We love a good club run. But there are some tell-tale signs you’re part of one…
Before we get to the meat of this, likely tongue-in-cheek, article it might be worth mentioning my status as a proud and active member of Bristol South Cycling Club (up the South!). Club riding is great, it encourages participation, gives everyone a chance for a bit of like-minded socialising and helps even veterans discover new roads, routes and ideas.
Having said that, there are a few trademarks reserved only for club rides. You’re unlikely to experience these if you’re riding solo. But there’s something about a group of cyclists that brings out certain traits most cyclists possess.
Balls-Out Climbing is Essential
There’s no such thing as a steady climb in a club run. Climbs present an opportunity to, shall we say, size each other up. It doesn’t matter that it makes far more sense, in the long run, to hold back when things get hard and spend when times are easy. Oh no, long or short, every climb is at full-tilt.
The Road Surface is, Generally, Questionable
When I’m riding alone, every road, lane and path is, apart from the odd lump or bump, perfect. Your local club run, however, is likely to take in several roads of questionable quality. After all, where would the challenge be in sticking to more enjoyable roads.
Potholes turn into craters. Gravel turns into boulders. Horse shit turns into even more horse shit. Looking to hone your bike handling skills? Get yourself on a club run!
No One Really Wants a Go On The Front
After the first 10 miles, the front of your club ride is likely to feature the same 2-4 people in rotation. It’s a Sunday after all; why should you be expected to put in any work on a Sunday?! What is this? A Chinese sweatshop?
And even when the guy at the front pulls over to let someone through, excuses are made and he’s forced to resume his position as organic wind-block. Oh no, don’t you worry. Just sit back there and relax.
Everyone’s Racing for Cake
You’re 30 miles in – 2 miles until the coffee stop. You know what that means? Cake. People start to get little shifty, glancing from one side to the other. It’s feeling like a bunch sprint. Riders are starting to get in position; that last slice of chocolate cake won’t eat itself, but no-one else is allowed to either.
Kittel eat your heart out, things are about to get messy. Except the guy at the front doesn’t know where the coffee stop is, misses a turn and that’s it.
Cake Means Fuel
It’s almost guaranteed that the second half of a club ride will be several km/h faster than the first half. It’s an interesting phenomenon closely related to point one. A sustained effort would be faster, but that would be too easy.
After the almost hour-long break, attendees are wondering where the time’s gone and husbands fearing for their lives. Oh, you’re taking your son to a petting zoo in half an hour? We’d better smash it home…
I don’t doubt that your experience may differ from mine. Perhaps your local club ride is a very relaxed affair, with no smashing of any sort. But it seems unlikely.