Club Rides

We strongly encourage that all riders become members of British Cycling ( minimum:'RIDE' Level membership - Approx. £37 per year) BRITISH CYCLING MEMBERSHIP which includes third party liablility insurance as well as other benefits.

In addition as group rides are exactly that, we also encourage that participants of group rides aquaint themselves with the etiquette of group riding by reading our guide to club ride etiquette below. Another good place to start would be here BRITISH CYCLING HOW TO RIDE IN A GROUP

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On Saturdays, we ride for about 28 – 40 miles at an average pace of about 12 – 13 mph and we like to stop for coffee and cake, usually (but not always) at the half-way point. You can expect about 2000 ft of climbing on this ride. This is the ideal ride for those who wish to try cycling with a friendly club, the easy pace encouraging lively conversation and is a great introduction to group riding.

The ride is open to members and non-members.

The meeting point is Corkscrew roundabout in West Wickham – junction of Corkscrew Hill and Addington Road.

Ride leaves at 10am.  

NB: The ride start timesare when we leave, not when you should arrive!

On Sundays, we ride for about 50 – 60 miles at an average pace of about 15 -17 mph and we like to stop for coffee and cake, usually (but not always) at the half-way point. You can expect about 3000 ft of climbing on this ride. Unless you are an experienced rider who is used to this sort of distance and pace, you are strongly advised to join a Saturday ride first.

The meeting point is Café Nero 55 High Street, West Wickham, BR4 0NX.

Ride leaves at 9am. (9.30 during British winter time)

NB: The ride start timesare when we leave, not when you should arrive!

We take the safety and enjoyment of all of our members very seriously. You must follow all rules, instructions and guidance!

NB: There is a lot of advice on riding technique and skills for both new and experienced riders on the British Cycling website.

Fitness to Ride

If you have ANY doubts about your health or suitability for exertion, see your GP. If you feel unwell on a ride, stop and tell others around you. If you are taking essential medication, let other riders know and/or use wrist or neck tags. If you have any allergies, please let us know. Use a heart rate monitor and study your data from time to time.

Insurance

You are strongly advised to have insurance to protect yourself and third parties in the event of an accident. The best way to obtain this is to join British Cycling which includes insurance cover in its membership fee. (www.britishcycling.org.uk)

Helmet

Club rules require the wearing of a helmet. This is also sensible; if you fall off or are knocked off your bike you are likely to impact your head and a helmet could just be the difference between life and death. If you have a crash and the helmet takes any impact (even if you can’t see any damage) it is sensible to replace it. 

Hand signals

Point out potholes, tree branches, piles of manure or other hazards to riders behind you by pointing down and to the left or right. Pointing down and waggling your fingers is used to indicate gravel or other slippery surfaces. Warn riders of a car coming towards you by shouting ‘car front.’ For a car coming up behind shout ‘car back.’

When you hear the warning ‘car back’ move to the left if it is safe to do so, in order to give the car room to pass; don’t obstruct their passing unnecessarily.  

Putting your left arm behind you and pointing to the right indicates a parked car, pedestrian or other hazard on the left, likewise with your right hand.

Highway code

Club riders are expected to follow the Highway Code – do not ride through red lights or on the pavement; wait at pedestrian crossings; use hand signals when turning, etc. Overtaking on the inside (left) particularly when cars or trucks are turning left is highly dangerous and is a factor in many fatalities; either wait or overtake on the outside (right).

Riding 2 abreast is acceptable if the road is wide enough; riding 3 abreast should be avoided. If riding 2 abreast and a car or other road user comes towards you, the rider on the outside should drop back and the rider on the inside should go ahead. If the road narrows or there are cars, ride in single file. If riding in a group, riders should leave gaps between small groups of riders so that passing cars are able to leap-frog.

Avoid ‘wheel overlap’ – where your front wheel overlaps with the rear wheel of the rider in front. Any slight movement – avoiding a pot-hole or tree branch, a gust of wind, etc - from either of you is likely to bring you both crashing down.

Club runs

When on a club run, remember that you are a representative of the club. Follow the Highway Code and all the other guidance here and do not swear at or abuse other road users, even if you feel aggrieved. 

Club members will wait at the top of hills or at junctions for new or slower riders to catch up. Don’t worry if this happens to you – we have all been there. If you are getting left behind – don’t worry, keep going, you will catch the group.

Emergency contact/ID

You should ensure that you are wearing (eg a wrist band) or carrying something that clearly shows your name and the contact details of your next of kin in an emergency as well as any medical alerts or allergies. Accidents do happen, and fellow riders need to know who to contact if something happens to you. You can get an app for a smart-phone which shows your contact details on the home screen.

Punctures

Punctures happen.

Always carry a spare inner tube, tyre levers and a pump. Fellow club members will always assist you if you need help (with copious advice if help is not needed!) but you are expected to carry your own spares and tools. Co2 pumps are effective but will generally only pump 1 tyre; if you have 2 punctures you’ll still benefit from carrying a pump.

Horse riders

There are many horse riders on the roads followed by club runs. They should be passed wide and slow. When coming up behind shout out to indicate your presence to the horse and rider; horses can be startled by a cyclist.  

Breakdowns

Mechanical breakdowns can happen unexpectedly, and fellow riders will lend assistance; however, you should check your bike before setting out on a ride. If your gears, brakes, bottom bracket, cranks or other key component is not working properly it will not repair itself while you ride – get it fixed beforehand.

Tea stop

It is good form to buy tea at the tea-stop. These are invariably small businesses which rely on their takings for survival. Patronage from a local cycling club is important to them and we aim to visit good cafes which offer a friendly welcome to cyclists – it is only fair that we spend a bit of money.

