Joining a cycling club might seem a bit daunting if you're new to cycling or unsure of your fitness. Here is how to join, and the answers to some of the questions you might have.
Simply download and print a membership form, then fill it in and post to the membership secretary with a cheque. Click here for full details, and information on how much it costs.
This is what you get if you join the Wheelers as a full member (senior, junior or family):
Being a full member is called being a "first-claim" member. Most members are first-claim members. You can also join us as a social member or, if you are already a member of another cycling club, as a second-claim member. If you join us as a social or second claim member, you get all the benefits we've listed above, except you can't represent the Wheelers in open races or vote at general meetings.
If you come out with us regularly, we guarantee that you will:
A club run is an organised social ride, invariably with a café stop.
There's a regular mountain bike ride every Saturday but most of our rides are road rides and nearly everyone on the Saturday club run will be riding a road bike. But we've seen plenty of people enjoy our Sunday easy club runs on hybrid bikes or mountain bikes. If you want to use your mountain bike on the road, you'll find it easier if you fit slick tyres, rather than knobbly ones.Whatever you ride, in winter we'd really like you to have mudguards to avoid splashing the rider behind you with water, mud and worse (we do ride a lot in the lanes).
We're not the kind of club where people boast about their expensive bikes. You definitely don't need a posh bike to join us. More expensive bikes benefit from being lighter, so they're easier to ride uphill, but ultimately it doesn't matter how expensive a bike is, as long as it's well maintained.
You'll need a reasonable level of fitness for our Saturday club runs, by which we mean that you should be able to ride about 30-40 miles by yourself, once or twice a week, at around 14mph.
If that sounds a bit fast or if you're not sure how fit you are, the Sunday easy rides are a great place to start. The distance and number of hills on these rides varies from week to week, so if you're worried about trying them out, please contact us so that we can make sure the ride that week is suitable for you.
Not everyone is fast, and we're not the kind of club where everyone tries to impress each other with speed. But you do need a certain amount of fitness and speed. Our average Saturday club run speeds vary from around 13mph to 18mph. 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 you're OK. We won't leave you behind in the middle of nowhere.
There are some fast people in the club, but we have separate rides for different ability levels, so on the slower club runs you don't need to worry about the fast people wanting to ride more quickly. See also: I'm faster than 15mph. Should I still join as your club runs will be too slow for me?
Neither do we. As far as possible, we ride on quiet minor roads and lanes, away from the traffic. Of course, if you are on a mountain bike ride, a lot of the ride will be traffic-free.
There are many lady riders in the Wheelers and there's a popular Saturday club run for ladies only. Some ladies come out regularly on the Saturday afternoon and Sunday club runs - on Sundays they sometimes outnumber the men.
Of course; you are very welcome to come out and see if you like it. The most important thing is that your bike is safe and roadworthy and that you are able to keep up on whichever ride you choose. If, after up to three rides, you'd like to keep coming out with us (and we hope you will), you'll need to become a member.
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. Riding close together enables all the riders to maintain a higher average speed than any one rider could on their own.
Riding close together can take a bit of getting used to if you're new to riding in a group. However, there's no need to be daunted. If you're a bit uncertain, it's best to start at the back of the group where you don't have to worry about riders behind you. From there you'll soon learn about group riding and increase your confidence.
If you believe that you're not fit enough yet to come out with us, then we hope we can still offer you something.
For example, each week the club run goes to a predetermined café, and if you wanted to, 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 we can look out for you.
We may be able to arrange for one of us to meet up with you for an initial ride and help you decide which club ride would suit you best. If you stick at it and ride regularly, it won't be long before you'll wonder what you were worried about.
No, although many riders find lycra more comfortable (particularly between them and the saddle). The materials used in cycling clothing tend to breathe well, reducing discomfort from sweating, and don't flap around in the wind. There's now a wide range of kit available for cycling so look for something that you find comfortable and are happy to wear. Remember to keep warm, especially in the winter (it's better to be too warm than too cold).
One of the benefits of joining a cycling club is that there are plenty of people to help you diagnose that mysterious squeak or give you tips about repairs and maintenance.
Yes, please ask us. Most of us have experiences of various bikes and equipment and will be only too happy to advise you what to buy, and what to avoid. We've made the mistakes, so there's no need for you to copy them.
We normally split the Saturday club run into two groups of different speeds, so if you believe the slower ride is too easy for you, you can choose to ride with the other quicker riders, who usually leave first. That said, club runs are a social ride where we generally aim to keep the group together. It may split on hills but will regroup on the other side. Club members who want to train for racing, or who just want to ride faster, go on separate, quicker training rides.
Definitely! While the club doesn't organise triathlons, some members are triathletes who have joined us to improve their cycling skills, especially those from a running or swimming background. There are many aspects of cycling technique which can be improved with practice, or learned from experienced riders, such as riding position, pedalling style, cornering, hill-climbing techniques and best use of gearing.
Definitely! While the club doesn't organise Sportives, many members ride them. Joining us will help improve your cycling technique, such as riding position, pedalling style, cornering, hill-climbing techniques and best use of gearing, as well as your confidence at riding in a group.
No! Although the Wheelers have a strong racing heritage with national and international champions within our ranks, we are definitely not purely a racing club. Many of our members have never raced and have no intention of ever doing so, while others with a racing background are now content to take things more slowly. If you join the Wheelers, you'll find a huge depth of cycling experience of all branches of the sport going back over many years.
We depend on volunteers to enable us to promote races and other activities and, if you join us, we'll encourage you to help in whatever way you can, perhaps by marshalling at a race (don't worry we'll explain what to do) or pouring cups of tea at the race HQ. We like all members to volunteer for at least one event a year if possible, but of course there's no maximum.
There are several riders in the Wheelers who regularly ride off-road and there's a regular small Saturday mountain bike ride. The standard of riding and fitness are quite high although we sometimes arrange introductory off-road sessions.
We certainly do. Take a look around the website; there's plenty going on.
The calendar on this website tells you about all our events including club runs, training rides, time trials and races. We also announce some of these on our Facebook page. We have a regular members' newsletter, Fools' Nook, and an associated twitter feed @FoolsNook. If you join us, we'll also contact you by email.