You Asked, We Answered
Frequently Asked Questions:
- I just bought a mountain bike and I'm really excited to get out on the trails, but I'm brand new to the sport. Do I need more experience? The best way to get experience is to ride. The Recreational group is perfect for the new rider. The pace is slower, with frequent regrouping. Plus, ride leaders are happy to stop so everyone can practice those tricky spots.
- What if I can't keep up? In cycling terms, when you can't keep up with the group you're riding with and they ride on without you, it's called getting "dropped". It's no fun. And nothing discourages a new rider faster. We have a strict no-drop policy at all times, for every level.
- I don't know the trails well. Will I get lost? The Recreational group is always led by an experienced leader who knows the trails well. Combined with our no-drop policy, this means you won't get lost. We'll even help you figure out how to navigate the trails on your own.
- I didn't know you had road rides. I thought you were a mountain biking club. We are first and foremost a mountain biking club. But we do hold a weekly road ride and do occasionally throw an extra road ride in here and there. A lot of our newer members are just getting back in shape and while mountain biking is a phenomenal workout for experienced riders, it takes a bit to build up to the skill level you need to be able to make it up all those climbs and through the tricky sections. That's where road riding comes in. It's a great way to build strength and endurance, not to mention a great alternative when the trails are too muddy to ride.
- I have a hybrid bike. Can I bring that on the trails? Our Rec Road Rides are a perfect place to put some miles on that hybrid bike. But for trail rides you really do need a mountain bike. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but for comfort and safety, you need to have front suspension and knobby tires.
- I'm an experienced rider, but I'm tired of riding with the boys. Will I be challenged enough with the Sunflowers? While we're well known for the support and encouragement we offer new riders, the Sunflowers is a very diverse group. Many of our riders love to race and are always looking for new ways to challenge themselves and each other. The difference in an all-female group and a mixed riding group is not in the challenge, but in the camaraderie and the support. We push each other to ride further, go faster, try out new techniques. But we also cheer each other on - whether it's at the finish line or taking on that huge log for the first time.
- What is the age range and fitness levels of your members? We range all the way from 16 to 60-something. Some members are just getting back on their bikes after 20 years, others are century riders. What matters more than age or fitness level is attitude - are you ready to try something new and have some fun?
- What time are the rides? Evening rides start at 6 p.m. throughout the season and generally wrap up by 8 p.m., earlier in September as dusk comes earlier. Sunday rides begin at 1 p.m. and may be 2-4 hours in duration.
- How long are the rides? Distance covered depends a great deal on the group. Recreational rides could be anywhere from 8-15 km. Sport rides may run from 15-30 km. Rides may be shorter if groups stop to work on specific skills or challenging areas. They may be longer if groups are training for a race.
- Where do you ride? We have so many fantastic trails in Niagara. To take advantage of this, club ride start locations change each month. Trails we cover regulary include Short Hills Provincial Park, the 12 Mile Creek trail system and Brock University. We get a bit more adventurous for our Open Rides and get out to explore the other great trails Niagara has to offer - like The Hood in Port Colborne - and even take some road trips outside the Region.
- Do I have to come to every ride? No. There are three rides a week in order to give people as much flexibility as possible in their schedules. Some members may come out to 2-3 a week, but many only make it once a week or even once a month. It's completely up to you.
- What do I need to bring? You need a mountain bike in good working order and a helmet, plus water, either in a bottle you can bring with you or in a hydration pack of some sort. It's a good idea to have a snack, a pump and either a patch kit or a spare tube with you as well. And cycling shorts, while not strictly a requirement, sure do make those longer rides a whole lot more enjoyable!