“By the way, will there be a few other beginner cyclists too? Because the last time I tried a cycling event like this, when we started I blinked and everybody was gone!!”
This was a text message from one of the Baiskeli Adventurers who had just signed up for our August Lake Naivasha Bike and Camp adventure. Excited and anxious, she genuinely wanted an assurance that she would not be left behind. That the group of cyclists would not zoom off into the horizon and leave her “beginner-self” eating their dust. Ironically, she ended up being the fastest cyclist in the group. But that’s beside the point.
So, how do you convince beginner cyclists that our adventures are not out of their league? How do you make it clear that it’s not a competition but everyone is a winner, cycling at their own leisurely and fun pace? There was no direct answer or the catchiest response to give at the moment.
“Word of advice, don’t blink at the beginning of the ride. In fact, don’t blink at all during the ride”, I responded. Before you laugh it off (like she did), let me first explain.
Baiskeli Adventures does more than just take you out for cycling. Every adventure, though focused on cycling, goes beyond the simple act of sitting on the saddle and pedaling away. So, don’t blink. Not at the beginning of the ride or anywhere during the ride. Why? Here’s why.
There are cyclists standing beside you at the beginning of the ride. Probably beginner cyclists too. Helmet on, faces lit and ready. Look at them. Strangers brought together for one goal – the pursuit of memorable memories. Look at them. People from diverse backgrounds, of all shapes and sizes and colors. Look at them. How many faces can you recognize now? Few maybe. None, sometimes. But they form part of the experience you are about to embark on, so don’t blink.
As the ride begins, most beginner cyclists fumble with their bikes. It’s a strange feeling sometimes, especially if you have been off the bike for a while. But cycling is a skill one never forgets. Once it is ingrained in your mind, you will always find your balance and enjoy the ride. Keeping your focus on the road and the person cycling closest to you, you are safer in the group. Where necessary, our guides are always willing to assist.
Then you get the rhythm. Your legs can spin the pedals almost effortlessly without constantly having to look down to find the pedals. Your body relaxes into it and you are now enjoying the moment. You can lift your eyes off of the handlebars or the road winding its way ahead. It is time to acquaint yourself with your surroundings. Eyes wide open, don’t blink.
As Ernest Hemmingway said, it is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. The views and the dramatically changing scenery all around are somehow more visible to the traveler on a bicycle than the one driving. You are closer to nature and nature is closer to you, just like on our adventure around Lake Naivasha. You see the sights clearer and smell the scents all around even more. So don’t blink or you will miss a breathtaking sight of hills and valleys and lakes and open savanna. Don’t blink, or the wildlife may pass you by. The gigantic yet gentle giraffe may stroll past you unnoticed. Don’t blink, beginner cyclists or not, because unless you see and feel it, the adventure is incomplete.