I cycled alone for years, for transport mostly. After three years living in the back of beyond and getting more and more into road biking, I was keen to be part of something bigger and join a club. Cycle clubs were one of the first things I looked into when I left the back of beyond and moved to a city.
Time to head along to my first club run. As a large club there were several rides on offer for the Saturday run so I went on the slowest. It was ok. I enjoyed it. There were only 5 of us and it was fairly sedate so I felt confident to go along again the following week and join the middle group.
The middle group was far larger and far faster. It was far less friendly. It was the last club ride I did for some years.
I started chatting to the rider next to me, as you do. He confidently informed me that I had my training aims all wrong as I had just been cycling in Majorca. This threw me a little as I had been to Majorca for fun and to meet my brother. I’d had a great week. I didn’t have any training aims at the time. I hadn’t realised I needed any.
Never mind. It takes all sorts. On with the ride.
Ok, so I hadn’t realised that a chaingang would be involved. Fortunately a kind soul in the group explained to me what was happening. Fine. I could give that a go. We hit around 28mph and I started to turn somewhat purple. Fortunately (again) another kind soul explained that it was ok (well, sort of ok) to sit on the back and attempt to hang in there if I was struggling. Then we hit a very slight incline. This was pre- wisdom of Bob for me. Sadly, I did not have the energy left to wave as the group disappeared over the horizon.
I rode home alone. This was a route I knew so this wasn’t a problem.
I felt a bit down. I felt a bit disappointed. I felt like I wasn’t really a cyclist. It was ok because I enjoyed riding alone. I had kind of wanted to be part of something though.
I found that something a few weeks later when I joined a running club.
Years later and I am back to club cycling. Not with the club I had such an off putting experience with, but with a fairly new club, Hervelo. And what a fantastic club it is. It’s a women’s cycle club and the ethos is completely different. We are a small club renowned for friendliness. Hervelo supports riders at all levels, and nobody gets left behind on a club run.
If you are thinking of joining a club and you have a negative experience. My advice is, don’t let that experience put you off. Try another club, there’s one out there for everyone.