1. Plan a fairly flat route about 12 miles long near you home. On a calm day try to cycle the route, comfortably, in an hour or less. If you can do this, you will have no problem keeping up. The group will probably go a little faster but the professionals claim that they save up to 25% of their effort by riding in close proximity to other riders.
2. Check your bike over! Is there plenty of wear left in the brakes and are the tyres in good condition? Eliminate any squeaks. Oil the chain.
3. It’s best to leave the purchase of any new equipment or clothing until after your first ride as you will pick up tips on what is most suitable from other riders.
4. Always carry with you (a) 2 inner tubes (replacing the tube is quicker and easier than repairing a puncture) (b) A set of tyre levers and (c) a compact multitool which fits most of the allen bolts on you bike. You may also wish to carry a puncture outfit to be safe!
5. For your ride, pump the tyres up hard. Look at the writing on the tyre wall and see if it states a maximum inflation pressure. If possible, you need to inflate to around 80psi as a minimum pressure. Hard tyres rarely puncture because they do not pinch the tube on bumps like soft ones do. If you do not have access to a tyre pressure gauge, inflate the tyres until it is difficult to press them in with finger and thumb.
6. Carry a water bottle. Although the ride will stop for coffee in a cafe, you may need a drink whilst going along. At this stage, plain water in the bottle is adequate!
7. Have a good breakfast before the ride. You are going to burn about 2000 calories in the morning so you need food inside you. At the break, eat something similar to your fellow riders. That snack can make the difference between arriving home comfortably or not.
8. Turn up for the ride a few minutes early, find and introduce yourself to the runs leader. When the ride starts off, you will probably feel safer starting at the back. This is probably the best place if you have not ridden with a group. Usually someone will fall back and join you.
9. Keeping a safe distance behind the bike in front, watch how the group behaves and communicates. They should not ever ride more than 2 abreast, single out on busy roads and warn the bikes behind about holes and obstructions via hand signals. The convoy should flow like a caterpillar with no sudden deviation in the lines without a shouted warning. Note how close to each other they ride in order to minimise wind resistance. Observe how this close riding means they do not turn their heads to talk but necessitates keeping a close eye on the wheel in front.
10. When you feel confident, move closer to the bikes in front and note how much easier it is to stay with the group. In time you may wish to move into the middle of the pack and find it even easier! Normally, no-one should overtake the runs leader.
11. If, at any time, you have a puncture or mechanical problem, shout out and coast slowly to a stop on the left hand side of the road, where it is safe to do so. Do not make any sudden deviation from your course without warning. Someone will help you and the whole group will wait.
12. If you feel the ride is too much for you then tell someone! Depending on how far into the ride you are a solution will be found that suits you. You will not be left somewhere by yourself and not knowing how to get home!
13. Once you are home and settled, read our “Ride Etiquette” page and it should now make things clearer.
14. Resolve to try another ride next week! Under the terms of our club’s insurance, you can ride with us up to 3 times before joining.
15. To join the club, download a membership application form and post it to the membership secretary (address on form).