|Hints for club riding with Sotonia Cycling Club|
Everyone is welcome to join the Sunday club runs. These are essentially social rides rather than training runs. Just turn up at the meeting point at the allotted time. There are a few simple points that can help make sure that you can enjoy your time on the bike:
There are many experienced riders in the Club who are more than willing to offer advice, so please don't hesitate to ask. They can also advise you on the best set-up for your bike.
Your bike needs to be serviceable - It should go without saying that if you are riding on a public highway your bike needs to be in good working order and comply with the Highway Code, but it does not need to be the latest and greatest featherweight machine. So long as it is mechanically sound, it fits you and the tyres are in good condition and fully inflated, then you should be able to enjoy your cycling. Bring a couple of spare inner-tubes (to fit your bike!), tyre levers and a pump so that you can quickly sort out a puncture and continue riding with minimal delay. Mending a puncture at the side of the road is no fun and takes a lot longer than just swapping an inner-tube. Save the glue and patches for when you get home.
It has to be said that cycling-specific gear can make a huge difference to comfort and can reduce fatigue, but for the short easy rides it is not essential. Dress in suitable sports gear according to the weather conditions and remember that the wind chill factor on a bike is considerably greater than if you are running, so it is particularly important to think about this in the colder months. It is also advisable to carry a lightweight rain jacket which can double up as an extra layer in cold conditions. A cycle helmet is advised but not compulsory.
Maintaining the body's hydration is vitally important in any endurance sport and it is essential that you carry appropriate amounts of fluids. Even a small deficiency in hydration can cause a significant drop in performance and will speed up fatigue. Allow around 750-1000ml of a water-based drink for every 2 hours of riding, more on hot days or if you are riding very hard. Specialist sports drinks are good but not essential.
It is always a good idea to bring a bite to eat, even on short rides. Hunger or a drop in blood sugar levels soon accelerates the feelings of fatigue. Bring a couple of energy bars, cereal bars or bananas for a 2hr ride and more for longer rides. Better to have too much and take it home that not have enough.
|Club riding etiquette|
|Cyclists generally ride in groups for social reasons, training benefits and race strategy. Regardless of the kind of group you ride with, some universal etiquette applies. Knowing and applying a few simple rules can help you be an effective, considerate and safer group rider. This applies equally to novice and experienced riders.
You must remain constantly aware of those around you and remember that your movements in a group affect everyone. For example, if you get out of the saddle on a climb, be conscious that your back wheel is likely to drop back six inches or more unless you control your bike correctly. Pedal continuously at a cadence and speed that is consistent with the riders in front of you. If the pace slows ahead of you, try to soak up the distance between you and the rider in front by pedalling softer rather than braking hard.
Keep you eyes on the road ahead rather than the riders themselves, and try to anticipate any changes in the riding pattern. Be alert, but stay relaxed. Point out and call if you see, pot holes, traffic, parked cars, horses and anything else that you would want to know about. Also warn others before turning left or right. Riders towards the rear of the group should also be attentive to approaching traffic from behind making others in the group aware when appropriate. The usual call is "car up" if a vehicle is coming from behind and "car down" when from in front.
The club offers a number of rides, differing in both distance and speed. Most are social rides and no one, especially junior or female riders should be dropped from the group or left unaccounted for. However, if you chose to ride with the fast group and the pace is too fast for you, then do not always expect the group to wait. If in doubt ask them before you set off. Keep the group leader informed - If you decide to leave a group and ride on your own, inform the leader of your intentions or, at the very least, inform one of the other group riders. It is leader's responsibility to ensure that everyone in the group is accounted for at regular intervals throughout the ride. This is made far easier if it is known who has left the group.
Show consideration to other road users - We share the roads and should always be courteous. In order to allow vehicles to pass, the group should ride as a single unit with riders keeping to no more than two abreast. It is a requirement of the Highway Code that riders should form single file on narrow or busy roads or when negotiating a bend. If it becomes necessary to ride in single file, gaps should be left to allow vehicles to overtake more easily. When singling from 2 abreast, the rider on the inside should move to the front and the outside rider should ease off to fall in behind. The group should slow down and announce their presence when passing horses and their riders and should not make any noise or sudden movements that would be likely to unsettle the animal. Equal care should be taken when passing wild animals such as ponies, sheep and cows.
