In this blog post we decided to look beyond the club runs and rule books, to find out what makes 3 Yorkshire cycling clubs tick.

Quick-start guide to cycling clubs

There’s over 2,000 registered cycling clubs in the UK. And they all offer a unique taste of life on two wheels. Whether that’s your classic weekend road rides, BMXing, track riding or even classic bicycle enthusiasts. You’ll be able to find like minded folk in your area.

To find your nearest club check British Cycling’s club finder. You might also find cycling communities in bike shops, cafes, or word of mouth too. They’re all the same, and offer the chance to share bike knowledge and love.

Cycling Clubs in Yorkshire

The epicentre of the UK cycling scene is arguably in Yorkshire. Some of Britain’s most illustrious cyclists, Lizzie Deignan, Tom Pidcock, Beryl Burton and many more, learnt their trade riding with their local cycling clubs on the weekend.

Yorkshire’s landscapes are testing and lend themselves to excellent cycling, with plenty of climbing. The Yorkshire Dales offer tough climbs like Norwood Edge and Cow & Calf, or more gentle rides along the valley. The North York Moors offer all of this with perhaps even steeper ascents. Rosedale Chimney would strike fear into any cyclist's eyes. There’s a reason why Yorkshire cycling clubs have become so notorious.

Most of these traditional clubs centre around the ‘club run’. Which is a group ride, usually 2+ hours in length, with a coffee stop in the middle. Other calendar highlights include 10 mile time trials and reliability rides, which give members a chance to test their legs against the clock and tough conditions.

Here’s a look at 3 clubs that have thrived in God’s own country:

“Joining the York Rouleurs has been amazing” - Karen Tostee (Transcontinental Race 2017 & TransAtlantic Way 2018 Finisher)

Someone who knows all about the power of a cycling club is Karen Tostee. By joining a Hub Velo Cycling Club in London she gained the skills to race in the world’s toughest endurance cycle events. Since moving to York she's joined her new club York Rouleurs to explore Yorkshire and meet new friends.

“I moved from London up to York not really knowing Yorkshire or many people up here, and feeling rather unfit. Joining the York Rouleurs has been amazing - the club is really welcoming. I've met new friends and people to ride with (and occasionally tow me home) and through the club rides I'm getting to know the best local lanes in the flat Vale of York and the lumpy Wolds. And I've also learnt that the Waggon and Horses is the best pub in York!”

Alba Rosa CC

Set up in 2012, Leeds-based Alba Rosa is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. And they aren't stopping there. We caught up with Stuart from Alba Rosa to find out more:

"Alba Rosa literally means 'white rose', the symbol of Yorkshire. And our pink kit inherits the style associated with the maglia rosa from the Giro d'Italia and contrasts other lowkey kits in the area", Stuart explains.

"Behind it all is our committee who work super hard to keep the club in the best shape. An honory mention goes to Rob Watson and Ryan Ford, who keep the race, training, and fitness side alive for members. We classify ourselves as a race club, and the goal is to be the number 1 club, in Leeds and also Yorkshire. We say race club as we're race orientated but there's a massive social element too. We're a club for everyone."

"Our weekly rides are set into categories. With categories suitable for every ability. We post the rides up on Facebook with an idea of the speed and route so people know beforehand what to expect. Ride leaders really help with this, especially on our welcome to the club ride for new members."

"We get around 1 or 2 members each month and we've grown to around 320 members as of this year. Our weekend rides are still the most popular and we have 4-6 rides going out from our hub on Saturday and Sundays. In terms of midweek options we have a faster chain gang on a Tuesday, a social ride on a Wednesday, and a ride with a pub stop on a Thursday. In winter we also have a strong Zwift set up with lots of members getting involved!"

Stuart also mentioned that they're celebrating 10 years of Alba Rosa by releasing a one off beer, in conjunction with Horsforth Brewery. Keep your eyes peeled on their Instagram for more info!

York Cycleworks

York Cycleworks is a bike shop in the heart of York. But they also have a thriving cycling club too:

“The club started when the bike shop opened in 1980. It was predominantly a race team, with lots of MTBing as that was the cool thing in the 80’s. It then morphed into a road racing team with a good squad of young riders who were riding national races. A few of them were on the Dave Rayner Fund too. It was quite exclusive back then and probably too elitist. We decided to drop the race team and in 2009 we officially opened as a British Cycling Club and any discipline goes. We currently have 100 members and lots of them are customers. So we’ve moved from a race team into more of a club.

Where we’re based we have everything in terms of riding. We have flat, lumpy and some big hills. We can get out to the Howardian Hills, which is a nearby AONB, and we have lots of choice for rides in the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. Recently we’ve found gravel riding to be super popular and there’s lots of gravel tracks on the outskirts of York.

Our kit is quite distinct, black with coloured stripes. The history goes back to being inspired by the Gulf Racing car so we had light blue and orange. We then added red to make it clash a little. And now we have black and white too!”

Otley Cycle Club

Otley CC is one of the most prestigious cycling clubs in Yorkshire. It’s over 90 years old, and lots of famous cyclists have ridden in Otley colours. They’re British Cycling accredited and have qualified coaches and a strong youth and junior set up. They’ve also won awards like the Cycling Weekly Club of the Year, as a testament to all the work put in by volunteers. You’ll find riders that compete in every discipline, being able to try road racing, time trials, grass track, cyclocross, MTB, sportives, audax, roller racing and pretty much anything else. They’ve also got their own club house, situated in the centre of Otley.

Should I join a club?

If you’ve been solo riding for a little while, you might be content with cycling alone or with friends. But as mentioned above there’s a lot more to cycling clubs than just riding with other people. Here’s 6 quick reasons you should consider joining your local cycling club:

1. Heart of the community

Cycling clubs are the fabric of your local area. Joining your local club will connect you to local cyclists, roads, cafes and more.

2. Make friends

It’s quite rare to bump into other cyclists off of the bike. Singing up to your local club will introduce you to lots of other cycling-mad enthusiasts.

3. Show you your local roads

You might have a good grip of the best roads in your area. And with apps like Strava and Komoot that’s now even easier. But cycling clubs everywhere seem to surpass this knowledge. The little alleys you didn’t know existed or that dreadful climb, you’ll discover a lot more when you’re a member of a cycling club.

4. Wear the kit

Every cyclist loves a new kit? Especially when it matches! Represent the colours of your local area and kit yourself out with some new threads.

5. Improve your cycling skills

Group riding, chain gangs, off road, riding in a club will help improve your cycling skills by trying new aspects of the sport. You’ll also meet people who have made all the mistakes along the way to pass on their knowledge.

6. Events & Racing

Keep on top of the latest events and perhaps even try a race? Riding with a club can make the competitive side of cycling much less daunting.

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📸 Cover Image - Paul Lakin