Introduction to GSW Activities

New England's most active recreational bicycling club

Where do I start? It's easy for new members to get involved in GSW!

Over the 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 to explore!

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.

Orientation Rides:
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.

Newcomer Rides:
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.

Regular Rides:
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!

Happy cycling!

Granite State Wheelmen