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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Joining a club

Old 02-01-15, 02:01 PM
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Cork428
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Joining a club

Hi, I have been thinking about joining a club since I got a road bike a few months ago. Back then I was about 95kg (I have a lot of muscle from playing rugby from a young age, but I still also have a lot of fat which I'm working on loosing) but now weigh 92kg (no longer able to post in the Clyde forums ) I have been looking for clubs near me, but there is only one. I really want to join but I am scared I won't be fit enough.
The club does club rides every Saturday with an average speed of around 17mph over 60 miles. The website says if you can do 40 miles solo at 16mph you should be fine. I can get an average speed of 25kph for 60km but I'm not that good on climbs.
Do you think I should join or should I continue on my own. I am terrified of being dropped, or being looked down on. (I don't own a cycling jersey, I just wear a t-shirt, and I have a fairly low end bike, although still quite good). I think I just need a bit of moral support to do this . Thanks.
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Old 02-01-15, 02:29 PM
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gramar

Join.Everyone in the club started by joining at one time.
Made a lot of friends. Ride with different levels in my case.
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Old 02-01-15, 02:34 PM
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17 mph in a group isn't as fast as you might think, that's really kind of slow. If you can average 15 on your own you'll probably be fine. Only one way you'll find out. If it's a snobbish group who'll look down on you because of your bike or gear then screw them.
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Old 02-01-15, 02:35 PM
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All you can do is try it out. My usual riding is 15 miles to work and 15 back, before winter hit I was doing three times a week. Now through the winter and late fall I've only ridden 30 miles every two weeks or so. I decided to try my first group ride today. It only ended up being one other person, but we rode about 30 miles. He said I was a "crusher". He usually rides with the group 30 to 50 miles. So that made me feel good, but what I'm getting at is you should just try it. There is always going to be someone faster than you no matter what level you are on. Plus you only started a few months ago, just tell them that. I would suggest at least a moisture wicking shirt and bottoms if you don't already. Congratulations on the weight loss though, just keep at it.
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Old 02-01-15, 02:44 PM
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Just join. Most groups welcome all levels and have rides geared toward different levels so it won't be intimating. There are also usually some "no drop" rides depending on the club. Even if you do get dropped don't worry about it and riding in a larger group will instantly make you faster just due to drafting
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Old 02-01-15, 02:50 PM
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It is not necessary to join a club to enjoy cycling but it does add something to the ride. I was fortunate in my area because the local bike club has 2 to 4 distances for different abilities so everyone can find a level to suit their abilities. It may be there are other clubs in your area but if not, go for it anyway. You will not doubt be dropped but in six months you will not be dropped so badly and in the meantime will have learned a great deal from people who enthusiastic cyclists. About half my rides are with the club or on my own.
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Old 02-01-15, 03:04 PM
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yeah, 16 mph isn't fast at all when you think about the fact that the pros average speed is between 24 and 30 mph...

My guess is that you'll be fine...

as for being a weak climber, lol, most people are.. the only way to get better is to do it more often and faster.. and being in a group is a good motivator for that...

join up man... buy the kit and everytjhing.. lol
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Old 02-01-15, 03:49 PM
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I'm also looking at joining a cycling club in the near future. As someone else mentioned, they usually have different rides depending on distance, pace and even discipline (road, mountain, etc) and often times, you can look at rides that they have done and rides that are planned on their website if they have one. Yeah, 16 mph isn't super fast and in a group the work is almost always shared as you rotate in and out of the front.

Another good way to make sure there aren't more cycling clubs in your area, check at local bike shops and ask around if they know any good ones.
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Old 02-01-15, 04:06 PM
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The best club I ever rode with wasn't even an organized club. Just a group of 10-15 of us who met up on Saturday mornings and rode our asses off. Rolling at 9am, weather didn't matter unless there was snow or ice. If you didn't show up in the cold or rain you were a wuss. You didn't have to be a racer, as long as you showed some guts you were accepted. No club dues, meetings, officers, politics, matching kits and all that junk. Unfortunately, that group turned into a club.
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Old 02-01-15, 04:53 PM
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Join it!

You're probably not the slowest one. If you've been working and you're concerned. That's been my experience at least.
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Old 02-01-15, 05:41 PM
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You could email the club and ask if they think the ride is appropriate. Even if they don't think that it is, they might be able to point you to a different ride they do that is.

