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It’s As Easy As Riding A Bike – Erin Heyl

It's As Easy As Riding A Bike How It All Started Run Tri Bike Magazine
Erin Heyl
Year started: 1996
Next race: Mar 12, 2022 / Swamp Fox Gravel Fondo / Francious Marion National Forest, SC
Favorite gear: My bicycle it's not expensive but it works great for me.

I started riding a bicycle in high school. My older sister had been introduced to cycling by our triathlete neighbor, whom she did a lot of babysitting for. I played softball and basketball in school until I sustained a subluxation injury to my shoulder. I thought what my sister was doing looked fun, and I could do that with my shoulder injury. In my junior year of high school I started riding a bicycle. I was riding recreationally but it felt great. As they say, it was as easy as riding a bike.

Riding A Bike Is Freedom

Being able to get on the bike, and just go, anywhere I wanted. Being outdoors in fresh air, sunshine and just go, the freedom of it. And the feeling of getting more fit, stronger. I could climb the same hill week after week, and really start to see a difference.

When I went to college I joined the cycling club at my school. I raced a little bit in college. Wasn’t very good at it, didn’t win anything, but I just loved riding my bike, so I kept at it. I even dabbled in track cycling a little bit. After college I continued riding, but not racing. Then marriage, kids, work all took over most of my time. I took a 10 year hiatus from cycling.

Age Is Just A Number

Now at 42, after kids, I am starting to do more stuff for me again. I have rediscovered cycling and found gravel cycling. I love it! My bike an entry level Cannondale Caadx that works great. I just pedal cause I enjoy it. It’s my freedom, fitness, and nature loving, all in one, Me time. My 11 year old and 7 year old love going on family camping trips that usually co-inside with a gravel event. As a family, we have managed to create great family weekends out of my love of gravel cycling.

In the cycling club, I learned how to ride in a pace line, how to ride in a group, and started to do some lower level road races, crits. These benefit me today while I’m riding at gravel events. InΒ March 2022 I will be riding at the Swamp Fox Gravel Fondo in Francious Marion National Forest, SC. My fitness is good for this 50 mile gravel event and I am looking forwardΒ to my 2nd year of gravel and riding 75-100 mile gravel events.

With that in mind, I am looking forward to this summer. This is going to be a huge epic adventure as I am registered for Steamboat Gravel Blue course, and Gravel Worlds Privateer course with my GirlsGetGritty team!! To think that it started in high school and now I’ll be riding at a couple of the best events in the world. I mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again: no matter how long it’s been since you’ve been on your bike, get out there. It really is as easy as riding a bike. You’ll remember what that feeling was like and want to re-create it over and over.

What advice would you give to a beginner?

Best advice would be: you don’t need to bust the bank on a super expensive bike and wheel set to ride gravel and have fun. Just get pedaling on what you can find that fits properly. $$$ shouldn’t be a deal breaker for getting into gravel. You aren’t less of an athlete or less of an enthusiast just because you aren’t riding an expensive bike. We are here for the fun, so just give it a try.

What piece of equipment must a beginner get when they decide to start riding?
My number 1 piece of equipment for beginners would be getting a proper seat. Spend the money and invest in a good seat. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right seat, but it’s worth the effort. 2nd would be gloves to protect your hands. worst part about crashing is chewed up hands, everyone crashes at some point.
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