Silver Wheels Cycling Club, Inc.
Bicycling For Recreation, Fitness, Fun, Learning and Advocacy
The information on this page is intended for the cyclists who have recently joined Silver Wheels Cycling Club. Much of the information on this page is directly drawn from questions that have been frequently asked in the past. If you, as a new member, cannot find the information you need on this page, please feel free to contact any of the club officials listed in the "contact us" section of this site.
What type of bike should I ride with the club?
Most people begin their cycling with a relatively low cost bike, often purchased at a department store. This is true for many of our club members also. Over time, as you ride more often, you soon discover that there is a difference between how you ride, how more comfortable others seem to be when they ride, and how much less effort they may be putting into their riding. Much of this has to do with the bicycle.
While most of us did begin with mountain bikes with wide tires, we soon learned that in order to go faster and longer it was advantageous to change our bikes. A mountain bike is designed for a particular type of cycling – riding on rough terrain that may have a loose or muddy surface; it needs to have a wide range of gears, especially low gears for climbing hills. These features do not make for easier road riding.
The members of Silver Wheels mostly do road riding rather than mountain bike riding. The bikes they ride are either road bikes, with very narrow tires, lightweight frames, and down curved handlebars, or what is called a hybrid bike. This is a sort of crossbreed between a mountain bike and a road bike, picking up features of both. The hybrid has a straight handle bar and narrow but not skinny tires. The thinner tires are lighter and offer much less resistance on the road surface, allowing the bike to roll easier and faster.
So, to answer the question… as you gain experience in riding with the club, pay attention to what others are riding and discuss with them why they selected the bike they ride. After a while you might choose to change bikes – like most of us did. When you have questions about cycling, just ask; you’ll find the members are always helpful.
How do I decide which rides are for me?
This may take a little exploration on your part but if you ask others they will help you too. Start with the monthly calendar. On it we describe the level of difficulty (how many stars are shown), the starting location, the time it will begin, the distance planned, and who will be leading the ride. At first it may be challenging to discover which star level fits your style; we recommend that if you are not sure of your usual comfortable speed that you begin with our one- or two-star rides. If these are too slow for your preferred style, then try a three-star ride. This is a lot better than trying a three- or four-star ride in the beginning only to find out these are too difficult. Our star rating system is described here in the website
Why do you have so many different places for where rides begin?
Our section titled Ride Start Locations lists locations we have used in the past. We may not use each of these every year. Starting places are chosen based on a variety of factors: the ride leader often has a preference for where his/her rides begin; it is more interesting to offer rides from a variety of locations; since we have members from all over the area, it is more fair to spread out the starting locations; occasionally the ride leader has a certain destination in mind and some locations are better for heading that direction. Some ride leaders stay with only a few locations – this is their choice.
Will I be expected to wear all the fancy cycling clothes, like bright jerseys and tight shorts?
If you look closely at our members you’ll see that we are all over the place as far as cycling fashion goes. When one begins a new sport one usually doesn’t have all the gear and it makes little difference in performance. In time you may want to try clothing that is more comfortable for the type of cycling you do. If you do not ride very often and if you do not ride very far when you ride, then your clothing choice wil make little difference. However, if you ride longer and more often you will find that cycling gear like jerseys and shorts make you more comfortable.
I see some bike seats are very small. Doesn’t that hurt? I’d think wider seats would be more comfortable.
If your riding is always going to be limited to short trips of only a few miles and less than an hour, the bike seat will not make much different. For that style riding perhaps a wide, very cushiony seat is preferred. But for riding more than an hour and longer than say, 10 or 15 miles, a different style seat is recommended. After a while, all that padding will push into the soft spots in your body’s sitting area and cut off circulation and cause pain. Being wider, these seats will also eventually cause chafing on the inside of the thigh, making your cycling very uncomfortable. A narrower saddle with a little padding, that supports you on your “sit bones” will provide the best comfort over the long haul. There may be no “ideal” seat; saddles are manufactured for the population in general but we are all made different down there – a great saddle for one will be terrible for another. One way to discover which may be better for you is to use someone else’s bike for a short ride to test out their saddle. Your local bike shop may help too, but there is a lot of guesswork and trials involved in trying to find the best saddle.
Some of your rides seem long to me.
Most beginner cyclists have not ridden more than 5-10 miles at one trip and the thought of riding 25 or 40 miles seems impossible. However, we all started out that way, with short trips, then slowly graduated to longer and longer trips on our bikes. You will find that the more you ride, the more you will be able to ride. Within one season you should be able to expand your distance to 30-mile or longer trips easily. The more you ride, the more your butt becomes accustomed to the saddle, the more your legs grow in strength for longer distances, the more your lungs can handle breathing harder for longer times. This is not something you should jump right into unless you are already in good condition and are accustomed to extended workouts. Start out with shorter, easier rides then slowly graduate as you get stronger.
