Why should I start my own cycling group?
Why should I start my own cycling group?
Why start your own cycling group?
You may be happy to go out riding on your own or just with a friend but cycling with a group is a lot more fun! There isn't much to it but the benefits of being an organised group are many. Here are just a few of our top reasons why should start your own group:
- The most obvious reason is if there isn't a group near you or, if there are, they don't do the kind of riding at a distance, time or pace that suits you.
- Forming your own group means it's easier to find people to ride with who share your passion for cycling, whether you prefer leisure cycling, mountain biking, road riding, touring - or a combination of all of these. (If your group wants to take part in races, it will need a British Cycling racing licence).
- You'll have the satisfaction of bringing together like-minded people and providing opportunities for taking part in a healthy, life-enhancing activity and may make friends for life.
- You can also share your knowledge and improve your skills - in riding, technical ability, navigation, socialising, organising, life and more.
- Plus there's the camaraderie, the encouragement and the mutual support that comes from riding with others.
- You can choose a group name that reflects where you're based or the kind of activity you take part in, as it's your group, the choice is yours.
- Having a name and a more formal structure means your group can recruit new riders more easily and have a presence on social media via, for example, a Facebook group or a Cycling UK publicity page if you join us.
- You can also design your own kit, or decide whether or not you actually WANT to ride in club kit - perhaps the bright pink Lycra look isn't your thing? Also, ordering kit as a group means you can sometimes benefit from bulk discounts or negotiate special rates at bike shops and so on.
- You may also be able to apply for grant funding from charitable or other bodies, sometimes subject to your group having a certain kind of constitution.
- A more formal structure may mean you have to commit to riding on a particular day and time every week - but this isn't necessarily a bad thing: it will make you turn up come rain or shine and more often than not, you will enjoy the ride, even if you didn't particularly feel like it to start with. Yes, it means commitment but it's surprisingly easy to talk yourself out of going on a ride if you don't have anybody else in particular to go with.
- Once your group is up and running, you may find there is enthusiasm for organising rides or taking part in events that you may not have thought of before. Perhaps even tours and weekends away in other parts of the world? BBQs and quiz nights? Meet ups with other groups and clubs? The possibilities are endless.
- Groups that join Cycling UK can obtain insurance through us that covers their 'officials' ie ride leaders, event organisers and so on for up to £10 million for claims against them, subject to Terms and Conditions. Members of the group can also obtain third party insurance as affiliated individuals through Cycling UK membership (note that individual affiliated membership excludes Cycle magazine, legal assistance and voting rights).
How to start your own cycling group
If you've been inspired by reading about Helen's experience on the right, now take a look at How to set up and run a cycling group then join it to Cycling UK. We've got 140 years of experience with cycling groups behind us and lots of advice, resources and support plus you'll be supporting our invaluable campaigning work on behalf of all cyclists.
Why we started our own cycling group
Two years ago, after having looked around at local cycling groups for women and not finding what she needed, 54-year-old Helen Ball took the step to reach out to other women who she thought might be having the same experience, including fellow novice rider Pauline Bailey. Liverpool Loopline Ladies Cycling, an affiliated Cycling UK group, was born and now has around 40 women who dip in and out of rides and a regular core group of 20 riders.
Helen says: “I was looking for the first step back into riding my bike, and I really wanted to ride in a traffic-free, fun and non-competitive environment with other women. At the time, there wasn’t anything like that on offer near me. I had begun riding on the Liverpool Loopline (part of the Transpennine Trail) with my husband, but I wanted a group of like-minded women to ride with, so I started a Facebook group hoping that other women like me would find it and join in.” Around the same time, another local woman, Paula Bailey, had the same idea and, through Cycling UK Development Officer for Liverpool Chris Alston, she got in touch and Liverpool Loopline Ladies Cycling began.
We all have a fantastic group of new friends, women we would never have met if we hadn’t begun LLLLC
Helen Ball, Liverpool Loopline Ladies Cycling
She says: "I began by riding a mile and feeling faint, and now I can ride 25 miles over a few hours and thoroughly enjoy it. We all have a fantastic group of new friends, women we would never have met if we hadn’t begun LLLLC. The group prides itself in offering a fun and supportive place to get back on your bike; we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we’re not bothered what bike you have got or what you wear, as long as you’re safe and comfortable."
LLLLC has around 250 women in the Facebook group, a bunch of about 40 women who dip in and out of rides and a regular core group of 20 who meet regularly. Another big part of the group is being able to ride spontaneously and not having to wait for an organised ride; anyone can give a ‘shout out’ in our social media and see who else might be interested in riding that day. This is particularly useful for women with work and caring responsibilities, in that you can find time to ride in between family commitments, taking advantage of spare hour in the day to get out in the fresh air and exercise together when it suits you.”
Women can borrow a bike from LLLLC and test out if cycling is for them without having to commit to buying their own. Most women come and enjoy it so much that they carry on coming, soon feeling the physical and mental health benefits of cycling.
Helen continues: “For me it was about the social side of cycling, but an unintended outcome is that I have lost over a stone in weight without really trying, and that’s a real bonus!”