Answers to some questions frequently asked by new members:
Is there an orientation ride?
Each month during our riding season we have a ride geared to new members; check our ride schedule for the New Members/Orientation ride. This ride is relatively short, and taken at a gentle pace. It is suitable for a variety of experience levels, and is geared towards learning about riding with the club. Ride leaders will be there to answer questions and ease you in to the joys of group riding.
How should I prepare for my first ride with the club?
Do a test ride first -- timed laps around the SUNY Purchase loop road (roughly 3 miles per lap). You should be able to do at least 3 laps in 55 minutes. [You can park in lot W1 near the loop road. WCC has permission to use lot W1 all day on weekends and after 5 PM on weekdays.]
Have your bike in good working order. The local bike shops can check and "tune up" your bike, teach you how to pump up your tires and change a flat. Tires should be fully inflated (the pressure is indicated on the tire sidewall in psi). The chain should be lubricated, flexible -- not rusty or caked with dirt. The bike should have water bottle cages to hold water bottles. The local bike shops can also help you adjust your helmet so that it fits properly.
Items to bring:
Dress in layers (wicking fabrics, not cotton). Wear clothing that will not catch in the chain rings or wheels -- no loose clothing. And be sure to use sunscreen.
What is the right level for me?
Going on an orientation ride is the best way to find out at what level you should be starting. In general, we live in a hilly area, and the levels are set apart by length of ride, speed on flats, but most of all the ability to climb hills at a given pace.
Please check the Ride Category descriptions to help you figure out your level. Doing the loops around SUNY mentioned above can help you find your average pace.
Choose a ride that is slower and easier than what you think you are capable of doing. It is much better to start with a ride that is too easy than to struggle through a ride that is too hard. Be aware that, especially late in the riding season, the pace of a ride can be at the higher end of the posted range. Long and hilly rides may have a lower overall pace, but will be much harder. Look for descriptions in the ride postings. Rides that advertise "regrouping" can be very helpful to new riders.
If you are a new member with limited cycling experience, you'll probably want to start at the "D" level.
If you regularly do rides of 25 miles or more, in groups of at least 5 and think you should start at a different level than "D" please contact the ride leader and discuss the ride and your abilities with him/her.
We want you to have fun, to gain confidence, and to improve. It may seem hard at first, but don't get discouraged. If you stick with it, you'll surprise yourself with your progress.
How do I ride safely in a group?
We are all ultimately responsible for our own safety, including during group rides.
Bike riders are required by law to follow the same rules as cars.
Please refer to the Guide to WCC Group Rides for basics of safe group riding practices.
Please see the CYCLING TIPS page for additional tips on cycling in groups.
For more information on safe cycling, please read the STREET SMARTS brochure.
Can someone help me with buying a bike?
There are many good bikes available. For road riding, a road bike with thin tires and drop handlebars is your best choice. Heavy mountain or hybrid bikes will slow you down considerably. Road bike frames are made of steel alloys, aluminum, carbon fiber and titanium. Shimano is the most commonly found manufacturer of drive train components and these are offered at different price points. Many local bike shops give WCC members discounts, so check the Bike Shops link and go shopping.
How can I get to know people in the club?
There are many ways to get to know more folks in the club. Besides riding, volunteering to help at an event is probably the best way. During the cold months, you can join us at our monthly dinner event. You will see a timely presentation on a cycling related topic, enjoy a nice dinner and socialize with other club members. These events are usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, and often occur more in the off-season. During the riding season (April - October) we have monthly multi-level rides followed by a luncheon. These are really fun events where friends and memories are made. Of course, you should join us for the Golden Apple, a cycling event we put on for the public each fall. There are also other events you can check out at the Events section of our website. Sign up for these events online. You must pay to reserve a space, and some of the events fill up quickly, so don't delay.
Can I volunteer?
YES! If you make it through your first few rides without being asked to help out, it would be a surprise. Our club is organized and run by a dedicated group of cyclists who love the sport. The board members, ride leaders and event coordinators are all volunteers who devote many hours of their time to the club. We hope you come to love it as much as we do as you become more involved.
The WCC is a member of the League of American Bicyclists, an organization that promotes cycling for fun, fitness, and transportation through advocacy and education.
The club expects all cyclists to follow these best practices on our group rides:
Ride single file whenever there is traffic on the road
Stay as far to the right as is safe and reasonable—and not so far that you have to swerve left into traffic to avoid hazards
Hold your line: Ride directly behind the rider in front of you—aim to stay within six inches to left or right
Maintain constant pedaling: Maintaining a steady pace helps the rider behind you predict your speed
Signal well in advance before