New to Cycling? A wonderful world awaits…

So, you are thinking of joining us for a few of the taster spins to see if this cycling craze is for you.

We at Seven Springs can’t wait to take you out for a few rides to show you just see just how brilliant and how much fun cycling in a group is compared to slogging away on your own. This past while, we have received a number of queries from people interested in joining u and they have all raised common and valid queries about what’s involved in getting started. Here we will attempt to answer these questions in as clear and concise terms as possible.

What’s the story with Covid-19 restrictions and group cycling?

As per the Cycling Ireland guidelines, group cycling is permitted under government road map once compliant with social distancing and hygiene protocol. All cyclists need to assume personal responsibility for their own health and safety when deciding to train with others. Everybody is reminded of the correct protocols and etiquette in terms of hand hygiene, coughing, etc. A sign on form will be available on the day to record all present should it be required for contact tracing, etc and we’ll also take a big, socially distant group photo!

So, do I need a slick racing bike to join these taster spins since it is with a cycling club?

Absolutely not!

This is called a newcomers group for that very reason; we want to give people the opportunity to sample this fantastic sport using whatever equipment they have available. All you need to do is make sure that your bike is in proper working order (tyres pumped, chain oiled, brakes checked, etc.) and that you have a helmet. If you decide to get more serious about your cycling then there are plenty of upgrades you can make down the line. For now, let’s concentrate on getting started out with whatever bike you have.

(ED: Believe me, there is no end to the upgrades possible…my bank balance will attest to that!)

Do I need padded shorts and tons of fancy lycra gear?

For our newcomers starting out, just wear something comfortable as we will be incorporating stops into these spins to give people a chance to rest, refuel, etc. Remember, we live in Ireland so light, waterproof clothing will always be a winner. No harm to have dry socks and trainers in the car for when you get back. Our more experienced members will always be on hand to point you in the right direction based on their own choices and needs.

If you’re going to be on a bike for any length of time then there is no doubt that padded shorts with their comfortable padding make a world of difference. Cycling clothing is designed to make the activity more enjoyable and comfortable; when you think about it, a hurler will perform better in a match wearing shorts and boots instead of jeans and trainers!

Again, there is no limit to the choices available in terms of types of clothing, styles, materials etc. and there is something for every budget.

I’m only starting off need so do I really helmet?

One word: Yes.

The wearing of a helmet is a requirement of every cycling club and Seven Springs are no different. Whilst it is not a mandatory requirement as laid down by the rules of the road (which is worth a read), it is a condition of the club that all riders wear one.

Anyway, design has come such a long way and they are much more comfortable and a lot less bulky than previously so there’s not really an excuse not to wear one.

How do I know if I have the right size bike?

How your bike fits you is one of the most important aspects of riding. If the fit is painful, you’re not going to spend much time in the saddle, no matter how excited you are to ride that new bike. To get the right fit, two elements are key: seat height and reach. The seat height should be high enough to give you a very slight bend in your knee when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

Proper reach means your arms and torso make a 45-degree angle over the bike. Too long, and your back will be sore reaching for the handlebars; too short, and your knees will be too close to your arms.

These are basic rules of thumb so make sure to check them and tweak as necessary.

Do I need to bring a shedload of spares and accessories with me?

No, you can leave the kitchen sink at home!

Apart from a having to wear helmet, it’s definitely worth buying a saddle bag to carry a spare inner tube and some tyre levers and a small pump. In general, it’s not worth leaving home without these things, if they’re in a little saddle bag that stays on your bike you’re always covered if you get a puncture.

Not having these bits and pieces should not stop you from joining us for that first spin, nobody will get left behind if they flat! If there is sufficient interest, we may look at doing a few basic maintenance lessons such as puncture repair. Of course, there are countless guidance videos on the net also if you wish to look them up; knowledge is power!

Can I bring my shiny new eBike?

All bikes are welcome once they are in good working order. Owners of eBikes are encouraged to be familiar with their operation and maintenance in advance of joining the spins.

Help! I’ve never ridden in a group before!

Group rides are probably the single best thing about being in a club. You conserve energy by riding in a group, you can have a chat, go for a coffee; the benefits are endless. Group riding does have certain protocols and etiquette for a reason as it’s easy to cause a crash if your riding isn’t predictable.

If it’s your first-time riding with a new group there will be plenty of experienced riders on hand to explain the various tricks and techniques. It is crucial to remember to ask for help if you need it; no question is a dumb question when your own safety and the safety of the group is at stake. For more on group-riding rules and technique, check out our dedicated Group Riding etiquette page at the following link:

https://sevenspringscyclingclub.com/group-riding-etiquette/

Don’t get put off by the amount of information included here, it’s there to cover all of the different aspects of group cycling that you will learn as you become more experienced.

What about food, do I need to bring any?

If you’re only going for a short jaunt, you should have water but don’t really need to eat on the bike. If you’re planning to go for any significant distance then it is always wise to bring a few snacks and a drink (bananas and cereal bars are always a convenient option). A good rule of thumb is to start eating 45 minutes to an hour into your ride and to continue to eat small amounts every 15 to 20 minutes or so. Forgetting to refuel can put your body into a deficit and cause the dreaded Bonk (where the body goes into a hypoglycemic state, causing tiredness, irritability, dizziness, etc). Again, for these newcomer spins this will hopefully not be an issue as it will be short and we’ll have a coffee along the way.