It’s 5:30am, and you really don’t want to get out of bed. It’s WAY too early. And it’s dark. But you’re not heading out to face the world alone: you’re meeting up with a bunch of other cyclists and taking on the roads/bike paths or trails together.
Yes, you’ve got a crew. Sure, you might not know anyone in it yet, but in an hour or so you’ll probably be exchanging words with the person you’re alongside, and in two hours or so, you’ll be recounting stories while sipping a post-ride latte. You just need to make that first step. Sometimes, knowing you’ve got a cycling meetup is enough to get you out of bed and onto your bike.
So how do you find your crew? What’s the deal with Melbourne cycling clubs? You might be asking: Where are the cycling clubs near me?
Start by researching your local bike shops. Take a look at their Instagram or Facebook accounts and see if they have a regular shop ride. If it’s in your neighbourhood, you won’t have far to go after jumping out of bed.
Check the shop ride rules first, though. If it’s a drop ride, you’ll get dropped by the group if you can’t keep up. Some have a couple of options: social and fast. Shop around. Some shop rides are super serious and others inclusive, fun and no-drop. Most end with a coffee at a cafe.
A word of warning about shop rides: the Lycra label (and bike brand) that they have on their racks often becomes the label you end up, after a few rides, committing some serious dollars to. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
Bunch rides are a similar beast (without the purchasing pressure). Well- known ones include the Tour de Burbs (TdB), a mid-week evening ride around the punchy hills of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, and the infamous Hell Ride from Black Rock tower down to Mount Eliza and back along Beach Road. Fast.
If they sound too full-on (and yes, for sure The Hell Ride easily falls into that category), there’s a whole bunch of casual meetups. There are currently 3587 members in the online Melbourne Cycling meetup group, and all you have to do is “bring your bike in good working order and a spare tube”. These low-key meetups are a great start while you work out where you fit in the cycling community.
If you take out Cycling Australia membership (some do this for the insurance, or to race), you can affiliate with one out of a dozen or so of Melbourne cycling clubs and access their rides and resources. You might have seen members on their rides – all matchy matchy in the club kit, zooming along at quite a pace, taking no prisoners.
Once again, look for a club that suits you. Do their rides appeal? Some cycling clubs do womens cycling better than others, some have better kit. You don’t have to commit for life, but if you find the right club, you might just want to.
Talking women-only rides, the sisterhood is well and truly alive in cycling, and women can find out more by joining the Facebook group “GirlRide! Melbourne”, or asking at cycling clubs. Shop rides sometimes also have specific ‘women only’ rides in their calendar.
It’s all definitely worth getting out of bed for.