I need a certain amount of fitness to meet those standards. Also, it is a matter of professional standards to be fit enough to lead every ride I offer without running out of gas, and some of them are quite long. I am in fairly good shape because I need to be. I have also reached an age where this doesn’t happen by accident, it’s the result of fairly hard work.
I can see how, to someone contemplating going for their first ride, that looks pretty intimidating. Believe it or not, I know how you feel. When I turned up for my leader training the chap leading the course looked fit as a butcher’s dog and I thought to myself “Am I in good enough shape for this? Am I going to be able to keep up?”. When I started riding mountain bikes I was much less fit than I am now and struggled to keep up with the (admittedly quite fast) group I joined, but they looked after me.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy riding fast. I enjoy going out with my friends pushing each other to go as fast as we can, coming home knackered. I enjoy going to new places and pitting myself against terrain I’m not sure I can ride. I enjoy getting to the top of a hill before my friends or getting the bottom sharing stories of how fast we went. It’s a lot of fun. In my own time, with my friends.
But it’s not the only reason I ride.
And it’s definitely not the reason I’m doing these rides.
Every day I go out on my bike is a good day.
It’s a very good day if I can share that with other people.
It’s an even better day if they can share it with me.
That’s why I’m doing this. That’s why everyone is fit enough to go on a ride with me. Come on a Get into Mountain Biking Ride to find out.