We often receive queries as to what standard of fitness is required, what we get up to and what kit or bike to select. Our FAQ page continues to evolve and you should find some good pointers here. Feel free to drop us a query via our contact form if you want additional information.

How fit do I need to be?

Generally you need to be fit enough to ride for 1-2 hours at an average speed of 15mph to attend one of our club runs. The club runs are the best place to start your career with the club as there will generally be someone who can ride with you in case you need that extra bit of impetus or encouragement. Whether you are fast or not, there will generally be someone you can ride along with and either get the miles in, or get the cakes in at the cafe stops.

How old do I need to be?

 For club runs we ask that anyone under 16 is accompanied by an parent or guardian. We have Go Ride coaching sessions which run throughout the year and the minimum age is 6 years old for these sessions. There is no upper age on membership – several of our riders have been riding longer than some of our members have been alive.

How far do you go on club runs and where do you meet?

 Club runs commence from Hitchin Market Square. For the first six weeks of the year they tend to begin at 0930h. There are sometimes two club runs of varying distances. Check the calendar for information. Typically a short club run is 35-45 miles while longer ones are anywhere between 60-80 miles.

What bike do I need and what should I bring on a ride?

 You will need a road bike which is in good working order for club runs and races. Obviously for off-road riding you will need a mountain bike. It is your responsibility to make sure your bike is in good working condition and capable of being ridden on the road at 15-20mph average. Bring a spare inner tube, multi-tool, tyre levers and enough drink and food to keep you fuelled for a couple of hours in the saddle. Do not assume that someone else will have the things that you will need. Additionally a multi-tool or Allen Keys always come in handy.

Where can I get advice on kit and bikes?

There isn’t a lot our members do not know about bikes. The best first step is to simply ask someone while out on a ride. We are blessed to have very strong links to the local bike stores in the area too. Several of them offer discount to members.  You may want to check out the British Cycling website too.

Do I need insurance?

We strongly recommend that all members of the club should also join British Cycling or the Cycle Touring Club. These organisations offer good insurance and 3rd party liability cover for cyclists, irrespective of which club they are members of. BC membership will be a prerequisite for racing (other than time trials which is governed by Cycling Time Trials). So this makes a lot of sense and offers good additional benefits.

Do I need a helmet?

We strongly recommend that all members of the club wear a cycling helmet. The law doesn’t oblige any cyclist to wear a helmet for general riding but given the inherent risk in riding on the roads and off-road a helmet makes a lot of sense. Helmets today are inexpensive and very light and there is a lot of choice for riders. Where an event stipulated that helmet use is mandatory, e.g. sportives, BC races or coaching and so on, all club members must abide by these regulations.

I use a GPS, can I access the routes in advance of a ride?

The routes are published in the news section of this blog and are also circulated by email to club members. You can download GPS friendly GPX files from our download page, there are also links to the gmap-pedometer site. The pace varies depending on who is riding and the route to be tackled, so do come along and give it a go.

I am new to cycling and not sure a club is for me – what are the benefits of being in the Nomads?

 The club has over 100 members who can and will share their insight and knowledge with you. We host around 100 events and races per year all of which are discounted to members. We have really great, high quality kit which is sold to members “at cost” and we have arranged discount for members at local stores, such as Paul’s Bikes and TriSports. Your fitness and cycling skills will improve massively by riding within a club structure. Many of our members become good friends and these relationships endure. We pride ourselves in being a friendly and open group and we welcome newcomers. You can always come along and see if the club is for you before signing on the dotted line.

What are the age and gender profiles of members?

 We have a diverse range of members from all walks of life. Following the success of cyclists and cycling in 2012 we have seen an uplift in numbers which includes male and female members. We offer family memberships too.

I want to compete, where should I begin?

The best place to begin is to ask one of our members as to how to get started, whatever the discipline. Our focus in competitions is time trialling but we also have members who race on road, in cyclo-cross, mtb and track.

Are you affiliated to any governing bodies or other organisations?

At the time of writing, we are affiliated to the following organiastions: British Cycling, Cycling Time Trials, Cycling UK (formerly the Cycle Touring Club).

What should I do when I see a horse?

The British Horse Society (BHS) has produced the Code of Conduct for Horse Riders and Cyclists in England and Wales to enable each user to better appreciate the others needs and requirements.  This extract is from the section “Useful Information For Cyclists”.  It is worth noting that this is a well-balanced code that is endorsed by British Cycling and there is also a section “Useful Information For Horse Riders and Carriage Drivers” to remind them of cyclists’ needs.  The full code can be found at www.bhs.org.uk .

Let other users know you’re there

A horse is unlikely to see or hear you, especially if you are approaching quietly from behind.  Calling out ‘hello’ for walkers or equestrians is welcome and important in alerting horses and riders that you are there.  Try not to get too close before you call out or you will startle both horse and rider. If possible, ask the horse rider if it is safe to pass before attempting to go by and call again if they haven’t heard you. If you decide to stand to the side of the path to allow equestrians to pass you, it is a good idea to make sure that the horse can still see you as it approaches, that way it will not be frightened when it suddenly spots you at the side of the track or road. If the horse you meet has been frightened by your presence, give the rider a chance to calm the horse and move out of your way before you move off again. Please don’t be annoyed if a horse rider doesn’t appear to acknowledge your kindness and consideration. They do appreciate your help but may be concentrating on controlling and calming their horse to avoid falling off.

Slow down

If you are taking part in a cycling event, your concern will be to get by as quickly as possible, but please pass slowly with consideration and let riders know you are coming through. A speeding cyclist coming out of the blue may startle some horses and a group of speeding cyclists is even more likely to do so – take great care and if it is obvious you need to stop, then please do so; it may save a serious incident. Please heed a rider or carriage driver’s request to slow down or stop for the safety of all involved. Equestrians may be attempting to get out of your way into a safe place in order to let you pass – help them to do so by adjusting your speed and keeping a safe distance from them.

Pass wide and on the right

Most horses are used to traffic passing them on the right so pass them as you would anyone else; don’t cut inside, and allow plenty of room in case the horse is surprised or startled. Riders may need to ride two abreast for safety, particularly when escorting a young or inexperienced horse or rider – please give them a chance to sort themselves out before you go by.

Pass in small groups

Large groups of cyclists are very scary for horses. Passing in small groups of no more than four or five will really help. If you are in a large group, make

your presence known so that equestrians can try and find somewhere safe to stop, allowing you all to pass at the same time. Do give them time to get to a safe spot.

Be visible when riding on tracks or roads

Wearing fluorescent and reflective clothing helps other users see you earlier and gives them more time to plan where best to position themselves. Use effective lights when riding at night or in poor daylight conditions. Keep your eyes and ears open. Hoof marks or fresh dung are good signs that there could be horses about.

Please don’t forget to say ‘thank you’ when courtesy and consideration are shown to you – a smile, nod or brief wave is sufficient and means a great deal. Next time it may save a difficult situation when it could be you who needs consideration.


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