Beacon Roads Cycling Club
Beacon Roads Cycling Club



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Frequently Asked Questions

We realise that joining a cycling club can seem like a daunting step if you’re new to cycling or unsure of your fitness. There is a lot that we take for granted once part of a club, and a newcomer might feel embarrassed to ask some of the basic questions. Here are the answers to some of the questions you might be asking yourself – but please, if you have any further questions do not hesitate to get in touch. We are happy to give advice even if you decide the Beacon isn’t for you!

Equipment Questions

What kind of bikes do you ride?

Generally we ride road bikes as most of our riding is done on tarmac. Our bikes are often quite light, with narrow tyres that help us maintain a good pace. Inevitably we have members who enjoy riding quite expensive bikes, but many others of us have quite ordinary frames with mid-range components. In winter the traditional amongst us ride with mudguards, although this is not a strict rule as it is with some clubs.

I only have a mountain bike, will that do?

The problem with mountain bikes is that they tend to be heavier than road bikes and, with knobbly tyres, can make riding on tarmac seem like hard work! This doesn't matter except if you are trying to keep up with the faster riders on a clubrun. Some of our members can keep up on a mountain bike but usually they ride road bikes. If you do want to use your mountain bike, you will find the ride improved by fitting slick tyres, but you may still have to improve your fitness as well.

My bike is only cheap, does that matter?

We're not the kind of club who's members boast about their expensive bikes! Some of us enjoy knowing all about the latest components but you definitely don't need a posh bike to join us. More expensive bikes benefit from being lighter, which means they are easier to ride uphill, but ultimately it doesn’t matter how expensive a bike is, as long as it’s well maintained.

Do you all do your own bike maintenance?

A well maintained bike will run smoother, have fewer mechanical problems, and will be more fun to ride. Some of us build our own bikes from scratch, others of us need help from professionals. Generally we can sort out most ‘running problems’ for ourselves and we can give you advice if need be.

Do I have to wear lycra?

Not at all! Lycra can be a bit ‘revealing’, but we dress like that for reasons of comfort. The shorts have a synthetic pad which helps keep your bum comfortable. The materials used in all the clothing tend to breathe well, reducing discomfort from sweating, and they don’t flap around in the wind. Some people are more comfortable riding in jogging bottoms, but these may not be comfortable on a long ride. Basic rules for a beginner are ride in whatever you’re comfortable, and remember to keep warm, especially in the winter months. It is better to be too warm than too cold.

I really just want some advice on buying a bike. Can you help?

Yes, simply ask. Most of us have experiences of various bikes and equipment and will be only too happy to advise you what to buy, and what to avoid. We’ve made the mistakes, no need for you to copy of errors! Remember however that we're predominantly a road-based club, so our knowledge of all-terrain or "leisure" bikes may be limited.

Riding Questions

How old do you have to be to join in the club's activities?

There is no minimum age for Beacon membership. Young people can join in the club's activities as soon as they are ready to, and (where relevant) as soon as the rules of the event allow. To take part in club runs, youngsters under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult parent or guardian and those between the ages of 16 and 17 must have parental permission [full details].

I don’t like riding near cars or on busy roads.

Neither do we. Generally, all our rides are on quiet minor roads and lanes, away from cars as much as possible. We get out to these lanes as soon as we can. Of course, if you are on a mountain bike outing, a lot of the ride will be away from traffic.

How fit do I need to be to be able to come riding with you?

You’ll need a reasonable level of fitness to be able to do a ‘clubrun’ (club run being a social Sunday ride, usually with a café stop). By reasonable level of fitness, we’d suggest that you should be able to ride about 30-40 miles, once or twice a week, at around 14mph.

Do I need to be in the club to come on a club run?

Not at first, we’d want you to be sure that you wanted to join. You’ll be more than welcome as a ‘visitor’ for your first couple of club runs. The most important thing is that your bike is roadworthy and that you are able to keep up with the run. Following your trial club runs, if you wish to continue riding with us, we hope that you will download an application form and become a member.

Do you ride close together in a group on clubruns?

Yes, we do tend to ride in fairly close formation and this does take a bit of getting used to if you're new to cycling. However, there's no need to be daunted. If you’re a bit uncertain then it's best to start at the back of the group where you don't have to worry about people around you. From there you can soon learn some basic things about group riding and your confidence will increase.

