Cycling is a sport which offers something for everyone, whether you're a ten stone whippet or a fifteen stone man mountain, or whether you're male or female. There are races for you if you're eight years or if you're eighty.
Cycling clubs like Port Talbot Wheelers are the grass-roots of the sport, and they're the foundation of the pyramid which is topped off by elite riders competing for Great Britain at the Olympic Games. If you get involved in the sport though, whatever level you're at, you should be aware that cycling has a tendency to become an obsession that lasts a lifetime!
Types of cycle sport
See our sections on road racing, time trialling, Audax riding and cyclocross. We also do rides on mountain bikes. You'll definitely find something that suits you – in the meantime, just take part in as wide a range of cycling activities as possible and enjoy what you're doing.
Bikes and equipment
You certainly don't need an expensive bike to start cycling and racing. In fact it's far more important that your bike is set up well to fit you comfortably, and well-maintained so that it works efficiently and reliably. A good bike shop will help set up your bike for you, and will often swap particular components so that the bike is just right for you. Of course it will only be a matter of time before you'll be hankering after the latest carbon fibre or titanium components and justifying buying them instead of “luxuries” like food or paying the mortgage!
A standard “road bike” will be sufficient for you to train, compete in road races and time trials, and take part in club rides.
Mudguards are also appreciated on winter rides. You can get good lightweight ones that will even fit carbon fibre bikes such as the Crud roadracer for around £20.
Wearing good cycling clothing makes a big difference to your comfort on the bike, and is well worth investing in. Club members can buy our Port Talbot Wheelers clothing made by Giordana at a subsidised price. Even the likes of Aldi and Lidl have occasional specials that are fine for starting out in the sport.
Bike shoes have also improved hugely. Their rigid soles and strong velcro straps make sure that all your energy is transferred to the bike, and their special shoe plates connect you firmly to clipless quick- release pedals.
Don't forget a proper cycling safety helmet - they're not compulsory for general riding but the majority of people wear them.
Training and fitness
There's no doubt that cycle racing is a tough sport, and cyclists are amongst the fittest of athletes. But you don't need to be a Bradley Wiggins to take part – when you start out, just enjoy riding your bike. Gradually you'll be able to increase the distance that you cover and your speed, and before long you'll be racing, if that's what you'd like to do.
There are hundreds of books and internet resources on the subject of training, and it can be daunting to make sense of it all. The club has lots of experienced members so don't hesitate to ask if you want some advice.
Contacts – what to do next
If you are thinking about joining or just want some advice then feel free to come along to our club meeting at Taibach community centre in Duke Street. You'll be made very welcome, no-one will expect you to be a racing champion, and you shouldn't hesitate to ask any questions that you might have. You are also welcome to join us on one of our rides. The Ramblers ride on Sunday at 9:30am is most suited to newcomers as it has a gentle pace of around 12mph and is becoming quite popular among both men and women alike. Alternatively the Saturday 10:30am ride has a slightly faster pace of around 15mph but still goes to the pace of the slowest rider. This ride is about 25 miles and include a cafe stop at Bryngarw country park.
Before you can take part in any ride, however we must confirm that you have suitable 3rd-Party liability insurance in place. This comes as standard with membership of:
Therefore please join one of these organisations first. As a cyclist you should find this very useful anyway.
We look forward to hearing from you!