If you’re always cycling solo, you might be missing out. Riding with cycling clubs offers many social benefits as well as the thrill of drafting and cycling at faster speeds. Best of all, riding with the pack helps hone your skills, improve fitness and find other cyclists to keep you company on your route. If you want to get with the group, you should first consider what cycling clubs best fit your needs.
Cycling clubs and different style’s
If you live in a well-populated area, you probably have several cycling clubs to choose from. Just as no two cyclists are the same, cycling clubs also come in many flavors. Some focus on developing racing skills and offer riders a safe venue for friendly races, while others are geared toward touring and long-distance rides or multi-day tours. Recreational bike clubs are probably the most prevalent, offering a multitude of bike rides for families and riders of various skill levels. A good cycling club regularly sponsors several weekly bike rides with varying terrain, speed and distance. These cycling clubs will often organize bike trips or sponsor their own century or fundraisers and many produce a newsletter for members.
Start your research
Once you have a list of local cycling clubs, which you can obtain on the internet or by chatting up your local bike shop or other riders, then it’s time to start investigating the group. Most cycling clubs collect yearly dues and some hold social events like potlucks and picnics for members. If bike advocacy or environmental issues are important to you, then look for a cycling club that’s involved in local causes. Many cycling clubs will let you sit in on their meetings or join them for a ride before signing up.
Ask the right questions
Before your first ride, it’s a good idea to touch base with the ride leader, whose contact information is often listed on the cycling club’s website, and let them know you’re coming and what your skill level is. Ask if the ride is no drop, which means that someone in the group will wait for the last rider. Still nervous? Inquire if the leader provides a cue sheet for turn-by-turn directions. When it comes time to ride, be sure to show up early and come prepared with enough food, water and spare tubes for the ride and be sure your bike is in good working order.