Saying hello

Club members are encouraged to say hello, wave or nod at other cyclists. It will normally be reciprocated.

Thank other road users (trucks, buses, cars, motor-cyclists, horse riders, workmen or women, pedestrians, etc) who do nice things eg who wait for you, let you out at a junction or hold up the traffic for you, etc, with a wave, a smile, a thank-you, a nod, or a thumbs-up – what goes around comes around and it all helps the greater community of cyclists.

Club kit

It is not compulsory for club riders to wear club kit but it is encouraged and the famous Old Ports red train has been an impressive sight on the roads of Kent and surrounds for nearly 100 years. However, if taking part in a club event eg a sportive, club members are expected to wear club kit. When wearing club kit you are an ambassador of the club and any negative actions or behaviour towards other road users will reflect badly on the club and other club members.

Mudguards

Unlike some clubs, the Old Portlians do not insist that riders fit mudguards. However, it makes sense to fit them in the winter months; they will protect you from the worst of the spray thrown up by your tyres – there are few things more uncomfortable than cycling while wet and cold – but they will also protect your fellow riders. An ‘ass saver’ – a piece of plastic wedged into your saddle – might protect your ass but won’t do anything to protect your fellow club members’ asses.

Group riding etiquette 

  • Follow the Ride Leader’s instructions
  • Hold the wheel of the rider in front – do not veer off your line
  • Warn other riders of hazards
  • Do not race off the front
  • Take your turn at the front of the group and do some work – you are not a protected rider! When riding at the front, look round regularly to check that the group is with you.
  • Do not ‘half-wheel’ – riding beside someone and constantly pushing the pace by half a wheel; ride together
  • If slowing down, shout ‘slowing’ to warn riders behind you.
  • If stopping, shout ‘stopping’ to warn riders behind you
  • However, aim to anticipate the road conditions as much as possible so as to avoid sudden stops
  • Overtaking other riders when descending is acceptable if the road is clear and it can be done safely; however, shout a warning to riders in front so they are aware of what you are doing
  • Riders should ride at their own pace up a hill and re-group at the top
  • Above all – enjoy yourself, help others and stay safe! 

 

Each club ride has a Ride Leader – for the sake of safety and enjoyment, all members are required to follow the Ride Leader’s instructions.

Ride Leader Guidance:

This unpaid voluntary work carries big responsibilities but if we don’t do it, the joys of club cycling will be lost; we might as well take up darts! However, the benefits far outweigh the risks and we can minimise those risks. NB: British Cycling and CTC insurance covers Club Officials and nominated Ride Leaders.

1) Plan your route the day before, as much ‘in the lanes’ as possible, on known, quiet roads with as few right turns as possible; an anti-clockwise loop with left turns is always best. Avoid busy roads and bad junctions. Explain the route to riders before you leave.

2) Run through the basics: ‘Have you all checked your bikes, tyres, brake pads? All carrying drinks, spare tubes, pumps, waterproofs, gloves, glasses, helmets secure?’ Be clear: ‘DON’T stop without telling others, let people know if you’re feeling tired, stay together, warn of potholes, don’t argue with motorists, get into single file on busy roads quickly, don’t get too close to the wheel in front’.

3) Do a head count as you leave and make sure everyone knows you are the leader. Stick to the planned speed and distance. Appoint an experienced rider to be back marker if possible.

4) Exchange phone numbers, make sure everyone has your phone number and that phones are turned to LOUD. Turn on your Strava.

5) It’s not a race. The idea is to keep people together. The most important people are those at the BACK. They are the ones exposed to traffic, even more so if tired, look out for them. Be aware of new riders who may struggle to keep up – don’t drop them and leave them behind. When the ride is over, if required advise them that they need to be stronger if they wish to ride in that group.

6) KNOW THE OPCC RULES. Ride Leaders are expected to be familiar with the club’s safety rules on the website and apply them in practice. Don’t hesitate to tell someone if they are riding dangerously – you are in charge – don’t be British and vague, be blunt! Ride Leaders MUST be good First Aiders – there’s everything you need online.

7) A good Ride Leader delegates the lead to others regularly and drops back to check that stragglers are OK. Don’t lose people on a ride! The tea stop is a good time to check everyone is OK and bikes are safe. Remember that if there are ladies in the group, a tea stop is also a toilet stop!

8) The most difficult job is with new and/or slower groups with wide variations in competence and fitness. Faster/experienced groups know the drill and stick together but new riders often need  more guidance.

9) Be patient with new riders. 20 miles is the Tour de France for some newcomers. You were slow once. Be nice. Resist the temptation to show off.

10) Get to know your riders. Look out for first time nerves and bravado; some people don’t like to admit they’re struggling until it’s too late. If in doubt, stop the ride somewhere safe and discuss alternatives. Get the rider to have a drink, eat something, just ride slowly. Or phone a friend, get a taxi or train home, plan a shortcut home with a buddy - not on their own.

11) Be assertive. If you see dangerous riding, speak up, politely of course. Don’t let things go unmentioned. People respect authority more than sloppiness. Undertaking cars, shaking fists, being slow to single up, stopping ‘just around the corner’ are all classic danger events. We advertise that ‘riding with a club is safer’ - people must see why - and enjoy it!

Saturday route A

Total distance: 29 miles
Coffee stop at Battle of Britain, distance to coffee stop: 17.5 miles
Estimated time to complete (including coffee stop): 4h

Saturday route C

Total distance: 38 miles
Coffee stop at Velo Barn, distance to coffee stop: 28 miles
Estimated time to complete (including coffee stop): 4h

Saturday route B

Total distance: 27 miles
Coffee stop at Battle of Britain, distance to coffee stop: 17.5 miles
Estimated time to complete (including coffee stop): 4h

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Our latest rides on Strava