How to Choose a Bike Club

Cycling is often a solo sport. Long rambles through the spring countryside, hard rides in the hills, weekend tours to scenic areas—it can all be enjoyed with only your own thoughts for company.

In fact, many cyclists prefer to go alone. It's easy to choose your own route, and you're free to ride hard or stop and smell the flowers as often as you'd like.

What some cyclists might not realize is it's also the perfect group sport. Here are a few ways that riding with others will add to you're cycling experience:

More: Basic Skills for Group Riding

* Part of the thrill of riding a road bike is drafting off other cyclists in close proximity.

* A group lets you meet people, expanding your social horizons.

* Racing is inevitably a group activity, so if you plan to compete it's almost mandatory to train with other racers at least part of the time.

* Small group rides are fast because you can share the work at the front. You can cover more ground during your training time.

Small groups are safe because a pack of several riders is more visible to motorists. And if you have trouble of any sort, help is right there.

To get these benefits, it's a good idea to join a bike club even if you ride alone much of the time due to preference or schedule.

More: 5 Ways to Win Friends on a Group Ride

But if there are two or more clubs in your area, how do you know which one to join? It depends on what you want to do and how you want to do it. Are you interested in recreational rides or racing?

Get to know cyclists in your area and ask why they joined their club. Go to club events to watch the organization and feel the atmosphere. Sit in on a club's monthly meeting to hear about issues and see what kind of people are at the helm.

Participate in club rides and tune in to the tenor of the group. Is it supportive or critical of other riders? Remember, if you enjoy cycling, you should enjoy it even more in the company of fellow riders. It pays to pick your club carefully.

More: 10 Rules to Group Ride Like a Pro

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