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!
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
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.
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
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
How fit do I need to be to be able to come riding with
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
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
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
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,
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.