I ride alone unless I meet someone out on a ride.So I was thinking of joining a bicycle club.The one I'm looking at has people around my age,lots of grey hair and white beards in the pictures. I thought if I ride with a group I would pick it up a notch and I'm tired of my same old routes.Is there any reason one can think of not to join a club?
There's more to a club suiting you than the people being your age. It's nice if the club member you are going to ride with are compatible riders with your skill and risk-comfort levels. We have a club hereabouts that has a lot of riders whose riding skill is far below their confidence. In other words, crashes are the norm. I don't ride with those sort of riders.
Go ride with them a bit and see if they will suit you. Club rides can be wonderful, but not all clubs are for all riders.
Clubs have plusses and minuses... when I was an active club rider (for about 10 years) I got into endurance training and did many century rides. Other folks were encouraging to work out and train with. Plus it was motivation each week to get out and ride (no excuses there was always people to ride with). And yes I learned many new routes and different areas to ride.
I stopped club riding when to me it got too dangerous. Club riders tend to get careless and reckless because while in a large group one seems impuned to cars and other traffic... not so and after several very serious crashes (including mine where I sustained a serious head injury) I stopped ... I now have a nice small ride group (3 - 5 people) that I enjoy. I still also ride solo.
But many people love and enjoy the company of other like minded folks and it is a rget way to get involved in cycling. Enjoy!
And don't assume old white hairs are casual riders... some of the most serious and stronger riders I know are those white hairs!
I started a club back in the 70's and disbanded it when we all went off to college. Started another one in the 90's with 3 other fellas and it is still going strong today. I no longer ride with them because it lost its flavor of character and became a pissing contest every time we road, but those guys still enjoy it and bring in fresh meat every season.
Ride alone and meet up with folks at your leisure while riding. I find this very enjoyable and the preferred method of meeting new riders.
Most bicycle clubs let you ride with them at least a few times without joining the club. Give them a try and see if you like it. Remember that you can still ride on your own sometimes if you want. I suppose the main reasons that some people don't like clubs is that the ride starting locations and/or times are inconvenient.
I'm a member of three local clubs. Each club has a bit different style, and within the clubs are way different types of rides. I like to check out routes I've never done for familiarity.
In any group ride there are inevitable squirrels, ie. folks who can't hold a line or who do stupid stuff. It's good to identify these people and stay away from them.
Sometimes the herd mentality is bad. I once fired off a note about how many club rides feature riders who are oblivious to traffic and show no common courtesy. It was a Jerry Maquire moment. I've had several people congratulate me for saying what needed to be said, but I've also gotten the cold shoulder on subsequent rides.
The most important thing to determine on a group ride is what the drop policy is. Some rides are leisurely and have sweepers with infinite patience. Others are hammerfests where if you pass out and ride into a ditch they won't worry about it until your corpse is so rank they call the sanitation department to dispose of the body. It's best to know what you're getting into.
In this area some local bike shops sponsor rides, weekly in warm weather. If there are some in your area, you may be able to ride with them without becoming a member of anything. Of course, check out their speed, distance, intensity and drop policy in advance.
Clubs are great. I'm a member of one that is large and has many levels or riders. They have mapped routes that make every effort to avoid busy roads. Every ride is supported with a SAG. But they will drop you which doesn't matter much because of the SAG. As others have said, you need to learn the rules of each club. I used to belong to two other clubs. One was an absolutely no drop, ride at the same speed (3 different speed groups). The other was pretty much a hard core, hammer it out, if you can't keep up, TS, that would group up once or twice, only after riding long hills.
Don't let that gray hair or white beard fool you.
Some of those retired guys have all the time in the world to ride and are quite strong.
Clubs vary hugely. Ride as a guest and read up on their website before you join.
I ride with a large bike club and enjoy that there's usually somebody my speed to ride with, but I hate how the pack mentality kicks in and traffic laws aren't followed.
I also ride with a small bike club and enjoy the people but often there is nobody who is compatible to ride with on a given ride. Volunteer involvement can take up ride time too.
Some other groups are too recreational (pub crawls), others are too hard core (I want to stop to drink water every 5 miles).
There should be a solution out there that fits what you want.
Be flexible, I never thought I would enjoy breakfast rides (riding on a full stomach in 100F heat?) but I found they are good for fitness and for socializing.
All clubs are the same, just like all families are the same, all schools are the same, all people are the same, all bikes are the same and all 50+ riders are the same.
Just choose that club carefully. My local one is into racing- Time trials and cyclocross. Full of fit bu**ers and they are mostly young. Even the grey bearded ones race so it is not the ideal club for me to even join in on their 15 mile at 15 mph rides. Last one I did I did manage to stay in the pace line at 22mph along a flat section but when they still did 22 up a 10% for 1/2 mile I decided that I was in the wrong club. Trying to get fit enough to keep them in sight but no way I will be doing the longer rides at a higher advertised pace.
But there is another one locally that I will be trying when the weather improves. I was going to do a 50 miler on Sunday with them but I have cancelled out. 30F temp with wind and the possibility of snow means that i will training down the gym----Again.
Choosing the club makes all the difference. We have four clubs in town, including a racing-oriented club, an MTB-oriented club, and a recreational club catering to younger members.
My club floats around 500 members. It's recreation-oriented, and while there are a few thirtysomethings, most everyone is over 40. We have four different ride series catering to different levels of riders. There's also a daytime riders group who schedule their rides in a more impromptu fashion.
