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Old 07-11-07, 02:30 PM   #1
Coloradopenguin
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Why join a club?

I have a friend working hard to get a recreational club going in our town, and he's given me the sales pitch several times. But after reading about Mr. Helmet I see things from a club side that would disappoint me, and I guess I still don't understand the appeal of being in a biking club.

Please share what's good, or not so good, about biking clubs.
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Old 07-11-07, 02:35 PM   #2
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To paraphrase someone else, I wouldn't be part of a club that would accept someone like me to be part of the club.
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Old 07-11-07, 03:02 PM   #3
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Most of the clubs I've been in, want you to join, so the heavies, can use your money to party. I just as soon ride myself, but that's just me.
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Old 07-11-07, 03:37 PM   #4
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One word: advocacy. I don't ride with the local group (much)
but do feel that they do a good job and want to support them.
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Old 07-11-07, 03:53 PM   #5
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Variety is one reason.

I've ridden tens of thousands of miles solo but sometimes it's
nice to ride with a group.
Sometimes a small group, sometimes large.

I've met some pretty nice people too.
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Old 07-11-07, 03:56 PM   #6
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its like going to a concert, or museum, or skiing, or hiking by yourself or with a group of friends. Either way it'll prolly be interesting and often fun, just different. If you understand 'friends' then you'll know all the +s and -s which matter.
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Old 07-11-07, 04:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coloradopenguin
Please share what's good, or not so good, about biking clubs.
I tend to be a solitary cyclist. For me the answer was to join the local bicycle advocacy group. I get to work towards improving conditions locally. I get to work with them at expos, promoting bicycling. I get to socialize with people who enjoy bicycling. But I don't have to ride with them.

Well, yes, I ride with them in the local parade and the Ride of Silence, but those aren't your typical rides. And we meet at the Oyster Bar, so good food and beer are available at the meetings. I should check to see if they have pie.
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Old 07-11-07, 04:19 PM   #8
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Just something different to do. I don't club ride every week but its fun to do once or twice a month. The fee for our club is just $25/yr and you get a discount at a LBS in the area if you are in the club. They use the money to sponsor a picnic in the summer and organized century ride once a year. Also if you are interested in increasing your riding speed doing fast group rides is a good way to accomplish this.
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Old 07-11-07, 06:25 PM   #9
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We have a new (in its third year) club with about 65 members in our rural area. Most come from two major communities (if towns of 5500 and 2500 can be called "major"). I would have never met the riders from the other town without the club. We have official rides 3-5 times a month, but most of the people with whom I ride casually are with the club. We do a bit of advocacy, but it's mostly about riding. It's been a good experience for me. We're pretty casual, have some rides that are hammerfests (and are so labeled), most are more social. I still ride alone as much as with others. Our groups are sometimes only 3 - 5 people.

Our next "project" may be a "Your First Century", an "easy" 100 miles, with experienced riders helping those who want to reach that milestone. If you are in a large area, search for a club that fits you, or has several sub groups.
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Old 07-11-07, 06:28 PM   #10
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Club rides force you to improve or die.
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Old 07-11-07, 06:29 PM   #11
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we joined a club last June and have yet to ride with them...I am too much of a loner to be in a club anyway....
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Old 07-11-07, 06:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mojo Slim
We have a new (in its third year) club with about 65 members in our rural area. Most come from two major communities (if towns of 5500 and 2500 can be called "major"). I would have never met the riders from the other town without the club. We have official rides 3-5 times a month, but most of the people with whom I ride casually are with the club. We do a bit of advocacy, but it's mostly about riding. It's been a good experience for me. We're pretty casual, have some rides that are hammerfests (and are so labeled), most are more social. I still ride alone as much as with others. Our groups are sometimes only 3 - 5 people.

Our next "project" may be a "Your First Century", an "easy" 100 miles, with experienced riders helping those who want to reach that milestone. If you are in a large area, search for a club that fits you, or has several sub groups.
+1 As good a rationale as I have heard for joining a local club. Whether you ride much with a group or not, it will keep you in touch with things that might impact your bike riding pleasure--trail openings/closings, new regulations, local bike stores and the like.
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Old 07-11-07, 06:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George
Most of the clubs I've been in, want you to join, so the heavies, can use your money to party. I just as soon ride myself, but that's just me.
Funny enough, the dues for my club don't even cover the cost of the newsletter. Yep, the club loses money on every membership. The only way it can afford to keep going is by members who volunteer their time to make all the fundraiser rides work. Our fundraisers not only bring in the money to keep the club going, they donate tens of thousands of $$$ toward bicycle projects every year.

