Author Topic: What makes a good cycling club?  (Read 2954 times)

What makes a good cycling club?
« on: February 12, 2009, 11:27:17 pm »
As per title. 

My club is going through a bit of a re-think* and trying to attract new members. 

So what is good about good clubs?

*I'm not sure if we are but we are thinking about 'stuff'.

Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2009, 12:04:21 am »
I think you actually need a range of clubs to suit different people. I've tended to belong to "family clubs", although the loss of the younger end means that my current club is not as "family" as it was. For some, a strong racing ethos will attract (and for others, it will repel). These days, if you want to attract the younger end, Go Ride is probably worth careful consideration.

Even for older people, there seems to be more need for short taster rides (whereas the approach used to be that, if you can survive our 120 mile club run, you can join - and this worked perfectly well).

I do notice that sportive and short Audax rides seem to attract significant numbers of non-club riders. It ought to be possible to build on that.

All just theorising though. My club is wondering how to attract more members too.

Rig of Jarkness

  • An Englishman abroad
Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2009, 07:34:15 am »
How long is a piece of string ?  I would suggest that the existing members decide on what makes a good club for them and concentrate on that.  If you decide you want more members you need to be very careful about how you go about it - a small club with a particular ethos can easily see that ethos totally overwhelmed by an influx of new members who want different things from a club.
Personally, for me what makes a good club is a moderate size - say 100-150 - with a good mix of ages, abilities and interests, but where the interests are not self exclusive and everyone mixes and supports each other.  When I lived in Derby in the late 80's/early 90's I was very happy to be a member of the Derby Mercury RC, which exactly fitted the above.   By contrast, since moving to Edinburgh, I've been a member on and off of a club which has expanded hugely in recent years to over 400 members.  On the one hand this is a good thing, and certainly for many of those 400 the club provides exactly what they are looking for.  For me though, the club is too big and too disparate, hardly anyone knows each other.  To a large extent the road racers/testers/triathletes/mountain bikers/trackies/clubrun regulars just do their own thing and hardly anyone mixes.  But as I say, a 400 member club is a huge success in the eyes of many.  You pays your money and takes your choice. 
Aero but not dynamic

Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2009, 08:50:01 am »
for me it would be a club with saturday rides of ~50 -70 miles, but round here they all have the main weekend ride on a Sunday when I am at church.

Matthew

Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2009, 09:20:06 am »
Quote
What makes a good cycling club?


About 2.5 ft long, good grip at one end and a large spike at the other...they never overtake too close again.

Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2009, 09:22:16 am »
for me it would be a club with saturday rides of ~50 -70 miles but round here they all have the main weekend ride on a Sunday.

Matthew

ditto.  plus a club where the main long (50 -70 ) ride didn't take so long, but wasn't at balls-out training pace.

Charlotte

  • Dissolute libertine
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Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2009, 09:42:27 am »
Cake.  You've got to start with the quality of the cake and work upwards from there.

At club night, we usually have a selection of flapjacks, fruit cake, biscuits and other nommy delicacies, all washed down with endless cups of strong tea.

If the cake's not right, you're onna looser IMHO  :)
Commercial, Editorial and PR Photographer - www.charlottebarnes.co.uk

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2009, 09:51:20 am »
Dunno. Never found one.  >:(

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2009, 10:06:21 am »
All our local clubs are small. I think we are about 20 or so members. But we meet up with the others for communal club runs. On a Saturday mornign there can be 40 or so riders out for a 50-80 mile ride that will fragment after the cafe stop into the fast, the furious and the knackered.

What makes a good club? Sociable, accepting of others wishes and encouraging them, and not requiring anyone else to change. So in our club we have a champion road racer, a couple of good juniors, some hard core MTB'ers, a number of testers, and some social riders. A few wannabee cat 3/4 riders too. Three certified comissaires, and a bunch of people who just like riding their bikes, however that happens. And a few sometime trackies. These may reflect more than one person per role.

We organise a few time trials, a few road races and a stage race, and a reliability trial. There are a bunch of traditional things too.

As for activities, the odd weekender (Fort William and back), 12 of us are doing the Bealach na Ba, a few are doing the Etape Caledonia, some are riding the Dave Lloyd even more mega challenge and so on. One guy did an end to end last year.

So it is busy, the craic is good, the people are friendly. And there is cake at the club night though I don't partake of that (just lots of coffee).

..d
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2009, 10:31:20 am »
Strangely enough we were discussing this yesterday. My club went through the doldrums, down to about 20 members, before I joined in the 80s. Whereas last week I printed and posted over 100 newsletters.

I don't know whether it's usual but there's a lot of co-operation between the local clubs. Three of them run a summer series of weekly evening 10s. We help each other out with road races and marshalling.

Many members are also local CTC members as well, so it's quite a vibrant mix of social and cycling activities.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2009, 10:52:38 am »
Strangely enough we were discussing this yesterday. My club went through the doldrums, down to about 20 members, before I joined in the 80s. Whereas last week I printed and posted over 100 newsletters.

