Guest poster Don Blount suggests you not join the first bike club you hear about — first, check out several, then decide.
One of my riding goals for this year was to begin doing group rides. Mostly because of my schedule, it’s difficult for me to find time to ride with others. During the week I have work. Sunday mornings, when many groups go out, I have church and I also have young children at home, and a wife.
But I do have a window on Saturday mornings. So I have targeted a few of those a month as an opportunity to get out.
I found that just picking a group and riding with them isn’t as easy as it appears.
I had to figure out what I wanted in a club and as part of that process, I e-mailed three groups within a 45-minute drive of my home.
One of three, the Stanislaus County Bicycle Club I didn’t hear back from for weeks (more on this group later).
The Stockton (Calif.) Bicycle Club got back to me within a few days but said most of the rides they were doing in March were too difficult for people just coming out. One of the membership people sent a followup e-mail: “The SBC rides are often heavy with Type-A’s. Many of us are retired with time and disposable income. Sometimes the rides are not friendly to the new person but you’re doing the right thing by making inquires … hah!”
He went on: “That’s the other thing — we are mostly in the AARP-Social Security Range. Young riders come out but it’s almost always ‘one and done’. Can’t blame ’em.”
So it didn’t sound too attractive.
I also received an e-mail from the third group, the Sacramento (Calif.) Wheelmen. This is a large group, its website says it has 600 members. The group usually has three to four rides each Saturday. One of those often begins about a 40-minute drive from my home.
“We hope you can join us. You don’t have to be a member to join us on rides, but if you do, you might decide to join up.”
I did join them for a 40-miler on a recent windy Saturday.
I had a good time in spite of the wind. I was most surprised to see that most of these riders were older than me. One guy was 75 and logged 15,000 miles last year. That’s farther than I drove my car.
When I asked how he managed to do that, one of the others chimed in, “He’s retired!”
The ride leader was 70 years old.
They weren’t hammer heads. I could even hang with the A group, but that may have been because of the wind as they just tried to keep the group together.
I had an enjoyable time riding with them and may look for other opportunities to ride with them again.
I’m not looking to race and I doubt I would socialize much with this group, in part because of the distance from my home. But I found the joy in riding with others.
This experience would become my baseline for comparison when I joined the Stockton Bicycle Club for a ride two weeks later.