Once you’ve decided that this is going to be your hobby you’ll probably want to join a club, and I recommend you do. You’ll learn more riding and chatting with like minded people than you will reading interweb blog posts like this! A lot of people, even though they want to, for whatever reason, put off joining a club. Don’t put it off and don’t be put off, if you find the right club they will take you under their collective wing and teach you the ways of club riding. You’ll progress a lot faster with the guidance of experienced cyclists.
When I was thinking about joining a club it did feel very intimidating, will I be able to keep up etc… I shouldn’t have worried though, everyone I’ve ended up riding with have all been perfectly nice people, cyclists tend to be very amicable. But instead of jumping straight in to cycle club culture I started riding with the Bromley Cyclists, who are a group whose main aim is to get people into cycling. I joined them for their Wednesday Weekly Wander rides, which were perfect as there’d be a lengthy stop at a pub. Bromley Cyclists are affiliated to Bigfoot Cycle Club, which is the club I ended up joining.
There are lots of cycling clubs all over the country, try searching the interweb or you could see if there is one registered on the British Cycling website club finder that is near you.
Some clubs welcome beginners and some are just for racers so aren’t set up for taking on novices. Their web site should give a fairly good indication of the sort of rides they do and what sort of level of rider they are tailored to. Message them and see if they welcome cyclists of your level of expertise/experience. If they’re not the club for you they should be able to point you in the right direction. Most clubs will let you join them for one or more tester rides before they expect you to pay up to join. Membership fees are normally pretty low, eg £10 or £20 a year, but I suspect there are some higher entry fees to some more exclusive clubs? Some clubs will expect you to buy their kit, some might subsidise this. Some clubs require you to join British Cycling too. I have even heard of clubs that pay their members. Club cycling is a very grass roots type of affair, so you should expect to pitch in with helping at events from time to time, but this shouldn’t be compulsory so don’t be put off if you’re worried you wont have the time to give.
If you’ve had no response when you attempted to contact the club then it might be worth just turning up. If the meeting time and place is detailed on the clubs website then they probably expect people to see this and just turn up. I have done this and never been turned away.
On your first club ride you will probably be nervous and a bit green, but you needn’t be if you’re prepared. Check out my dos and don’ts blog.