If you have ever thought of joining Shimna Wheelers or any cycling club but have not been sure “if it’s for you” then the following Frequently Asked Questions and answers might help.

Do I need an expensive bike to join the club?

No. Bikes don’t have to be expensive. It needs to be roadworthy and should preferably have multiple gears to cope with gradients. For very new or inexperienced riders the club runs several “beginners ride” to “come and try it”. As riders become more experienced and their cycling ambitions widen, then many riders upgrade their bikes by either changing various components, or by investing in a new, lighter, more specific model.

How far do you ride?

We average approximately 50 miles on the Sunday rides and 15-30 on the mid week runs. The mileage may sound a lot but you will be surprised how quickly a beginner can ride that.

Where do you meet?

Most club runs meet at the Old Tech, Donard Street, Newcastle. Some meet at Castlewellan’s Lower Square.

Do I have to wear Lycra clothing on the club ride?

No. Cyclists tend to wear Lycra because they find it more comfortable (particularly the shorts with synthetic seat pads), but there are plenty of other clothes available that could be used for cycling without the “body hugging” features of Lycra.

Do I have to wear Lycra clothing on the club ride?

Yes. All cyclists attending club organised events or weekly club rides MUST wear a helmet.

How fit do I need to be?

A reasonable level of fitness is acceptable. Remember most members are in the club to get fit, keep fit or stay fit. If you can ride around 30 miles at a reasonable average speed (say 15mph) you should be fit enough for the Sunny Sunday club run. If you are not sure about your fitness then either contact us or come out on the Sunday club run where members will be happy to look after and advise you. We also run beginner runs for those starting out on the road for the first time. Contact us for a chat and we will be delighted to advise and support you.

Do I need to join the club to come on a club run?

Not at first. You can join the ride as a “visitor” for the first 2 club rides to give you a chance to see if you really want to join.  Most people decide that they would like to join us after they have been out with us on 2 occasions. If you decide to join you will be required to take out Cycling Ireland membership.

If I join the club am I expected to race?

No. Many cyclists don’t race at all, they just enjoy cycling for the social and well being effects it provides. As you become more experienced you may find that you would like to “have a go” at a bit of racing. Our club racing whilst competitive is a bit of craic! There are members in the club who can advise what races to try.  Club members become involved in a wide range of cycling activities including Audax, Sportives, touring in Ireland and abroad etc.

What is the difference between time trialling and road racing?

Time trials are individual efforts against the clock over a set distance usually on public roads with riders starting at one minute intervals. In road racing up to 80 or so riders start together and battle it out over a number of laps of a circuit that may or may not be on public roads. Road racing is split up into ability categories and some are handicaps but in time trialling it is the rider against himself, for this reason we recommend that as the first step.

Am I too old or young?

We have members who are into their 70’s and 80’s and still active within the club, while at the other extreme our youngest member is 6! Please note for health and safety reasons under 18’s must be accompanied by a parent on club rides unless attending a youth specific event. People join us at all levels of fitness, but they all benefit from taking part in whatever level of cycling is appropriate to their fitness and goals.

Do you welcome women?

Yes.  We have active female members across all of the clubs activities. Some ride purely for the social and physical well being aspects, whereas others enjoy the competitive edge of training and racing.

Do I have to shave my legs?

Contrary to popular belief not all cyclists DO shave their legs, although some of the ladies who don’t might wish to give it a try. The ‘cyclist leg shaving mystery’ has been debated for quite some time. The most popular theory is that it’s easier for post cycle massage, applying embrocation and removing tape or bandages. Any hairy legged people removing the likes of kinesio tape can vouch for the end part of the previous sentence. Some people have suggested it is more aerodynamic to sport shaved legs although Graeme Obree (among others) argues that leg hair breaks up the wind and having hair grants a greater aero bonus than ‘bald’ legs. If there is an aerodynamic benefit to leg shaving, it is likely to be so minimal as to be completely irrelevant to the average club cyclist. More likely than not, the main reasons cyclists shave their legs are:

  • Inclusion/Exclusion – To feel part of the ‘shaved leg gang’ and somehow different from ‘the norm’.
  • Vanity – Muscle definition is enhanced without pesky leg hair getting in way. Why bother doing all the exercise to create ‘a great pair of pins’ if you’re not going to flaunt them?
  • Tradition/Plagiarism – A good cyclist likely did it, someone saw him, copied him and thus it grew into the phenomenon it now is.

Ex-professional cyclist, Michael Barry wrote an article on just this subject, which you should be able to read here. He stands a good chance of knowing more about the subject than we do. So, in summary, should you shave your legs? The only appropriate answer is ‘If you want to’.

What is a sportive?

In essence, a ‘sportive’ is a ‘fun day out on your bike’. It’s an organised non-racing cycle (often, but not always, in aid of charities) with a set route and large number of participants – normally hundreds and sometimes thousands. They are sociable affairs where conversation and meeting new people have at least as much emphasis as the actual cycling. Quite often, sportives will offer a few different routes to cater for cyclists’ desires. For example, one might put forward a ‘hilly 100 miles’ – for those wishing for a long day in the saddle – and a ‘flat 50 miles’ – for those who wish to do a run of that ilk. Not all sportives have such route options but most will.