Sunday Club Runs

The adverse weather has taken its toll on club runs tin recent weeks, with no one turning up for mine at the end of November (probably because of ice on side roads) and the one on the 12th December being “iced off;” with two people on the deck (luckily not too badly damaged). However, on both of these days I completed a good 3-hour ride (on both days) to Handcross and back on the A23 which, as it was on a Sunday morning, was light on traffic until well into the return leg. Sometimes riding in the lanes is a very bad idea, but some of the club seem to have adopted the misconceived idea that all main roads are dangerous all of the time. Being someone who mixes his riding, I can say that, especially on a Sunday morning when the lanes are frozen, the main road is the best bet and a good ride can be had. They are also good for a quick get-away enabling entering lanes “further out” allowing for the occasional use of different routes from the norm. The ride to Mersterham on the A23 last Sunday was snow and ice free, as was the rest of the ride to Handcross.

I think that the structure of the Sunday club run needs to be revised to have one or two alternating fixed meeting points, no intermediate pick-up points advertised for any particular ride and no fixed destination. Riding to Sumner’s Ponds or Horsham and back on a winter Sunday with a stiff northerly wind to ride into on the way back is not a great option, especially if there happens to be a new member with us as this might put him/ her off cycling for life. On the 12th December, for example, riding straight up the A217 and down Reigate Hill was probably safer than trying to go over the top of Chipstead. But the ride had to go to Mersterham as it was a pick-up point.

I would like to recommend that the club go back to the “Dave Morris” style club run: conditions decide the ride. The tea stop does not matter. If weather conditions (wind for example) dictate a ride in a certain direction (with the idea of have as much following wind as possible on the way home) the same stop could be used more than one week at a time. I also believe that the stop should be more than half way into the ride as this means that in poor conditions or with new members the bulk of the ride has been completed and riders are not faced with a long ride home. The tea stop should not dictate the ride: the ride should dictate the tea stop. Fixed destination club runs can put riders off before actually setting out on a Sunday morning, especially if the conditions make riding to a pre-determined destination is not suited to the day’s weather conditions. Whereas by being fully flexible, the run leader on the day, or a permanent club captain, can evaluate the conditions (and the riders present) to plan the ride.

What do you think?

Comments 5

  1. A good post and a lot of common sense Ev. It is difficult to tell how bad things are on the roads until you actually go out and see for yourself. When I was riding in the snow at the weekend a car wound down its window and the occupants gave me a thumbs up and a shout of “Extreme!” – I personally thought it was more “Extreme” too be driving in those conditions – I had fresh uncompacted snow and no other traffic on my off-road ride.

    I fondly remember Sunday runs as the backbone of the club. Now, 30 odd years later, there is more traffic and more distractions but riding on the main roads is still viable.

    • Main roads are viable, but not all main roads and not all of the time. For instance the A24 from Beare Green to Horsham is far too narrow for group of riders whereas the A29 from Beare Green to Roman Five Oaks is a fantastic bit of road at all times.

      The secret is know where and when to use them and to not have the attitude that any road prefixed with an “A” is dangerous to ride on. To be quite honest, I have had more close shaves with motor vehicals in lanes then I have on main roads.

  2. Ev I understand what you are saying but I do think most people like to know in advance where the ride is going. My view is that if there is not a pre determined destination, chaos can ensue. Riders have conflicting ideas about where to go and how to get there as has been demonstrated by the OHG when Dave Gill is not leading the ride.

    We always change the Sunday ride destination or route if the conditions and weather are unfavourable. The Sunday ride on 12 December, you refer to, was a case of misjudgement but once the conditions were known we diverted to the main roads and changed the destination to Leatherhead and had a shorter ride. Also we will change the designated destination on the day to suit any weaker riders but that then precludes anyone else meeting us at the original destination. You are right about Sumners Pond or Horsham but we do get to these destinations sometimes and that is good.

    I’m one of those that think main roads are more dangerous and often require you to ride in single file, which is not so sociable for us. Now I am not riding, even on main roads, as I think it is too cold. There could be patches of ice anywhere due to snow or ice melting and refreezing.

    Unfortunately your ride at the end of November coincided with the Ghent 6 and six of us went to see the weekend finish and I know others were unavailable for different reasons. Sorry Ev.

    It would be interesting to hear other rider’s points of view.


  3. Knowing where a club run is going is one of the fundamental differences between a cycling club and a just a group of mates who cycle together regularly. It offers open and easily accessible cycling, gives a structure and a level of expectation, and a good idea of the standards and expectations of the club for the fitness of riders; type of ride etc. Of course things go wrong and have to be changed on the day occassionally – that’s recognised; and these days a quick txt or message on the facebook site or blog can let everyone know if there is a problem (as long as they have a semi-smartphone of course…).

    As for A Roads – I can’t say I am a fan; any driver doing 60/70 is going to be a real risk to a cyclist pootling along at 20mph or so – we are simply not visible at that sort of speed – so country roads for me as at least most motorists expect/anticipate cyclists, horses and walkers unless they are nuts – and there are a few of those so we all take a risk – but I don’t think taking club runs down major A roads for long distances would be popular with members or motorists. Properly marshalled TTs and Sportives are another matter.

    Happy New Year! – Robert

  4. Taking the two points separately:
    Destination of club run: One of the things I have very much enjoyed over the last couple of years with he club is arriving at the Tea stop and finding that other club members or friends of the club have arranged their own ride to meet at the Tea Stop, or have driven out just to chew the cud. It would be a pity to lose that.

    Icy conditions and A roads. Having discovered to my cost last April that i no longer bounce very well, and have come off a few times on ice last winter, i had already decided that sub zero meant a morning on the MTB off road or in the gym for me. But, in the recent poor weather i have found even driving on A-roads a difficult and treacherous thing to do. My drive on the 217 to Gatwick on the Sunday before Xmas was terrifying- the whole way without touching the brakes once, and some truly inept winter driving from far to many other drivers.

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