If you're starting to really get into cycling, why go at it alone?
For many of us, local bicycle clubs are available for cyclists looking to improve their bike skills and make friends in the process.
But what exactly does a membership do for you? Though all bicycle clubs vary in what they offer and what you can get out of it, many have similar reasons for attracting local cyclists.
If you're on the fence about joining, here are four reasons that usually convince riders to ditch their hesitation and join the club.
This one probably tops the list. Most cycling clubs put together organized group rides weekly or monthly for cyclists of various skill levels. It's the perfect way to discover new routes, new riding buddies, improve your group-riding skills and connect with fellow cyclists in a social setting. You can also learn things from other cyclists like bike-repair tips, workout ideas and other secrets to improve your cycling.
Though weekend rides are common, some clubs, like the Long Beach Cyclists in California and the Rock Hill Bicycle Club in South Carolina, organize several rides a week on various terrain.
In addition to the in-the-saddle camaraderie, many clubs have barbecues and picnics a few times a year as a way to socialize off the bike.
It's not just limited to the warmer months, either. A lot of northern cycling clubs still have organized rides in the winter (if you can stand it), and other events like banquets and parties are held during the offseason to keep members engaged.
Perhaps cyclists are reluctant to admit this as their No.1 reason, but bicycle clubs often are a financial win and that can be a nice advantage.
In the Kansas City Bicycle Club, for example, a $20 annual membership comes with a 10 percent discount card for certain bike shops, a magazine subscription to both American Bicyclist and Bicycling, and insurance coverage during designated club rides, among other perks. In addition, organized events that KCBC puts on, like the City of Fountains Bicycle Tour, are offered at a discounted rate for club members.
Many clubs have similar perks, particularly those associated with the League of American Bicyclists.
Being a part of a cycling club keeps you in touch with your area's cycling scene.
Many clubs have monthly or quarterly newsletters keeping members up to date on cycling-related developments, such as new bike lanes in the area, upcoming events, recent legislation of interest and new members to the club.
Some clubs have members-only message boards on their website, while others have e-mail lists for cyclists to interact with one another. Whatever the method, cycling clubs make sure its members are in the know.
Clubs also advocate for cycling-friendly legislation and other causes on its members' behalf, something many cyclists are proud to be a part of.
For example, the Kaw Valley Bicycling Club in Kansas registered a board member as a lobbyist during the 2011 Kansas legislative session, in an effort to promote the 3-foot rule in the state. The efforts were rewarded when the bill was signed into law on July 1, 2011.
Kaw Valley Bicycling Club also assisted with motorcyclists to pass the Dead Red law, which allows bicycles and motorcycles to go through red lights if the signal is not triggered.
Advocacy like this is common across the country within bicycle clubs, to the point where many clubs designate an advocacy officer to lead such charges. Joining a cycling club and getting involved in its advocacy efforts could be your way to make a difference on behalf of cyclists everywhere.