Q. What is the process to sign up to Dittons Velo?
A. Many thanks for your interest in riding with Dittons Velo. Unfortunately we’ve reached our capacity for the number of members that can safely ride with us and so we are unable to accept further new members for the foreseeable future.
Q. When and where are the rides?
A. Our main ride is on Saturday, starting from Cafe Rouge in Esher (now closed). 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.
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. We welcome all cyclists from beginners to those with many years of experience.
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 probably 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 club Strava segment times. 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. Start with the slower group on a shorter ride, and work your way up. Most people surprise themselves. Our Saturday rides range from 30 miles upwards – but don’t panic if you don’t currently ride 30 miles 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 and a coffee stop.
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 chat with us to see if we will suit your type of riding.
Q. Do I need an expensive road bike to join the club rides?
A. Most members ride road bikes since it does make the routes easier. Some of our regulars do ride hybrid bikes (similar gears and wheels/tyres to road bikes – just flat handlebars) and even e-bikes. 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. The bike does not need to be the latest model or expensive, you can always upgrade your bike later (members would be happy to give you advice).
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 visit a local bike shop and talk through your riding needs and ambitions. Also talk to regular road cyclists and read some magazines. 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 usually have five or more groups riding different routes and speeds. Our blog shows some of the routes we have done in the past.
A more social group might do a gentle 30 miles on a mostly flat route – possibly with one hill and a coffee stop. Nearly all rides have a cake and 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 100 – so we routinely do 60+ mile rides around the Surrey parts of the route in Spring/Summer.
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 for fish and chips 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)
- Spare inner tube(s). 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, 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 necessary medical info
- Front and rear lights – the Surrey lanes are often dark
- In winter: mudguards
– For anything else: if you’re uncertain, just ask
Q. Does it cost money to join the rides?
A. Not to start with. The club is run by volunteers. We incur costs in running the club and we cover these via contributions when required.
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 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. Club Kit Page
Q. If I have any questions who should I contact?
A. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will get back to you.