Introduction to GSW Activities
New England's most active recreational
do I start? It's easy for new members to get involved in GSW!
years, the GSW has learned that new and prospective members often wonder
just how to get started in group cycling and club activities in general.
These people may join or think about joining the GSW at any time of the
year, and yet always wonder, "Where do I start?" Just showing
up with your bicycle to meet a group of Lycra-clad strangers in a parking
lot can be quite intimidating. To help diminish this concern, throughout
the cycling season the GSW will be offering several ways for people
to become acquainted with the club and our activities without feeling
pressured, the group cycling too fast, being dropped on a ride, or being
worried about what type bike to ride. Here are a few avenues you may wish
Usually on the second Monday of the month, March through October, the
GSW conducts general meetings in the southern NH area at 7:00 PM. (Check
our meeting schedule for details.)
Snacks are provided, and there is always time for a little "sociability"
in addition to a short bike-related program. Various topics will be presented
that range from useful to informative to entertaining, all free of charge.
Attendees are encouraged to ask questions not only about the program topics
but anything about the club or personal cycling concerns. By striking
up some friendly conversation and obtaining some tips from current members,
you may have just enough initiative to join us on some rides that will
be to your liking.
Many cyclists joining a bike club may have always cycled by themselves
and may not know how to ride in a group. Maybe some help is needed on
shifting techniques, climbing hills, flat tire repair, etc. If so, an
"orientation ride" or two may help get you started and with
more confidence and safety. Typically a half-hour will be spent with the
group at the starting location before actually riding. Some key points
of group cycling are covered plus other informational tidbits that may
be helpful or requested. From there the group covers a short 10 to 12
mile route with stops to chat, ask questions, comment on actions requiring
attention, or maybe just to take in a scenic view. After the ride, everyone
is welcome to congregate at a local pizza shop, convenience store, etc.
to talk about the ride, the club, other activities, or just socialize
for a while before heading home. Please see our ride schedule for details,
and look for the "Turtle ride" symbol in our newsletter.
Once a person is comfortable with the concepts of group cycling and can
easily ride fifteen miles or so at a relaxed to moderate pace, then it
is time to look for our "newcomer rides". Participants need
not be new to cycling or group riding, and maybe they are knowledgeable
about bike mechanics and safety issues, but they just want to be assured
that they will not be dropped on a ride and left to find their own way
back to the starting point. Newcomer rides typically have both a leader
and a sweep to help keep the group together and to assist with any problem
that may be encountered on the ride. In keeping with the tradition of
the GSW being a social, recreational club, the group will typically have
a pizza (or whatever) before going home. Please see our ride schedule
for details, and look for the "Smiley Face" or * symbol in our
newsletter and in the calendar page.
If you are already comfortable with group cycling, can maintain yourself
and your bike without assistance, and you either know the planned route
or are to follow a cue sheet, then you may wish to select some of our
longer rides. All rides are rated by terrain, expected pace, and distance.
Not all of these longer rides have a sweep so you should be able to fix
a flat, replace a thrown chain, etc. on your own. Typically the group
will define a meeting place along the route for a snack break, so you
simply go at your own pace or in small groups until you reach the destination.
At all times, courtesy and following the rules of the road are expected.
While some GSW rides are fairly fast and long with few services, the club
does not have races nor promote race-like rides. Until you know just how
your cycling ability matches a particular ride classification, we suggest
that you start with some of the shorter and easier rides. You can always
move up to a faster and longer ride, but if you have a bad experience
by taking a ride that is above your present abilities, that ride may be
your last with the GSW - and we don't want that to happen! As an adult
recreational bicycling club, we advocate sociability, the shared roadway
concept, and the mutual desire to enjoy cycling in a safe and responsible
manner. The use of a bicycling helmet and signing a liability release
form are required for every ride.
Feel free to call anyone on the Board, Area Contact, or a specific ride
leader for more details. The GSW has more rides and activities than any
other recreational bicycling club in New England, but only if we satisfy
your desires have we met our goals. All positions in the club are filled
by volunteers and most rides are free for both members and non-members
alike. Once you see what is offered and participate in some rides, you
may have some ideas of your own and wish to lead a ride near where you
live or work. If so, just contact the Ride Coordinator and you will be
on your way to helping others enjoy some great cycling here in New Hampshire!
Granite State Wheelmen