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Thread: Cycling Clubs

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Everett, WA
    Posts
    37

    Cycling Clubs

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    I am a brand new rider and still getting a feel for what I am doing. A suggestion that comes up over and over is to join a cycling club. I wanted to get a feel from members of this forum about their experiences with cycling clubs. I have had some sadly negative experience with running groups and am reluctant to go through that again.

    Do members here belong to cycling clubs? How did you find your club? Is it worth going farther geographically to have more choice or is location the most important thing?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    MS
    Posts
    221
    I used my local club as a way to meet other cyclists. Now I have a regular group I ride with & rarely participate in local club activities. They can also give you route suggestions (as can your LBS).
    "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly" (Robert F. Kennedy)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    510
    There are soo many types of cycling clubs out there.

    Hardcore racing every weekend clubs
    Non-organized large bunch groups of pain in the A*** groups
    Touring groups- these tend to go pretty slow for me.

    The best club I have joined was a vetrens cycle club- meaning over 30s and mostly older 50+ men and women who wanted to go for medium to long rides in various speed groups, have a coffee afterwards and do the occasional fun race every second month. A nice balance between giving you a challenge to get better (you moved up speed groups etc) but enough social (we chatted whilke riding and had lunch etc afterwards). Organized with over 30 different routes which changed weekly, with help to build up for certain cycling events (like a 160km ride in November most of the club went to).

    I miss these guys so much and have made lifelong friends too. We also did Xmas parties and dinners as part of the club. Really good. Everyone so supportive and no one had anything to prove. We even had a 90 year old riding an ancient bike come out every week (the club brought him a new bike for his 90th birthday. He was so happy). Such inspirationation people.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    240
    Welcome to TE!

    What kind of bike did you get? (road/hybrid/mtn?)

    How comfortable are you on the bike so far? What kind of riding do you want to do with a club? (leisurely social kind of ride? faster paced, long distance, etc)

    I found several riding groups through meetup.com. (Just plug in your zip code and search for cycling/biking/etc). You can also ask at your bike shop if they know of any.

    Be sure to read the ride descriptions closely. Some may say "no drop" (meaining you wont be left behind), but the average pace may not be something you are ready for. You might also try reaching out to the leader beforehand to find out if it is the right group for you.

    I have learned so much through my groups and met some great folks. But it can take a few rides to find the one for you.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    perpetual traveler
    Posts
    1,302
    I have found that average speed may be higher than the stated speed.
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    Richard Feynman: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Everett, WA
    Posts
    37
    I am interested in road biking and am very much a beginner. I am lucky since I am close to Seattle there are dozens of bike clubs. Maybe too much choice is my problem? Also, am enough of an introvert that I feel intimidated being a beginner going to a meetup. I guess I was hoping for re-assurance that clubs really do enjoy beginners.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    173
    I have a friend in the Seattle area who might be able to help. He's very experienced in training new riders (he coordinates a charity ride and helps train participants) so I sent him an email asking for names of clubs he might recommend for someone who is new and wants a positive group riding experience. I'll let you know when I hear back from him!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    510
    How much of a beginner?

    Hopefully you are totally comfortable on your bike, know how to use your gears and have a reasonable speed and stamina built up.

    You are not ready to join a cycle club if you-

    1) Cannot remember which way to change your gears up and down, or don't set your gearing up so you can climb a hill (and either always drop your chain or have to get off your bike because you are in the wrong gear).

    2) You cannot ride the normal distance the club rides

    3) You cannot maintain the average speed the cycle club advertises their beginner ride goes at.

    If that is you above I would suggest riding for a couple more months by yourself before joining a club and getting used to your bike and riding more. Most clubs cannot take absolute newbies to cycling, because a lot of cycling is yourself learning first as well as safety (you have to be able to brake fast, ride smoothly etc when riding in a group).

    To enjoy your club rides and not feel like a hinderance it's a good idea to get experience first. However if you do tick all the boxes go ahead and try a cycle club!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    173
    Hi - I just sent you a private message with contact information for a group ride in Seattle. Hope it helps!
    S

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    San Antonio Heights, CA (Upland)
    Posts
    1,068
    I have a great club. Sadly, I haven't been able to ride with them in a while due to health, but look forward to riding with them again eventually. I think my husband found them through our neighbor, who just happened to be the president of the club.

    Our club is very non-threatening. All levels. That's key to know going in. Some clubs are aimed at racers, or just fast paced rides. Others have a no drop policy, or may have a no drop policy for "some" rides, but not others. Our club has a Saturday ride with three route options. The level of riding generally seems to go along with the route. The short route usually is a slower paced ride, even though sometimes the stronger riders ride it because they don't' have time for the long ride or are not up to the longer more intense ride that day. The intermediate is longer and usually a bit faster and the longest ride, with the big climb, is the fastest, most intense ride.

    On all three rides, everyone regroups at the top of climbs.

    I love riding with other people. It's part of what makes riding fun. It's part of what compels me to get out and ride and train, so I can keep up with the faster riders. Everyone in our club is very friendly and welcoming of beginner riders. It's good to let them know you are new to riding so they can help you out along the ride and mentor you a bit.

