So, you’re considering joining a cycling club or group but you’re not certain it’s for you, or where to start the process? Every cyclist has been in that sticky position, at some stage along their cycling journey. We know it can be a difficult choice, so we’re going to provide the basic information you need to get started.
What is a cycling club?
A valid question because without knowing that, you probably can’t imagine what a cycling club does or how it would benefit you. What is it they can do that you can’t do alone… right? Well, a cycling club is a door to a whole new joyous world that you could never even imagine.
A cycling club is basically the spine of cycling. They start from grassroots, entry level and go all the way up to racing. They help to build up the cycling community while providing invaluable knowledge and helping cyclists to progress in their journeys.
How are cycling groups and collectives different from clubs?
Cycling groups and collectives are more of a free spirit way of cycling with other people. They can be groups of friends – who are sometimes part of various clubs – coming together to take part in things they enjoy such as, early morning gravel rides, touring adventures or chat laps in their local park.
However, by not being part of a ‘club’ their rides won’t be officially organised by the club committee, they won’t tend to have matching kit and there aren’t any mandatory requirements. It’s all fun and they’re on their own terms with generally no fees or expectations.
Why join a cycling club or group?
We all know our non-cycling friends think it’s weird that we ride bikes for hours on end and often at ridiculous hours of the day. A club, group or collective gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded people who totally get your hobby.
Clubs can have various areas of focus. For example, some are all rounders, some focus on certain disciplines and others focus on racing. This can make it easier to find people you’ll have more in common with, and often, clubs are the start of blossoming friendships.
Being part of such a welcoming community has such amazing benefits for individuals, both mentally and physically. Cycling releases endorphins – endorphins make you smile – triggering a positive feeling in the body. They also act as analgesics and aid in diminishing the perception of pain, they’re manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body. Cycling can also provide stress relief by giving you time to think of something else and release your mind from itself.
It can be tough riding alone. The moment you hit that head wind and your brain goes ‘ping’, or suddenly your legs feel empty when you’ve still got more of that big climb to go. It’s also common that as individuals, we stick to what we know – who doesn’t love a comfort zone? Being part of a club or group can show you new routes, support you in your training, help you explore the world of cycling abroad, take you on bikepacking adventures and even introduce you to the wonderful world of a new discipline.
We don’t know about you guys, but a mid-ride café stop and slab of cake is a strong reason for us getting on our bikes… What better way to become a coffee connoisseur, than doing it with your fellow club mates? No but really, testing out various cafés across the country is a solid 10/10 hobby.
Skills, glorious skills! We all need some skills and unfortunately, it’s unlikely something we can gain expertise in while riding alone. Thankfully, clubs will have you riding in groups safely, teaching you new group exercises and new skills. They can help you gain so much confidence on the bike – in traffic, on country lanes, in a group and on technical routes.
Does racing tickle your fancy? Not sure where to start? Well, your club will lead you down the right path and offer up all the knowledge they have, while often providing you with team mates to do so. Once you’ve gotten into racing with your club, you may wish to progress onto a race team so your club is a good springboard for that.
Remember those dreaded winter rides, where you spend most of your day procrastinating, or turn your alarm off and then miraculously it’s too late for you to train before work? We can guarantee training with your club will make those days/months so much better. The conversation, cheeky coffee stop, wheels to hide on when you’re cracked because it’s so cold you can’t feel your hands or toes, and the motivation to venture further afield than the turbo in the garage – honestly these are some of the best reasons for joining a group.
Cycling group culture
Cycling groups are set up with the idea of bringing cyclists together, be it new cyclists, intermediate ones or racers, the culture is inclusive of everyone – no quibbles, no specifications required – just everyone, we are all equal beings.
Clubs and groups will have a code of conduct and values to make sure everybody is treated fairly and with respect, this allows them to embrace their ethos. While making sure every member understands that they are responsible for their own actions within all activities and while representing the club at events.
Finding your local group
Something every cyclist will have been through, a trail that isn’t always easy to follow. There are so many clubs, collectives and groups out there! Some local and some a little further afield, some have more of a male presence, some equal, some more female based and others focused on specific disciplines. So we know it isn’t easy.
It’s also difficult to find the right information in one place, and understand a club’s culture. Plus of course, reviews are helpful – personal reviews from club members are what makes a club stand out.
You don’t have to sign up to be a member before joining a club or group, because making a rash decision like that doesn’t mean it’s the right one and being part of a club means you need to fit in well not only for yourself, but for the other members as well. You can usually go along and test a few rides or training sessions, to get a feel for how they work.
We’ve noticed that one of the biggest barriers to finding a group is the lack of platforms that have all the information about various clubs for comparison in one place, a user-friendly tool that can give you everything you need. Well, consider it a problem no more! Welcome to Cycle Together. You can use our handy Club Locator tool to help you find your local clubs, reviews of said clubs, information on the kind of club they are and any membership fees.
We hope this has been helpful to you and you find a club which enables you to experience the true cycling community. Let us know how you get on.