Spring into action on two wheels!
Whether you want to get back into cycling or try it for the first time, spring is a great time to get rolling.
With fantastic cycle trails crisscrossing the land, it’s no surprise that New Zealand has become a mecca for off-road biking adventures. Keen to get in on the action? Here are a few tips for getting in the saddle – now!
Why now? Why not!
The clue is in the name – spring is the perfect time to bounce off the sofa, set a few fitness goals and have some fun. It can help get you back into shape, lubricate squeaky joints and improve your core strength for all the adventures you’ve planned for the summer to come.
Dust off your trusty
But first you’ll need to get your bike back into shape. Hopefully all it needs is a spring clean before oiling the chain and pumping up the tyres. If it needs more of a tickle, head to your local cycle shop or consider DIY by doing a bike mechanic course or boning up on YouTube – it’s not rocket surgery (so we’re told...).
Here’s a good excuse to hit TradeMe, your local second-hand shops or community noticeboards: you're sure to find a decent ‘pre-loved’ bike if you look hard enough. While you’re at it, keep an eye out for the other necessities such as a bike pump and other basic tools, and a bike rack for the car if you want to travel to trails further afield.
Buying brand new
Call it an early Christmas present, or call it an investment in a whole new you (!) – there’s nothing quite like the feeling of a brand new bike. Talk to the experts at your local bike shop (or bike tour/hire people) and try before you buy. Not all bikes are equal, and getting the type of bike, frame size, and gearing will ensure you ride safely and well. Don't hang around though – the cycling cat is well and truly out of the bag and there can be a bit of a waiting list...
Choosing the right bike
Mountain bike, hybrid bike, front suspension, full-suspension, e-bike… choosing a new bike can be bamboozling. It needn’t be so. Ask yourself a few questions before you head off to the shop:
- What sort of trails do you want ride – flat, hilly, or somewhere in between?
- Will they trails be mostly paved or smooth, gravel, mud or rough stuff?
- How well can you ride a bike? (If not well, then be sure to get some miles under your belt before you consider an e-bike.)
- What are your fitness goals? This may affect the gearing, i.e. how easy or hard it is to pedal on certain gradients.
If your goal is to get out on New Zealand’s 22 Great Rides, you’ll be pleased to hear that some are easy, wide and predominantly flat, and suitable for most bikes, while trails with more gnarly singletrack are best suited to full-sus bikes ridden by the fit and experienced. Find out more about bike types and trail grades here.
Make it fun with friends
While cycling alone is a wonderful way to get some 'me-time', it's way more fun in a group. Rope your family, friends and colleagues into riding with you, or consider joining a club – there are plenty around from road biking to mountain biking and cyclo-cross.
Head out on tour
Cycle tours are an awesome way to hit the trails and meet like-minded people, without having to sort the logistics. They’re also a good way to try out bikes including e-bikes. The creation of Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails has driven an explosion in tours – from self-guided, half-day rides to fully catered multi-day adventures taking in several Great Rides. You can read more in our Get Going on a Bike Tour! blog.
Set goals & get riding
We all know how hard it can be to make a start, which is why setting a realistic goal can be such a great motivator. Much like the jogger who runs to one lamp post then walks to the next, start slowly and work your way up. Try biking to the shops instead of taking the car, or arrange a short weekend ride with a friend. The most important thing is to get back on the bike and start pedalling.
Find a Great Ride for you
A good portion of the 22 Great Rides are graded easy, with plenty of riding for beginners or those who’ve been off the bike for a while. Find a Great Ride near you, one for Wine Lovers, trails with top Lookouts & Views and Our Best Family Bike Rides. The Great Rides App is also a fantastic resource for on and off the bike.
Check out the Great Rides App
Created by passionate New Zealand rider and cartographer, Gary Patterson, the Great Rides App is a New Zealand Cycle Trail national partner and the only mobile app featuring all 22 Great Rides (and some bonus rides too).
With more than 1500 pages, it’s stacked with maps, video fly-thrus, elevation profiles, trail section descriptions and photos, along with details of trail services such as bike hire, shuttles, food and accommodation. It also boasts offline tracking using mobile GPS and once a trail is downloaded it works totally offline without needing mobile coverage!
Find out more here.