Cycling is a great way to keep fit and get out and about. But if you’re tired of dodging traffic in the centre of London and want to explore some new ground, then why not give a cycling club a go? Not only will you discover the capital’s leafier outskirts, but you’ll also meet some new people and improve your skills as a cyclist along the way.
Plus, you might find yourself a team to enter Red Bull Timelaps with, and tackle the world's longest one-day cycling event.
London has hundreds of cycling clubs that are perfect for all ages and abilities. Here, we pick out eight of the best.
1. Best for beginners
London Dynamo’s Saturday morning laps of Richmond Park have been running for more than 20 years and are a brilliant introduction to riding in a group. All you need is yourself and a well-maintained road bike. Newcomers’ rides are held on the first Saturday of every month; groups of eight ride three laps (approximately 20 miles) of the park and there’s always another group behind to ride with if you fall off the pace.
2. Best for track cycling
Based at Herne Hill velodrome (where a young Sir Bradley Wiggins first honed his craft), Velo Club Londres is the club to join if you’ve got a taste for the track. The club run training sessions on the velodrome every day of the week and, if you fancy yourself as the next Laura Trott, there is the opportunity to race, too.
3. Best for women
Most clubs have a good ratio of male-to-women members. But if you’d rather give group cycling a go without a macho MAMIL (middle aged man in lycra) in sight, then Outdoor Fitness Collective’s Female Cycling Club could be for you. The club do regular laps of Richmond Park, longer rides out towards Windsor and even cycling trips further afield.
4. Best for pros
You’ve got all the gear and a bit of an idea. Now it’s time to pit yourself against the best. Premium cycling clothing brand Rapha has its own club, Rapha Cycling Club (RCC), which is designed to ‘create a global community of like-minded, passionate road riders’. Club rides depart from its Soho clubhouse every Saturday and the £135-per-year membership fee also bags you a discount on the company’s cycling trips and dedicated support at major races and sportives – fancy!
5. Best for adventurers
If you love cycling because it lets you discover places you didn’t even know existed, then Central London Cyclists’ Touring Club is for you. The club run a variety of rides that suit all abilities; each meet at a main line station and take a train out to the suburbs – saving your legs for exploring the countryside. Bonus: they also put on big rides across mainland Europe.
6. Best for a challenge
A 200km jaunt around Essex? Or a 100km spin to the Chilterns and back? If this sounds up your street, then look no further than Islington CC. As well as running killer audaxes (long, non-competitive rides, to the uninitiated), the club also run lap sessions of Regent’s Park and Sunday club rides from Whittington Park on Holloway Road.
7. Best for sociable cyclists
No good club ride is complete without a coffee and cake pitstop. Step forward London Phoenix, which puts ‘eating cake’ on par with riding and racing when detailing its introductory rides. The club is based around an online community too, so rides are organised across the capital, rather than starting at one central hub.
8. Best for off-roaders
Swap dodging traffic for dodging trees with London Mountain Biking Club; home to 600-plus members, the club is perfect for anyone who enjoys their riding with a side of mud splatters. Regular meets are held year-round at locations on the outskirts of the capital, and all are easily reachable by car or train. The difficulty of the trials vary, but all are guaranteed to leave you covered in the mucky stuff - lovely.