    There's a Tue/Thu ride that is a more intense pace and a Sunday long ride, which varies each week. There's also a Sunday afternoon women's only ride, which is more geared for beginners or women who just don't ride fast or are intimidated by riding with men. The pace is up to 14 mph.

    So a lot of options. They have other functions for members to get to know each other at and socialize.

    When you ride with others, you learn a lot, and grow as a rider.

    I did a weekly ride for a while that my friend found on meetup.com (you should check out meetup for rides, by the way), for women CAT 4 racers, or women who want to push themselves to ride faster whether they race or not. We told the organizer of that ride about our club. She checked it out and, even though it was a fairly far drive for her, she joined. She'd ridden with a couple of other clubs closer to her, but found ours to be a much better fit.

    So, not all clubs are created equal and you have to find one that feels right for you. For me, the club experience has been a great one. Check out club websites and see what kind of rides they offer. If you can't get a feel for the club by looking at the site, email them and ask questions. Let them know you are a beginner and ask them what to expect if you tried one of their rides and which one they would recommend you try.

    As for location of the club, I think finding the club that is the best fit is more important than location . . . unless you find yourself never bothering to go because of the distance. It just depends. I used to live within a mile or two of my club's ride starts, which was awesome. I just rode my bike to the start. Just recently we moved about 15 minutes away, so whenever I get a chance to ride with them again I'll be driving, but it will be worth it. There are several members who drive much farther.
    GO RIDE YOUR BIKE!!!

    2009 Cannondale Super Six High Modulus / SRAM Red / Selle San Marco Mantra

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Everett, WA
    Posts
    37
    You ladies have been so helpful. A lot to think about. I think I will have to suck up my worries and try a few. There is bound to be one I like.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    5

    Club rides

    I love riding alone, but I find the group rides push me to ride faster, which makes me a stronger rider. I also usually learn something from someone more experienced and wise. In winter (I live in the Pacific Northwest) I ride alone more often that not because I always feel like I can bail on a solo ride if I get cold or just can't take another drop of rain!
    Enjoy it all!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Rowland Hts, CA
    Posts
    473
    I am a newbie that just learned about bike gears 6 mo ago and went clipless/bought my first road bike 3 months ago. I just learned to sort of drink from my water bottle and sort of signal other riders (I'm still VERY wobbly) while riding my bike 1 month ago.

    In my area, there is only one bike club that is within 10 miles of me. There are a ton of bike clubs within 20 miles of me. So rather than try out the bike clubs far away, I stuck with the group that is closest to me (they have 3 levels...recreation 14-18mph, intermediate 17-20mph, racers 20+mph. We all ride over 34 miles including hills ranging from 2% to 6% grades, with the recreation group starting the earliest).

    One of the retired men organizes group rides daily outside of the club's weekly rides. Because of all the encouragement of the club riders, I actually rode up the mountain last week (on a day when the back mountain road was closed to cars) up 5000 feet (45miles round trip). I would have NEVER have thought that I could do that route. I still have not ridden more than 55miles. I'm looking forward to eventually doing a century.

    Riding with my bike club members have definitely stretched what I thought that I could do. I would never have done any of it, nor even dared to ride on the road, without them. Thank you Team Velocity in Fullerton, CA!
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    2
    Have you looked at the Seattle LunaChix group ride? They ride each Wed. evening, either from Redmond REI, Mercer Island Lurther Burbank Park or Gas Works park in Seattle. I just started riding last August and was "afraid" to join them last year but worked up the courage this past April and did a Mercer Island ride with them. They are a no drop group and split into at least 2 subgroups based on speed. I went in the slower group and the speed was about 13 mph which was perfect for me. None of the rides have worked out for me since then but this post reminded me I need to check next weeks schedule!

    I work in Bothell and try to ride the Sammamish River trail/Burke Gilman into Seattle one evening a week; anywhere from 20-30miles round trip depending on time. So far I,ve been riding alone but would be happy for company if you wanted to join!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Everett, WA
    Posts
    37
    Quote Originally Posted by Cfrizz View Post
    Have you looked at the Seattle LunaChix group ride? They ride each Wed. evening, either from Redmond REI, Mercer Island Lurther Burbank Park or Gas Works park in Seattle. I just started riding last August and was "afraid" to join them last year but worked up the courage this past April and did a Mercer Island ride with them. They are a no drop group and split into at least 2 subgroups based on speed. I went in the slower group and the speed was about 13 mph which was perfect for me. None of the rides have worked out for me since then but this post reminded me I need to check next weeks schedule!

    I work in Bothell and try to ride the Sammamish River trail/Burke Gilman into Seattle one evening a week; anywhere from 20-30miles round trip depending on time. So far I,ve been riding alone but would be happy for company if you wanted to join!
    CFrizz, that would be great. I am in Everett so I have ridden the Burke Gilman at all. I have been intimidated by the Luna Chix ride and also the logistics of getting my bike to Seattle at that time seems tough but you know it would be worth it.

 

 

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