The Johnstone Wheelers Cycling Club prides itself in being “Scotland’s friendliest” but nonetheless is committed to producing and supporting cyclists who compete to the highest level. A browse of the Club’s web pages and forum "The Bunch" will provide proof that this is indeed the case. Talk of “world records being broken” and “Paralympic gold medals being won” may be enough to discourage someone from approaching the Club, thinking there is no place for an “average” rider in such successful company. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Club has a large number of members with wide and varied interests, and is always looking to increase its membership.
Where are we?
The Clubrooms are located in Miller Street in Johnstone and this is used as a starting point particularly for the Saturday and Sunday runs. The location of other Club confined events is available on the Club web site in the “What we do and where we do it” section.
The Club runs a busy “confined to Club” event calendar, details of which can be found a week or so befre each event on the "Confined Events" section of "The Bunch". These events take place year round and consist of Club runs, training runs, time trials, Australian Pursuit Races (APRs), long distance (audax) events, and hill climbs. Information on these events is posted in the Club website (www.johnstone-wheelers.co.uk) or in the pages of the Club’s forum/bulletin board – “The Bunch”. During the winter months in particular, circuit training and turbo training nights are held in the Clubrooms. In addition there are many informal rides advertised in “The Bunch”.
The confined events are an ideal starting point for those coming into cycling for the first time (which these days tend to be mostly thirtymilers!). During the Club runs the bunch regroups regularly to ensure no one is left at the mercy of mechanical failure or abandoned in the maze of roads which we regularly visit. Since the membership of the Club is continually being added to, some of the Club runs – particularly in the spring / summer months – will be advertised as beginners runs. These are intended to introduce those interested in joining the Club to the basics of bunch riding. Safety while riding in a bunch is vital and there are always some “old hands” on the runs to make sure the new guy or girl is brought up to speed with the “shouts” and how to position and spell etc.
After a few Club runs many decide that “this is for them” and want to take things forward. The Club training runs are the next obvious step. These are often arranged ad hoc and are advertised on “The Bunch”. Obviously the riding is harder but the organiser will make sure the objectives are clear and that all taking part are comfortable with this. These runs often take part around a circuit thereby avoiding any problems with anyone getting dropped. There are many training runs held by groups of riders from many different Clubs, e.g. the “Renfrew” bunch and the chaingangs. The established riders in the Club will soon tell you when you are at a level when you can “step up” to this sort of fast large group training.
Time trialing is considered by many to be “the race of truth” – riding solo (or in teams of up to four) against the clock. The Club holds many time trials throughout the year on 7.2 mile, 10 mile and 25 mile circuits. The atmosphere at these events is relaxed but some of the country’s top time trialists attend and use them as an integral part of their training schedule. Expert advice is always on hand – as is the chance to see some of the latest top of the range time trial machines. After a few of the confined events you will soon know whether it is time to send off for that race licence and have a go in the open events!
If you think time trialing might be for you, then keep an eye on "The Bunch" and come along and try it out and have a chat with those that have been doing it for years.
For those with an eye for the cut-and-thrust of road racing, the Club APRs are an ideal starting point. In many respects an APR can be considered to be the ideal cycle race – cyclists of mixed abilities can compete on the same course, competitively, due to the handicapping. For those not in the know, in an APR the riders set off in groups at intervals with the slowest group setting off first. There is a predetermined gap before the 2nd group and so on until the fast guys get let loose. The idea is to work together with the others in your group and stay out ahead for as long as possible over the course, which for the confined events is about 25 miles. With perfect handicapping all the riders would merge for a sprint finish! Everyone gains in this type of race – the newcomers get to race with the fast guys, and the fast guys have to ride hard to catch up!
Other confined events
The Club boasts a number of members who are particularly interested in long distance cycling (audax). Help is always available for those who would like to develop an interest in this field, with information on training, events and survival! Towards the end of the regular season the Club holds its hill climb championships. Many consider this to be one of the toughest events of the year and will certainly give you the opportunity to assess your power-to-weight ratio!
