Personal encouragement is powerful, and it might be one of the best ways to grow our sport.
We’ve all seen riders on our local group rides who drop the hammer on us every week, yet never show up at the local races. Maybe they don’t know about the event or they might be intimidated to toe a start line.
It’s our job, as racers, to reach out to these riders, make them feel comfortable, help them learn pack riding skills, and encourage them to give racing a try.
Think back to how you first got into racing … did you stumble upon an ongoing race and thought it looked fun?
Or did someone reach out to you saying, “There’s a race on Saturday, you should give it a try. I’ll give you some pointers if you’d like.”
For most people, myself included, it was the personal encouragement that got me to my first start line.
Road cycling is often characterized as having an elitist attitude, and the best way to break down that stereotype is by opening up.
We can each make an impact when it comes to growing not only our teams but also our sport.
Here are a few things we can all do on our next ride:
- Strike up a conversation with a new rider on your next group ride.
- Tell them about the races in your area and your favorite ones. Your passion for racing can help get others excited too, even if they already race.
- If they’ve never raced, encourage them to give racing a try: “Hey, great job on the climb! You’d be awesome at the Oracle Road Race, you should come to it!” or “Great final sprint! Have you thought about coming out to the Verrado Crit?”
- Share your race wisdom. Racing can be intimidating – share the little tips and tricks you’ve picked up over the years.
- If you see them at the races, cheer them on. The friendly voice from the sidelines can be a big motivator.
This type of encouragement can go a long way to making someone feel welcome in our racing community. Who knows? You might have just gotten someone hooked on racing for life.
Joey Iuliano is the president of the Arizona Bicycle Racing Association.
Photo: West Valley Cycle