By Kate Amos
With few distractions and a motivating group atmosphere, Spinning® is an amazing way to keep both your mind and body healthy. With its roots in the outdoor cycling world, Spinning is also a great way to transition from a flywheel to two wheels. Indoor and outdoor cycling complement one another perfectly, and participating in both can help you to become a more well-rounded athlete, allowing you to see more of your own neighborhood and the world. Here are a few simple ways to get started adding outdoor riding to your indoor routine.
Perhaps the best place to start your outdoor cycling life is with a commute. Depending on distance and traffic, cycling can often be quicker than driving. And it’s almost always more enjoyable; as many commuters say, “the worst ride is still better than the best drive.” Commuting does not need to be limited to just the office. Cycling is a great way to get around town to run errands or visit friends and neighbors. While commuting, remember to always signal your turns, give pedestrians the right of way, and be alert for drivers opening the doors of parked cars.
Best bike: Look for a hybrid style bike that features an upright position for better navigating traffic and panniers for hauling your work gear.
Nearly all major cities now feature dedicated bike paths, some of which are geared towards commuters and others that are aimed at recreation, such as beach-front paths or rail-to-trail routes. Riding on a bike path is a great way to stay protected from some of the more dangerous elements of the open road, making it an excellent choice for a family outing. But bear in mind that bike paths can be crowded with other users, especially during peak times like mornings and weekends, so obey posted speed limits and be alert.
Best bike: Nothing says relaxing afternoon like a beach cruiser! With upright handlebars and wide tires, beach cruisers are perfect for casual, comfortable riding.
Road riding is all about speed—drafting behind other riders on the flats, dancing on the pedals up hills and screaming down the descents. Road cycling is perfect for getting out of the city and seeing some amazing sights, all while pushing yourself to further develop your aerobic fitness. Roadies often travel in packs, which is a great way to learn new routes and recreate some of the community feeling you find in a Spinning class. As road cycling often involves traveling at high speeds on open roads shared with cars, always make safety your first priority by riding single file, leaving ample room to the rider in front of you, and signaling turns and road hazards.
Best bike: A road bike with drop handlebars, shifters integrated into the brake levers, and skinny tires has every ingredient for road cycling.
Mountain biking may just be the most fun you can have on two wheels, and with no cars to worry about, the great outdoors is really the star of the show. Most trails feature difficulty ratings, so be sure to start easy with some simple fire roads, then gradually progress to more technical single track trail as your skills and confidence improve. As with road riding, mountain biking has its hazards and cell phone coverage is often limited on many trails, so always ride with a buddy and be sure that at least one of you has the tools and knowledge to make basic repairs on the trail. A first aid kit is also key if you do find yourself in an emergency away from civilization.
Best bike: A purpose-built mountain bike will allow you to clear the obstacles the trail throws at you—look for a hardtail 29er for cross-country riding, or a full-suspension bike for more technical trails.