Cycling with a club

Never Say Never!

Most of us who use our bikes to go from A to B regard the weekend club cyclists as ‘lycra clad loonies’ and a different species! The perception is of a large pack of super fit (mainly men) kitted out on expensive bikes, but couldn’t be more different from my experience of going on rides with Reading CTC.

My first encounter with them was when I was out exploring near Goring on an old shopping bike. Awaiting the usual rush of other club cyclists past me, I was surprised when a couple of people started chatting as I pootled along. I’d not even considered joining a cycling club, but was looking for inspiration to ride longer distances and explore new areas without the hassle of carrying a map or expense of a Garmin-type device.

They invited me to join them for a coffee as the group was about to stop – and the selling point was some home- made flapjack that was being shared around!

On returning home I looked up Reading CTC on the website and saw the variety of rides and speeds they had talked about. They had explained that new riders can come along for free (for up to 3 rides), but I also found out that being a member of Reading Cycle Campaign gave me affiliated membership of Cycling UK, so decided to try a few rides and then take it from there.

The ethos of the club is not about speed or beating targets, but the enjoyment of going for a ride – and the distances quickly build when you are enjoying amazing scenery, riding on generally quiet country roads and chatting as much (or as little) as you like during the ride.

The groups runs rides at various speeds and distances and genuinely welcomes all newcomers, with around 50% women cyclists, and lots of women ride leaders.

That was over 5 years ago and since then I’ve gone on to build my distances from around 15-20 miles up to over 100 in a day. Not everyone’s idea of fun, but I can honestly say that the support and encouragement I’ve received from fellow cyclists at Reading CTC has kept me going when I might otherwise have got a train (or taxi!) home and certainly hibernated for the winter.

Part of the national Cycling UK organisation, Reading CTC is a thriving, friendly club which is run by members to encourage people of all levels to enjoy leisure cycling. They provide a wide range of social cycle rides and encourage people of all levels to enjoy being out on a bike.

So if you want some encouragement to cycle further, explore new areas and have the comfort that help will be on hand if you do have a puncture or other ‘mechanical’, then come along on a ride. The group always goes at the pace of the slowest rider and won’t leave anyone behind.

Take a look at our website (www.readingctc.co.uk) and come along to a social ride with a friendly bunch of local cyclists and see if going out with a club changes your perception!

Karen Robertson

RCC Events Coordinator

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