There are parties and social functions too; but for the most part the club only provides 'seed money' - i.e. loans for up-front costs - for them. They're expected to pay for themselves.
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Old 07-11-07, 06:45 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George
Most of the clubs I've been in, want you to join, so the heavies, can use your money to party. I just as soon ride myself, but that's just me.
Hmmmm, ya know, George, that's a little cynical. I am not a clubie at all, but my experience is that the "heavies" usually invest a lot of their own time and money in making a club work. The advocacy stuff is actually pretty useful. Like you, I ride mostly solo, but I do think that the joiners make a useful contribution to the cycling cause.
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Old 07-11-07, 07:01 PM   #15
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I joined our after work group and I'm in the process of joining a local club for one reason, advance my cycling. When the after work group found out I had signed up for a local MS ride and that I was concerned about the number of hills on the ride, they changed their course to include hills. The cycling club I'm joining charges a one time fee of $15, if you want to pay it! They were real supportive providing training tips and helping me practice drafting. Come to think of it, the reason I'm road biking more this year is due mostly to these two groups.
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Old 07-11-07, 08:17 PM   #16
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We're fortunate enough to have two major clubs in town. One is strictly for racer types, bless 'em. Then there's my club, for the rest of us. The rides I've been on generally sort themselves out into smaller groups of similarly-paced riders.

No matter what, I've enjoyed every group ride I've gone on, and I've learned something on each one as well.

As for the parties, there's a catered volunteer appreciation dinner, where everyone who has done volunteer work for or with the club gets an invite, a catered annual dinner open to all, and several other dish-to-pass functions, also open to all.

Among the other benefits are
  • discounts at all the LBSs in the area,
  • a CD-ROM with our mapset of 362 rides on it,
  • advocacy work,
  • monthly newsletter,
  • loaner truing stand and hard-shell bike cases, and
  • bike maintenance classes.

Last edited by tsl; 07-11-07 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 07-11-07, 08:35 PM   #17
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I can only tell you why I started a bicycle club in my smallish town 2 years ago, advocacy and sociability. I had been riding mostly solo for years. Most of the active riders I knew were too serious about riding fast and racing for my tastes. I started doing organized rides around the state and found it very enjoyable to ride with others at my pace. I also enjoyed meeting people who liked to ride. I figured there must be others around here who really enjoyed riding but who weren't all about speed. Also I knew we had some great roads that would make a great organized ride to bring people in from other areas.

After years of watching road and traffic condition worsen with no consideration for bicycling in the planning process, I participated in a DOT sponsored initiative to plan for future bicycling and pedestrian friendly routes. I soon realized that without some kind of identifiable bicycling community, there was little chance for any real and useful improvement. There needed to be at least the impression that there were people interested in bicycling who would benefit from making improvements. Politicians need to see potential votes, business leaders need to see potential profits.

I started a Yahoo group, sent emails to every bicyclist I knew and to everyone at the local college. A dozen people showed up at the first meeting and immediately started planning rides. Two years later, we have over 90 online members and about 25 more or less active riders. Participation gets pretty low in the winter and summer and peaks in the spring and fall. We do a lot of easy, high visibility rides around town to create awareness in the community. We have had several members go from absolute beginners to regularly riding 30 to 50 miles in fairly hilly terrain. We have had very successful April Fools rides the last two years and have raised good sums of money for advocacy and awareness projects in the area. We have managed several times to get bicycles on the front page of the local papers, on the radio and even on television in nearby Macon, GA. We have participated in rides all over the state. We have met with community leaders to get cycling considerations included in streetscape projects. We have given bicycle safety lessons to schools and summer camps. We have had a lot of fun. I have lost 30 lbs. We have increased business in the local bike shop. We are asked to participate in community projects that we once were unable to get allowed into.

I can't say why you should join a club, but this is why I started one.
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Old 07-11-07, 10:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesDawg
I can only tell you why I started a bicycle club in my smallish town 2 years ago, advocacy and sociability. I had been riding mostly solo for years. Most of the active riders I knew were too serious about riding fast and racing for my tastes. I started doing organized rides around the state and found it very enjoyable to ride with others at my pace. I also enjoyed meeting people who liked to ride. I figured there must be others around here who really enjoyed riding but who weren't all about speed. Also I knew we had some great roads that would make a great organized ride to bring people in from other areas.