For those who would like to try something a little bit different there is always bicycle polo! A group of enthusiasts meet regularly and are always on the look-out for others who want to try it. There is a separate “polo” section in “The Bunch” where you can find details of the next match or training session.
The Club is affiliated with the Scottish Cycling Union, the West of Scotland Cycling Association, and The League International, and puts forward numerous competitors in events run by these organisations throughout the year. There is a wealth of racing experience among the Club members and help is always at hand for those who want to try racing in open events for the first time. Advice about suitability of events, licensing, travelling, signing-on and all aspects of taking part is readily available: it goes without saying that there is also plenty of advice available on what to do when the race starts too!
Want to know more? If you would like to know more about road racing including APRs have a chat with one of the many road racers in the club, or post up a query on "The Bunch". There are plenty of people in the club that can advise on all aspects of road racing, including choosing an event which is suitable for your ability, and some of the "do's and dont's".
Some information about race licences (from Darryl Gunson)
So, you’ve joined the club, got the kit, bought the bike, had a good winter, listened to the stories – the good, the bad and the ugly - done the training, but you’re not sure what’s next - right?
The obvious answer is that all this flash kit and good form is crying out to be put to good use, and that doesn’t mean giving your team mates a kicking, it means racing. Now, it is a big step entering your first race and there are no end of uncertainties, anxieties and mysteries concerning the various kinds of racing, all of which have been given an airing on the Bunch.
However, there is one thing that people who have done all the other things – training, new bike, new kit etc. - often find confusing, and are likely to be asking themselves: How do I get to race? Where do I get a licence from? Do I even need one? The short answer is: yes…and …er…no! Let me explain. Except when riding club events (confined) you have to be a member of the body under whose rules the event is being run.
In Scotland, if you want to ride time trials, then you need to be a member of the Scottish Cycling Union (SCU) which is affiliated to the UK’s governing body, British Cycling. Although most cyclists will probably take out a licence with the SCU for timetrialing, it is not absolutely necessary. Indeed, although most TTs are organised according to SCU rules, other organisations also oversee them - TLI and SVTTA (The League International and the Scottish Veterans Time trial Association).
If you fancy racing on the track, then you will need an SCU or BC licence.
If you want to race on the road in massed start events, then there are more options open to you. The SCU is the main body and organises a calendar of events in which you can acquire points on your licence to upgrade your category. You can ride these events by taking out a ‘day licence’ or by taking out a licence with your membership. TLI also organises a season-long calendar, but the set-up is rather different to the SCU in that membership and entry fees are cheaper. Its races are also often handicapped or ‘age-related’ which makes for racing that is, perhaps, more novice friendly.
Finally, for the over 40s who wish to road race, there is the League of Veteran Racing Cyclists. This is strictly for the over 40s, but is cheap with a very high standard of racing. Unfortunately races are only in England and Wales. Still a very good option if you make frequent trips down South!
These comments are not meant to be exhaustive, or the final word, but merely a guide for those new to racing and the various organisations involved. If any of this is not clear, don’t worry, just ask - there are plenty of knowledgeable people in the Johnstone!
For more information see:
- British Cycling
- Scottish Cycling Union
- The League of Veteran Racing Cyclists
- The League International
- Scottish Veterans Time Trial Association
What can you do for the Club?
If you want to take your cycling forward then you can see that the Club has an enormous amount to offer. But hopefully you’re also thinking about what you might have to offer the Club. There would be no point in running a confined to Club calendar if no one turns up to take part! So joining and taking part is the first and most important way in which you can put something back into the Club. Many of the events need timekeepers: everyone can take a turn at this. Like all Clubs the JWCC has to provide marshals at a number of races throughout the year to maintain its affiliation with the SCU and TLI. It also organises open events and these require help at the sign-on, the finish line and at marshalling points around the course. If everyone takes a turn the Club will continue to maintain its reputation of providing some of the most successful races in the calendar.If you would like further information on any of the Club’s activities please contact us here or contact one of the Club’s committee through “The Bunch” or simply turn up for one of the confined events or club runs. Whatever your interests in cycling we hope you can develop them through the Club, and, of course, "gang forward..."