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General Beginner's Guide

Introduction

Cycle racing is a sport which offers something for everyone, whether you're a nine stone mountain goat or a fifteen stone colossus, or whether you're male or female. There are races for you if you're eight years or if you're eighty. And if you're partially sighted or physically disabled there's definitely a place for you in cycling too.

Local cycling clubs like Andover Wheelers are the grass-roots of the sport, and they're the foundation of the pyramid which is topped off by elite riders competing for Great Britain at the Olympic Games. If you get involved in the sport though, whatever level you're at, you should be aware that cycling has a tendency to become an obsession that lasts a lifetime! 

Types of Cycle Sport

See our Beginners guide sections on road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, and Audax riding for introductions to those aspects of the sport. You'll definitely find something that suits you – in the meantime, just take part in as wide a range of cycling activities as possible (particularly if you're under 18) and enjoy what you're doing.

Bikes and Equipment



You certainly don't need an expensive bike to start cycling and racing. In fact it's far more important that your bike is set up well to fit you comfortably, and well-maintained so that it works efficiently and reliably. A good bike shop will help set up your bike for you, and will often swap particular components so that the bike is just right for you. Before long though, you'll be hankering after the latest carbon fibre or titanium components and justifying buying them instead of “luxuries” like food or paying the mortgage!

A standard “road bike” will be sufficient for you to train, commute to work or college, compete in road races and time trials, and take part in Audax events. If you're interested in trying track racing, you can usually borrow or hire a specific track bike.

Clothing

Enormous progress has been made in this area of cycling over the last ten years or so. Now it's possible to buy clothing that looks good, keeps you dry in the wet, cool on hot days, and warm in the winter. At last there is a good choice of clothing available for womens too.

Wearing good cycling clothing makes a big difference to your comfort on the bike, and is well worth investing in. Club members can buy our distinctive Andover Wheelers clothing, and members should contact the club clothing officer with regards to ordering.

Bike shoes have also improved hugely. Their rigid soles and strong velcro straps make sure that all your energy is transferred to the bike, and their special shoe plates connect you firmly to clipless quick-release pedals.

Don't forget a proper cycling safety helmet - they're not compulsory for general riding (although most people want to wear one), but they are mandatory for road racing, track racing, cyclocross. Under 18s must wear a helmet for all activities including time trials. 

Training and Fitness

There's no doubt that cycle racing is a tough sport, and cyclists are amongst the fittest of athletes. But you don't need to be a Chris Froome to take part – when you start out, just enjoy riding your bike. Gradually you'll be able to increase the distance that you cover and your speed, and before long you'll be racing if that's what you'd like to do.

There are hundreds of books and internet resources on the subject of training, and it can be daunting to make sense of it all. The club has lots of experienced members and access to accredited British Cycling club coaches, so don't hesitate to ask if you want some advice.

Social

Cycling has a long history dating back to the 19th Century, and it's always been a social activity and form of transport as well as a sport. Andover Wheelersi is a friendly club that holds social events throughout the year for members and their families. We enjoy our sport but realise that there are (sometimes!) other things in life too.

Video Made By A New Member

Contacts – what to do next

Just get in touch through this website. You'll be made very welcome, no-one will expect you to be a superstar, and you shouldn't hesitate to ask any questions that you might have.

We look forward to hearing from you!