What does a Sunday fitness ride involve?

  • A regular fitness/training ride for reasonably fit cyclists
  • A chance to develop your group-riding skills and confidence
  • Led by an experienced cyclist who can manage the pace to ensure everyone gets something from the ride
  • We always wait for punctures, and no-one gets dropped
  • Varied routes, mostly on smaller roads – and usually with a café stop
  • 60 or so miles in the summer, 50 or so in the winter.  Occasional longer rides (70-100 miles) in the summer months.
  • Rides leave at 8 am from March to October and at 9 am from November to February, from the bandstand at the east end of the Prom, and return to Portobello by lunchtime (longer rides may get back after 1 pm).

What about intermediate rides?

  • These are shorter, more moderately paced alternatives to the fitness ride – aimed at those newer to cycling, who prefer a less demanding pace, or who need to get back earlier.
  • Both groups meet at the same time and place, so everyone can choose the option that suits them best.  (Sometimes, the two groups start together or meet up at the cafe stop.)
  • In both groups, the pace is managed by an experienced ride-leader, people generally ride together, and we wait for punctures and at the tops of any hills.

Who can come on a Sunday fitness or intermediate ride?

  • All are welcome – you don’t have to live in Portobello.
  • Under-16s must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Our aim is to organise safe and enjoyable rides, but you participate at your own risk.

What about women riders?

  • We recognise that cycling has tended to be quite male-dominated, both as a sport and an activity, and that this has put some women off (or prompted them to set up women-specific groups).
  • We prefer to bring people together by offering rides suitable for both men and women, and by encouraging a friendly, non-laddish and supportive atmosphere on club rides.
  • We already have a number of experienced female cyclists in the club – if you e-mail us (info@porto-velo.com), we can put you in touch with one of them to find out more about what Portovelo can offer the female cyclist.

Do I have to be a member to take part?

  • No – we want this to be an informal and approachable club.  There is no application process or membership fee.
  • You can easily keep in touch with club activities, just by checking the website or Facebook page, or by following us on twitter for regular updates
  • Buy a club jersey – better than a membership card!  (Check the Clothing page for details.)

What do I need to come on a ride?

  • For fitness or intermediate rides, you’ll need a road bike (racing, touring, cross). Hybrids and MTBs are unlikely to be suitable.
  • On any group ride, it’s a good idea to come equipped as if for a solo ride – with whatever you need to get you home.
  • Check your bike beforehand – tyres should be fully inflated and in good condition, and brakes and gears should be in good working order.
  • Wear suitable clothing (check the forecast) – a helmet and mitts/gloves are recommended.
  • Bring a pump and spare tube (preferably two) plus a puncture repair kit and tyre levers.
  • Carry basic tools (Allen keys, chain-breaker).
  • Always bring water or an energy drink – and some food (e.g. a banana).
  • It’s a good idea to bring money (for the café stop) and a mobile phone.

I’m not used to group riding – what do I need to know?

  • Group riding normally means riding in two columns (i.e. in pairs), with each rider fairly close behind the rider in front
  • Front riders shelter those behind, who ride in their slipstream.  This allows a group to accommodate a range of different abilities, so long as the pace is managed and everyone works together.
  • Every so often, everyone moves round one place in an anti-clockwise rotation.  This way, everyone takes a turn at the front (but stronger riders take longer turns).  As well as being efficient, this also means you should get a chance to chat to everyone else in the group at some point on the ride.

How is the pace managed?

  • If you are struggling with the pace, say so, and the group can slow down.
  • It’s the responsibility of all riders (not just the ride-leader) to make sure everyone is coping with the pace.
  • If a group gets split up on a hill, riders at the front should wait at the top, or ride down the other side and wait at the bottom, until everyone is back together.
  • A shout of “Easy” means slow down slightly; “Keep it steady” means stop increasing the pace.
  • Remember – it’s a club ride and not a race.

What about safety in the group?

  • The key to riding safely in a group is for front riders not to make any sudden or unexpected moves, or to change speed rapidly or without warning.
  • Alert riders behind you to hazards, either by pointing to them or shouting “Gravel”, “Holes”, etc.  Call “Lights” for a red traffic light, and “Nose” for a vehicle approaching on a narrow road.
  • “Tail” means there’s a vehicle behind, trying to overtake, and “Single out” means the group needs to be in single file to let it past.

What about the family/leisure rides?

  • These are aimed mainly at primary age children on their own bikes (or on tag-alongs), accompanied by their parents.
  • Some leave from Portobello by bike; sometimes we meet at a pre-arranged location that you can reach easily by car or train.
  • Cycling is off-road or on very quiet roads.  Rides typically last 2-3 hours (including stops).  Please bring your own refreshments.

What else do you do?

  • We have social evenings, usually on the last Wednesday of each month.  We meet in one of Portobello’s fine pubs, from 8.30 pm.  Everyone is welcome.
  • We organise a weekend trip each year, based somewhere outside Edinburgh – a chance to explore new roads, with some socialising thrown in.
  • Other initiatives have so far included film nights, book swaps, and bike maintenance classes.  Ideas will develop as the club does – why not make some suggestions?

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