A Beginners Tale: Not just about the bike

Oliver Wright … Ours must be one of the most fragmented sports you could find. For something as simple as jumping on a bike and enjoying a ride, we do seem to have made things complicated

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Oliver Wright … Ours must be one of the most fragmented sports you could find. For something as simple as jumping on a bike and enjoying a ride, we do seem to have made things complicated. I want to ride fast and race. To do this seems to involve a mine field of different organisations, forms, memberships, handbooks and websites. I seem to be negotiating them OK, but have no doubt missed something along the way. As the different organisations seem to enjoy their own sphere of influence and don’t always seem to like getting on, I am slowly collecting memberships.

My reintroduction to organised riding came through Audax where I now even promote my own event. So naturally I’m an AUK member. Audax are fantastic, providing a challenging ride often on unfamiliar roads. Both beards and mudguards are thankfully optional. I prefer the hilly rides which can be like a laid back sportive, usually with good cafes!

The ‘Common Lane Occasionals’ who I ride with are becoming more and more like a recognisable club. Having a regular meeting place, jersey and facebook page makes us to all intents and purposes a ‘club’. Especially as far as liability/insurance is concerned, so it looks like we are going to go down the CTC affiliation route.

Once racing is of interest, I need yet more memberships. I want to ride road races, so British Cycling is my natural first port of call. Taking out a license has been relatively simple, although methods of race entry vary from traditional (snail mail) to simple (online, first come first served) to downright secretive where the organiser selects the field based on a set of predetermined criteria. I understand the difficulty faced by organisers, but it has led to some second guessing/juggling and hoping to get a race, some of which I still don’t know if I’ll have a place in.

My local road race league is run under TLI regulations. Not quite sure why, but there are no doubt a whole load of reasons, which for me just means more form filling and another membership. Again, having entered, I’m just hoping I have a ride.

With all this paper pushing rather than productive training going on, I decided it was probably a good idea to join a proper club/team. Those of us who have been on a bike for a few years, probably have more than a few preconceptions or misconceptions about clubs. Many of us will know various examples of Jurassic CC, Miserable Git RC, Posh Bike RT and Jolly Buffer Cake Eating CTC.

I’m not quite sure how, but I stumbled across my new team: Vivelo/Inverse/Cyclaim RT. I spoke to Andy the DS who quickly convinced me that it was a set up where I could fit in and enjoy my racing. This was borne out by the really warm welcome I have received. In no time at all, I had joined the facebook group, ordered clothing and agreed to go to part of the team weekend in Stratford.

Girl power …

What a great bunch of people and what a great weekend. Highlights for me (apart from meeting team mates) were the group ride, where I was pleased to not be out of my depth and the talk Kerry Kayes of CNP (one of the sponsors) gave. I left feeling ready for the season ahead, my faith restored in ‘organised’ cycling.

Sometimes it’s not just about the bike.



RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

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