Why join this exclusive group or club? What do I get out of cycling in a group scenario? Clubs/groups are the backbone of the cycling scene and community, and an invaluable source of knowledge and advice that can help you improve as a bike rider.
MEET LIKE-MINDED RIDERS
Clubs have personalities so finding one that matches your interests is a great way to meet like-minded riders. Some clubs are just about riding; the Sunday club ride is the focus of the club’s activities. Others are centred on racing, while other local groups will likely be dedicated to pootling around the most obscure routes the ride leader can find to connect pubs and cafes. The larger the club, the more varied its activities are likely to be.
NEW ROADS AND ROUTES
Fed up of repeating the same old rides every time? There are plenty of Google Maps-based routing sites and apps that can help you find a new ride, but that can be a bit hit-and-miss — I once ended up on a byway following a route generated by CycleStreets. That was kinda fun, but the 23mm tyres I was on weren’t really suitable for trail riding. Club ride leaders are expected to keep a ride on suitable roads, which means knowing the back lanes and quieter B roads, so a club ride is a great way to add to your repertoire of rides and get a feel for an area.
Every good club ride includes a cafe stop. That makes social club rides a great way to find out who does the best lemon drizzle cake among the cafes within riding range.
Sure you can join CSA as a private member and rock up to the start of an elite race, but if you don’t know what you’re doing you’ll almost certainly get blown out the back of the group quickly. If you do manage to hang on you’ll likely be a danger to yourself and others if you don’t know how to ride in a high-speed group. A racing-orientated club will have coaches and training sessions that will help you get fit enough you don’t get spat off the back of every race, and build the skills to handle a bike and position yourself in a race scenario.
You might like riding alone, and that’s fine, but club rides give you the chance to chat while you whizz along, and they’re one of those rare social situations where you won’t be considered odd for wittering on about bikes. Being in a group is also invaluable if things go wrong. You should have spares, tools, food and drink with you anyway, but if you suffer a significant mechanical the chances are there’ll be someone in the group to fix it. A well-run club ride will usually have a ‘no rider left behind’ policy. Fitter riders might get a bit frisky on hills, but they’ll wait for the group to reassemble at the top. If you’ve over-reached a bit, and the ride turns out to be further than you can manage comfortably, you’ll get help in the form of a wheel to follow or even a helping hand up hills. The incentive of not getting dropped is a great inspiration to dig deep into your reserves.
As mentioned above many clubs run training sessions. These can be a high-speed , long sessions; more structured sessions skills sessions ; or a room full of turbo trainers at a gym or community centre. Being able to tap into coaching expertise is a big advantage of a club, whether your aim is to get into racing, take it more seriously or just to move up from Silver to Gold standard in your favourite sportive.
Riding with a club is a good way to learn useful skills. Even if it is just a quick word from a fellow rider following you down the trail pionting out an incorrect riding position that you never knew you were riding.
Many bike shops offer discounts either to members of associated clubs. Many clubs have negotiated special offers and deals with bike shops or retailers and members can take advantage of those exclusive offers .
Cycling clubs may not be for everyone. I have friends who only ride solo, and that works for them; however, it’s hard to argue the benefits listed above. If you are on the lookout for a club, find out what they offer (most have a website) and better yet, join them for a group ride to see if the style is a good fit for you. The old adage “the more the merrier” certainly applies when deciding if you should join a cycling club.
Location: Cape Town Western Cape
Our next riding group to feature has gained major traction in the Western Cape and have been blazing trails around Cape Town for a few years now. The Trail Angels are based in Tokai Rd Cape Town have 9 rides/group sessions per week so you are bound to find what you are looking for.
Whether you are new to mountain biking, are returning from injury/recovery, just looking for some fun cycling company or are super keen to take your riding to the next level, this is your platform to do so! With 9 rides a week (various levels) there is something for everyone. The Trail Angels (aka Dirt Divas, Spin Sisters and even Crazy ladies) are a group of woman who are energetic, fun and always up for a challenge. Sound good? Come and join us for a trial ride and enjoy this supportive and non- intimidating environment which will have you hooked! Nikki Haywood, founder of Trail Angels, has been riding her bike since she was a student at Stellenbosch University. She started cycling as a means of transport and then in 2006 she decided to enter her first Absa Cape Epic as a rookie rider and from there her passion for mountain biking began.Her main aim is to get women fit, get them skilled and have loads of fun doing it. She offers a non- competitive environment where everyone feels confident to ride at their own pace without feeling any peer pressure.
GROUP RIDE DETAILS
ADVANCED 08:30 APPROX 2 HOURS
BEGINNERS 08:30 APPROX 1.5 HOURS
BEGINNERS 09:00 APPROX 1.5 HOURS
INTERMEDIATE 09:00 APPROX 1.5 HOURS
ADVANCED 08:30 APPROX 2 HOURS
THURSDAY INTERMEDIATE 08:30 2 - 3 HOURS
BEGINNERS 08:30 APPROX 1.5 HOURS
INTERMEDIATE 08:30 APPROX 1.5 HOURS
FEES AND WHATS INCLUDED
Fees per quarter are as follows: R100 for a drop in ride R900 for one ride a week R1350 for unlimited riding
What does this include?
Total flexibility with rides – ride as many times a week as you’d like
Fun, organised and safe rides
Capped group sizes – 1 leader per 10 riders. More than 10 and there will be 2 leaders
Skills clinic options with expert riders (Ann, Chris, Jo)
Strength and fitness training options – OTS (Off The Saddle)
Exclusive Travel options – locally and internationally
‘pro led rides’ – expert info sessions, on the bike.
Regular free bike mechanics courses, courtesy of Giant Trail Angel
specific training blocks
Termly lucky draws and prizes
Secure entries for stage races
Evening rides (summer)