Unsure of joining a cycling club? Lots of questions? Read on...
You've seen us riding about and you might have thought to yourself "I wish I was riding my bike", or "that looks fun", you think about it for a moment, then decide "nah, they’ll be too fast". Or you say "I don’t want to wear that stuff" or "I've only got a mountain bike, they'll sneer at me".
It is easy to give reasons as to why you shouldn’t do something, afraid to ask questions in case of appearing silly. So, let’s dispel some myths. Let us answer some of the usual questions and encourage you to contact us.
- What kind of bikes do you ride?
That depends what type of riding you want to do. Most of us prefer to ride on the roads, so generally we have chosen to ride race bikes (otherwise known as racers or lightweights), but in effect, any roadworthy bike can be used to ride on the road. They are generally in good mechanical condition and often have mudguards fitted in the winter for road riding. Mountain bikes (also known as MTBs or ATBs) are they choice for people who want to ride off-road, and there are plenty of people in the club who do that too.
- Can I ride my mountain bike on the road?
Yes, no problem, though they usually heavier than a road bike, so hence harder work uphill. You will find the ride improved by putting slick tyres on your mountain bike however. Another area that would benefit you is to buy some pedals that you clip in to. We can offer advice here if need be.
- My bike is only cheap.
More expensive bikes benefit from being lighter, which means they are easier to ride uphill, but ultimately it doesn’t matter how expensive a bike is, as long as it’s well maintained. A well maintained bike will run smoother, have fewer mechanical problems, and will be more fun to ride.
- You all look a bit professional dressed in the lycra. I don’t want to wear lycra.
Lycra can be a bit ‘revealing’, but we dress like that for reasons of comfort. The shorts have a synthetic chamois pad which helps keep your bum comfortable. The materials used in all the clothing tend to breathe well, reducing discomfort from sweating, and they don’t flap around in the wind. Some people are more comfortable riding in jogging bottoms. Basic rules for a beginner are ride in whatever you’re comfortable, and remember to keep warm, especially in the winter months. It is better to be too warm than too cold.
- I’m pretty interested, but want to get some advice on kit. Could you guys help?
Yes, simply ask. Most of us have experiences of various bikes and equipment as would be only too happy to advise you what to buy, and what to avoid. We’ve made the mistakes, no need for you to copy of errors!
- Do you shave your legs?
Some of us do, some of us don’t, no rules. Generally it’s people who race who shave their legs, and the main reasons are not for wind resistance. Shaven legs are easy to massage, and can look nice!
- I don’t like riding near cars or on busy roads.
Neither do we. Generally, all our rides are on quiet back roads and lanes, away from cars as much as possible. We get out to these lanes as soon as we can. Some of the time trials are on main roads, but the junctions are marshalled to increase visibility and driver awareness. Of course, we also have mountain bikers, and their rides are almost exclusively away from traffic.
- How fit do I need to be to be able to come riding with you?
You’ll need a reasonable level of fitness to be able to do a ‘clubrun’ (club run being a social Sunday ride, usually with a café stop). By reasonable level of fitness, we’d suggest that you should be able to ride at about 15mph on the flat for a distance of about 30 miles. If you wanted to ride a club time trial (an event where you ride a set distance against the clock), then you are testing yourself, so there is no minimum speed.
- Do I need to be in the club to come on a club run or do a time trial?
Not at first, we’d want you to be sure that you wanted to join. You’d be more than welcome as a ‘visitor’ on the club runs until you had decided. For the club time trials, there is a necessity for insurance as legally we are racing on the roads. Therefore it would normally be expected that you are a club member (meaning that you are being covered under the club insurance), or otherwise need to pay a levy for insurance on the night.
- I see that you all seem to ride close together in a group. If I did that, I’d be afraid of knocking someone off.
Don’t be. At first it might seem very daunting, but if you’d never ridden in a group, we’d start by placing you at the back of the group where you’d not have to worry about people around you. From there we could teach you the basics and soon get you riding within the group as your confidence increased.
- But why ride so close together?
You’ll see! Riding ‘on someone’s wheel’ as it’s called gives you the benefit of slipstream. Riding close enough to the person in front of you can save you as much as 15-40% of your energy, depending on the speed and size of the group.
- Is everyone else fast? What if I can't keep up?
Try riding as far as you can on a flat road at 15 mph. If you can ride about 30 miles in two hours in varied terrain then you’re probably fit enough. That is about the speed that our slow group does, and it is always easier when you are in a group. If you start to struggle, don’t worry, we’ve all been there, and someone will ride with you to ensure you are ok. We won’t leave you behind in the middle of nowhere.
- I’m not good enough to come out with you yet.
If you believe that you’re not fit enough yet to come out with us, then hopefully the Welland valley CC can still offer you something. As we’ve said, we all started somewhere. For example, each week the club run goes to a predetermined café, and if you wanted, you could make your own way there at your own pace, meeting us for a slice of cake and some tea. Just let me know that you’ll be there so I can look out for you. Don’t forget the weekly time trials throughout the summer too, where you simply ride as quickly as you can against the clock over a predetermined distance.
- I’m faster than 15mph. Your club runs will be too slow for me!
We have two levels of club runs, so if you believe the slower run is too easy or short, or develop strength, then you can choose to ride with the other quicker riders. That said, club runs are a social ride where we aim to generally keep the group together. It will split on hills but regroup on the other side. Thursdays through the summer there is a ‘chain gang’, a race-pace training ride, from the school in Church Langton at 6.45pm (click here for details), and of course, there are the club time trials every Tuesday throughout the summer (click here for details).
- Do I have to race?
Not at all. You do as much or as little as you like. You may find that racing is infectious, especially time trials which are done entirely at your own speed. In a time trial you are racing against your previous personal best times always trying to better them.
- You haven’t mentioned off-roading for a while.
Yes, sorry, not forgotten you! There are quite a few riders in our club who ride off-road. However, generally speaking we are a road based club. We have members who ride off road and arrange occasional off road trips. and throughout the winter we have a Saturday afternoon mountain bike ride. See our ‘Group Rides’ page for details. If you are solely a mountain biker, then you might be interested in the CATS Mountain Bike club in Market Harborough, as they are exclusively ran for the benefit of MTBers. CATS are not linked to our club, so you will need to contact them directly. They have a website (www.catsmbc.com) or contact Neil at George Halls Cycles, Northampton Road, Market Harborough.
- Do you guys do anything else other than ride?
Yes, we go to the pub some evenings. Mine's a Guinness, in case you were wanting to get a beer in. We also have trips to see the Tour de France most years. For more information on our Non Cycling related activities click here.
- How much does it cost to join the Welland Valley Cycling Club?
Click HERE to find out.
- You haven’t answered all my questions!
- If I wanted to join, what should I do next?
Welland Valley's New Members Liason Officer is Claire Moore. She can be contact by the email below: