Well, hopefully you’ve already picked your friends carefully enough that they don’t need any convincing at all. They already know that cycling is the best sport going, fact. It’s our opinion and your opinion, and that’s all that matters, right? But if you’re struggling to convince your friends, then we’ve got a few helpful hints that you can drop at the bar or around the dinner table.
The fact you’re here means you probably already ride your bike a fair amount, and you don’t need much swaying in the direction of cycling. Whether you’re a lycra-clad roadie, or adrenaline loving MTB’er, we all share the same love for two-wheeled fun. Unfortunately, there are those among us who would disagree with these ideas.
And although they’re your friends, after a few beers in the pub they can lead to questions like “why do you do that”, “don’t you get bored”, “isn’t it a bit too cold outside”. You’ll have your own list of regular questions that you get asked, and it might be that you’ve finally run out of answers!
They’re bored of you talking about watts per kg, which forks you’ve got on for the race or who’s going to win the world champs. It’s probably fairly obvious that they’re not getting involved in this engaging conversation, so we’ll have to break it down for them bit by bit. What can cycling offer them? Instead of hammering home the endless facts you know, or beating them with your rear cassette, here are a few helpful suggestions:
Tell them how much they’re helping society:
On the surface, it’s estimated that cycling adds around £5.4 billion every year to the UK economy. The European cycling federation has valued that there would be another £3.0 billion added to the economy if factors such as improved mental health, climate change reduction and improved children’s health.
With every cyclist saving the NHS an average of £28.30 per year, it’s no surprise that the total reductions exceed £200 million. With Urban congestion savings adding nearly half a billion, it’s a no brainer! Again not particularly shocking considering 11p is saved per km cycled in an urban area. Cycling is also predicted to add £408.67 per cyclist per years due to reductions in loss of life, as well as adding just shy of £48 per cyclist in productivity. It’s proven that light exercise reduces sick days by 6%.
When events pass through town, there’s huge growth from tourism and culture. The Tour de Yorkshire attracted 2.2 million roadside spectators adding almost £64 million to the local economy through the few days the event was on.
Offer them a challenge:
Drunk people always take the bait. “I reckon that I can cycle quicker than you can drive to….”. Think up a challenge that you know you can comfortably take on, and let’s see you battle it out. If it’s a cycling challenge you can even give them a few months to prepare, what have you got to lose? Either you win, or they beat you and they’re sucked in, so you win?!
Up the ante, pick a local event that’s hassle-free for them, and give it a go. Maybe you can tackle the tougher course, while they try a shorter one on the same day. And you can laugh about it over some well-earned beer, coffee or cake at the end.
Sell the Benefits of Cycling:
No matter where you are, start to throw out facts about the benefits of cycling. How much healthier it makes you, how much it shrinks the beer belly, how you’ll lose weight. Make sure you keep it subtle but slowly leak them in. It could be how much faster you beat the traffic, how you get a “really well rounded” suntan… Appeal to their other half too, a bit of peace and quiet, more time alone. By getting them involved you’re sure to move forward.
Appeal to the things that annoy them. Oh, the trains are on strike? The bike paths aren’t.. The tube was too crowded? The bike path was very fresh this morning… make sure you pick something that will hook them in, at least to let you take them out for a small try.
Take them for a spin:
Get them out on a gentle ride. It doesn’t have to be some mammoth 150 miler than will leave their legs and mind broken in a corner quivering, Pick a nice day and a quiet route. Take them to your favourite cafe to treat them for coffee and a cake, and make it a nice well rounded experience. You’ll know all the favourite roads, so start them on a good one.
Remember you’re not trying to beat them into submission or get any training out yourself, instead you need to keep the conversation flowing and make sure that they have a smile on their face. You can maybe stop for a photo somewhere they’ve not been, lock the memory into their phone as a reminder. If they don’t own a bike you can all rent them, make sure you level the playing field so they don’t get frustrated.
Introduce them to similar people:
Most people have the stereotype that cyclists are all the same. They’ll think they’re just like you. People have the perception that you need to be super fit, ride a £12,000 limited edition Specialized Venge and shave your legs twice a day. Introduce them to some newbie cyclists, or weekend warriors of the same level. They don’t have to ride every day to enjoy the benefits of riding their bike, they could even ride a hybrid, make sure you remind them of that!
Show them that it’s not all about the gear, but more about the social and the great outdoors. They’re much more likely to buy in that way. There are loads of clubs around with a great set of people for all abilities.
Appeal to the Wallet:
If not their wallet, their partners. Everyone is always complaining about the costs of life nowadays. Running a car, commuting, paying for the gym, all these costs are saved with cycling. Granted, they’ll have to buy a bike, but you don’t have to remind them of that just yet. The average commuter spends over £1,000 a year, remind them of this, you can get a handy bike for under £500, and it’ll last a lot longer than your annual train fair if you look after it properly.
You can also save money through the ride to work scheme saving almost 50% on the price of a bike. You can jump on the train with your bike, then cycle through the busy city at the end. Saving time, money and the environment!
You have to remember that once upon a time you might not have been a keen cyclist yourself, and not everyone sees the world through our eyes. Break them in easy, but we all know, once they start, they’ll never look back. We just have to nudge them towards the light!