One of the major benefits of being in a cycling club is the opportunity to be able to take part in club rides. Club rides are pre-arranged with people meeting to ride together. These group rides have a number of big plus points:
- Cycling in a group is often safer as you are more obvious to other road traffic
- If the weather is not so good, there is often more incentive to go out if you’ve arranged to meet a group of friends than to cycle on your own
- Cycling in a group is very social and a chance to meet new people and see new places
- In a group you are often able to cycle faster by drafting, therefore improving your fitness
- In a group you can often cycle further because of 4), and as a result of encouragement from the others!
Because you are cycling in a group a number of protocols come in to play. When you cycle on your own you can speed up or slow down depending how you feel, but in a group you have to consider a number of other factors.
If you are cycling too slowly for the group you may feel guilty that you are slowing them down
- If you are with a group that is cycling too fast for you, you may feel out of your depth and unable to keep up
- If you cause the group that you are with to cycle slower than they want to, you may find them getting grumpy and frustrated – their weekend ride time is precious J
… so it’s really important that when you start group riding, you ride within the group most suitable for your level.
Before you join your first group ride, you need to be confident that you have the required fitness and confidence to ride within a group, at the speed advertised. When you first ever get on your bike, you may find that you struggle to ride at more than 8-10mph. But with regular practice and time on the bike, your speed and bike handling skills will improve rapidly and your confidence will soar. Try finding a 15 mile loop that you can ride on alternate days each week. You will soon find yourself riding faster and perhaps riding it twice in the time that you used to do it once!
Being a Club for all levels, we’re afraid that if you do join a ride where you just can’t keep up with the pace advertised, the ride leader will advise you to make your own way home. We hope that you understand that it’s just not fair on the rest of the group otherwise.
SCC has several types of weekend Club ride:
Club rides are categorised by colours and are on alternating Saturdays & Sundays every weekend of the year. Through summer it may be possible to have different rides on a Saturday and a Sunday. All rides leave the Abbey at 9.00am
Black: very fast (e.g. chain gang) or very long and / or lots of climbing.
Red: 19 mph.
Amber: 17 mph.
Green: 16 mph.
White: 13+ mph or the speed of the slowest rider, whichever is less. New members should start here.
These are rolling speeds, on the flat, with no wind. The pace of any group will be higher in strong tailwinds and on descents; lower in strong headwinds and on climbs; and will vary depending on the length and terrain of the ride. The speeds shown are not a target but are to enable you to select a pace group to suit your ability. If in doubt start with a lower speed group and work your way up. If riders do get dropped during a ride because they’re in the wrong group, there’s no guarantee that the group will slow down. The group may collectively decide that they want to lower the pace to keep slower riders attached, but that should be a decision that they make and not something to be expected.
The current weekend club rides will not be changed; they will still take place on alternating Saturdays and Sundays and will be graded Amber (17 mph). At the moment we only have one ride per weekend, so a different coloured ride (White, Green, or Red) will be scheduled for the remaining weekend day. There’ll also be the option to form other ride groups before an Amber ride sets off, provided everyone agrees and there are enough people present.
If there’s sufficient demand, there’s no reason why we can’t have White, Green, Amber, and Red rides taking place at the same time every weekend. So please let me know or post here if you want me to schedule one of these rides more frequently.
Other colour categories and a way to specify the difficulty of rides (e.g. longer distances or with a lot of climbing) may be added in the future, but I want to keep things simple at first. In any case, our club rides are usually around 3 hours and mainly flat.
Finally, routes have been entered into the club calendar a few weeks or months ahead. Sometimes the weather on the day is unsuitable for the selected ride, so, with the exception of certain special events, routes will now be posted a few days before, when weather conditions are known, or will be agreed on the morning of the ride. All rides in the calendar will state their grade colour, and until we get used to the system I’ll also put in the speed and some other details.
All the rides will generally make a café stop on the Saturday / Sunday morning ride. Speeds will vary depending on wind and weather conditions.
All the ride options are available throughout the year subject to numbers wishing to ride in cooler / wetter weather.
Weekday evening rides
Rides often take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout the year. In autumn and winter you will need lights, including a front light bright enough to illuminate a dark road. Weekday rides leave the Abbey at 6.30pm
Club Time Trials – Wednesday Nights
Start at 6.30 / 7.00 from course start (near to Drax Power Station), see website for specific details.
Club ride rules and etiquette
Cycling on public roads has some inherent dangers, but we want to support and encourage people to ride safely and enjoyably, respecting their fellow riders and other road users. By following a few basic rules we can achieve this, so please read these and it you have questions email firstname.lastname@example.org in advance of the ride or ask the ride leader on the day.
