6 types of rides that pair well with Thanksgiving

A woman rides a mountain bike in a forest of aspens.
The Appetizer version of the Thanksgiving Day ride.

At some point on Thanksgiving Day you’ll most likely be tucking into a meal with family and/or friends, but what will you do earlier in the day? For many of us, it will be some sort of Thanksgiving Day ride, preferably one on some form of dirt, either singletrack or gravel or somewhere in between. As you  think about this ride, what type do you envision it to be? Depending on your life situation, your involvement with hosting the Turkey Day meal and the time that you may (or may not) have, we have outlined a few Thanksgiving Day ride options for you to consider.

Only got 60-90 minutes? That’s more than enough to get your heart rate up, hit the local loop and check your Thanksgiving Day ride off of your list of things to do. Your absence will hardly be noticed. Depending on your level of involvement for hosting on Thanksgiving, The Appetizer may be your only option. We’d recommend keeping this solo or only to 2-3 people at the most. Any more than that and the ride will slow down, people will start goofing off and you’ll be late getting back to help. And, well, you are trying to start the day off on the right foot, not end up in the doghouse.

A group of mountain bikers ride on a Thanksgiving Day ride.
Keep it 6 or less and keep it close for the Single Side and a Morsel ride.

This ride is quality time with folks you care about. They’re the “regulars” in your life. You probably ride with this band of merry pranksters often. You’ll share some stories, have some laughs, goad each other on. A Single Side and a Morsel will help create a little mental buffer for later in the day just in case the family gathering gets a little unsavory. For some additional flavor, instead of just steamed green beans for your side, add some cranberry sauce by including someone who’s visiting. But remember, do keep this ride, including yourself, under 6. You’ll make better time, make better connections and enjoy it more overall. (Oh, and if you are adding in a side of cranberries, make sure you:  A) know what their fitness and skill levels are, or B) alter the ride so as not to make them miserable.)

This is a subgroup to the Single Side and Morsel ride. The family ride is just that. It may include some folks who haven’t been on a bike in a while or who don’t have the fitness level and/or technical skills you do. This may not be your “ideal ride” but it will be worth it as you reconnect with family you haven’t spent much time with over the past year.

Look at this one as an opportunity to get your family as stoked about riding as you are. This means making it fun for them, which probably means keeping it to a time limit under 90 minutes and keeping the elevation relatively flat. (If you do, however, come from a family that rides, well, then, get after it!)

A large group of riders on a Thanksgiving Day ride pose for a picture.
Now that’s what we call the Turkey, the Ham and all the Stuffing.

This could take some planning, but you’ve still got a day or so to pull this one off. Or, maybe you don’t want to plan, you just want to ride? Ask around. Most likely, somebody near you already has a Turkey Day group ride planned. We’re talking the full feast. 10 or 15, maybe even 20 people all gathering around the ride table and heading out for a couple of hours. If you’re not the planner, you might just be able to jump in and worry only about showing up.

Check social networks to seek out The Turkey, The Ham and everything else. Somebody surely knows about this ride. And, as a bonus, you may even make some new friends. There’s a lot to be thankful for with a ride like that. (Note: If you do jump into a ride that’s already organized, ask about the route, the time, etc. Make sure it’s something you can handle and/or something that isn’t too easy where you feel like you cheated yourself. Also, expect a large group ride to actually start moving 15-30 minutes after the stated start time. And expect it to be 30-60 minutes longer than people think it will last. Large group rides always take more time than you think they will – always.)

Maybe the feast isn’t kicking off until evening. Maybe, you don’t have to do anything other than show up with drinks or a veggie tray or a pie that you made (or bought) a day ago. For The Backwoods Hunt version of the Thanksgiving Day ride, you’ll want to get this one going relatively early because you’re going long and getting lost. And although you may not seriously be looking to hunt a turkey, you’re going to be out there for awhile so take plenty of water and snacks.

A man and woman ride mountain bikes on their Thanksgiving Day ride.
Getting out and getting lost on The Backwoods Hunt.

You’ll definitely want to have a plan for this one. And to consider it a true Backwoods Hunt, you’ll definitely want to do 30+ miles. (If you’re planning a gravel ride, make it 50+). This one’s all about getting out on your day off and getting lost. Just don’t expect to get a whole lot of takers on this one based on the fact that they may have other plans, but get out there, enjoy the fresh air and see what wildlife might be out there.

If every town doesn’t have some sort of organized event on Turkey Day, well, something’s wrong. Sure, it may be a Turkey Trot, but that’s cool. Ride your bike to the start, do the trot and ride back home. Yeah, we just said it was okay to run (or walk) instead of bike. If it’s for a good cause, well, it’s for a good cause. And if you’re lucky, maybe your town has a bike event, which would be cool too, very cool, in fact.

Fun. It’s the key to the Thanksgiving Day ride so make the ride fun. This shouldn’t be a training ride and if you’re riding with folks you don’t know or don’t ride with much, keep the lowest common denominator in mind and do your best to be supportive and keep it fun for them. And wear something festive. Turkey socks? Yes. A Pilgrim’s hat attached to your helmet? Why not? Have fun with it. Oh, and if you’ve got time commitments, honor them by being on time, or heck, even early.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving from Niner Bikes to you and yours.