After Primal’s Women’s-Only Bike Clinic, questions lingered like a wheel-sucker. One of which was joining a team or club. Where do you start? What do you have to do? Are there requirements? An application fee? How do you find a team in your city? Why would you even want to join a club or team?
Benefits of Joining a Team/Club
Joining a team or club gives you camaraderie. Why do you think #teamworkmakesthedreamwork is so popular? It’s a great way for women to start getting into the cycling scene. You’ll grow your network of friends, cycling-enthusiasts, and professionals. Having a team that cheers you on as you cross the finish line or strategizes to win the race, empowers you in and outside of racing. Having a group of people around you with the same values and goals is key to living a successful and happy life.
2. Learning New Skills
Joining a team or club means there will be riders with more and less experience than you. Stronger rides will be happy to teach you skills on the bike, whether that is basic bike maintenance or how to efficiently enter and exit a turn during a race. You’ll learn skills you won’t learn on your own. You’ll also learn from others’ mistakes. Cyclists love talking about cycling. Eventually, you’ll master the skills you learned and teach other women who are new to the cycling world.
Being on a team or in a club provides a new cyclist to trails and paths they may never had discovered on their own. It’s a little intimidating to galavant out on your own on unknown paths for a lot of people. Having a group of people to discover new trails gives you that “power in numbers” feeling. It’s always safer to ride with a group and with a team, you can learn new skills and tactics while riding together. You can help each other out should someone need it.
How To Find a Team
There are a couple ways to find a team. You can search USAC’s website for registered teams, you can start racing “Unattached” and meet teams at races, or you can get social: online or on the path. Teams and clubs have unique and customized jerseys they’ll wear out riding.
1. USA Cycling
You can search for teams based off location through their website. Click on your state in the US Map. It’ll generate a big ol’ list of teams and clubs registered. Peruse the list for the city you live in or that’s close to you. Click Details and it will show you events the team sponsors and give the contact information and web address. Go to their website and research them a little. See if it jives with you. If you like what you see, feel free to contact the team to ask questions or join a group. Most teams will invite you to a group ride. Before jumping on to a team, definitely go out for a ride first. You want to make sure you’re comfortable with the riders before joining a team or club.
2. “Unattached” or “Ready to Mingle”
Maybe you’ve been flying solo at races and recently considered a team. Races are a perfect place to see how teams interact and cooperate on and off the bike. If you see a team that piques your interest, talk to them. Cyclists love talking about cycling. Seriously. They’ll be excited someone is interested in their team. Most cyclists are friendly. And if you find a not-so-friendly cyclist, that’s a good indicator of the team too.
3. Get Social
Bike State 38 is a great place to start getting social as we list teams and clubs as well. There are a ton of Facebook groups you can join to find fellow cyclists and teams. Women Bike Colorado is the women’s offshoot of Bicycle Colorado, a non-profit organization working to create more bike friendly roads and an all around bicycle/cyclist advocacy group. Finding a team or club is as simple as posting in the group that you’re looking for a team. If you post it, they will come.
Your other option is simply going out on your bike and meeting people on the trail. Granted, most of them may be flying by you so it could be a little trickier, but cyclists do dismount after a while. Catch them off the bike and have a chat while waiting for the ports potty or at a red light.
Qualities in a Team or Club
Ask yourself, “What are my goals?” When you know that answer, you can find a team that will help you reach those goals. Are you looking for a bigger social network? Looking to get fit? To get faster? To have fun? Go pro? Just like apps for iPhone, there’s a team for that. It’s take a little research and reaching out to the team, but it’ll be worth when you’re reaching goals on the team that aligns with what you’re looking for.
Teams or Clubs will also have qualities they look for in a new member or what we call, “requirements.” Some teams have very low requirements you need to meet in order to join the team. Others have a long and intimidating list of all skills and races you need under your Lycra before being able to join the team.
Don’t get discouraged. Think of it as a goal.
Say you found a team you want to join and their race team has some mighty big requirements that you’re thinking will take seasons to reach. Don’t worry, they probably have a club. The great thing about clubs is there are typically no requirements to join. And that’s where you can start. You will still get the benefits of learning skills and the camaraderie in a club.
Finding a team or club to join can be intimidating and time consuming, but once you find one, it’ll fit like a glove.