While you won’t want to cut out solo riding entirely, joining a cycling club is good way to improve your skills on the bike and take your fitness to the next level. Use this guide to find out how joining a cycling club benefits you as a cyclist and where to find a like-minded cycling group near you.
1. LEARN BETTER BIKE-HANDLING
Whether you’re interested in racing or not, improving your bike-handling makes you a safer cyclist on the road. By joining a cycling group and getting involved in weekend club rides, you’ll learn useful skills you might not be exposed to riding solo. Drafting, bike control, hand signals and pacing are just a few of the basics you’ll grow accustomed to when you practice riding in close proximity to others.
READ MORE > 10 CYCLING HAND SIGNALS YOU NEED TO KNOW
2. DEVELOP CAMARADERIE
If you ride lots of miles alone, motivation can become an issue. Joining a cycling club with other like-minded cyclists helps you mix up your training regimen and have more fun on your daily training rides. Making friends with members of your cycling club can also provide extra motivation and accountability, getting you out on the road more than you might go alone. On long or hard workouts, having others to suffer with helps you push yourself a little harder.
3. DISCOVER NEW ROUTES
Riding the same routes over and over can be an easy way to burn yourself out training on the bike. And while you can always use the MapMyRide app to find new routes in your area, riding with a cycling club exposes you to different roads than you’re used to. Most cycling club ride leaders also know the routes with the least amount of traffic and those with bike lanes to provide the most safety for the group.
4. MEET TEAMMATES FOR RACING
Getting into racing can be intimidating if you go into it on your own and without any experience. Not only will a cycling club provide coaching and training partners for you to prepare for your first event, it’ll also give you teammates to work with on race day. Having others to help guide you through the race, draft off of and give you pointers when you make mistakes can be invaluable when getting into the competitive side of the sport.
5. FIND MENTORS
For those new to the sport, there’s a lot to learn. Whether it’s being safe, learning how to train the right way or developing bike-handling skills, having more experienced riders to mentor you on the ins and outs of the sport can shorten your learning curve. Having a mentor can also help guide you through rough patches in your training and avoid common mistakes so you aren’t forced to learn the hard way.
6. EARN GEAR DISCOUNTS
Most cycling clubs are connected to a local bike shop. Since this partnership ups the number of customers, most shops offer discounts to members. If you spend a lot of money on gear, a 15–20% member discount adds up quickly.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CYCLING CLUB
Once you’ve decided to join a cycling club, you’ll need to find the right club to fit your individual needs. Here are a few of the factors you should consider when choosing a cycling club:
- Goals: Some clubs steer more toward racing, while others focus more on touring the area at a slower pace.
- Speed: Most cycling clubs post the average mile per hour you should be comfortable with for weekend rides. Make sure your ability as a cyclist matches those of the group you’re riding with so you won’t be left behind.
- Age: Some groups are for cyclists of certain ages, focusing on either racing or leisurely cycling to stay fit and lose weight.
- Schedule: Cycling groups and clubs often meet at certain times during the week. Make sure your schedule fits with the club you’re looking to join.
- Price point: While some cycling clubs are free, though most have an annual fee and require you to purchase a cycling kit from the club. Check the costs before you decide to join.
If you’re looking for cycling clubs in your area, use the USA Cycling search tool or visit the Road Cycling Meetup site. You can also ask about clubs at your local bike shop or attend a few local races where you can ask other club members about joining their team.