I don't know whether it's usual but there's a lot of co-operation between the local clubs. Three of them run a summer series of weekly evening 10s. We help each other out with road races and marshalling.

Many members are also local CTC members as well, so it's quite a vibrant mix of social and cycling activities.

I don't think it is unusual in a small city to have multiple small clubs who work together for events. That is certainly what happens here, and over in Fife.

I am, as far as I am aware, one of the few CTC members in the local clubs.

..d
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Glen Adams

Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2009, 07:55:19 pm »
Our club is only 3 years old and most of our members are women. We have had 100 new members since the beginning of the year. Most of which are fairly new to cycling. We have a womens challenge,each year, to train new cyclists with the aim of cycling from Stourbridge to Stratford, a distance of 44 miles by the middle of May.
We had soo many sign up for the challenge we had to limit the numbers.

Each Saturday and Sunday we have numerous rides at different paces, building up the distance as we approach May. This weekend we have 12 different rides going out, with over 100 riders signed on.

Those that stick to the training program easily make it to Stratford and become regular cyclists. It does involve a great deal of commitment from existing club members. The main problem to start with is the lack of roadworthy bikes!!

The club works using a forum similar to this and we have regular club nights and special socials. It is a very friendly club and members say it has transformed their lives.



Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2009, 07:57:03 pm »
1. Encourage youngsters.
2. Encourage youngsters.
3. Encourage youngsters.

HTH

Martin

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Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2009, 08:01:33 pm »
one that does not mind breaking away from the traditional UK racing scene and acknowledges that there are other equally valid and challenging forms of cycling.

Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2009, 08:51:26 pm »
for me it would be a club with saturday rides of ~50 -70 miles, but round here they all have the main weekend ride on a Sunday when I am at church.

+1. I never make club runs for that reason. Really disappointing. My main "club" riding is Saturday Audaxes.

David Martin

  • Thats Dr Oi You thankyouverymuch
Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2009, 09:48:27 pm »
for me it would be a club with saturday rides of ~50 -70 miles, but round here they all have the main weekend ride on a Sunday when I am at church.

+1. I never make club runs for that reason. Really disappointing. My main "club" riding is Saturday Audaxes.

I am fortunate in that there is a saturday ride (nominally the 'other' club) and a sunday ride (our club) so I can get out on Saturday for a decent ride.

..d
"By creating we think. By living we learn" - Patrick Geddes

Julian

  • samoture
Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2009, 10:37:00 pm »
There are a number of rules which any decent BRITISH club will abide by.  It doesn't matter whether it's a cycling club or a flower-pressing club; the rules are the same, but for the purposes of this post, here they are adapted for cyclists.

1.  Newbies must prove their mettle.  You don't want a club full of weaklings sitting about drinking tea and talking of glories past, do you?  Anyone wishing to join your club will have to establish that they are riding at a semi-professional level simply in order to be worthy of coughing up their thirty-odd quid membership fee.

2.  Treat them mean, keep them keen.  Nobody wants to feel that they've reached the top already.  They'll get bored and stop caring.  Ensure that you have a grizzled geriatric leading your rides who can keep up a 30mph average.  If the rest of the riders aren't spluttering for breath within half an hour, he should be trained to notice and up the pace slightly.  Ideally, he should be suggesting a "sprint to the finish" at roughly the same time as the last pair have coughed a lung up over the following Renault.

3.  The club is everything.  Occasionally you'll find members who have what they will loosely describe as "other commitments."  This could be anything from family members to other hobbies.  Remember:  real cyclists don't have other commitments.  The majority will be easily cowed into attending every meeting.  The more recalcitrant will need to be encouraged with comments such as "so everyone remember that?.... oh, apart from Chris because he wasn't there."  Accompanied by the requisite Paddington Bear Hard Stare, this should ensure that the only 'other commitments' anybody has is an appointment at the divorce courts, but they helpfully work during non-cycling hours, so this shouldn't be a problem.

4.  Family values.  If the spouse and children won't sod off despite (3), they can be encouraged to get involved.  Under tens are just about the right size to prop up club banners and other accoutrements, and members' wives will be delighted to wash team kit.

5.  Welcome minorities.  Occasionally women will turn up at the club.  Ignore them; they're probably there to collect their husbands.  You may also find that someone from a sexual or ethnic minority joins.  If that happens, it is the done thing to collar them and ask them excruciatingly awkward questions about their "background."  If you're stuck for an opening gambit, try "It's funny, but there aren't many of your sort who are cyclists."  They'll be amazed to hear it.

6.  Get to know your clubmates.  No, really, get to know them.  Properly.  Thoroughly.  And fergawdssake don't talk to them until you know them.  The accepted test of knowing somebody counts as riding with them for four years plus.  Only then should you attempt actual conversation, and make sure that at first it extends only to a bare few mumbled words.

7.  The refined art of conversation.  As a result of (6) you may find it difficult to initiate conversation.  When in doubt, turn to shared interest topics.  A witty and incisive assessment of the state of Britain's B-roads will have your listener's interest piqued, enabling you to recount that funny anecdote about the TT you did in 1987. 

