I am new to cycling - can I ride with you?
You don't have to live in the South Herts area to enjoy our rides, as long as you can join us at the start or one of the stops shown on our programme.
We know the best lanes in our area to access the countryside and avoid using busy roads. It's never far between stops and you can return from any of them - there's usually someone going back from the mid-morning stop on Sunday rides.
Just give us a call if it's your first ride and we can advise on the most suitable type of ride for you to start with.
What speeds do you go at?
Saturday morning rides and Five Miles to Fabulous rides are leisurely at up to 10 mph. Our Sunday & Wednesday rides are faster and you'll need to be comfortable averaging a moving speed of 12 mph, which means about 15 mph on the flat.
Do I have to be a Cycling UK member?
We are part of Cycling UK (the CTC). You can come for up to 3 rides as a guest to see if you like our rides (you must bring a guest entry form, which covers your 3rd party insurance as a guest). Then you need to join Cycling UK to continue riding with us. The full individual rate of £4 a month is less than the cost of a couple of coffees and membership includes third-party insurance, a magazine and a host of other benefits.
What kind of bike do I need?
Regulars have different types of cycles, but most have triple chainsets with low gears. Touring or hybrid bikes with racks so you can carry stuff are popular, and some riders use mountain-bikes in the winter and road bikes in summer. If your bike does not have low gears, and you are not confident of your ability to tackle hills, contact us before coming out, as some rides are hillier than others. Any cycle that you ride should be maintained in a safe condition.
What should I carry?
A mobile phone, money &/or credit card (for refreshments & emergencies), a puncture outfit, tyre levers, pump, spare tube and any spanners needed for removing wheels. For long rides a waterproof jacket is advisable at any time of year to cope with variations of temperature and unexpected rain. Front & rear lights are recommended in winter and are essential for Wednesday evening rides throughout the year.
Which maps should I take?
While we try to keep everyone together, you should be able to get yourself home and people tend to disperse after the last refreshment stop. Landranger map sheet 166 is useful for short rides, but many of our Sunday rides go beyond the area covered by this; we cycle into Bucks, Essex, Beds, and occasionally Cambridgeshire, so sheets from a road atlas are recommended for these rides, or use of a map on your phone. Reading a map is a useful skill. The BikeRoute site has useful info on navigation apps.
What's it like riding in a group?
Aside from the social aspects, riding with a group is different from riding alone. Read the CTC guidance on cycling with a group. We have designated ride leaders and follow CTC guidelines on organising and leading rides.
Most of our advice is common sense and you will pick it up quickly:
(a) Single file on busy or narrow roads.
(b) Do not stop or change direction suddenly and/or without warning. If you need to stop, tell the group by shouting "Stopping" and pull over in a controlled way.
(c) Try to maintain a steady distance between you and the rider in front.
(d) Keep a steady line and do not weave about.
(e) Listen and watch out for the advisory messages from the leader and other riders around you. Pass messages on e.g. the leader may point out a hazard or say we're slowing down, or that a car is trying to get past.
(f) Do not overtake on the inside.
(g) If you overtake the leader you're on your own!
(h) Please keep to the left-hand side of the road. If asked to single out to get traffic past, please do so quickly but taking care of those round you. If we have to stop please try to get off the road or keep in to the side.
(i) The leader will often appoint a back-marker and will usually wait at tops of hills and at road junctions, unless going straight on, to ensure everyone is together. With a large group this can be difficult, so if you are at the back of the bunch when turning at a junction and can't see the person behind you, it's best to shout out and wait for them.
Remember, The safety of everyone is paramount.
* EASY. From the front to avoid concertinas a warning that we're slowing down. From the back - tell the leader we're going too fast.
* INSIDE. Hole, broken glass, etc., in the road surface on our left-hand side.
* LOOSE. Gravel, or similar, across the road.
* MIDDLE. Assuming we're riding two abreast this a hole, broken glass, etc., between the lines of bikes.
* OIL DOWN. Sometimes "car down" or "on the nose." Car coming from in front i.e. down the line of cyclists. Only really needed on narrow roads.
* OIL UP. Also "car up" or "on your tail" (these things seem to be regional). Car from behind i.e. up the line of cyclists. You'll often hear this used on all sorts of roads. Sometimes you get just plain "car."
* ON THE LEFT. Come out as there's an obstruction, maybe a parked car on the left-hand side of the road.
* SINGLE OUT. Get into one line, usually to get some traffic past.
* STOPPING. Usually from the leader. A warning just before stopping e.g. just before a junction so we don't end up sitting on top of each other.
With thanks to Jim Brown for providing this information