My opinions on road cycling clubs have been formed by those clubs I have been involved with. That is really not very many clubs at all. I can count them all on the fingers of one hand. I wrote an earlier post about my first experience with a cycling club.
In addition to my very limited first hand experience, I have also chatted to other women about cycle clubs.
So, it is more than likely that my views on cycle clubs are entirely unfounded and unfair. Nevertheless, my experiences with these clubs had a huge impact on me and on my cycling. I thought I’d share my views. Feel free to disagree with me.
I think bike clubs can be quite intimidating, especially for women.
I think women often lack the confidence to try riding in a club. The fear of not being fast enough or skilled enough stops women from giving it a go.
This is not helped when existing club riders don’t always remember to identify and help new riders. If you are new to group riding then the gestures used to communicate in groups can be something of a mystery.
It is also not helped when club riders forget to consider how they come across to others on the road. If a bunch of riders wearing club kit speed past me without as much as a wave, I am unlikely to consider joining them.
I wonder too if women look for something different in a club to men.
Personally, what I want out of a club is that feeling of being a part of something. I’m not too bothered about training hard when I ride with a club. I can do that by myself. I really just want to ride my bike and have a good natter.
I am now a member of a cycling club which I absolutely love. Hervelo Cycling is a womens club. It is split between the ‘skinnies’ (road cyclists) and ‘mudhonies’ (mountain bikers). There are women in the club who race, there are women in the club who ride sportives and audaxes, there are women in the club competing in triathlons.
I do not believe that there is a single woman in the club who would not give a friendly wave to another cyclist.
I do not believe that there has ever been a rider with Hervelo dropped and left behind on a club ride.
I don’t know if this is down to being a womens club or just down to being a small club.
I do know that it is the club I will remain loyal to and whose kit I am proud to wear.
I think great things have happened in womens cycling in the past few years. But there is still a long way to go. We need to encourage more women to get out on a bike at all levels.
I would like to see more women racing, more women using bikes on the school run, more women riding together.
More women gaining all the benefits that cycling can bring. Health, sustainable transport, time outdoors, time in nature, time with like minded others, time with their children, time without their children, time to think, time to not think.
Cycle clubs have a huge roll to play in encouraging more women to get out and ride their bikes.
If you’re not already a member of a club, give it a go. Take a leap of faith and go out with your local club. And if it’s not what you hoped or what you’re looking for, start your own. Make it what you want. That’s what Hervelo came from and in my opinion, Hervelo is a fantastic club.