Cycle Clubs – get fit and have fun

Criterium Cycles get fit and join a cycle club Main Image
Sep 18 2016

Cycle Clubs – get fit and have fun

One of the wonderful things about cycling in the UK in 2016 is the huge number of Clubs that now exist for people to join. At one end of he spectrum there are groups for beginners groups that offer a gentle introduction to cycling or perhaps focus more on the social aspect of spending time together. At the other end, there are clubs that include semi professional and sometimes professional teams and riders. The standard is high and the work rate required to participate sometimes equally high. But these too have a strong focus on camaraderie and collective endeavour. They are no less social and fun despite their serious approach to training and riding.


This weekend, I joined a club for a lovely ride out in the Peak District, Derbyshire. This particular club has been set up for parents of children that attend a local school so in that sense, it is a closed group. But there are many more like it in the Peak District because this is an area that has a rich history of cycling.


A brief diversion – L’Eroica Britannia

In fact, so established is cycling in the area that for the last three years, the British edition of the L’Eroica series (L’Eroica Britannia) has been held in Bakewell’s wonderful Agricultural showground. Normally home to all manner of livestock for sale, one week a year, the showground is home to cycling machinery of a vintage flavour. Quite how the riders on the L’Eroica Sportive fare on the Derbyshire hills is another matter but they keep coming back for more. Next year. L’Eroica Britannia is moving to a new venue yet to be announced. However, the organisers say it will still be in the Peak District National Park and they are not moving far. The clever money we hear is on Chatsworth House but no doubt, all will be revealed soon.


Criterium Cycles a typical display of vintage bike gear at Eroica Britannia

A typical display of vintage bike gear at Eroica Britannia

Another diversion – Cycling Fuel

Criterium Cycles Fueling stop at Hassop Station Cafe

Pre Ride fuel stop at Hassop Station Cafe – Americano and Sausage / Bacon Baps

For a club sportive ride where the focus is on enjoyment and camaraderie rather than Strava segments and PBs, we decided to take a less stringent approach to pre race fueling. With time to kill before the pre ride rendezvous, we took the chance to visit one of the many excellent cafes in the Peak District. We chose the station cafe at Hassop, the former railway station for the nearby Chatsworth estate and now a thriving cafe and shop on the very popular Monsal Trail. Worth noting too that Hassop Station Cafe also boasts an excellent cycle hire operation that is now doing E Bikes as well as traditional 100% human power. Definitely worth a look in if you are in the area. Our chosen breakfast involved sausage and bacon baps washed down with an excellent Americano.

The Route

The chose route for the morning ride was a circular affair taking in some of the very pretty local villages as well as passing close to Chatsworth House, the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The group of 11 was of mixed ability so the organiser took the sensible step of choosing a route that wasn’t too taxing but had a couple of testing climbs in short bursts. By staying relatively close to Bakewell, there was always the possibility of heading back early if anyone fancied that (though being a fairly competitive group, no one did of course!) Chatsworth House is in a particularly superb setting and an obligatory photo stop was required.

Criterium cycles Strava Map of Club Ride

Strava Map of an enjoyable Peak District Club Ride

The Bikes

I rode my Bianchi Infinito CV which is fitted with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Shimano DuraAce wheels. The bike also has a carbon finishing kit from Bontrager and the overall package is light, fast and extremely comfortable. The Countervail Vibration Cancelling Carbon Technology cancels 80% of the vibration inputs into the frame. Since the road surfaces in Derbyshire can be a touch variable at times (with the occasional cattle grid thrown in for good measure), the Infinito CV made for an incredibly comfortable ride. OK, so the total length of this ride was on the short side (30km) and the pace wasn’t that quick. However, when we arrived back from the ride, I genuinely felt that I hadn’t really been on a ride at all from a soreness point of view. This is one fast and comfortable bike.


Criterium Cycles Bianchi Infinito CV with Chatsworth House in the background

Bianchi Infinito CV with the stunning backdrop of Chatsworth House


Madeline rode her Trek Domane 4.2 WSD. The WSD stands for Women Specific Design. Trek are one of the few bike manufacturers who have taken the trouble to design bikes with a Women Specific Geometry rather than some who just give the frame some pink flashes and hope that’s enough. Bianchi too have a Women’s Specific Geometry in the form of their Dama Bianca range and the benefits of Women’s Specific geometry are significant. They are more comfortable for women to get on and off as well as ride on Sportive rides such as the one we did in Bakewell. The Domane WSD has now been replaced by the Silque but it has all the benefits of the Domane  such as Rear IsoSpeed Decoupler for a much smoother, compliant ride. It looks terrific and goes just as well.


Criterium Cycles - Trek Domane 2013 Model Year in Brushed Denim

Madeline’s Trek Domane WSD

Post Ride Social

One of the best bits of any Club Ride is the post ride social. In our case, we were treated to more bacon butties (let’s face it, you can’t have too many bacon butties really). Plenty of rides end with a trip to a local hostelry though there is then the inevitable debate over who is the designated driver.


Why not give it a go?

So if you aren’t a member of a Club, why not hop on the internet and see who is established near you? It is really important to note that there are Clubs that cater for everyone from the novice to the pro and we haven’t heard of one yet that isn’t friendly and welcoming of all new members.

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