Don’t waste the off season. In a given a week, here in Vancouver the weather is unpredictable with temperature swings, precipitation in all of its possible forms, and road and trail conditions varying from possible to dangerous. Many athletes choose to hit the gym or the spin club to keep their bodies going. Some just switch sports and others just put their feet up.
But this is the time to kick up your mental game: to strategize your upcoming season. What are your goals? What are your races? Is this the year for a bucket list ride? Who will you be on the road with? What can you do to step up your performance? The early months of the year are the time to plan your calendar (we will have another post on that soon) and pick your clubs. Cycling is one of those sports where you can wake up and hit the road by yourself. There is no doubt your mind and body will thank you. However, don’t underestimate the power of a cycling club to improve your riding, inspire you to push yourself and give yourself a break with laughter and camaraderie.
Six tips to pick the cycling club for you
- Flexibility – look for a club with a variety of distances, speeds and abilities. Choose a club that has space for you to improve but be mindful it is never fun to be the rider at the back knowing you are holding everyone back.
- Schedule – find a club that offers a number of rides on different days and different times. If you can’t make at least two of the rides on a regular basis, perhaps you need to find a different club. If you can’t regularly attend, these aren’t your teammates.
- Passion – find a club that is active in the local cycling community. You want engaged and passionate leadership, active in local politics or advocacy.
- Fun – we all love to ride but sometimes it is nice to see the group out of their kit ready for some fun. Social events can be an important part of creating a cohesive and supportive community.
- Communication – how does the club get its information out? Is the website up to date? Are they engaged on social media? Is there a weekly or monthly newsletter? You don’t want to be out of the loop. No one likes to be dropped – on or off the road.
- Education – all riders can improve their skills. Whether it is a post ride session of changing flats or improving nutrition – education sessions and full-on training days show the club is passionate about creating safe, lifelong cyclists.
When in doubt do a guest ride
Check out the group dynamics and see if it works for you. Most bike clubs allow for guests to join on special days or some may simply require a small fee to cover insurance if you don’t have your own. If you ride more than twice, buy the kit and join up. If you are not quite ready for that, once the season begins - think April 1 - on any given Saturday or Sunday each city has its classic ride routes. Hit up the rest and regroup locations and hangout. Observe the clubs different dynamics.
In Vancouver here are some clubs to consider:
Glotman Simpson Cycling - This is probably the largest club in the city. They have a presence at just about every race and fondo in BC. The club is known for speed, training racers and well attended group rides. They welcome riders who meet their minimum proficiency requirements. They ride regular routes on Saturdays and Sundays and have a monthly women’s ride in the summer.
WOWride Cycling - This innovative women’s only club is aiming to change the face of cycling. They want to balance the scales (recent estimates show just 12% of cyclists are women) and are taking on rolls with Cycling BC and Cycling Canada to lead advocacy. The relatively new club is entering its fourth year and its second year with its podium-topping race team. Rides are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. WOWride connects like-minded, dynamic female cyclists to ride strongly together in a fun, safe, and supportive environment.
TaG Club and Club Torque - Last year TaG Cycling expanded their training and coaching programs to form a club. Building on that success they have created an innovative program that pairs their indoor coaching this winter and spring with summer outdoor rides. TaG is founded and guided by Olympians and Olympic coaches - this is the club for you to step up your skills under professional eyes. The club will ride Sundays beginning in April and members can take advantage of discounts on spin training and summer endurance rides. Check out the Club Torque to begin your full training now!