a cycling club-FAQs
cycling clubs have a wide range of members. Some are
experienced and some are novices. Some are serious and
successful athletes and others have more modest abilities.
Most clubs also have a wide age range, from youngsters
to pensioners. In many clubs there will be a place for
them all; clubs which only have young, fit sportspeople
dedicated to competing are racing teams, not clubs in
the traditional sense.
should I start?
you’ve been riding a bike and are looking to go further
and faster, and to try different cycling activities
with other cyclists, then a club should give you
the opportunity to take your cycling forward. Club
runs are not races and, if you can ride steadily
for a couple of hours then you will be able to keep
up, learn to ride in a group and get to know other
In contrast training bashes, or ‘chain gangs’ don’t wait for the slowest
riders, but they usually follow a set route so, if you get dropped, you’ll
know where you are.
Club time trials are a good way to get fitter and to improve your technique.
Improving your times over the course of a season is a satisfying way
of knowing that you are making progress. You’ll find that other club
members will encourage you as you get faster; they all remember when
they started racing.
When you have improved your fitness and technique, you may decide to
enter races not organised by your club. Club members will be happy to
advise you on open time trials and road races for beginners, to ensure
that you start with something appropriate that will help you to continue
old do I need to be to join a club?
can get a great deal out of being a member of a cycling
club. There are plenty of activities for children
who are too young to ride on the road (see What’s
On) but parents have to take them to
the track, circuit or cyclocross event. Riders of
14 or 15 may be experienced enough, and fit enough,
to join a club run, and club members will welcome
them and help them enjoy the experience, but the
club cannot take responsibility for their safety.
Am I too old to race?
the last few years the largest group of cyclists joining
cycling clubs has been veterans (over 40s)
who cycled when they were teenagers or who have started
with a mountain bike and want to move over onto the
road. Many of them are keen to regain their fitness
and, now that their families are older, finally have
some time to do something about it. ‘Born again’
cyclists usually pick up where they left off, quickly
discover that cyclists and cycling clubs haven’t
changed that much and fit in very easily, whereas
new cyclists are often a little nervous and wonder
where to start.
If you want to become a cyclist first of all you
need a bike! Unless you’ve already got a road bike
don’t just go out and buy one, take advice from experienced
club members. They will save you money by knowing
where to buy from, but will also make sure that you
don’t buy something inappropriate or unnecessarily
expensive. Once you’ve got a bike, ask a club member
to help you to set it up so that it is comfortable
for you to ride.
first goal should be to keep up with a club run,
to ride steadily for at least a couple of hours.
That might mean going out by yourself at first, but
can also involve riding out to club events to watch,
or meeting a run at a café. Starting with
a run and dropping off when you’ve had enough will
allow you to gradually extend your range. Ideally
you will spend your first winter riding with the
club, in a group that you can comfortably keep up
with. When the spring comes there will be the opportunity
to ride time trials. You may not have considered
racing, or you might want to ride road races, either
way a season of time trials will make you fitter,
and will ensure that you are safe when you are riding
at speed. Take any opportunity to ride ‘two’ or ‘three
ups’, they will help you to learn how to race in
Club time trials are open to any club member, everyone
is essentially racing against themselves, trying
to improve their times; no one will look down on
you if you are slower than them, and you will be
surprised how mature some racers are; if you are
merely middle-aged you will realise that you have
decades of racing ahead of you. Once you have completed
a year of club runs and time trials you will be ready
to take up any branch of cycling (road racing, track,
cyclo-cross, audax, touring etc.) that might interest