After years of watching road and traffic condition worsen with no consideration for bicycling in the planning process, I participated in a DOT sponsored initiative to plan for future bicycling and pedestrian friendly routes. I soon realized that without some kind of identifiable bicycling community, there was little chance for any real and useful improvement. There needed to be at least the impression that there were people interested in bicycling who would benefit from making improvements. Politicians need to see potential votes, business leaders need to see potential profits.

I started a Yahoo group, sent emails to every bicyclist I knew and to everyone at the local college. A dozen people showed up at the first meeting and immediately started planning rides. Two years later, we have over 90 online members and about 25 more or less active riders. Participation gets pretty low in the winter and summer and peaks in the spring and fall. We do a lot of easy, high visibility rides around town to create awareness in the community. We have had several members go from absolute beginners to regularly riding 30 to 50 miles in fairly hilly terrain. We have had very successful April Fools rides the last two years and have raised good sums of money for advocacy and awareness projects in the area. We have managed several times to get bicycles on the front page of the local papers, on the radio and even on television in nearby Macon, GA. We have participated in rides all over the state. We have met with community leaders to get cycling considerations included in streetscape projects. We have given bicycle safety lessons to schools and summer camps. We have had a lot of fun. I have lost 30 lbs. We have increased business in the local bike shop. We are asked to participate in community projects that we once were unable to get allowed into.

I can't say why you should join a club, but this is why I started one.

You the Man... Thank you for your efforts and inspiration
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Old 07-12-07, 09:21 AM   #19
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Club rides force you to improve or die.
This is why I joined a club although the die part is a bit extreme.
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Old 07-12-07, 09:27 AM   #20
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There have been several good reasons posted for joining a club. Mine was to become a better rider. I've learned quite a bit over the past couple years from the experienced riders in the club. I enjoy the group rides, discounts from local LBS and participation in local events supporting cycling.
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Old 07-12-07, 09:28 AM   #21
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This is why I joined a club although the die part is a bit extreme.
Not with the club I ride with.

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Old 07-12-07, 10:51 AM   #22
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Clubs are fun. You may find that some or even most of a particular club's rides don't suit you, but riding with others who share your cycling interests (addiction?) can be very enjoyable, and you're almost certain to make new cycling friends.
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Old 07-12-07, 10:55 AM   #23
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Never belonged to a cycle club but we have a group that regularly rides together so it is social riding. Then in the town where I live there are a group that ride every Sunday. No club as such but it is recognised that if you want a road ride on a sunday be at the town centre at 9am.

Still prefer to ride on my own though.
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Old 07-12-07, 10:59 AM   #24
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By being a member of a club, you participate in organized rides you likely would pass by on your own.
We do great rides about our region, but often club members gang up and put 4-5 bikes on a car's bike rack and go nearby for other club rides and see different terrain. Usually , when I go out on my own, I enjoy my rides, but rarely do anything really different.
We do bike advocacy with an association of bikes , plus club cook outs and camping trips where we go to whole new areas and explore on our bikes. Great people. Really spices up the cycing.
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Old 07-12-07, 11:10 AM   #25
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I am a solitary cyclist myself, and my group rides are with my kids when we get the chance. 2 out 3 of my kids still ride bikes and we've got the Grand Son riding along in a trailer now.

But... My motivation for riding better is via working at the Bike Shop. I am one of the oldest there at 51 and the rest are in their mid 20's. I still do ok on MTB rides where trail skills come into play. The Road rides I stay away from becuase I'm still about 30 lbs away from even thinking about a Road Bike. (But I'll get there!)

Bicycle riding is one of the things I like to do, no... LOVE to do. Sometimes I do things that in a group setting might not be right, like riding a short distance without a helmet. This, while only potentially damging to myself, will stir the ire of any self appointed Safety Nazi that may be in the Group. Sorry folks, ALL Clubs have them and they turn into little Pit Bulls in neon Spandex. That is something I can do without. I've heard the excuse about Structure and Discipline from these same folks and I tell them if they want that to Join the Military and spend 24 years like I did. In other words, Get outta my face!

In the 90's, I helped to design and build up a BSA Mountain Bike Program and one of the first of it's kind in the USA. We worked in a lot of Safety into that program due to the constraints of Insurance and conformity to BSA Policies for Scout Safety. Those were fun rides and for some of the kids, the first time EVER to be on a Quality Bicycle. All the hard hours were paid in full after each ride with the Smile from the Kids and Adults.

I still try and catch a ride or two with some of the local Scout troops. Nice slow paced rides with Road Guards and Sag Vehicles to support the kids.

I guess for the most part, I don't feel the desire to join a club.

Chris
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