Frequently asked Questions for New Riders
1. Where do the North Road Cycling Club ride?
We are based at Hertford in Hertfordshire and are one of the longest established cycling clubs in the country. We cycle mainly in the country lanes of Hertfordshire and Essex. We currently have approaching 200 members interested in a range of cycling activities
2. When do you ride?
We have training rides from Hertford at 9.30am on most Saturday’s all year round. These are generally split into three or four ability groups and are of about 50-80 miles. The fastest group tend not to stop at a cafe and is only suitable for experienced cyclists (please note this group will not stop wait for you if you are unable to maintain the speed of the group). The middle group(s) generally stop at a cafe (but not always), and is also for reasonable competent and fit cyclists (this group will reform on the ride so that nobody gets left behind). The slowest group will stop at a cafe and will also wait for members not able to keep up. All groups get back to Hertford at about 2pm.
We also have have a Sunday club run of 20-40 miles that meets near Hertford North train station that goes to various cafe stops. This is a steady ride where nobody gets left behind. See the Calendar page for details of upcoming club runs.
3. Do I need to be a member to ride?
No, not initially, but we do require you to join after a few rides with us if you wish to continue riding. It is also a good idea to join British Cycling or CTC for public liability insurance purposes.
4. I am under 18, do you have junior members?
Yes we do and juniors are most welcome. We do not have a special group for juniors, however, so you will need to be able to ride the mileages and at the sort of speed mentioned elsewhere in this FAQ. If you are well under 18 and are just starting we can recommend clubs that specialise in introducing children to cycling on closed circuits.
5. I've never ridden in a group before, does that matter?
We ride fairly closely in pairs on Club runs; this can be a bit daunting if you have never done it before. If you are new to group riding, start off at the back so that you can see how it is done and gain confidence. The Club issues a guide for those new to group riding.
6. What about traffic, I find riding in traffic scary?
Our club runs all use quiet roads in the country as much as possible and the countryside starts a few miles from Hertford. You will find riding in a group gives an additional sense of security and you will soon find your confidence growing as you see how others cope with traffic.
7. How fit do I need to be to ride with you?
If you can ride around 20 miles at a reasonable average speed (say 15mph) you should be fit enough for a Sunday club run. For a Saturday ride you should be able to average 16 MPH for 35-40 miles. If you are not sure about your fitness then either contact us or come out on the Sunday club run where members will be happy to advise you.
8. What happens if I can't keep up?
If you only struggle on significant hills this won't be a problem as we always regroup at the top of hills (excepting the very fastest group). If you can't keep up on small hills or the flat then you need to ride more by yourself to improve your fitness. However, if you decide to try a club run we wouldn't leave you behind; we don't want to put people off club cycling by leaving them behind on a club run. It may be that you do find it all too hard. However, all is not lost as there is the more gentle alternative of our Sunday club run.
9. What should I eat before riding?
It is essential that you eat a proper breakfast before riding - porridge or similar is best. Take water on the ride along with some ‘on bike’ food that you know that you can digest whilst on the move (bananas, fig rolls, breakfast bars)
10. What happens if I puncture on a ride?
Put your hand up and shout “puncture” and coast to a suitable place to stop well off the road. The group will wait while you replace the tube, so make sure you have spare tubes, tyre levers and a pump. Help and/or advice will be willingly given if you need it
11. What type of bike do I need?
Everyone in the club rides lightweight, dropped handlebar bikes. Most have gears, some ride fixed wheel. A mountain bike with slick tyres is OK, but the extra weight will make it a bit harder. In winter we prefer you to have mudguards, as riding without can make life very unpleasant for others if it is very wet. Many members have “winter bikes” for this purpose.
12. What about clothing?
We naturally like members to wear club kit. Our club kit is from a top Italian producer and is subsidised by the club so it is of excellent quality and good value. We recommend proper cycle clothing, particularly cycling shorts with proper padding (worn without anything underneath), and closely fitting cycling jerseys. We also recommend cycling shoes with cleats for clip-in pedals. If it looks like rain bring a waterproof that packs up really small.
13. Is there anything I should know about cycling etiquette?
New members have to buy all the beers for senior club members. No, only kidding, part of the fun of joining a club is the help and advice that is available to you from life-long cyclists. They will be happy to explain the small amount of cycling etiquette to you.
14. Do I have to race?
No, we are quite happy for you to just ride club runs as many members do. But what we do not want is for you to keep upping the pace of club runs because you find them too slow. If you are doing that then you should be racing in a faster group.
15. How do I start racing?
The easy way to start is to try our summer Tuesday evening ten mile time trial run from Brickendon village hall This can be entered on the evening without any advanced notice required. These will give you a good idea of your competitiveness and how much training you need to do. You do not need a racing license for club time trials run by the North Road. If you wish to try road racing you will need a British Cycing licence and start as a fourth category or a youth rider and you can then enter any race catering for this category. You can also try age related racing with the LVRC (League of Veteran Racing Cyclists), for those over the age of forty. Closed circuit racing is available, for both BC and LVRC, at Hog Hill in Redbridge.
16. What is the difference between time trials and road racing?
Time trials are individual efforts against the clock over a set distance usually on public roads with riders starting at one minute intervals. In road racing up to 80 or so riders start together and battle it out over a number of laps of a circuit that may or may not be on public roads. Road racing is split up into ability categories and some are handicaps but in time trialling it is the rider against himself, for this reason we recommend that as the first step.
17. What are the different types of cycling you do?
We are a road club and we promote time trials and road races details of which are on the website.
18. I thought the Olympics was great. Do you do Track cycling?
We do have members who race at the outdoor track at Gosling sports center in Welwyn Garden City
19. Do you do off-road?
Not officially, but many members of the club own a MTB, and off road rides are organised on an ad-hoc basis in the winter. Some members race Cyclo-cross in the winter.
20. What about the social scene?
We run a club evening in the summer and do a circuit training class in the winter. A club training weekend, trips to continental races and the Ghnet Six Day track meet are regular features. As are sportives, both in the UK and in Europe. A training week somewhere sunny (Majorca and Italy have featured in the past) and an excellent annual Club Dinner and prize giving. Check out the Gallery to get an idea of the variety of social events. All members receive a monthly copy of the North Road Gazette to keep them informed of club events.
21. I want to join, what do I do?
Come along and ride with us for a few weekends, and if you like it from the web. Fill in the form and get two members of the club to propose and second you and send it with a cheque for £30 (adult full membership) or for juniors £10, for your annual subscription to the Membership Secretary. Members are elected at Committee Meetings that take place every month.