The suggestion to check your area bike shops is a good one. They might have information about organized rides that you don't find on-line. It could also be worth while to put out feelers around work or other areas. I work for a large company, and there are several groups that ride informally with different groups forming out of racers, mt bikers, casual road riders, or people who just like to cruise on the rail trail.
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Old 02-01-15, 05:43 PM
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I was in your boat last week...I wanted to do a club ride but was pretty nervous about it. Started with a group that averaged 18-21 mph on flats just to get my feet wet, and I ended up having a ton of fun. I did another two club rides this weekend, and I think they're a blast. Its great to meet people, chat occasionally, and suffer through those hard parts of the rides. Its a great motivator and forces you to push yourself beyond what you would do if you were on your own. If you're with a group, its much harder for your mind to make excuses as to why you should tone it back or slow down.
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Old 02-01-15, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by PRus View Post
Join.Everyone in the club started by joining at one time.
Made a lot of friends. Ride with different levels in my case.
+1. Met a lot of my friends due to joining a club and doing group rides. Riding with strong riders will make you stronger.
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Old 02-01-15, 06:17 PM
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If you get dropped just go out the next week. If you get dropped again go out the week after. Do it over and over again until you aren't dropped.
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Old 02-01-15, 06:30 PM
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Ride with the club a few times before paying dues.

Take them for a "test ride". Might be a great bunch of people, the opposite, or something in between.

You could add your approximate location to your profile, then when these location specific threads come up, you may get more specific help.
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Old 02-01-15, 06:40 PM
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I agree about testing out the club before joining. Most clubs will let non-members ride for free at least a few times (if you sign a legal waiver). There are a lot of clubs in my areas. Most have different rides for different ability levels, but with some clubs, even their easy no-drop rides are very hard (20mph average with lots of hills). No-drop means they will assign someone to stay with you, but the rest of the group will be long gone.

Other clubs in my area cater to the casual/social/recreational rider. Their slowest rides welcome kids, beginners, even seniors on tricycles. Those rides are 10 miles, flat terrain, slow pace, with a lunch break. These clubs also have faster/longer/steeper rides so you can move up to the 100 mile/day group when you are ready.

Local bike shops can generally point you to a club suitable to your skills. Or find a regional group in these forums and ask for recommendations. Or just call the phone number for the group president and ask what their rides are like. Club leaders really do love talking to potential new members.
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Old 02-01-15, 07:23 PM
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What city are you in?
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Old 02-01-15, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Cork428 View Post
Hi, I have been thinking about joining a club since I got a road bike a few months ago. Back then I was about 95kg (I have a lot of muscle from playing rugby from a young age, but I still also have a lot of fat which I'm working on loosing) but now weigh 92kg (no longer able to post in the Clyde forums ) I have been looking for clubs near me, but there is only one. I really want to join but I am scared I won't be fit enough.
The club does club rides every Saturday with an average speed of around 17mph over 60 miles. The website says if you can do 40 miles solo at 16mph you should be fine. I can get an average speed of 25kph for 60km but I'm not that good on climbs.
Do you think I should join or should I continue on my own. I am terrified of being dropped, or being looked down on. (I don't own a cycling jersey, I just wear a t-shirt, and I have a fairly low end bike, although still quite good). I think I just need a bit of moral support to do this . Thanks.
That sounds like a "B" ride, with experienced riders. That's pretty long ride, 60 miles, for a new rider. And these rides can easily go faster, if all the riders that show up are fast. It's really hard for a ride leader to enforce a speed limit!

I like the idea of emailing them and asking. I help lead a 30-40 mile ride that's a little slower than this, (but perhaps more hill climbing). I get a few requests a year, asking if I thought the new rider could handle it. A few of them were just too slow or too new, and I pointed them to some other club rides that are at an easier pace.

If you keep riding a lot, you'll want a bike jersey. (And bike shorts on longer rides.) I still remember a summer rider that was wearing a T-shirt on a hot sunny day. He was dripping and soaked with sweat. The jerseys of the other riders let it evaporate as they ride. Oh, and the pockets are really useful.
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Old 02-02-15, 09:37 AM
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I would just give it a try. You already ride solo so who cares if you get dropped. It is not a big deal. I started out riding by myself to supplement my running. I had no idea what was fast, slow or even far. I always hated road bikers so I had no clue about it. I rode by myself and went about 12-15 miles. I would ride at 18mph but try to hold 20 for as long as possible. One day a friend saw my road bike in the garage and asked me about it. He invited me to ride with him and his group on a Sat. I asked him how far and he told me about 25 miles. I went out on Sat. thinking that I would hate it. I had my riding shorts on and my Under Armor running shirt. They went 45 miles and averaged about 19-20mph. I kept up but was whipped. You can do more than you think especially in a group. I learned how about cadence, how to eat while on a ride and a few other tips. I even forced myself to buy a jersey. In the end, it showed me an entirely different side of biking that I did not know. I found a new love for the sport. Our group is well rounded. Like with any group, there are some fast riders and some slow riders. Our B group has a no drop rule but I have never ridden with them. I am not sure what the official policy is for the A group. I know that I bonked one time and could not keep up. I got left. I hated the feeling as it made my feel like I lost. It did not bother me to be alone though. No big deal. I licked my wounds and ate better the next time out.
Have no fear. Just go out and ride. If the group is large enough, I am confident that there will be some slower riders there and some faster riders as well. Baptism by fire is the only way to go.
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Old 02-02-15, 09:48 AM
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Another vote for joining. Don't worry about getting dropped. Everybody gets dropped at some time, so don't worry about that.