But why ride so close together?

Riding ‘on someone’s wheel’ as it’s called gives you the benefit of slipstream. Riding close enough to the person in front of you can save you as much as 15-40% of your energy, depending on the speed and size of the group, which enables us all to maintain a higher average than we could on our own.

Is everyone else fast? What if I can't keep up?

Not everyone is fast, and we're not the kind of club where everyone tries to impress each other with speed. But you do need a certain amount of fitness and speed. Our average clubrun speeds vary from around 13mph (midweek social runs) to 18mph (Sunday A-run). Remember, though, it is ALWAYS easier when you are riding in a group, and you may be surprised how easy the miles pass when you are chatting away. If you start to struggle, don’t worry, we’ve all been there, and someone will ride with you to ensure you are ok. We won’t leave you behind in the middle of nowhere.

I’m not good enough to come out with you yet.

If you believe that you’re not fit enough yet to come out with us, then hopefully the Beacon can still offer you something. For example, each week the club run goes to a predetermined café, and if you wanted, you could make your own way there at your own pace, meeting us for a slice of cake and some tea. Just let us know that you’ll be there so we can look out for you. We may even be able to arrange for one of our members to meet up with you for an initial ride and give you advice on which clubrun would best suit you. If you stick at it and ride regularly you'll eventually wonder what all the fuss was about!

I’m faster than 15mph. Your club runs will be too slow for me!

We have two levels of club runs, so if you believe the slower run is too easy or short, then you can choose to ride with the other quicker riders. That said, club runs are a social ride where we aim to generally keep the group together. It may split on hills but will regroup on the other side. Club members who race go on separate training runs which are a lot quicker. If you find the clubruns too slow you should ask about these, and think about racing!

I am a triathlete, will joining a cycling club help?

Definitely! Whilst the Beacon does not organise triathlon events, some of our members are triathletes who have joined us to improve their cycling skills, especially those from a running or swimming background. There are many aspects of cycling technique which can be improved with practice, or learnt from experienced riders. For instance, riding position, pedalling style, cornering and hill-climbing techniques and best use of gearing are all "finer points" which can be addressed.

Do I have to race?

No! Although the Beacon has a fine racing heritage, and we always have some enthusiastic racers, our strength is that we are definitely not purely a racing club. Many of our members have never raced, whilst others have a racing background but are now content to take things at a slower pace. What you will find in the Beacon is a huge depth of cycling experience going back over many years - you could find yourself riding besides an ex-international racing man (or woman), a current National Champion, or someone who has toured extensively abroad. However, the Beacon do promote races, which rely heavily on volunteers, and members are expected to assist in whatever way they can, either by marshalling or by helping out at the HQ. Some members even eventually volunteer to take over the organising of events!

How much off-road cycling do you do?

There are a few riders in our club who ride off-road and occasionally off-road trips are arranged. However, generally speaking we are a road-based club. If your passion is purely for riding off-road then you may find another club suits you better.

Miscellaneous Questions

Do you shave your legs?

Generally, no! Serious racers shave their legs, and we do have some members in that category. The main reason is not for wind resistance. Shaven legs are easy to massage and reduce chances of infection if you crash.

Do you do anything else other than ride bikes?

Yes, we certainly do! Please see our Social Activities page for more details.

How much does it cost to join the Beacon Roads CC?

Membership of the Beacon isn't expensive: £15 per year for over-18s, £10 for under-18s and social members, and £25 for families living at one address. Membership is normally renewable at the start of each year. However, if you join on or after 1 October, your initial membership runs till the end of the following year.

How do you keep in touch with members?

The website provides up to date information on Clubruns, time trial dates, and race results. We have a regular newsletter, Hub-Ub, which is provided free to all members, about four times a year. We have a mailing list which is used for intermediate contact, "latest news", and gossip! Finally we have a message board, which you are welcome to join, as soon as you want to get involved with the Beacon (you don't have to be a member).

You haven’t answered all my questions!

Please do ask us any other questions you may have via our Contact Us page.

If I wanted to join, what should I do next?

We'll be pleased to welcome you to the Beacon - please download an application form.









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