My first cycling event
What are the different types of cycling event?
OutdoorLads has different types and difficulties of cycling event, so there's something to suit everyone regardless of bike, experience and interest.
The gentlest cycling events are called Leisure Cycling/Any Bike.
As the name suggests, they are our most leisurely rides, and you really can do them on any bike (though it's always worth reading the event description, and contacting the event leader if you're not sure, as sometimes the terrain can be gravelly, in which case a road bike with very thin tyres may not be so much fun).
They will normally be on quiet lanes and paths that are free of road traffic, and in flat or gently undulating locations. There's no pressure to go at any particular speed, and everyone will be out for a social ride, with plenty of stops, whether for a drink, snack, viewpoint or just a chat. The rides are of various lengths and the event page will tell you how far the route is, and whether there are any public transport options along the way for anyone wanting to cut the route short.
Road Cycling events are for those who have some experience of longer rides (40 miles plus) in the countryside and with some hills.
Road cycling can take you on amazing adventures, though multiple landscapes, and across simply vast distances, all under your own power, sometimes with exhilarating speed!
Our Road Cycling rides have varying levels of difficulty and pace. Our road events are best suited to road specific bikes with drop bars, though we also have some members successfully taking part, and keeping up, on hybrids.
If you are used to the cycle club style three tier grading, our rides are typically on the easy side of intermediate (B) pace, averaging about 18-22km/h excluding stops, though this varies by event. However our rides are much more informal than club rides, for example we don’t ‘drop’ riders but will always wait for those who are slower. And we don’t expect you to know the ‘rules’ of group riding!
Off Road/Trail Biking is where we take you out into the deep countryside.
Mainly away from roads, you'll be following bridle ways, forest tracks, easier way marked cycle and mountain bike routes (Greens and Blues on the national grading system) and other paths and tracks that allow cycling.
You'll get to see places no road cyclist sees and travel distances beyond all but the hardiest walker. We always go at a pace that the whole group is comfortable with, and take plenty of rests for snacks, water or just to take in the view.
You'll need a mountain bike or mountain bike hybrid for Off Road/Trail Biking events (at some locations these can be hired so check event descriptions for details).
Occasionally, especially in summer, hardy cyclists have coped on hybrids with suitable tires. Expect to meet mud, stones and a few hills but above all to have a tremendous day.
Technical Mountain Biking is one of the most exhilarating activities we do at Outdoor lads.
We'll take you onto the more challenging way-marked mountain biking routes (mainly Reds on the national grading system) or high up into the hills and mountains following exciting paths and tracks that permit mountain bikes access to our stunning uplands.
For Technical Mountain Biking events you'll need a mountain bike or high quality mountain bike hybrid and well developed mountain bike skills and techniques including: attack position, climbing, descending, cornering, braking and roll downs.
We run city based events to introduce these skills and often incorporate skills sections in our Off Road/Trail rides. If you're already a mountain biker you'll know there's nothing like it; or if you wish to learn and find out more, we'll help you on that journey too.
How can I be sure it's the right level for my ability?
Whatever type of cycling event you consider, the leader will also indicate how easy or difficult they think it is on the event page, and give a reason for their selection. That might include the distance of the ride, the height gained, the grade of roads or tracks, weather or season.
If you're not sure if an event is right for you, you can send a message to the leader and ask them to advise you.
The event page tells you where and when the cycle event starts.
The event leader may send a message in the days prior to the walk with final information and asking people to remove themselves from the event if they are no longer able to take part. Please do this if you can no longer attend. This then frees up a place for someone else who would like to attend, and it means that the leader is not waiting for you to arrive at the start of the event.
If you have any questions in advance, you can send the event leader a message via the link on the event page.
If you are considering a Road Cycling or Technical Mountain Biking event as your first event, we assume you already know about, and own, a suitable bike, the appropriate clothing, shoes and protective equipment.
For a Leisure Cycling/Any Bike event or Off Road/Trail Biking, we'd suggest wearing layers so you can add or remove clothing depending on the weather and as you warm up.
