Author Topic: What makes a good cycling club?  (Read 1180 times)


  • Quiet please
What makes a good cycling club?
« on: February 14, 2009, 07:34:53 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.


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