5 Ideas for a ‘Wild Ride’ That Doesn’t Have to Be Gnarly
People ride bicycles for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s for fitness, mental well-being, shopping or just an excuse to be outdoors. As novice cyclists, we can often see the only side presented to us, i.e. the particularly scenic or really bumpy rides, the videos of fast descents or the Strava PBs of professional mountain bikers. What you don’t see are those quiet moments of reflection, the slow pace of a climb, the end where you lean your bike against a tree to eat your sandwich with the birds. Initially, we might not realize the possibilities of our two wheels. So it helps to have a little inspiration when you want to have a bit of a wild time but don’t need the gnarly run that seemingly has to come with it. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.
1) Take a vial
Many cyclists will prioritize taking as little as possible. The less stuff you have, the faster you can go. But that’s not all it’s supposed to be. By replacing one of your water bottles with a small water bottle, you can cycle to the nearest river and take in the sights and sounds with a hot cup of coffee. There is something to be savored by taking your time. If your water bottle won’t fit in your bottle cage, you can attach it with a webbing strap and hope for the best! But I would recommend investing in one that does, coffee rides are great additions to a training plan.
2) Have your evening meal
A little taller than the bottle, but there’s something magical about eating outside. One-pot meals are usually best for this activity, think shepherd’s pie or a pasta dish. You can put it in your (slightly larger) flask, load up your bike, and ride somewhere quiet or scenic. It helps to have a warm layer so you can wrap up and enjoy your dinner with a view, whatever the temperature. Don’t forget a fork! Maybe some condiments if you’re feeling extra fancy.
3) Foraging for food
A definitely more seasonal activity, foraging can be a truly rewarding experience. Of course, this activity requires some careful thought or a bit of research, but it’s a great way to get to know your area. Whether it’s scouring your local woods in April for wild garlic or picking blackberries from the hedgerows by the driveways in late summer. These can be experiences that connect you to nature and may feel a bit “wild” to you, especially if it’s not something you did growing up. Tip: let the experts pick the mushrooms as they can be easily misidentified.
4) Go bird watching
Birdwatching and cycling are a niche crossover, but it’s surprising how many people enjoy both. While it’s not always easy to identify a bird while descending a hill at 40 mph, birdwatching on a bike can be a way to force yourself to slow down and take notice of your surroundings. Better yet, cycle to a body of water or a bench among the trees and observe what you see. You can take a small notebook or use one of the many birding apps available online. A pocket bird identification book won’t cost much either and it can be a fun activity to pass the time while learning something new. You can also cycle to the nearest nature reserve or find out where there is a bird hideout that you can stall your bike on and watch from a shelter. Grab a sandwich and make it a day trip.
5) Go off-roading under the full moon
Maybe a little more “gnarly” than the others, because off-roading in the dark is quite a wild adventure. With good lights (not just the moon), a short off-road section can be an exciting way to sneak into an after-work adventure. The full moon just makes it feel a bit more special, and the twinkling stars top it all off. You are sure to sleep well after coming down from the adrenaline rush.
Bike rides don’t have to be long and fast, leaving you exhausted and craving carbs. It can be fun, sure, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy your bike. When you’re short on time or resources, using your bike to give yourself a bit of a “wild” moment can leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on bigger rides – or not!