Photo Credit: Amy (@akersh91 on Instagram)
As I talked about in this post one of the great things about mountain biking is that it is fairly unique I think in enabling people of different abilities to ride together and for everyone to get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Nothing perhaps epitomises this spirit more than The Shop Ride. Garage Bikes, my local bike shop is particularly brilliant at organising regular shop rides and huge thanks must go to Al and Sarah for doing this. Once a month a motley crew begins to gather on a Sunday morning, I was one of the first at the shop yesterday and it was ace to watch the riders arrive in ones, twos and small groups until a pretty impressive collection of bikes and riders of all hues was arrayed outside the shop gathering bemused looks for the passing traffic and pedestrians. As is always the way some riders I knew, others I’d seen but didn’t know and for some it was their first ride with the Garage Bikes crew. The brilliant thing is though all are welcome, it’s a very social ride supported brilliantly by the shop, the staff ride (unless they are racing) and guide and support all comers around our local trails.
The atmosphere is always good and outside newcomers were made to feel welcome and all were chatting away and engaging in the MTB ritual otherwise known as the pre-ride faff ! and with so many riders there was some serious faffing to be done. 29 riders pitched up yesterday in the drizzle, which was on top of the ladies ride on the Saturday which also gets a good turnout and as we set off we looked like some ragged bright baggy peloton. As we ride along I like how you can chat, get to know new people move up and down the group or just peddle along in your own thoughts but surrounded by like minded people. We ride at an easy pace and someone rides sweeper to ensure that we all meet up at various points. Back at the shop we all pack in for steaming mugs of coffee, tea, biscuits, rum and banter.
The shop ride is a magical thing for me, the very essence of community and what is great about MTBing and MTB riders, friendships are made and groups spin off from the ride to organise other get-togethers and adventures. The people I’ve met through the shop rides and the riding that has resulted has hugely improved me as a rider and really enhanced my whole riding experience so I’d like to say a big thanks to the good ship Garage Bikes and all who sail in her.