Maintain an even pace - If you are riding next to someone, be aware of your relationship to his or her front wheel. Constantly upping the pace when the rider draws level with you (half-wheeling) is rude and disruptive. The groups should always reform if they split, for example on hills or at road junctions. Climbing hills is often best achieved by individuals choosing their own pace, when this occurs the group will reform at the top. If it becomes necessary for the group to stop, a safe place should be sought to avoid inconvenience to others. In winter and wet conditions mudguards should be fitted as a courtesy to other riders, even bikes which are not designed for mudguards can be fitted with "race blades".
|Frequently asked questions|
|I don't like riding near cars or on busy roads. |
Neither do we. Generally, all our rides are on quiet minor roads and lanes, away from cars as much as possible. We get out to these lanes as soon as we can. Of course, if you are on a mountain bike outing, a lot of the ride will be off-road away from traffic.
How fit must I be to be able to ride with you?
You'll need a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy a 'clubrun' (club run being a social ride, usually with a café stop). By reasonable level of fitness, we'd suggest that you should be able to ride about 30-40 miles, once or twice a week, at around 14mph.
Do I need to be a member of the club to come on a club run?
Not at first, we'd want you to be sure that you enjoyed our company and that we like you. You'll be more than welcome as a 'visitor'. The most important thing is that your bike is roadworthy and that you are able to keep up with the group. If you become a regular clubrun rider we would invite you to join - our Club Secretary will make sure you are given an application form or you can download one from here: http://www.sotonia.co.uk/downloads/Membership%20Form%20Jan%202011.pdf
Do you ride close together in a group on clubruns?
Yes, we do tend to ride in fairly close formation and this does take a bit of getting used to if you're new to cycling. However, there's no need to be daunted. If you're a bit uncertain then it's best to start at the back of the group where you don't have to worry about people around you. From there you can soon learn some basic things about group riding and your confidence will increase. If you find that you are having difficulty in keeping up with the main group then it is important that you notify other members so this can be taken into condieration by the rest of the group.
But why ride so close together?
Riding 'on someone's wheel' as it's called gives you the benefit of slipstream. Riding close enough to the person in front of you can save you as much as 15-40% of your energy, depending on the speed and size of the group, which enables us all to maintain a higher average than we could on our own.
Is riding in a group safe?
Group riding is safe; there are very few reported incidents of rider on rider accidents, especially if simple rules are followed. When it does happen, the most common cause is sudden stopping. If you need to stop for any reason, shout 'stopping' before you slow down. This also alerts the group if you are stopping due to a mechanical problem.
Is everyone else fast? What if I can't keep up?
Not everyone is fast, and we're not the kind of club where everyone tries to impress each other with speed. Our average club runs vary from around 13mph (slow group) to 18mph (fast group). Remember, though, it is ALWAYS easier when you are riding in a group, and you may be surprised how easy the miles pass when you are chatting away. If you start to struggle, don't worry, we've all been there, and someone will ride with you to ensure that you are ok. We won't leave you behind in the middle of nowhere.
I'm not good enough to come out with you yet.
If you believe that you're not fit enough yet to come out with us, then hopefully the Sotonia can still offer you something. For example, each week the club run goes to a pre-selected café. You could make your own way there at your own pace, meeting us for a slice of cake and some tea. Just let us know that you'll be there so that we can look out for you. We may even be able to arrange for one of our members to meet up with you for an initial ride and advise on which group would best suit you. If you stick at it and ride regularly you'll eventually wonder what all the fuss was about!
I'm faster than 15mph. Your club runs will be too slow for me!
We usually have two or sometimes three levels of club runs, so if you believe the slower run is too easy or too short, then you can choose to go with the quicker riders. That said, club runs are a social ride where we aim to generally keep together. Club members who race sometimes go on separate training runs which are a lot quicker and harder. If you find the club runs too slow you should ask about these, and think about racing!