8.  Competition is healthy.  Only by pushing yourself will you improve, so forget all the nice guy stuff and letting others win:  compete with everyone.  Including your clubmate's six year old with the handlebar tassles.  Okay, she cried - but c'mon.  Admit it.  You're proud.  You pwned her.

9.  Cohesive community cycling.  Remember.  You're the club cyclists round here.  You may find that other cyclists occasionally clutter up your roads.  These vary from old gits on BSOs doddering back from the Post Office right up to MTBers covered in horsemuck to tourers.  It is your duty to show them what they're missing.  A neatly formed pack of 20 glistening roadies buzzing them should give the right impression.  When the fractures heal and the PTSD wears off, they'll be full of adulation for the tightly-muscled Adonises who forced them off the road at such speed.

10.  Team spirit.  You may find that there is another club, or even more than one, within a twenty mile radius of your own.  In that case, you need to ensure that members remain loyal to the club.  Engender an atmosphere of open hostility with other local clubs.  If at all possible, any meeting between the two clubs should resemble 1980s football hooliganism, but on wheels. 

Follow these simple rules and your club is destined for success on every level.

HTH.




I should add at this stage that my own club is very lovely and has provided none of the inspiration for this post.

Jakob

Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2009, 10:40:35 pm »
Cake. 

Rollapaluza started with beer and a cool jersey design.

Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2009, 10:44:16 pm »
I am fortunate in that there is a saturday ride (nominally the 'other' club)...

I looked hopefully, but Dundee is too far to come I'm afraid :(

Anyone wishing to join your club will have to establish that they are riding at a semi-professional level

And yet it used to work. My first club ride was with the Altrincham Ravens. They took us out for 80-odd miles, half killed us, pushed us most of the way home, and left us for our Dad to collect. In spite of that, my brother joined them, and I, with friends, joined another club.

Maybe we need to be tougher on potential recruits ;)

eck

  • Gonna ride my bike until I get home...
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Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2009, 11:07:08 pm »
HTH.
Liz, it helps, it really does, especially rule 5. May I suggest also Rule 11:

"Shun and scorn anyone who doesn't share our view of "proper" cycling, getting pissed, roughing it with "the lads", and who does actually enjoy riding their bike over long distances. If you're not one of us, you don't belong in our (moribund) club."

maybe this should be in "The Rant"  ;)
It's a bit weird, but actually quite wonderful.

MercuryKev

  • Maxin' n Audaxin'
Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2009, 12:04:58 am »
A great club should be accessible at 12am, when just out of the bath, and you shouldn't actually have to meet other members face-to-face, unless you really want to and the rules should be minimal.

I went on a couple of CTC rides and there were too many rules for my liking.  I caused quite a stir when I overtook the ride leader.  When I think about it yacf is about as close to a cycling club that I'm ever going to get - I've even got a club jersey.

Rig of Jarkness

  • An Englishman abroad
Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2009, 08:01:42 am »
I went on a couple of CTC rides and there were too many rules for my liking. 

Did they take you for a 'drum-up' ?  I remember being introduced to one of their favourite winter spots - a thoroughly dark and dank woodland setting into which everyone disappeared to re-emerge with an assortment of damp bits of rotting wood.  With impressive skill the runs leader managed to set this alight and then we gathered around the smoking, sparking mound of detritus that was generously referred to as 'the fire'.  The only warmth to be had was downwind in amidst all the smoke and sparks.  The regulars all seemed to think this was a splendid way of spending a cold winter's day !  Me, I'm too soft, I like my cafe stops. They're a good bunch though !
Aero but not dynamic

Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2009, 08:10:23 am »
I think cambridge cycling club must have read Liz' rules.  I've tried to get more into it but they seem incredibly unfriendly, almost secretive about what they're up to.

Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2009, 02:20:53 pm »
I think that a "good" club is one where there are like-minded people. Therefore, lots of smaller clubs are more likely to suit than the larger "all embracing" types.

I'm an ex-racing cyclist. I like to be with other ex-racing cyclists. We can reminisce, and I can ride with others who can ride safely but not want to race every time we are out.

I've nothing at all against mountain bikers, commuters, etc etc, but we have less in common.

Lots of clubs seem to go for "bigger is better" , and this can dilute the character in my opinion. In my work I tell people that groups of say 10-20 usually work best; same with clubs. Bigger clubs fragment, it's what naturally happens.

Cycling is a very broad church, with many different interests. We don't expect one club to cover track running athletes, marathon runners, ramblers, people who walk to work etc, so why is there a view that cycling clubs should cover everyone from roadies to unicyclists (but I do regard both as equally valid activities).

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: What makes a good cycling club?
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2009, 03:56:41 pm »
One or two clubs local to me have obviously learned Liz's rules off by heart - with the exception of Rule 8. Oh, they're very competitive, but they wouldn't know what a 6-year-old looks like, and they wouldn't have a Scooby-Doo what 'pwned' means!