As I've mentioned before in my blog posts of the past, my job involves quite a lot of travelling around. Some of this is away in hotels around the country for a couple of weeks but most of it is day travel up to about two hours each direction. It's the latter which can make training hard when I'm at work but over the last year I've found a way to get around this and make sure that even when I'm travelling I can still ride my bike. The key for me is owning a car. Don't get me wrong, public transport is great for being green and all that jazz but I'd argue it's still not quite cut out for easily moving around on a bike and can be a bit of a logistical nightmare. Instead, 95% of my travel is done in the car. I can safely wrap my bike in the back of the car along with some tools, a track pump and a bag full of kit and head to any destination with the knowledge that i'll always be able to carry everything I need with me. The advantage to all of this being that I can pull my car into a lay-by or car park, slide into my kit in the back of the car and pedal off into the evening as I desire.
Of course it's all well and good being able to do this but when you're away from home knowing you have to drive maybe two hours to get home you can be a little bit demotivated to bother riding after a long day at work. To combat this I usually go online and look up the local cycling clubs wherever I happen to be and drop them a polite email to see if they mind me joining their rides. In most cases the club will say yes and I'll be able to join their mid-week training rides.
Joining in with a club is great. There is nothing better than hooking up with a bunch of like-minded individuals all with the same aim in mind - a good hard training session or a steady social. It means you can make some new friends wherever you're working and fit in some fun cycling at the same time. I'm pretty lucky in that a lot of my work away from home is Sheffield and that the local Sheffrec club kindly allow me to join in their rides.
However, it's worth pointing out that you shouldn't get too offended if a club you ask to ride with don't necessarily say yes to you. A lot of racing clubs and teams are built on a tight-knit group of individuals that know each other exceptionally well already and trust each other on the road - a trust that takes time to build so when someone suddenly appears for a couple of weeks that they don't know they might be a bit worried given they don't yet know you. As long as they give a good reason and aren't unfriendly just take it as safety first. No one wants their race season ruined. Social rides are a different story.
Equally if the club do invite you to join them for a little while don't go in all guns blazing and cause a problem otherwise you might not get invited back. Unfortunately last year whilst on one of my first rides with a friendly club I was setting the pace on the front but hadn't paid too much attention to the route so when the rest of the riders turned left and I didn't it resulted in a bit of a pile up and a seriously embarrassing situation on the ride. Thankfully the guys were kind enough to have me back and I spent the rest of my rides learning the route and being ultra cautious. Moral of that story - even if you think you're good and know the plan just sit in for a while and figure out what works. Once you're happy you've got the group dynamic then dive in and do your fair share of the work.
So with three weeks in Sheffield looming upon me I'm heading back to the guest club for a little while once I recover from being hit by a car. I find joining in the guys down there a real benefit to my training and I would encourage others to consider the option when away but not be offended if anyone says no. Hopefully this year I'll be more sensible and we'll have some good fun over the next few weeks.
Has anyone else trained with a guest club whilst away on work or holiday?