Conversational paced bike rides are awesome, if you strike up a conversation. If you’re shy, or unsure, you are a social sandbagger. Cut loose, add your story and knowledge to our community. You have something we need to know. Here are some basic skills to put in your jersey pocket.
Rule number 1… Everybody is too busy thinking about what you think of them to actually think anything about you. This is #legit and important to remember because as a cyclist you need to conserve energy. Thinking people are actually thinking about you is a big, fat, FAKE obstacle for you to do a conversational wheelie over. Once I realized this it was so freeing… you just have to go for it.
First… Introduce yourself. “Hi, I’m Todd.” is so vulnerable that most people open up from there (refer to #1 if you’re wimping out). You’ll get either “I’m _____” or if the don’t know about #1 they might just say nice to meet ya.
Second… “Where are you headed?” Everybody wants to share their ride plan. It’s easy.
Third… “Where did you start?” is a great follow up. You can mix the order on these, and I’m probably mixing them up right now.
With these 3 questions you can usually dive down into the rabbit hole of a stranger’s life and make a new friend. It’s not nosy because this is of interest to you. You might be heading the same place, or you might meet a neighbor you never knew. You might have 10 friends in common. You might get a flat and need a tube or the reverse.
Fourth is my favorite… “What’s your big event or goal for the year?” I love this question because here I’m going to find out what my new friend is really passionate about doing on a bike. This question is a gold mine. Here I’m bound to learn something new: a race or ride, a diet, a gizmo, a travel destination, a segment of cycling in which I’m super ignorant, etc.
True passion will pour forth and I’ll (you’ll if you remember #1) be inspired – that’s a guarantee.
Fifth is right behind Fourth (see that pun?)… “What got you into riding bikes?”. This is less about passion and much more interesting. I ask this question because I’m always thinking about how to grow the sport. The answers are so random and broad I’ve given up on a formula and decided it’s better to keep the community vibrant because we all get our friends involved in our own unique way.
Today, I met Dave and he shared that he got into cycling because of MS.
You have MS?
No, he said… My brother has MS and I started doing the MS ride once a year to raise money. I was 57. I rode a 26 lb mountain bike to San Diego for the first 2 years. Then, my friend had trouble with his vision and we rode a tandem – it was so fast I wanted more. Then another friend loaned me his “old” race bike… I needed a seatbelt to hang onto it. Then I signed up for a double century, and I did pretty good. Then I did a 400 mile race and qualified for RAAM. I didn’t know what RAAM was. I did a 500 mile race and they said I qualified for RAAM. I decided to do RAAM (Race Across America). I finished 2nd in my age group the first time, and won it the next 2 times. It took him 12 days.
How cool is that?
It’s super rad. He told me about his diet and what he’s changed how it’s improved his riding. We talked about sleep strategies. I got home and he’d Friended me of FB. Will we ever ride together again? Probably, but even if we don’t my friendship cup has been refilled.