- You bike needs to be in a safe and roadworthy condition. If you’re not sure, take it into a bike shop for a quick check over
- Bring appropriate lighting and high vis clothing. Helmets are mandatory
- Should there be an incident, please support the ride leader and help where necessary – making a phone call, warning other road users or helping injured riders
- All riders under 16 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian
- All riders must have respect for other riders and road users
- Ride leaders will help with mechanical issues but all riders must be able to fix punctures
- Follow the Highway Code at all times. Ride no more than two abreast. Where appropriate to do so, let drivers pass you on narrow roads. Never go through red lights. Always give way to the right on roundabouts
- Please arrive at the rides on time so we don’t leave without you
- Enjoy your cycling at all times
- Wear your club jersey with pride
- We all love cycling, so be polite, smile and say hello to people you see
General group etiquette:
- Pick the right ride. Start with a slower group if you are not sure
- Respect the ride leader’s decision. They may not ride at the front, but are in charge for the day
- Ride two abreast when it is safe to do so, this way the group is a more compact unit
- Keep together in one group unless agreed otherwise at the start of the ride
- Do not blast off the front of the group unless you have been given permission by other group members
- All riders must stop for a mechanical or puncture in the group (except the advanced group)
- If the ride becomes “split” due to a climb or a junction, then the lead group should slow down to allow the riders to catch up. If you feel inclined or are a strong enough rider, go back down the hill and provide a bit of support for those still riding up
- Do not allow other riders in the group to be dropped off the back, make sure the pace is kept at a level that all can cope with
- If you are struggling to keep up, then shout up! The group needs to know so the pace can be slowed
- Strong riders should show consideration for weaker riders
- Do not clear your nasal passages unless the coast is clear behind you!
- Avoid responding to bad behaviour or abuse from motorists. Be courteous wherever possible and do not damage the clubs good reputation
- Tri-bars / Aerobars should not be used during group rides
- Inform someone in the group if you are turning back early from the ride for any reason
- A nominated rider should stay at the back of the group to ensure no one gets dropped on climbs, junctions or descents
- Communication is key to a group ride. The roads are full of pot holes, signs, parked cars, animals etc. Visibility is limited for a cyclist in a pack so riders at the front and back of a group should point out hazards to other riders and the group are responsible for passing the information up and down the group
- Hand signals – it is not imperative that all cyclists in the group point out the same hazards. As long as a few do then this is normally sufficient (and the leading two always should). If you are a beginner and unsteady then it is far safer to keep your hands on the handle bars than to point things out. The purpose of hand signals is that the riders can continue to ride at a steady pace and can ride round smaller obstacles without constantly having to brake (as sudden braking causes most accidents). In addition to the standard cycling hand signals we have:
- Pointing to ground – pot hole or obstacle on road
- Pointing to ground moving right and left – speed hump/sleeping policeman
- Pointing to ground in waving motion – gravel or bad road surface
- Left hand pointing to right behind lower back – parked car or hazard on left causing group to move out
- Right hand pointing to left behind lower back – obstruction on right hand side of road meaning group needs to move to left
- Hand extended up as if you are about it ask a question – we’re stopping
- Arm flapping up and down as if you are trying to fly – we’re slowing down
- Shouts – warnings you are likely to hear include
- Car back – car approaching from back of group
- Car up – car approaching from front of group
- Car left – car coming from left at junction
- Car right – car coming from right at junction
- “Hole”, “gravel”. “Rocks” – obstructions in road
- Walker, runner, cyclist – person on left hand side of road who needs over taking
- Clear – if the way is free from traffic at a junction
- Slow – reduce speed coming up to a junction or hazard
- Stop – we are going to have to stop
- Line-out/single file – move from two abreast to single file to let a vehicle pass
- Mudguards should always be used during the winter season
- To be safe, it is important to ride smooth, don’t over react, avoid hard braking, be alert to what is going on ahead, and anticipate what traffic will do. Inexperienced riders who panic and touch a wheel may crash or cause a crash, you can avoid problems by practicing these simple rules:
- STAY ALERT. HOLD YOUR LINE. DON’T OVERLAP WHEELS. DON’T LOOK BACK. RELAX! Focus on the riders ahead, beware of pot holes, don’t brake unless absolutely necessary
All this may sound complicated at first but you will soon get the hang of it. It actually gives a whole new dimension to cycling as it makes it a team event. You have to communicate, support and trust each other, and everyone’s safety is in each other’s hands. But you will find it one of the most enjoyable elements to riding in a club!
What should I bring on a club ride?
- A road worthy bike
- A helmet
- Two spare inner tubes and tyre leavers (the ride leader will be happy to help you fix a puncture but may not have the correct size tube for your bike)
- Lights are advisable during the winter months when visibility may be reduced
- Food and drinks to keep you going. Always bring too much rather than too little. Flapjack, fruit loaf, Haribou, wine gums, fig rolls or cereal bars all work well
- Wet weather clothing if required
- Mudguards in the winter months
- Money for a café stop and most importantly your sense of humour!