Riding bikes is fun! That alone should make you want to ride your bike more often. It’s also good for your physical and mental health, is a great way to experience the world (faster than on foot and slower than in a car), and is supported by a unique albeit often quirky community. If you’re looking to log more miles this season, below are some tried-and-true strategies for riding your bike more often.

Biking is fun
Credit: Tim Peck

10 Tips to Ride Your Bike More

1. Find a Riding Partner

It’s common knowledge among the Planet Fitness, Orange Theory, and Crossfit crowds that having a swolemate (a workout buddy) can motivate you to go to the gym and push yourself when you’re there. The same thing works for cycling. Having a person to keep you accountable is a great way to spend more time on your bike—it also can help you improve your fitness and develop your skills.

2. Join a Bike Gang

If a single bike buddy is good, lots of cycling friends are even better. The Northeast is filled with great groups, organizations, and online communities that hold regular rides. Whether it’s organizations like NEMBA and VMBA, enthusiasts like the Seven Hills Wheelmen, or bike-focused Facebook groups, there’s no shortage of hosted rides to participate in.

3. Incorporate Cycling Into Your Social Life

Busy social calendars can squeeze riding time, however, integrating biking into your social life is a simple way to eke out more miles. Rather than meeting for coffee, going to a movie, or talking on the phone, try to get your social circle out for a ride. It doesn’t have to be a hammerfest; slow, social miles are a fantastic way to build your base.

4. Set a Goal

Having something to work toward motivates many riders. Whether it’s tackling an epic bike adventure, participating in an event, completing a long charity ride, signing up for a Strava challenge, or training for a multi-day trip to a riding mecca like Kingdom Trails, having something on your calendar that you’re psyched about can make it easier to hop on your bike when you would rather do anything but ride your bike.

5. Ride for Rewards

Having something to look ahead to on your calendar is great motivation to ride more, but sometimes you need something more immediate. In these cases, work a treat for yourself into your ride. In recent months, I’ve gone out for rides that have begun and ended at breweries, incorporated a refueling at a popular donut shop, and linked together all of the local ice cream stands by bike. Find what excites you to get out the door—as you can tell, it’s beer and food for me—and plan a ride around it.

Riding to a brewery
Credit: Ashley Peck

6. Change Up Your Riding

Local roads and trail systems are awesome for logging miles, but if you’re riding a lot they can quickly become boring. Recharge your riding by visiting someplace new—there’s no shortage of fantastic places to ride in the Northeast.

Another option is to try a different type of bike. If you’ve spent the season ripping up the roads around your house, try out gravel biking and begin exploring any nearby dirt roads. Or get a mountain bike and take your riding off road.

Don’t have a road/gravel/mountain bike? Perhaps this is the excuse you need to go get a new ride—after all, everyone knows the right number of bikes to own is n+1 (the number of bikes you currently own, plus one).

7. Ride to Trails

If you’re lucky enough to live relatively close to trails, an excellent way to work in more mileage is to ride to them, rather than drive. Pedaling a few miles on the road to your local trails often isn’t the quickest mode of transportation, but it’s a great warm-up before testing yourself on tight singletrack, seemingly impassable rock gardens, and steep rollovers.

A gravel bike is another great option for exploring your local trail system. A gravel bike isn’t quite as capable as a mountain bike off road—especially when things are rowdy—but it is pretty adept at handling moderate terrain and a fair bit faster on the road.

8. Ditch the Car

Ok, you don’t have to ditch your car altogether, but consider leaving it behind when a bike-friendly opportunity presents itself. Riding to meet friends for coffee, to the corner store, or to the gym are all easy ways to sneak extra mileage into your schedule (and save money on vehicle-related expenses).

Last summer, my wife got in the habit of riding her bike to work, rather than drive or walk—it’s a little over a mile trip one way. Every time we rode bikes together, I remarked at how quick she was getting, only for her to jokingly remind me she was riding every day. A few miles add up fast.

9. Embrace Shorter Rides

I used to joke that any ride under an hour and a half wasn’t worth the time of kitting up, but as life gets busier, finding time for multi-hour rides gets harder. Like running errands with your bike, shorter rides can quickly add up to substantial miles and they’re much easier to it into tight schedules. 

10. Get the Right Gear

Having the right gear makes biking safer, more fun, and encourages you to spend more time cycling. A comfortable, properly fitted helmet and functional clothes that fit your style of riding—whether it’s breathable, wicking, casual clothes for riding around town or a full pro-team kit for a fast-paced century with the local cycling club—are a good start for getting out the door and onto your bike.

Ride your damn bike
Credit: Ashley Peck

Ride Your Bike

The cycling season for many in the Northeast is fleeting—fat bikers excluded. Above are just some popular tricks for motivating you to ride more. Think creatively about what gets you stoked to ride your bike and do it, because next ski season will be here before you know it.