Sunday Club Rides

During the off-season, VCL hold club rides every Sunday to which all are welcome. Each week there will be several rides each suited to a different level of strength and fitness. Club riders leave at 9:30am from the corner of Birch Tree Ave and Layhams Rd, BR4 9EQ. There is plenty of parking where we meet, however many ride over to the start point, whilst this is encouraged it does not form part of the formal club ride. At about 2.5-3 hours duration, each ride will cover a different distance at a different speed, but aim to arrive at the Bever World Cafe for re-fuelling at around the same time. Each ride will have a nominated ride leader who will determine an appropriate route and pace, however, every participating rider remains responsible for their own well-being on the ride. For this reason, there are a number of rules that apply to all riders as well as other, tighter rules for younger age groups.

Every rider must:

  • be a member of British Cycling (Silver, Gold or Ride)
  • wear a crash helmet
  • wear appropriate clothing: a warm top, leggings, gloves, over shoes, hat/ear warmer, etc
  • carry a card with their name and two emergency contact numbers (e.g. home and a parent’s mobile)
  • carry medicines you may require (inhalers, epipen, etc) and that the ride leader knows you have a condition and what to do should you need help
  • carry a charged mobile phone (with credit)
  • carry at least two new inner-tubes, two tyre levers and a pump
  • carry a rain cape
  • have at least one water bottle and two items of food (bananas, cereal bars, energy gels etc)
  • have some money (about £5)
  • have a bike that works!

All of the above are essential. Think: it’s towards the end of the ride, it’s pouring rain, I’m starving and can’t wait to get to the cafe and I puncture, twice!

Riders aged under 12 must:

  • be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian in the group in which they are riding
  • not exceed a ratio of two children to one parent or legal guardian
  • must ensure that the ride leader knows who their nominated adult is before starting the ride.

In an exceptional circumstance where no parent or legal guardian can accompany a child under 12. The parent or legal guardian should find an adult who is willing and able to look after their child. The parent or legal guardian must provide written consent before the first ride for the nominated adult to be in loco parentis.

Riders aged under 14 must:

  • have a nominated adult (over 18) in the group in which they are riding, who is willing and able to look after them. It is for the child’s parent or legal guardian to pre arrange this with the nominated adult and be happy with the person they have asked
  • not exceed a ratio of two children to one nominated adult
  • must ensure that the ride leader knows who their nominated adult is before starting the ride.

The two-to-one ratio is subject to the ride leaders agreement. If the ride leader feels that this ratio is inappropriate for the riders in question, for whatever reason, they may ask for a one-to-one accompaniment.

Riders aged under 16 must:

  • be part of a group that has at least a two-to-one ratio with over 18s.

The two-to-one ratio is subject to the ride leaders agreement. If the ride leader feels that this ratio is inappropriate for the riders in question, for whatever reason, they may ask for a one-to-one accompaniment.

Riders in the Slow and Medium Groups:

Look after each other on the rides. These are not races: there is no reason to drop other riders or to make other riders feel inadequate. If you want to ride faster, ride in a faster group next time. If you feel strong, ride on the front for longer. Always regroup at the top of hills and before you turn at a junction. If you notice a rider in trouble (either by speed or mechanical) make sure that the rest of the group knows that there is a problem, wait for them and help them.

Riders in the Fast Group:

Whilst the above ratios are still applicable, you should be prepared to fend entirely for yourself. In addition to the above carry a multi-tool, quick link, puncture repair kit, etc. Of course, riders in the group will always endeavour to help one another, but you should be able to sort out your own problems. You should also be aware of the routes used and how to get home, to the cafe, etc from any point. From Christmas onwards this is a serious training group and whilst they will slow down to allow others to catch up after a climb, etc they will not want to keep stopping and ruin their own training! Pace yourself, there is no point smashing everyone for the first part of the ride only to complain that nobody wants to wait for you when you run out of energy! If you are unable to cope with the speed of this group drop down to one of the other groups.

Some common-sense advice:

  • Make sure your bike is well serviced and in a fit state for a 3 hour ride in the country. Your tyres should be pumped up correctly, both brakes fully functional, your gears working. Some of the hills that the rides cover are either steep and/or long: you will need to be able to reach your low gears and you’ll need to be able to slow down on the other side. If you have a serious mechanical problem, you may be faced with either a long wait or a long walk.
  • Dress appropriately. Remember that you can take off an extra jersey or gloves, but you can’t put them on if you don’t have them. Err on the side of overdressing. It is unlikely during the winter rides that it will ever be appropriate to ride in just shorts or without gloves. Ask the older riders for any tips if you seem to always get cold on rides, they know all the tricks, thick socks over shoes with hole for shoe plate, newspaper tucked up you jersey, etc.
  • Don’t rely on others to have the tools or spares to mend your bike. Make sure your spare tubes are the correct size with the correct valve for the wheels you are using. Try to bring a multi-tool, quick link, puncture repair kit, something to mend your tyre if you cut it (ie a bit of tooth paste tube!), etc.
  • Carry your tools and spares in a small bag under your saddle it is better than trying to cram it all in your pockets and you are less likely to forget things.
  • Have working front and back lights; it can get rainy, foggy, misty, etc. These should be on your winter training bike anyway!
  • Don’t ride if you feel ill or are injured. Even a cold can affect your endurance badly. You won’t benefit from a long, cold training ride if you are unwell.
  • You are representing VCL when on these rides, even if you chose not to ride in VCL colours. Your behaviour should reflect well on VCL: no swearing, no littering and abide by the Highway Code. Riders are not always extended the same courtesy by other road users, but returning abuse does nothing to help this.

All of the above is at the ride leader’s discretion. Remember that the ride leader can accept no responsibility for your well-being, that is for either yourself or your nominated adult to take. If a ride leader feels that they will be put in an unacceptable position, they may tell you that you can’t ride with them that week. That, by the way, includes past failure to behave appropriately.

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