I took up cycling in May 2020 after a cancer diagnosis, I love riding and it has done wonders for my mental and physical health, I really caught the cycling bug in August last year after doing the coast to coast and was cycling 2-3 times a week all be it slow and steady, I was always looking for improvements in my rides be that in distance(my furthest ride being 80 miles) but I was also aiming at getting my average speed up.
It was suggested to me to join Darlington Cycle club but I balked at the idea as I was under the impression the club would be full of semi professional riders that had rode for years and I had previously heard stories of other clubs being very clicky and unwelcoming, As I do not look like your average road cyclist at 21 stone and 6ft 4ins the thought of being embarrassed constantly on rides put me off but how wrong was I!
I joined after discussing with Mike Drake over Facebook my medical issues as at present I have a stoma bag that can at times be troublesome but I was assured if I was capable and comfortable then it would be fine within the club,I have now been with the club for around 3 months and have never once been made to feel different or troublesome if I have had to take a comfort break mid ride and I have found everyone in the club to be very welcoming, friendly and generally interested in you along with your cycling.
There is a huge range of cycling experience in the club and I have found that any questions I have asked, have been answered well and fully and I have never felt patronise due to my lack of cycling experience or knowledge.
I have found on all the rides I have taken part in to be organised well, good route selection, Some challenging but that is a bonus, along with a good mix of ages and backgrounds which makes for good conversation on the rides also the added bonus on a Saturday morning of a coffee and cake stop mid ride which allows you to get to know the people within the club better.
Since being with the club I have seen improvements in my riding so much so that I have complete 2 century rides(100 miles) which was a massive goal for me and also my average speed is up.
I have been that happy at the club that I have even invited a family member who has a wealth of riding experience (Rode all over the world and is a member of the UK Cycling Audax club) to join us for 2 rides, He commented how well the rides were run and how welcome he was made to feel, Now that is from someone who is normally very short of compliments lol.
To summarise: if you are debating joining I would say do it as you will not regret it.