4 Reasons to Sign Up for Your First Long-Distance Cycling Event

When it come to cycling, racking up the miles has its benefits. Just ask Fitbit Ambassador Jens Voigt. As a former professional road racer who still carries a deep love of the sport, people often ask me about the benefits of long-distance biking events. Whether you’re eyeing a race, charity ride, gran fondo, or century, spinning your wheels (literally) for hours can be a challenge, but it’s a worthy one.

I love long-distance cycling so much that I created my own bike event in Northern California, the Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin. Whether it’s mine or someone else’s, here’s why I keep participating in distance events.

4 Reason to Sign Up for a Long-Distance Bike Event

To Give to a Good Cause
Long-distance biking events generally support a worthy cause, which means a portion of your entrance fee could go directly to a specific charity. For example, during the Tour Down Under professional cycling race, I work in conjunction with the Cancer Council of South Australia to raise  money for people in need. And this year, for the Jensie Gran Fondo, I partnered with the Marin County Bike Coalition, which works to help make riding safer and easier for everyone in the San Francisco Bay Area. Every year in September I also do a smaller charity event with a friend of mine, Stuart Grace, a sailmaker from England. All of the money we raise goes to the Epilepsy Society in the UK. Whatever charity ride you choose, by riding your bike you’re able to give back. That alone is a fantastic reason to sign up for an event.

To Test My Limits
For me, questions like, “Do I have what it takes to finish this challenge?,” always play a big role in my decision to sign up. Whether you’re trying to complete a 20-mile charity ride or a 200-mile gravel race, endurance events are designed to test your limits. In the end, trying is always worth it—whether you end up successfully crossing the finish line or not—because of everything you learn about yourself.

To Build a Support System
Signing up for long-distance races can help you find a supportive community. You’ll meet like-minded people and, who knows, maybe even make some new friends. If your chain breaks, or you puncture a tire and you’re short a spare, support won’t be far away.

Non-competitive organized group rides are another great way to connect with your community. During these long events, roads are often partially or fully closed to vehicle traffic, making rides safe for the whole family. And with many of these events, once you’ve crossed the finish line, you’ll find yourself in a celebratory atmosphere. Enjoy a well-deserved meal, cheer on incoming riders, and toast the accomplishments of you, your family, and friends.

To Bask in the Positive Feedback
Praise and admiration are an added bonus when you complete your first race. While that may not be your main motivation, it’s human nature to enjoy receiving a pat on the back or compliments like, “Oh wow, you’re pretty fit, aren’t you?” Why yes, yes I am, you’ll think to yourself, knowing how hard you worked to reach the finish line.

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