Do you really require helmets to be worn on your rides?
Absolutely. That is one of the few “rules” we have in the club. Bike helmets have proven to be good protection for head and brain injury when one falls while riding a bike. The helmet won’t prevent you from having an accident and won’t make you a safer cyclist, all it does is soften the impact when your head hits the pavement or other immovable object, like a tree or pole or car.
Is there other safety equipment I should know about?
Bike gloves are recommended – these help to reduce pain in the hands during long rides with the hands being held in one position. Gloves protect your hands when you fall; most bike falls are such that you go forward or sideways and you naturally try to catch yourself. This causes you to land on your hands on the pavement or berm. Gloves protect your hands from getting nasty road rash. Protective eyewear is also recommended. You can be in serious jeopardy if you get some debris or bug in your eye while going downhill quickly. Sunglasses help to prevent that as well as protect your eyes against glare and UV rays.
What happens if I have a flat tire while riding with the club?
Cyclists are generally expected to be able to fix or change their own flat tire. However, you will normally find that on Silver Wheels rides members will stop to help. You should carry your own spare tube of the right type and size for your tire, and you should have some tools and a means for getting air back into the tire, such as a pump or CO2 inflator. A patch kit is also recommended.
What else should I plan to carry with me on my bike?
You will notice most of our members use racks and bags on the back of their bikes. In these they carry some tools, maybe some emergency medical supplies for scrapes, maybe some emergency road food, maybe a map of the area, and often their cell phone.Everyone will carry at least one water bottle on their bike or in a bag somewhere.Keeping properly hydrated while riding is very important, and the longer the ride and hotter the weather, the more important that water becomes. In general, you should plan to drink one bottle per hour of exercise (at first this will seem like a lot). If your ride will be very long, you will want to have a sports drink with you too.
Do I need a bike rack for my car?
While that will make your transportation easier, it is not absolutely necessary. If you have a van or SUV or pick-up truck you can easily carry your bike in the vehicle. If you drive a sedan you should be able to remove the front wheel and place your bike and wheel in your trunk. This is easier than it sounds but have an experienced cyclist show you first.
I really enjoy riding alone, are there any advantages to riding with a club?
Riding in a group does have some advantages. First, it adds a nice social aspect to the sport and you get to know other people who share your interest and you can learn together how to get better. Second, especially for females, it is generally safer to ride together so you are less bothered by strangers. Third, a group is more visible on the road and motorists tend to drive even farther way from them than they do single riders. This can also be a problem – too large of a group creates a hazard for motorists if there is too long a distance for them to feel comfortable in passing – we recommend what we call “platooning” or breaking into clusters of 5-6 cyclists separated by at least three car lengths of space to give motorists room to pass. Another safety factor is in the event of an accident you would have others with you to provide assistance.
On a typical Silver Wheels ride what should I expect?
Starting with our Ride Calendar, let’s say a ride is scheduled to occur on Tuesday at 6 PM at Oberlin ACE, to be led by Gazer, at a 2-star level, and planned for 25 miles. This means you need to know where Oberlin ACE is (posted in our Ride Start Locations page, or in the ride posting popup box), which is in Oberlin on S. Main St. next to McDonald’s. You should plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early to give you time to unload your bike and get it ready, to meet others on the ride, and to sign the ride waiver. The ride leader, Bob Gazer, will normally offer a brief description of what the ride will include, how fast he will plan to go and if there are any planned stops along the way. At about 6 p.m. Bob will mount up and begin the ride. The first few minutes of most rides are done at a slower pace so you can warm up (some faster rides may not do this).
Often a ride like this will begin on the North Coast Inland Trail and riders will ride two abreast to have conversations along the way. After some distance the route may go onto one of the quiet country roads in the area. Here we may continue to ride two or three abreast if there is no traffic – if there is any traffic we will normally ride single file. Bob will proceed at a pace averaging about 11 to 12.9 mph – he normally will stay in front while someone else will usually volunteer to ride “sweep,” to always be last to keep the group together.Bob will stop periodically, about every 20 to 30 minutes, for a water/butt break and to make sure everyone is okay today – he will often take a head count to make sure no one has drifted off the route. This continues like this all the way to the end when the group arrives back at ACE.
Depending on the time of day and other factors, sometimes members of the group will go to a nearby restaurant (eating is always popular after riding) while others simply leave. Sometimes the group will stop along the ride for a meal – this is more typical of longer weekend rides and often is announced beforehand.