"Base layers" are good as they wick moisture away from the skin and so help keep you warm. You will probably also need a fleece or warm jacket. It is amazing how quickly the cold can seep in when you stop cycling, such as when you break for lunch. Try and get one that is compact enough to be easily stored in your rucksack when you don’t need it.
A windproof/waterproof jacket is a good idea. You should avoid wearing jeans if there's a likelihood of rain, they'll get very wet and cold, cycling shorts or cycling leggings are ideal, or cotton or sports clothing is also OK.
Gloves are a good idea if it's cold, and will help prevent blisters if you're cycling on rough ground.
For Leisure cycling/Any Bike event or Off Road/Trail Biking trainers will be OK if you don't already have specialist cycling shoes.
A day sack is perfect. Some have a hydration bag system capability, others have mesh backs that try and stop lots of sweat forming where the sack presses against your back. Any rucksack that is comfortable though with will do for a day walk. Consider putting things in your rucksack into waterproof bags, Ziploc type ones will do, so that they stay dry if it does rain.
It’s likely that the leader or other participants will have brought bike tools, spanners, Allen keys, tyre levers , puncture kit etc. Bring yours if you have them, and ideally bring a spare inner tube that’s the right one for your own bike, as that’s saves time in the event of a puncture.
You must bring a cycle helmet - is OutdoorLads policy that participants wear one, and the event leader will require this therefore.
Other Items to Bring
The event page will tell you if there's anything else you need to bring.
When it comes to refreshments, it will tell you whether to bring a packed lunch or money to buy food if there's pub stop planned on the ride.
It's a good idea to bring some cash anyway, as sometimes people decide to head off to a pub or cafe together after the ride.
Bring sufficient water to keep yourself hydrated.
You'll be glad you took sun cream and sunglasses if the weather is good. We can be out for several hours so watch out!
At The Start of the Ride
Plan to get to the start point of the walk 5-10 minutes early. You never know if there will be a delay on your route won't want to be left behind. If you have put a contact mobile into your OutdoorLads profile, the leader will have it and be able to contact you to make a fallback plan if you are running late.
When you get to the start point you will probably recognise us, as a group of men on bikes usually can’t be missed! The event leader will sometimes have an OutdoorLads flag, or t-shirt, to help you identify the group, but will anyway make sure that they are obvious.
The event leader will be at the start point well before the ride starts ready to welcome participants as they arrive and check them off against the expected attendance list. If you are going to be late, or find out at the last minute that you cannot attend, it’s extremely helpful if you message the event leader so that the group won’t be waiting for you. Or you can call them if the event leader put their contact number on the event listing.
The leader will give an introduction and welcome everyone, which includes a reminder about lunch arrangements and what sort of route you’ll be taking. They will also check which participants are on their first event. This isn’t to embarrass you but to make sure that the other members can also help to make you feel welcome.
During the Ride
During the ride it's normal to cycle together, unless it isn't safe to do so, and you're likely to get to chat to as many different people as you want to during the day.
At lunchtime, if it is a picnic, the leader finds a good spot to stop for around half an hour.
If at any time during the ride you need a comfort break, feel unwell, or need assistance, please let the leader know immediately so that they can help you in whatever way is appropriate. Don't be too embarrassed to ask.
At The End of the Ride
The event leader will confirm the end point of the ride, and check that everyone is there and happy. They will help with advice on public transport for those that want it. If there is a pub or cafe nearby, the group may decide to head there before leaving to go home. It’s all part of the social nature of the group.
The cycling leader will have gone through an OutdoorLads evaluation and assessment process and have proved that they are capable of leading the event. For Technical Mountain Biking, the leader will also have a first aid qualification and be knowledgable on what to do should assistance from the emergency services be required.
What are other types of OutdoorLads events like?
If there's still something you're not sure about related to attending your first bouldering event or any aspect of OutdoorLads, please do contact us.