Rapha Manuals: The Sociable Sport

It’s hard to hold a conversation with headphones in at the gym or shouting across a tennis court but cycling is different. Welcome to the sociable sport.

18 July 2018

From the outside looking in, the idea of joining a cycling club can conjure up images of whippet-like racers meeting up at the crack of dawn to ride halfway across the country and back. In reality, cyclists tend to form tight-knit, supportive communities that cater to a wide range of abilities. Going for a bike ride alone is a great way to clear your mind, but in a group it is simply a great chance for a good chat. Free from the technological distractions that abound in other settings, conversation flows more freely on the bike.

The chances are you’ll know someone who rides already and, since most cyclists like nothing better than talking about bikes, they’ll be more than happy to have another person to ride with.

“I had a few friends who were already commuting to work or uni by bike”, says Anna Gudaniec, Operations Manager at the Rapha Cycling Club. “Talking to them about their experiences of riding around town suddenly made my stuffy train ride feel more uncomfortable than ever.”

“Cycling removes your dependence on unreliable transport links so I didn’t take much convincing in the end”, Gudaniec continues. “My friends really helped me to find a nice quiet route avoiding the busy roads and started to invite me on rides out into the countryside.”

Even if you don’t know anyone who cycles, you’ll be welcomed into the sport just the same, the local cycling club is the best place to start. Now the coordinator of the Manchester chapter of the Rapha Cycling Club, Holly Carter didn’t know any cyclists before she got into the sport.

“I just got in touch with a local club”, she says. “Cycling clubs invariably promote their group rides on their website so it's easy to find out where to meet up. I decided to join a club nearby as it’s a relatively short ride to meet my clubmates. Speak to people as soon as you arrive and they’ll be sure to welcome you to the club.”

Starting with club runs on local roads, you might be surprised where cycling will take you, as Carter can testify. “I started with a couple of women’s rides with the Manchester Wheelers and before I knew it I was off for a weekend riding in Yorkshire. Even after one weekend away, I felt like I’d known some of my clubmates for much longer.”

From racers to coffee stop chasers, Carter always makes sure there are rides to cater for all. “As a ride leader for the RCC, I’m always eager to let our newer members know about the wide range of club rides that we offer”, Carter says. “You can start out on beginners’ rides and, with the support of your clubmates, you’ll be amazed how quickly you progress.”

Whichever club ride you join on a Sunday, cycling is an inherently sociable activity. “Riding alongside someone else there are no distractions”, Carter says. “It’s perfect time to have a good old chat. As people take turns riding on the front of the group, you’ll find yourself chatting to a whole bunch of people before the end of the ride.”

The conversation is bound to be varied too. Since cycling is such an accessible sport, clubs are made up of members from all walks of life who come together to form a tight-knit community. “I’ve met lawyers, carpenters, builders, even a violin maker”, Carter says, “but on Sundays we’re all Wheelers.”

Cycling clubs are some of the oldest sporting clubs in the world and have a proud tradition of welcoming new members into the ranks. Perhaps the greatest tradition of all though, is the cake stop. “We all love riding but who doesn’t want to stop for a coffee and cake?” Carter asks. “On RCC rides, we always have a cake stop on weekend club runs, it’s another chance to have a natter and a just reward for your efforts.”

At Rapha, we’re committed to helping as many people as possible get started in cycling. From Clubhouses around the world, we run regular beginners’ rides that are open to all and led by experienced guides.
Find your local Clubhouse and your next ride here.

Many of those who join our Clubhouse rides also become members of the Rapha Cycling Club.
To hear more about RCC membership, find your local RCC chapter and your next ride, see the Rapha Cycling Club page, here.

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