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TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST CLUB RIDE

Good stuff to know

 

Joining a club ride for the first time can be intimidating, we know. The good news is, most clubs are really friendly and they’ll be happy to show you the ropes. And club rides are so good for getting you fit and teaching you essential riding skills. We’ve put together some tips and info to help you feel more confident.

Know what sort of ride it will be

A ‘no drop’ ride means you won’t get left behind and even if other riders smash it up the hills, they’ll wait at the top. Many clubs specify their average speeds – 12-13mph/19-20kmph is good to start with.

Make sure your bike is in good condition

It’s worth learning about the ‘M check’ – how to check your bike from end to end. At the very least, make sure your brakes are efficient and your tyres are pumped up. (Tyre pressure depends on the type of riding you’re doing, the weather conditions and the tyre itself – but for standard 25mm road tyres, 80-95psi should be fine. The lower end of the scale provides more grip on wet surfaces.)

Lay your kit and essentials out the night before

Club rides often start early – so it’s easy to forget something, especially if you’re nervous. One Velociposse member, so unused to an early start, turned up to her first club ride in jeans. That was an uncomfortable 60km…

What to take

The essentials: a full water bottle, a few snacks, a spare inner tube, tyre levers, a mini-pump and cash/bank card. You might also want to cram arm/legwarmers and a jacket into your jersey pockets too. Virtually all clubs will require you to wear a helmet, but most won’t require clip-in shoes (if they do, they should say).

On the ride

Try to get to the meeting point early and introduce yourself to whoever is leading the ride. Let them know it’s your first outing. Once you’re moving, try to keep close to the rider in front (it helps you save energy!) but don’t get too close or overlap your front wheel with their back wheel – it could cause a crash if they move sideways. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to let someone know – you probably won’t be the only one who wants a breather.

What are all these shouts and hand signals?

To keep the group safe, riders at the front will call out or gesture to warn those behind of hazards such as potholes. It’s good etiquette to repeat the call or gesture, so the riders behind you are aware. You’ll pick it all up quickly.

If you get a puncture…

Fixing a flat is an essential skill but don’t worry if you aren’t there yet. If the worst happens, an experienced club member will help you. Just make sure you’ve brought along a spare inner tube. (Need to learn to fix a puncture? We highly recommend London Bike Kitchen!)

And… hopefully that’s the essentials covered

If, for any reason, you didn’t enjoy the ride, don’t feel put off. It’s absolutely fine to try out a number of clubs until you find the one you feel comfortable in. Happy riding!