Frequently Asked Questions

Where do your rides start?

Our club meets at several locations within Harford County. Our main meeting spot is at the Campus Hills Shopping Center. As requested by the property management company, we meet at the parking lot behind La Tolteca. Remember, we are guests and we ask that you be courteous to the traffic/pedestrians and not to litter. If you see some trash in our area that may be from another rider, please be responsible and pick it up. We also meet at a variety of other locations as indicated on our Cue Sheets.

Where can I buy a good bike?

We encourage our members to support our local bike shops since they support us. Once you ride with a group, you will be subjected to much free advice. Everyone is encouraged to share their opinions but there is no official club expert.

Please see our Useful Links page for a listing of local bike shops.

What should I do if someone else in the group acts irresponsibly?

Unless it is presenting an immediate danger, you should report the improper behavior to either the ride leader or Ride Leader Coordinator after the ride. Refrain from yelling at someone unless the situation requires immediate attention and you are comfortable saying something to that person.

What other rides and activities do you do?

Our club promotes outside rides that meet the overall interest of the group. We regularly meet and carpool to these rides. Also, we are very active and social people. We regularly schedule monthly socials to provide an open environment for both members and non-members to interact. Additionally, our members are active in other sports such as running and kayaking. Members use Google Groups to communicate these interests and to meet up.

What kind of bike do I need?

The majority of our members ride road bikes, though we do have an active contingent of off-roaders who use mountain bikes. If you are a beginning rider, it’s perfectly acceptable to ride a hybrid bike on our “D” level rides, though you will probably want to consider purchasing a road bike as the rides get longer and steeper.

What can I do to really annoy the other club members?

Turn up for a ride that is way beyond your ability on a badly maintained bike, with your tires so deflated and threadbare that you get punctures every couple of miles. That will do the trick.

No, don’t do that.  Do this:

  • Know how many miles you can ride comfortably.  It’s okay to push yourself (that’s how we get fit!) but don’t be foolish about it.
  • Maintain your bike!  A professional safety check can save your life.
  • Show up at least 15 minutes prior to the ride to allow time to get ready. Published times are based on departure. If you are running late, let the ride leader know. They may decide to wait a few minutes to allow you to participate. Do not expect the group to wait all of the time.

What are your age requirements?

Anyone 14 and above may join. Under the age of 18 requires the signature of a guardian. Age 14 and 15 members must ride with a guardian.

This is my first group ride, should I bring anything besides my bike?

  • Always make sure you bring the ride leader’s phone number if available.
  • A helmet is required (even if you have a hard skull).
  • An extra layer and gloves, in cooler weather, or during the rainy season.
  • Wear sunscreen on bright or lightly overcast days.
  • Sunglasses help to prevent the wind from making your eyes water (and make you look totally cool).
  • A spare inner tube is strongly recommended. Bring a pump or CO2 inflator, and a patch kit if you have one.  Other riders can help you out initially, but you should acquire the tools and develop the skills if at all possible.
  • Bring water. You may want to bring two bottles if the ride is over 20 miles and especially if it’s a hot day.
  • For longer rides, bring a snack (energy bars, gels, etc.) and a few dollars so that you can buy water/food if necessary.
  • Unless it’s completely impractical, bring a cell phone.  This can save your life!

The weather forecast says it is going to rain. Will the ride be canceled?

Cold or hot temperatures, wind, or light rain won’t prevent a ride—a sustained downpour will. Forecasts change continually, so keep an eye on a weather service on the day of the ride (Weather Underground or NWS). If you are in doubt, check your e-mail for updates, or call the ride leader within an hour before the ride. Leaders should always provide a mobile number that riders can call or text in their original posting.

NOTE: If the official ride leader or a designated substitute leader does not show up, any ride is considered a pick-up ride.

See our Weather Policy.

My bike sucks. Can I still come on a ride?

Yes. Some of our regular routes have very few hills. Read the ride announcements carefully before deciding whether to come.

Must I wear Lycra cycling clothes?

Look at our photos. Some of us do; some don’t. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in.

Isn’t riding a bike on the road dangerous?

Although most drivers in Harford County are courteous, it’s important for road riders to be alert and ride defensively. While you should be well prepared for your ride ( helmet, lights, well-maintained bike) the biggest precaution you can take is anticipating dangerous situations.

Many of us are experienced street riders, and we are happy to teach by example. Should you have an unpleasant interaction with a driver, please refrain from giving it back. Most of the time, this simply angers the driver and they may take it out on the next cyclist. Also, as cyclists, we are responsible to yield safely to pedestrians, runners, and horseback riders. When approaching, signal the other riders in your group and slow down.

Harford County is “horse country”, and we frequently encounter horseback riders in the parks or on country roads.  Be extra cautious around them! Ride slowly and as far away as practical. If the horse seems irritated or the rider yells out, it is best to stop and let the horse go by. Heedless actions on your part can cause a horseback rider serious harm and also be a danger to yourself. Remember, we share the responsibility to act safely around others.

Please read our Ride Safety page.

I’m a beginner. Can I still come on a ride?

Of course—but choose your first ride carefully, according to your ability. We support and encourage beginners, and everyone has to start somewhere, but it would be best not to choose a 50-mile ride for your first outing. If unsure, simply contact the ride leader or the Ride Leader Coordinator to discuss the ride and your experience.

Feel free to approach the ride leader when you arrive at the ride, and introduce yourself. If the ride is appropriate for you, the ride leader will either designate someone to ride with you or will keep an eye out for you. Rides are typically ”No Drop” unless otherwise specified. If you cannot keep up with the stated pace, the ride leader has the option to either slow the pace down, take more breaks or ask someone to ride with you. While you are responsible for repairs of your own bike, we pride ourselves in our camaraderie, and will typically stop as a group for repairs of flats or other problems.

How often do you ride?

During the warmer months, we begin weekday rides on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Weekend rides are on both Saturday and Sunday. As a member, you can participate in our club’s Google Group, which will contain information about both club-sanctioned and pick-up rides. A word of caution: pick-up rides are at the risk of each individual, and are not covered by the Chesapeake Spokes Club liability insurance.

How fast do you go?

Our rides are grouped into categories along with a general guideline. We do not promote racing or extreme cycling events. Please pay attention to the ride leader’s comments when rides are advertised. If in doubt, contact either the ride leader for that particular ride or the Ride Leader Coordinator to discuss the ride. We want you to participate in rides that are best suited for you. The ride leader can arrange for a ride partner to shadow you if you are uncertain about your abilities. Please ask!

How do I get one of those fantastic club jerseys?

They are nice, aren’t they? Our jerseys are custom-made to order. We typically introduce a new design every year. Be on the lookout for an email announcing the opportunity to get your very own!

Do you have meetings?

Our club has regularly scheduled Board of Director meetings on a monthly basis. All members are allowed to attend and participate. Each member is eligible to be a board member.