As someone said above, don't let the gray hair and beards fool you. I regularly get my @$$ handed to me by a couple of retired guys. Which, of course, is why I ride with them. When I grow up, I want to be just as fit as they are, and ride the same 15K-20K miles a year.
The club I belong to caters to all types of riders. It is not a race club but there are members who do. There are more than 1100 members. During the warmer months there are rides every weekend for all of the ride levels. It is definitely a very social club and it is nice to get out and ride with like minded people. Below is a chart that shows the levels and how they are classified.
Since I enjoy club riding I echo those suggesting you give it a try at finding the right group for you in a good club. Starting in the spring can be helpful since most groups are at their slowest. By the end of the season newcomers can find themselves blown away.
The only big drawback for me is the discipline of scheduling.
I joined the local bike club for many of the same reasons others have mentioned such as learning new routes and fellowship. An other important reason to support bike clubs is cycling advocacy. The club here in Rhode Island and SE Massachusetts has a very good relationship with the State of R.I. Together, they produce a cycling map of the state showing all the roads that are suitable for riding and is available free at most bike shops.
There seems to be a large measure of tolerance and courtesy here on the part of motorists toward cyclists. I can't imagine riding in situations such as the horror stories I've read of haracement by some motorists in some areas.
This is my experience also. Last spring about this time I was out on one of my favorite rural routes when a pace line overtook me and the owner of the local bike shop that organized the ride beckoned me to jump on the back. I rode with them quite a bit last year and will soon rejoin their Saturday morning early risers rides when the early morning weather starts to warm up again.
Originally Posted by climberguy
Check out your local bike shops and find out about the rides they sponsor or promote. A bunch of folks just a little faster than you can be of major benefit in your training. OTOH a bunch of 22 mph triathletes won't do you much good if your pace is 14mph.
I joined The West Florida Wheelmen a year ago to support them for all the work they do to have rides such as centuries, here, and the annual stage race we have here. The rides are another thing entirely. The two rides each week are Sunday mornings and it is strictly "A" riders, 20mph average required, drops are totally on their own. Wednesday nights has two rides, the "A" riders again, same speed, and the slow group, I say slow but it is a 15mph average required. I am just not there. Not wanting to be a problem I just ride myself, daily. No problems, just be sure the club fits your needs and your abilities. If a social element is important look for a club that has this included in their activities. If you are into training rides and improving your abilities find a club that has pace lines and possibly classes to teach you the elements of pace line riding, peleton riding and has your class of riders included and some no-drop rides with coverage should you be dropped or have to back off.
When I get to the level I can stay with them I'll be there on Wednesday evenings in the spring through fall to relearn pace lines and peleton riding, it has been thirty years and 16 surgeries since I rode a fast pace line. Whew.
Shamrock-I highly recommend Clubs if you can find something to your liking. Another option is to do organized rides not far from where you live whenever they have those. I've found that is a great way to learn new cycling roads. You can also probably find a lot of new roads by Strava and other mapping sites.
I've never been in a club, but I'm generally not a fan of groups of people and figure I don't need other people to show me how bad of a rider I am. I already know :)
An advantage of joining a bike club is meeting new people who share similiar values with you and enjoy talking about bicycling. No more rants about how all cyclists blow through red lights and how dangerous cycling is and how I should grow up and not waste my time and money on something that is for kids.
I ditched a former circle of totally sedentary friends when the gettogethers all ended up just hanging around smoking cigarettes eating junk food and getting drunk. Some wondered why they started an exercise regimen of walking for 30 minutes 3x/week at a casual pace and didn't lose any weight in a week .: gave it up.
Another group of friends became very kid-oriented where uninterrupted conversations between adults were impossible, food was bland and pawed over by germy fingers. I ended up getting sick at each potluck and felt I had less and less in common with them.
The friendships that develop in cycling clubs is certainly good. Bike clubs add a social dynamic that solo riding just does not have. Rest stops can turn into great conversational opportunities that can be quite motivational. Try to find a club that fits your needs.
I'm a dedicated club rider. Without club riding, the range of local routes I would know would be many fewer. I would seldom ride as far or as fast on my own as I do with the club - I might do a 60-80 mile ride alone now and again, but with the club I do those all the time, and if I did it on my own, I would likely not push the speed the way I do on a club ride. The adrenaline of a group ride goes a long way.
Club rides are also how you learn group riding and bike handling skills. It's true that there is some danger to group riding, but if you are willing to let people correct your mistakes, you can become a safe club rider without too much effort. And you can learn who is untrustworthy on the road and keep your distance.
I have been a bike club member here in Lincoln since the early 80s. Due to great leadership the the last few years it has expanded, and has rides for nearly everyone. I also have been going to Omaha the last few years to ride with the recumbent club there.
I highly recommend joining a club that has riders like yourself.
If you find the right club, it is a great experience. I am co-chapter leader of one club, a chapter of the Arizona Bicycle club of which I have been a member since 2004. The Saturday rides with that group are 40-50 miles @ 15 mph. I also belong to the Arizona Bullshifters, who have two groups at their rides, which are also 40-50 miles on Saturdays. The A group is race paced, and the B group averages 17-18+ for a ride. I enjoy the members of both clubs and enjoy each ride.
You might try to find a cycling Meetup group in your area. If you can't find one start it yourself.