The value of being part of a cycling club is one many underestimate, until they get the opportunity to try it. An opportunity that can change a cyclist’s life and way of exploring on two-wheels, build new friendships and sometimes relationships. It brings you into a family like no other.
We know from our blog on what cycling clubs are all about that it’s important to be a part of one. They help you grow as a cyclist both mentally and physically, provide you with a community of like-minded people, they help friendships bloom and provide experiences like no other.
Yes, they cost a little to join sometimes, but this is usually for the cost of behind the scenes fees. But you get to wear a swanky club kit, venture to places you wouldn’t otherwise and enjoy trialing lots of cake and coffees.
Cycling clubs sadly took a hit around the 1960s, when cars became more affordable and urban migration took place, with clubs focusing on competition. This sent social clubs into a decline.
Over the last 10 years cycling clubs have blossomed into a wonderful area of equality, while challenging the change the world requires.
British Cycling reports that memberships doubled since Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France in 2012 – it showed people that nothing was impossible, and lit a spark inside. The 2012 Olympics also saw a rise in cycling among the youngsters. It brought our current champions into cycling.
The pandemic then accelerated the growth in the uptake of cycling even further, with 7.5million people now reportedly riding bikes in the UK both including commuting and as a hobby. Clubs of all kinds are in great demand.
There are clubs for everyone:
- Mixed gender clubs
- Gender specific clubs
- Specifically religious clubs
- Race clubs
- Specific discipline clubs
- Kids clubs
- Adult only clubs
- People with disability clubs
You name it, and you’ll probably find a club specifically for what you want – check out our club finder here for more.
Now, to the outside this might look like segregation, but in reality, when you look deeper into the clubs, they are busy providing safe spaces for everyone, no matter who you are or where you’re from.
Clubs are created to fill gaps that maybe some other clubs can’t. The cycling industry wants everyone to get involved and to do that, everyone must feel safe in their own space. By having clubs supporting and driving equality, we can bring more people into cycling so they can experience the enrichment it brings.
In recent years we’ve also seen an increase in ‘Cycling Collectives’ – these are groups of like-minded people that come together to enjoy life on two-wheels without your standard club environment. Usually there isn’t anything ‘official’ in place, regarding committee members etc. decisions are made by everyone involved.
Often, collectives come together from friendships and turn into groups of people wanting the same thing on a bike – gravel collectives, audax collectives, gender collectives and religious collectives. It’s often easier for some people to get into cycling if they feel more comfortable and safe within the group of people they’re cycling with.
Collectives bring a more diverse environment to the community, catering for everyone – who might not be able to get involved in a club for various reasons.
A good example of collectives coming together is for gravel riding – they’re quite often rides that aren’t catered for in your standard club. Check out our gravel blog here for more information if you want to get involved. There are various collectives such as the Peak Gravel Gang taking a place within cycling, to provide adventure, no matter what type of riding you enjoy.
Other gravel collective examples:
- The Steezy Collective Catering to women, non-binary and trans-riders.
- Teacher Peloton – Catering for teachers who love to ride bikes.
- Women in Tandem – Catering for women.
- Routing for Ya – an inclusive cycling collective.
- Queers on Wheels – Catering for queer people.
Find the rest of our clubs and collectives on our website finder here.
How can we continue to improve the state of clubs
For a start we can be more supportive of every club, because the aims are all the same. If you have spare time you could volunteer for a role within your club – a very satisfying thing to do, we have a blog on that too!
Bring along friends, rave about your club and continue to encourage people into cycling. Even better, take a friend along to some events and show them how inclusive the sport is.
We really believe that the cycling industry might be one of the best, if not THE best.
We had a chat with Kofi Kyei founder of Ride4Unity about cycling collectives and clubs, diversity and the enjoyment of cycling.
‘It’s tricky – if you’re an existing cycling club, how do you become more diverse when your network isn’t that diverse? You’re not necessarily sure how you market diversity to people and that’s why I think something like Cycle Together really comes into its own. Because, if there was something like that when I was coming up, I could have looked and found a collective that I might have felt “actually this could be a bit of me.’
A very good point, sometimes making a change within something that has its traditions and supporters already can be extremely difficult. There isn’t a huge amount of support when setting clubs up or trying to change the way things run, we have British Cycling which is your traditional place to register a ‘club’ but where do you search if you don’t feel you fit into a traditional club. That’s why we’ve set up Cycle Together. We wanted a place where lone cyclists could find an array of clubs and collectives in one place, and contribute to them finding their ‘place’ within this.
We want everyone to enjoy cycling to its fullest – and that often means getting out on adventures with other people. But how do you meet new people without common ground?
Kofi feels similarly to us, although it’s great to be able to get out alone and clear your head – there’s nothing quite like going out with friends.
‘I think it was important for me on the level of enjoyment, because I think cycling is really versatile. You can do it on your own. And sometimes just use it as an opportunity to clear your head or figure some stuff out, you know, whatever you want to do. But there are times, and I find it’s the majority of the time for me, where it’s just brilliant to be doing it with other people. Especially if you want to push yourself, if you ride with people that are a bit stronger than you are, or can take you on some different routes, like you’re learning and developing through that. So I think it was important to me because it enhanced my enjoyment of the sport.’
It can be difficult teaching an old dog new tricks, but instead of watching from afar we can still make a change and open the cycling doors to everyone.