We’re really glad you’re here!
First off, everything you need to get going with GCC is on this page and/or there will be a link that will take you there from here. Please read it all, there is a lot, but it makes sense and should be intuitive and easy to follow.
Let us introduce ourselves
We are a lot like you in many ways: we like riding bikes, and we are a diverse mix of personalities. Some of us have been doing this for a very long time and others are fairly new to it. We all have different reasons for doing it: fitness, sport, leisure, beautiful evenings, it gets us out of the house, spending time with like-minded individuals, the safety of riding in a group, etc…
It’s going to feel a lot like your first day at school – intimidating at first, but you’ll get through it. Although we may look serious (lycra is not even skin deep), we are pretty friendly under the matching outfits. We are here to help and make you feel at home as quickly as possible. We’ve all been through it and you’ll do fine too. Don’t be afraid to speak up and let people know you’re new to the club – someone will gladly step in and show you the ropes.
New to Group Riding?
If you are new to Group Riding or need to brush up, then you must attend a GCC Learn To Group Ride session before you can ride on GCC sanctioned club rides. The Learn to Group Ride clinic will be running the first several Tuesdays of the season in conjunction with our Tuesday All Members Rides; check the calendar for dates. We have some truly great, patient and skilful people that will make sure you get what you need to have safe and enjoyable rides with the club.
Is GCC and Group Riding right for you?
We need to be frank, GCC is not a beginner cyclist’s club. Which is just to say that you should already know how to ride a drop bar bicycle, and you have been out riding your bike on your own or with friends at a reasonable speed average. And as we mentioned above, there are many reasons people group ride, with safety being paramount. Cycling in a group increases visibility, and motorists are less likely to squeeze between an oncoming vehicle and a group of cyclists as they might with a single rider. Speed and duration are also increased in group riding as drafting and rotating the lead increase a cyclist’s efficiency. Fitness increases too as we tend to ride more often in a club and challenge ourselves with more ride options. Group riding keeps it fun, interesting and appealing with the diversity of routes in varied landscapes provided by so many different Ride Leaders.
How fast or fit do you need to be?
Our entry level ride is at a minimum of 24 km per hour speed average for approximately 1.5 to 2 hrs. You can check your ability by using a bike computer, or calculate your distance in km divided by time in decimal hours or (distance in km / duration in minutes x 60 = AVG kph). Don’t forget to take a little time off for ‘stop time’, the computers do! And don’t be too discouraged if you’re a bit under. Group Riding increases efficiency by 10 to 15%. Further, faster, safer, together.
What Bike do you need?
In order to participate in GCC group road cycling you need a ‘drop bar’ road bicycle that is in good working order. Drop bar Gravel and Cyclocross bikes are also fine, and have certainly been known to accompany many GCC group rides. Tri bikes with ‘Aero’ bars can be used on group rides but a rider must not utilize the ‘Aero’ bars during the ride.
What other Equipment do you need?
A certified helmet must be worn at all times. Appropriate clothing for temperature and weather conditions and enough water to complete the ride. It’s not mandatory, but it’s always a good practice to carry tools and spares to fix a flat tire – even if you can’t fix it yourself, there will be someone willing to help. And for the longer rides, a snack and some cash for a coffee stop is good to have too. A cycling computer is not mandatory and there are many experienced club riders who don’t use them. Also not mandatory is the matching club riding kit. However, it does have a safety effect in making a cycling group visibly cohesive to passing traffic. If you do find yourself in need of new riding gear, the club kit is discounted for members, but please don’t feel any pressure to purchase or be intimidated by the longer term members in their club colours. Whatever you have is fine by us.
What else do you need to know?
Where to start?
Take a look at our Weekly Rides or our Speed Group Categories and and see where you fit best. It should be noted that if you start in too high a group you can always drop back if you are having trouble.
Planning your first Club Ride
You are an experienced group rider and/or have attended a Tuesday night GCC Learn to Group Ride clinic. You have read the Safety & Responsibilities page and the Group Riding Skills pages. You have looked at the Weekly Ride schedule and know which type of ride you want to attend.
All official ‘Rides’ are posted on the web posting page on the club web site. You can get there from the top of any page of the web site with a button labelled ‘Weekly Ride Posts’, or you can click ‘Ride Postings’ under the ‘Weekly Rides’ tab in the menu, or scroll down on the Home Page to the section titled: Most Recent Ride Postings and News.
On the posting you will find: a start time, a map, a description, details of the ride and a link to sign up for the ride. There may also be information regarding the possibility of weather cancellations and instructions on how to proceed. If you have a cycling computer, try loading the posted route into it. Our mapping app, Ride with GPS has many helpful instructions. Don’t worry if you have no computer or can’t load the route – it’s not mandatory.
Arriving at your first Club Ride
Some people ride to the start and others come from further away and bring their bike with their car. Either way, be at the start of the ‘Ride’ and ready to pedal at least 10 minutes earlier than the start time. If it’s your first ride with the club, identify yourself to the ride leader when you arrive. The ride leader will have a quick chat with you and give you instructions for the ride. They may also assign you a ‘ride buddy’ to make sure you’re doing well and not struggling during the ride.
What to expect on your first Club Ride
The ride leader will have a quick chat with the group regarding pace and other instructions. The different ‘Speed Groups’ will set off in 2 minute intervals. Typically a ride with 4 or more cyclists will form a double pace line as per our ‘Social’ pace line standard. The ride leader often leads the way setting the pace. There is a 2 km per hour spread on the speed average on most rides. The pace of the ride begins below the maximum for each ‘speed group’ as a warm up and slowly builds to reach the maximum by the halfway point or a bit further along. If anyone on the ride is having difficulty maintaining that speed someone will call out “ease up” and the ride will slow down. Ideally, the ride will not have to run at a pace slower than the minimum speed for the ride. If it happens that a rider is struggling to maintain the minimum speed average, the ride leader will ride with that cyclist and discuss options to ensure a safe and cohesive ride for all.
What to expect at the end of your first Club Ride
The ‘Ride’ most often officially ends in Arkell at the church. A quick post ride discussion wraps up the ride with input from everyone who wishes to comment and other club announcements may also be made. After that, riders are on their own to make their way back to the start or head home. If you have some serious concerns about the ride or have any questions you need answered, please send them to the ‘Membership Experience Director’ and they will get back to you as soon as possible.
Notes about Rides and Ride Leaders
The Ride Leader is responsible for putting together the route and the GCC Web Posting for the ride. There are many factors in choosing a route. Typically a route is chosen that is compatible with the skill level of the group, the weather, prevailing winds, road conditions, traffic conditions, the time of year in regards to sunset and with respect to the seasonal experience of the club – early season usually means riders are slower compared to late in the season. And some consideration is given to being able to short-cut a route in the case of delays due to a mechanical problem. Ride Leaders also have to watch for inexperienced riders or riders showing signs of fatigue or difficulty and help them accordingly. Please be patient and assist when asked, especially if you are an experienced club member.
The club is growing up. We want to do things the best we can and make sure we get things right. This is your club and we need your input and feedback. If you have any additional questions, comments or suggestions, please send them to the ‘Membership Experience Director’ and they will get back to you as soon as possible. Let’s have a great time – further, faster, safer, together!