Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cultural differences in bike clubs...a matter of style

I am a member of three local bicycle clubs and the only thing they have in common are the fact that they involve bicycles. The cultures are very different.

On Sunday I rode with the Ottawa Bicycle club some 80km. The club rides in a double peleton which makes it very social. They don't stop and maintain the advertised average speed. In my case for Sunday, 27km/hr. There are no lunch stops just a brief pause while you stuff a sandwich or bar in your mouth.

The advantage is time. I left at 9am and I was home before noon. Another advantage is you can really improve your riding as there are no tiring stops, starts...all of which take time and make for a long day.

It is good to be in several clubs if you bike. The Kanata Nepean Bicycle club has a more relaxed riding style where people do not want to ride in groups. As a result, you ride alone or with others in close proximity but there are numerous stops, starts and longer lunches. An 80km ride would be an all day affair. The lunches however are better than the OBC! The people are in their mid 40's and above and all of them would rather die than camp on a touring trip!

The CCCTS or Cross Canada Cycling touring society is made up of retired individuals, most of whom have been riding since they were born. They ride double file but that is to chat, not because it is a peleton. The pace can be fast or leisurely. The lunches are always lovely, be they picnics or otherwise as the members have much experience to share with people like me. Very different again. The people range in ages from late 50's to 84. These folks gladly camp or stay in hostels on their touring trips.

The differences between the club cultures are also expressed in the bikes themselves. The OBC riders have fast carbon racers and can speak at great length about the difference between SRAM, ultegra, etc. There is not a leather saddle to be seen! They do not carry bags but stuff their necessities in their pockets or in impossibly small frame bags.

The riders in the Kanata Club have racing bikes but there are some with hybrids. For the most part they look to the OBC and therefore not a leather saddle to be seen but there are panniers and larger bags!

The CCCTS folks have fenders, leather saddles and older equipment that is well maintained. They do not speak about SRAM or ULTEGRA but will tell you about friction shifters and gear that has stood the test of time, rather than fashion. Most of them have lightweight steel framed bikes, although one of us has a Titanium frame. There is a sub section of this club who all own Brooks saddles.

Each club has a different culture and different styles. If you love biking as I do, it is best to experience them all. I have been told that the Quebec club veloplaisir is known for their gastronomical outings. Next year!!!

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