Cyclist’s often hear, “but I can’t ride a bike. Well at least not like you do”. It’s an instant reaction from someone who is a bit intimidated of the bike. It also seems to be a barrier. The person might as well “shush you” like a third grade school girl.
However, this barrier is meant to be broken. In a weird way, I think the person may actually be looking for an invitation into the cycling world. So now, how do you respond? The pressure rests on you. Are you going to be cocky and rub in your most recent accomplishment? This will most certainly solidify that wall. Or, are you going to help the person understand that they most certainly can ride? Below are a few barriers that have been constructed at my feet. I always aim to extend an invite out to the person. I want them to understand their potential because it is my belief that everyone can ride, no matter the circumstance!
“But I don’t have a bike”
“That’s ok I have an extra you can ride” or ” I know this shop that rents out bikes, I will split the cost with you” (Almost every shop rents bikes for a day)
“But I can’t ride as fast as you”
“Who says I am a robot?, I will slow down and you set the pace”
“But I have not ridden a bike since I was little”
“Haven’t you heard the expression,”it’s like riding a bike”…….ok then!”
“But I have no time”
“I get that. Let’s pick an hour block of time that works for you, even if it’s three weeks from now. I really want to ride with you.”
“But I am scared”
“That is ok, I was also scared when I first started. I am going to stay close to you, we will stay off busy streets, and we can stop whenever you need to. What else will make you a bit more comfortable?”
You need to meet the person where they are. This is not the time to brag about yourself or talk about how fast you completed your last century. This is about extending the cycling community. You want the person to come to the conclusion that they can ride and that they don’t have to ride like you. If you respond strategically, as modeled above, we can grow our community and spread the joy of cycling.