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!”
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.
📸 Cover Image - Paul Lakin