Q. What is the process to sign up to Dittons Velo?
A. First of all, fill in your name and email address here: Register your interest.
This will put you on our weekly email distribution list.
You will receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to a form where you need to fill in your full details: name, address, and emergency contact details. You will also need to accept the risks of cycling with Dittons Velo and we ask you to confirm you have third party insurance. All riders must complete this form before riding with the club.
Q. When and where are the rides?
A. Our main ride is on Saturday, starting from Cafe Rouge in Esher. We meet from 9am, giving time for a coffee and chat to the other riders – we assemble into groups at 9.20am to ensure we are ready to ride at 9.30am.
For Sundays rides we recommend people announce plans via our Facebook group as most people do ride on Saturdays. Sunday rides are organised privately amongst smaller groups who tend to know each other and know they will be well-matched which is why it’s important to join Saturday rides to get to know other people. If you can’t ride on Saturdays, I would recommend looking at other local clubs who organise their main group rides on Sundays.
Q. Is Dittons Velo a serious club?
A. We’re very serious about making cycling enjoyable, no matter what level or what you want to achieve in your cycling. Beyond that, we try not to take ourselves too seriously. There are plenty of other clubs in the area which you may wish to compare to see if they suit your ambitions better than Dittons Velo.
Q. ‘Social cycling’, but is it good exercise?
A. It’s an incredible form of exercise. Some of our members could be adverts for slimming clubs. One of our riders recently told us they’d shed 4-stone through cycling. No promises!
Q. Is the club only for people in Esher / Thames Ditton?
A. We have members from Surbiton, all over Elmbridge and beyond (we have a few overseas members who visit and ride regularly, from as far afield as Australia and South Africa). As long as you are happy to start your rides from Cafe Rouge near Esher Station then you are welcome to join us.
Q. I want to join a club with a weekly time trial or to help me get my racing licence
A. Then Dittons Velo is not the right club for you. Racing against the clock will never really be the spirit of what attracts people to the club. That’s not to say we don’t occasionally try to beat our own Strava times up Box Hill. All in the name of fun though.
Q. Can I ride with Dittons Velo as well as other clubs?
A. Yes, some of our members are also members of other local cycling clubs but given our social nature you will get the most out of the club by turning up regularly. Many of our members are also active members of the Dittons Skiff & Punting Club, using cycling to boost their fitness when they’re not on the river. We also have a few triathletes…or members who join our rides a few times a year from Australia and South Africa!
Q. How fast or how far do I need to be able to cycle to join the club?
A. Not fast, not far. Join us one Saturday and give it a go. Start with the slower group on a shorter ride, and work your way up. Most people surprise themselves. Our Saturday rides range from 30miles upwards – but don’t panic if you don’t currently ride 30miles on your own: when you ride alone, distances always feels further. You will surprise yourself how far you can ride when you have the support and motivation of a group.
Q. Is the club suitable for faster experienced riders?
A. Yes, but again the best way to see if you like the club is to come and join us to see if we suit your type of riding.
Q. Do I need an expensive road bike to join the club rides?
A. Most members do ride road bikes since it does make the routes easier. Some of our regulars do ride hybrid bikes (similar gears and wheels/tyes to road bikes – just flat handlebars). We ask members not to join us on mountain bikes or shopping bikes since it will make it difficult to keep up with the group due to the extra weight, resistance of the tyres and unsuitable gears on such bikes compared to road bikes. The bike does not need to be the latest model or expensive – if you want to upgrade to improve the enjoyment of cycling, you can always upgrade your bike later.
Q. I don’t have a bike, what should I buy?
A. The answer to that question could fill a website in itself, so we would recommend you go and see Surbiton Cycles (in Thames Ditton Marina) or another local bike shop and talk through your riding needs. They sell a wide range of bikes, plus accessories and clothing to suit all needs and ambitions. They also offer servicing if you feel your existing bike needs some maintenance before you join us. If you’re buying a bike with the intention of riding with Dittons Velo, focus your shopping on road bike otherwise you’ll want to upgrade in no time.
Q. What are the typical routes and distances of the club rides?
A. On a typical Saturday we have between two and four groups riding different routes and speeds. Our blog shows one or two of the routes we have done in the past.
A more social group might do a gentle 30miles on a mostly flat route – possibly with one hill and a coffee stop.
Our middle group(s) typically do a 40-50mile route into the Surrey hills, via Shere, or perhaps to Box Hill. Many riders join DV as training for the RideLondon – so we do 60mi rides around the Surrey parts of the route in Spring/Summer.
Another typical ride would be a 40-45mile flat but faster ride around Windsor through the Great Park.
Longer rides (over 60miles) are usually planned in advance. We also organise a DV100 once or twice a year – with example 100 mile routes to Brighton and back; or a round trip to Henley.
Q. What do I need to bring on a ride?
- A helmet (all riders must wear one)
- A bike in reasonable state of repair (road bike recommended, no mountain bikes, sorry)
- A puncture repair kit. When you ride with the group, you’ll never be left alone to fix a puncture on your own but make sure you bring tyre levers, inner tubes, pump/CO2, multitool
- Mobile phone (suggest you swap numbers with someone in the same group) – charged!
- Cash and a credit/debit card – for tea and cake, or emergency taxi
- Form of ID with emergency contact details and any medical info necessary
- Front and rear lights – not just for winter, the Surrey lanes are often dark
- In winter: mudguards and a sensible choice of clothing
– For anything else: if you’re uncertain, just ask
Q. Does it cost money to join the rides?
A. Not to start with. We incur costs in running the club and we cover these via contributions.
Q. Do you have a club kit?
A. Yes, and members can order a full range of kit. Members are certainly not obliged to wear DV kit but many find it an important part of being in a club. We don’t hold stock of spare kit, but we take orders a few times a year so kit is made to order and delivered in a few weeks. Details will be shared via email and via the DV Facebook group to let you know when kit is available to order.
Q. If I have any questions who should I contact?
A. Send an email to email@example.com and someone will get back to you.