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This is probably a stupid question and the answer is more or less subjective, but when should you join a team or club?

I've just started to take road cycling seriously and noticed on my rides there are many teams/clubs out riding where I live.

Is there normally a criteria for joining?

Right now I go on 30 mile rides and average around 13-14mph. That's somewhat pushing my limits. How far and fast should I be able to go to keep up with and consider joining one of these teams?

I will have to wait around 30 years to join the 50 and over club, but truth be told I probably couldn't keep up with them anyway lol. They are no joke where I live.

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    If you change the question to "what are the benefits of joining a team or club?" then it will be a stronger question, because it then won't be opinion-based. BTW I rode for about three years solo at your speed and distance, and I joined a group this year and I'm so happy that I did, because I enjoy the people, I've learned from them, and I've been motivated to get stronger and faster. – rclocher3 Oct 7 '16 at 2:11
  • @rclocher3 your right. I changed it. – npsantini Oct 7 '16 at 2:44
  • 13-14 mph is 22-23 km/h, which is a "beginner riding speed" so don't feel ashamed by that. If its hilly then even lower speeds would be set for beginners. – Criggie Oct 9 '16 at 23:27
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Keeping it general - if you're interested and keen on cycling for health or fitness, or you have a competitive streak, then joining a club is a good idea at any age, and at any skill level.

We can't speak for specifics of the clubs in your local region.

Most clubs quieten down in the winter/off months, more so at Northerly and Southerly latitudes. Or they might shift focus to indoor riding if there is access to a velodrome facility.

The main benefits are

  • Access to experience and social interaction
  • Motivation to get out and ride
  • On a ride - a target or pace to maintain - gets you that little bit faster and fitter sooner.
  • Bulk purchasing power. One club I belong to can supply consumable parts cheap, cos they keep a stock. Any profits are turned back into the club too.

Drawbacks might include

  • Minimum attendance. Some clubs have "members in name only" who don't contribute. So its not totally odd to have a clause like "you must join in at least two rides a year." Its not onerous.
  • Costs - Clubs have to charge subscriptions to cover their costs. While it costs you nothing to ride your bike, the club will have
  • Socialising - Cycling is inherently an individual thing. So it attracts those of us who might not enjoy team sport. Being "forced" to socialise might be perceived as a downside.
  • Ridicule - I ride old bikes, and when I turn up at an event with my horizontal top-tube alloy bike from the 90s, there's always someone who looks down their nose at you for having not-the-latest kit. Stuff'em! Best thing to do then is put in an admirable time, better than last time. Bonus points if you beat Mr Longnose!

If you don't want to join a club, that's okay, just ride your bike. Tools like Strava can give you information on your progress and the competitive nature of segments helps.

Nothing is the same as keeping up on someone's wheel in real life, and feeling the boost of a draft.

Finally - clubs tend to run open days or public-access days where a ride or event allows non-members to participate. Ask about locally and find out if such a thing is happening soon. You can try it without committing.

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    Thanks. I didn't even think about fees that might be involved. – npsantini Oct 7 '16 at 13:49
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Agree with everything above and would like to add ...

The good

  • You learn to ride in a group

  • You make friends

  • You can ride faster / further in a group

  • Camaraderie & banter

  • Can be competitive

  • learn new routes and loops

The not so good

  • More chance of mechanicals

  • You're only as fast as the slowest rider

  • You ride at other peoples paces - slow or fast

  • Some clubs / teams are very regimental in how you ride with them

  • Club rides may not fit into your timetable

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I agree with most statements. Check websites for rides in your area. Check team/club website for meet times and places. Most clubs will let you hang with them, at least for a couple of rides. If you have not done too many group rides, highly suggest a club over a team at first. Where I live there are some regular/weekly rides that are not associated with a club or team. There are also many organized rides (most often once a year) that charge a one time fee. Either check web or your local bike shop.

I recently, after 40 years of riding, thought I would try out another club (first disintegrated, after key member got tired of doing all the work, and sponsor resturant backed off a bit on discounts). Last year on a organized yearly century ride I ended up riding with a number of people from the same club, so I though I'd check them out as we seemed to have the same pace. Took 4 times to meet up with them (times/places listed wrong). At the meet place, a local bike shop, inside with coffee and donuts before the ride, I was quite surprised no one introduced themselves or even said hello. Later on the road one guy said the guy who normally does that wasn't there. The club founder gave me wrong information the week before. On the ride, going out was a little slow for my pace, at a rest stop some were going to turn back, some go on. I joined the later. They were much faster, probably faster than my pace but they have a club policy 'no one left behind', so they stop and wait occasionally for stragglers. But on same ride you can get a variety to match your style.

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