I would buy a cycling jersey. Doesn't have to be anything fancy or expensive, but it will be more comfortable and practical as you start doing longer rides.
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Old 02-02-15, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Cork428 View Post
Hi, I have been thinking about joining a club since I got a road bike a few months ago. Back then I was about 95kg (I have a lot of muscle from playing rugby from a young age, but I still also have a lot of fat which I'm working on loosing) but now weigh 92kg (no longer able to post in the Clyde forums ) I have been looking for clubs near me, but there is only one. I really want to join but I am scared I won't be fit enough.
The club does club rides every Saturday with an average speed of around 17mph over 60 miles. The website says if you can do 40 miles solo at 16mph you should be fine. I can get an average speed of 25kph for 60km but I'm not that good on climbs.
Do you think I should join or should I continue on my own. I am terrified of being dropped, or being looked down on. (I don't own a cycling jersey, I just wear a t-shirt, and I have a fairly low end bike, although still quite good). I think I just need a bit of moral support to do this . Thanks.
It depends on your preference. I like riding solo most of the time and tend to be very focused on the type of riding/training I'm doing so that keeps it challenging, but riding with people (especially those who are faster than you) is a great way to build up cycling fitness quickly. Learn the route and show up for the ride and if you get dropped at least you know the way back then show up next week and push harder. Eventually you'll get to a point when you don't get dropped and may even graduate to "Crusher of Souls".
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Old 02-02-15, 09:39 PM
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Joining clubs are at first awkward. I've done it twice and I believe I've found my "home".

Do some research. On my first club they promoted a "team oriented environment". Well, yes there was a team, but the fine print was "we only like people who will race for the team". It was disappointing but I learned a hell lot too.

Now I'm in a team where it's like "family" and I'm happy with the people whom I ride with.
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Old 02-02-15, 10:17 PM
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There is no shame in getting dropped. Just ride predictably, protect your front wheel and point out hazards.
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Old 02-03-15, 04:02 AM
  #24  
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Maybe I'm misunderstanding this. The club has only one ride? Most clubs, mine included, have at least A, B and C rides. I ride the B ride because I like the people and attitude. Around here the B ride is slower in the Spring (13-14 mph) and faster (15-16 mph) in the Fall. It's really kind of a social ride. A typical B ride here has 60-75 ft of climbing per mile. All our club rides (other than the A ride) are "no drop" rides. What you've described sounds more like a "ride" than a club. Whether you will fit in depends on a lot of variables. If they average 17 mph over 60 miles over flatter terrain you may be able to hang because, as pointed out, group riding can help you ride faster. OTOH if there is significant climbing and you are particularly challenged by climbs you will find yourself yo-yoing with more consistent cyclists. That is to say... being significantly behind on climbs, faster on descents and somewhere in the middle on the flats. If there is no "no drop" policy you will get dropped.

I feel like I can empathize with your situation in that I got back on the bike 10 yrs. ago at age 58 after an 8 yr. layoff. I weighed close to 200 lbs (91 KG?) and was down from 5'10 1/2" to 5'9". I was not in shape. The group ride was difficult since I couldn't climb well and lagged behind and on the downhills and flats the group went slower than what I could manage. So, while my weakness was debilitating my strength was negated since I couldn't go flying off the front of the group on descents and flats. So, my average speed was less on group rides than what I could do alone. I'd say give it a try but if it doesn't fit your present needs find a more appropriate group if you can. As I said maybe I've misunderstood.

Oh, these days I'm down to 180 lbs (82 KG) and much more consistent. Even decent on the climbs.

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Old 02-03-15, 07:30 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Cork428 View Post
Do you think I should join or should I continue on my own. I am terrified of being dropped, or being looked down on. (I don't own a cycling jersey, I just wear a t-shirt, and I have a fairly low end bike, although still quite good). I think I just need a bit of moral support to do this . Thanks.
Remember the scene in "The Goodfather" where Vito Corleone mocks Johnny Fontaine and tells him to act like a man? Nut up.
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