Why I joined Dittons Velo and why I’m hooked

By Steven Hughes

So why did I join DV?
Prior to moving to Surbiton from Nottingham last year, I had started to get more into cycling. However, this was mainly commuting to work and cycling to watch my wife play hockey at various locations in the Midlands. When I arrived in Surbiton, I popped into my local bike shop (Surbiton Cycles) and asked about clubs. I knew I wanted to cycle more and it can be pretty boring clocking up anything that could be considered ‘proper’ mileage on your own – I also thought it would be a great way to meet new people and to learn some routes. Two clubs were mentioned: Kingston Wheelers and Dittons Velo (DV). DV was described as a friendly, social club, which was exactly what I was looking for.

How has it been?
DV is everything I expected from a club characterised as ‘social’. Everyone was really welcoming and shared a common passion for all things bikes and Lycra related. It is accessible to the many (not just the few), it’s a friendly club (actually friendly, not just advertised as such) and there is a pleasing focus on beer, cakes and coffee. Furthermore, the more I ride with DV the more I realise what else DV has to offer.

The Facebook group is both entertaining and informative (there is a surprising number of members with a penchant for cycling related innuendos!). There are plenty of opportunities to mix with like-minded cyclists (beer enthusiasts!) at social events, such as the Waterloo Commuters Third Thursday Club. For those that fancy it, there is a Wednesday night loop (summer and winter versions) where the pace tends to be a bit quicker. There is also a wealth of knowledge among the DV community so plenty of opportunities to get advice on anything from bike maintenance to commuter routes…to local plumbers!

I have set myself a challenge this year to ride all of the hill climbs in the South East that feature in the top 100 and 200 climbs in the UK. Some are more out of the way than others, but there are plenty of equally mad cyclists at DV who have been keen to join me in my adventures to seek out these hills.

What next?
I’m excited to get my hands on some of the newly (re)designed kit so I can represent DV while out in the Surrey Hills or further afield. My cycling has gone from strength to strength while riding with DV. I’m clocking up the miles and find myself getting so much fitter and faster than I have ever been. I’m now keen to test myself a bit more and so, noting that Dittons Velo is not a ‘racing club’, I’ve also joined Kingston Wheelers as a second club so that I can compete in the odd TT and maybe even some races. Also, their main club ride is on a Sunday and this gives me more weekend ride options for when my wife is playing hockey and I’m on babysitting duties.

Final word
Joining DV was a fantastic decision and has provided me with a whole load of great folk to ride with. I have however developed OCD (obsessive cycling disorder), evidenced by a gradual declining bank balance and increasing amount of kit. Much to my wife’s annoyance I also have an increasing number of bikes cluttering up our flat!

I encourage all members to support the club, turn out for the group rides, get involved with the conversation and be part of the community (on Facebook, Strava, or at HQ before or after rides).

In business, it’s the done thing to assess customer service by looking at the net promoter score: how likely you are to recommend something to a friend. Well, I’d have to say when it comes to DV, I’d give the club a 10 out of 10. It’s a great club, made great, of course, by the people in it.