So I’d be riding about by myself, getting to work occasionally and in general avoiding being hit by a car, which I considered overall positive.
The next step was apparently to ride in a group, I’d been told this was more fun, was this true? Only one way to find out.
The challenge of finding a group to ride with is definitely finding something that matches your ability level, now even though the bib shorts were giving me delusions of grandeur (see previous post), I was no pro. I am no pro. I will likely not turn pro in the near future. Another factor is that a lot of cycling clubs around want you to become a proper member, complete with fees and an overall feeling of just being a bit serious. This said, nothing wrong with these clubs, just not sure they were right for my current cycling infancy.
I’d been told about a club called Dirty Wknd, which didn’t make you become a member, and ran designated beginners sessions. This, along side the lack of vowels in the second word, appealed, so I thought I’d check it out. There was an upcoming beginners session in Regents Park, and as that was pretty near my house I thought I’d give it a go! (Another bonus, your first ride is free, so nothing to lose)
Now, I’d heard the rumours about the outer circle at RegeyP, I knew cyclists loved it, and a lot of them headed there. As I turned onto it on that Saturday morning, I was suddenly pretty concerned I’d accidentally invaded the Tour de France, as bikes raced round in tight packs. Thoughts:
- Oh no.
- This was a bad idea.
- I do not want to partake in the Tour de France please.
- Why are they so close together?
- Need more lycra.
- Is that Bradley Wiggins?
- Is it too late to just go home?
Anyway, upon persevering I found the Dirty Wknd guys, and my pro-cyclist-peloton-related worries were soon quelled. As this was a beginners session it started with a little chat about how to ride in a group, what the hand signals people use mean, what to shout instead if you’re a fresher like me who fails at taking your hands off the handlebars etc. We then headed out like animals headed for the ark to do our laps of Regents Park. Thoughts:
- These people are so nice.
- This is not the Tour de France.
- It is nice to have a chat while you’re riding isn’t it.
Following this, I did another Dirty Wknd ride in Richmond Park, which was flipping WINDY. This was also my first real experience of having to climb up a hill, which was a gear-related learning curve. Top tip: Big ring + hill = bad idea. Again, it was great fun! Riding with people means lots of chat to be had, but also for people like me with very little experience, a lot of helpful advice! Like anything, riding with people better than you will in turn help you to get better. By the end of the ride, which at about 24 and a half miles was the furthest I’d ever ridden in one go, I’d figured out how to be in mostly the right gears to climb a hill (thanks to various people’s help) and got a lot of pointers about RideLondon itself from people who had done it before.
Put simply, I got it, I understand why people are riding about in groups. After the above rides I’ve done 2 gloriously sunny and lovely rides with a couple of people I met through Dirty Wknd, one to Epping Forest and one south into Kent/Surrey from Crystal Palace. We’ve already got an idea of where we’re heading next so there will be more to report on!
Points to summarise:
- Training actually going OK
- Actually liking it guys
- Got tan lines
Final point, the reason I’m doing all this is Refuge (see my Charity Post), if you feel at all able, however small the donation, I’d be super super grateful for any contributions to my fundraising efforts! Thankyouthankyoupleaseandthankyou.
If you’re looking for a group to ride with and Dirty Wknd sounds interesting…click HERE to find out more. (No I’m unfortunately not on any commission I’m just a fan ok)