My First Club Run!

I've just got back from a relaxing week away in the Lake District but before I left I ventured out on my first ever club run.

A number of people, from Dave Hinde to cyclists on my training runs, have always said that looking at my sportive times I would benefit from a joining a club. My local club is Weaver Valley who have a fantastic reputation around Northwich, they produce a number of big road races and their riders are always visible every weekend. Although they are well known to be a competitive club they are also very well known for being friendly and welcoming to new riders.

I've always said that I would join the club when I felt my fitness was ready, I didn't want to go in half heartedly, I wanted to prove I'm up for it and I'm committed. Training has been going well recently, putting in some nice miles so I holding my breath I went down to Hartford Social Club to join in on the weekly Sunday run. There would be a choice of a long and short route, what could go wrong?!

I turned up half an hour early hoping to get to know a couple of people before the ride. As it happened I befriended a young guy called Dylan who had been riding for a few months before everyone else arrived.

There was about 30 of us and the guy who usually takes the rides was away on holiday. It was decided we were going to Wrexham (gulp!!), well at this point I couldn't say no thanks could I?! Fancy whimping out already on my first run and we hadn't even pulled out of the car park!!

So off we went, the route taking us past Beeston Castle and winding through beautiful quiet country lanes, the scenery was just incredible. The warm breeze felt amazing. On the way there the route took up a couple of climbs, the first couple I managed no problem and felt confident at the front.

Then we came to a tough climb. It was about a mile in length, the beginning easy enough in the big ring but it had you peeling back to the small ring in the last half before really ramping during the last quarter.

I was overtaken and the last quarter it was just me. I kept my eye on the last man who was about 10 seconds ahead of me and tried to keep up my pace. My eyes were bulging out my sockets, my heart was pounding but eventually I got to the top.

I was sure I had been dropped and they would have gone on without me but as I looked up there was a rider at the top waiting. I didn't know whether to feel happier to have made it to the top or that someone had bothered to wait for a newbie like me. As I turned the corner I couldn't believe it, they were all there waiting for me. I whimpered out a "sorry for holding you up guys" and kept going on. Everyone was really nice about it but I didn't want to stop, I wanted to show determination but it took a good 15 minutes of hanging off the back for me to recover.

The ride there had been good and when we stopped at the Garden Centre cafe I took the opportunity to introduce myself to a few people. I found a spare seat at a table with Jed, Malcolm and John. They weregreat. I think they were quite taken back that this was my first ever club run. Supposedly a club run would never have been this hard for a cycling club novice "we definitely wouldn't have done that hill for starters"!

The ride was flat all the way back and I took the time to talk to more people. I spoke to one guy who had been with the club for a few months who said "don't worry it's not normally this tough, the rides are normally shorter, this is the longest, hardest and fastest we've done in ages". Great!! So the first ride I decide to do it's one of the tough ones!!

The tempo was good all the way home and I managed to keep with the group until about 5 miles from home when I got detached up a drag. I think word had spread that this was my first club run and as everyone peeled off I got a pat on the back and "great ride mate" which did wonders for my confidence, it was great to know I hadn't let anyone down.

I loved the ride. It was great to talk to like minded cyclists, it was great to feel part of a team, everyone was really friendly, loads of great advice and can't wait for the next one. If anyone is reading this from Weaver Valley from that ride - thanks very much for your help, much appreciated.

My membership is definitely in the post and can't wait for the next one after Blackpool.

For anyone worried about joining a club, just make sure you're fit, doing 40 miles non-stop and at a good pace. Once you're doing that get involved, dig deep and you'll make some great friends.

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