Riding with a cycling club might seem a bit daunting if you're new to cycling or unsure of your fitness. Here are the answers to some of the questions you might have.
Do I need a road bike?
There's a regular Mountain Bike Ride every Saturday and an occasional Gravel Ride but our other rides are on the road and on the intermediate and fast ones everyone will be on road bikes. But you’re welcome to come out on a hybrid bike on our introductory or easy rides. The only rides where you will definitely need a road bike with drop handlebars are our training rides.
Do I need mudguards?
We strongly recommend fitting mudguards when the skies or roads are wet. You’ll be drier, cleaner and healthier on your rides, and so will we. If you join a ride in the wet without mudguards, please expect to ride at the back so you share your spray only with others that don't have mudguards. If you want advice on mudguards, just ask other club members: we all have the same need and love to share solutions on rides.
Does it matter that I only have a cheap bike?
We're not the kind of club where people boast about their expensive bikes. You definitely don't need a posh bike to join us. More expensive bikes benefit from being lighter, so they're easier to ride uphill, but ultimately it doesn't matter how expensive a bike is, as long as it's well maintained.
Will I be able to keep up?
Most of us worried about this before our first ride with a club. Our Rides page lists all our rides in order of the fitness you’ll need. Speeds start at ‘leisurely’.
If you have only ever ridden by yourself, you’ll find that it is always easier when you are riding in a group, and you may be surprised how easy the miles pass when you are chatting away.
Is everyone else fast? What if I'm struggling?
Not everyone is fast, and we're not the kind of club where everyone tries to impress each other with speed. If you start to struggle, don't worry, we've all been there, and someone will ride with you to ensure you're OK. We won't leave you in the middle of nowhere.
Where do you ride as I don't like riding near cars or on busy roads?
Neither do we. As far as possible, we ride on quiet minor roads and lanes, away from the traffic.
Are there many women in the Wheelers?
We’re delighted that women membership is at an all-time high of about one in four of us. You can contact our Women’s Ambassador at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you ride close together?
Riding ‘on someone's wheel’ gives you the benefit of slipstream and can save you as much as 15-40% of your energy, depending on the speed and size of the group. Riding close together enables all the riders to maintain a higher average speed than any one rider could on their own.
Riding close together can take a bit of getting used to if you're new to riding in a group. However, there's no need to be daunted. If you're a bit uncertain, it's best to start at the back of the group where you don't have to worry about riders behind you. From there you'll soon learn about group riding and increase your confidence.
Here’s a video explaining the basics of group riding, including key “do’s and don’ts”
And here’s another explaining some of the most common hand signals used to warn of hazards and communicate within the group
Any suggestions if I'm not fit enough to come out with you yet?
If you believe that you're not fit enough yet to come out with us, we hope we can still offer you something.
For example, every ride other than the training rides, goes to a predetermined café and, if you wanted to, you could make your own way there at your own pace, meeting us for a slice of cake and some tea. Just let us know that you'll be there so we can look out for you.
We may be able to arrange for one of us to meet up with you for an initial ride and help you decide which club ride would suit you best. If you stick at it and ride regularly, it won't be long before you'll wonder what you were worried about.
Do I have to wear lycra?
No, although many riders find lycra more comfortable (particularly between them and the saddle). The materials used in cycling clothing tend to breathe well, reducing discomfort from sweating, and don't flap around in the wind. There's now a wide range of kit available for cycling so look for something that you find comfortable and are happy to wear. Remember to keep warm, especially in the winter (it's better to be too warm than too cold).
If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We're looking forward to meeting you.
Before you come out with us please read either or both of these, as appropriate: