faqs

Here is a list of frequently asked questions. We have filed them under appropriate headings to make it easier for you to find the FAQ you desire:

Club specific enquires

This is fairly self-explanatory. These are enquiries which apply directly to Old Bleach Cycle Club

Misc

The FAQs which didn’t seem to fit into any other category

Technical

Questions about the website, clothing care and more specialised information not necessarily pertaining to Old Bleach

Understanding cyclists

Wondering why people who cycle do what they do? Please look in this section

Club specific queries
When do you meet?

Our weekend club runs take place on Saturdays at 9-00 am (9-30 am during winter months) outside The Old Forge, John Street car park, Randalstown.  Please note the start time and location can vary and if you are a paid up member all runs will be published in advance on our Teamer app.

 

Where do you meet?

All club runs (unless stated otherwise) meet in Randalstown, outside The Old Forge, in John Street car park (off Main Street and New Street).  Keep an eye on our Teamer app for all run updates.

 

 

All club meetings (unless stated otherwise) take place in Arches House. Arches House is at the edge of John Street car park (see top map) – on the first floor, running between the side of Costcutter and the back of the Mace – and looks like this. Access is via a ground floor door.

How fast do you go?

The basic answer to this would be that we go as fast the slowest person in the group. Nobody gets dropped on our club runs; it’s all about enjoying ourselves and getting healthier in the process.

Having written that, it would be necessary for someone coming out on a Saturday or Sunday club run to have some basic level of cycling fitness.

As a general rule, if you can do around two and a half hours solid at an average of 14½mph or more (cycling alone) you should find Saturday club runs within your capabilities. If you can do two and a half to three hours at 16mph+ Sundays may also be suitable for you.

Thursday’s runs don’t have any ‘average speed’. They are structured training rides purely for training purposes. One week may be an unofficial time trial and the next may consist of climbing one specific hill repeatedly. This being the case there isn’t such a thing as an ‘average speed’ for Thursdays.

‘Wednesday Sevens’ are run at a speed to suit everyone in attendance. Nobody will struggle with them no matter their level of cycling experience.

Being in a group helps a lot more than one might imagine. There is, not only, the benefit of people encouraging one another but – almost equally importantly – the added bonus of drafting.

‘Drafting’ is the process of riding in another cyclist’s slipstream. By having the cyclists at the front of the group ‘break the wind’ the cyclists behind can save up to thirty percent of the energy they would otherwise have to expend to maintain pace. In a club run, chances are we won’t be efficient enough to save quite that much but it makes a huge difference compared to cycling alone. If you have never cycled in a group before now, you should be delighted with how much easier it is. Unfortunately we all have to take our turns at the front.

For the specific details of some past club runs, please look at our Garmin Connect profile.

How far do you go?

The distances we cover depend on who is out with the group, how everybody feels and what the weather is like.

 

Saturdays will be roughly 30 to 55 miles long. We often start together and split into two to three groups either from the offset or along the way – one doing around 30 flat miles and the other ‘throwing a loop in’.

The T7s are the shortest runs we do and could be between 15 to 20 miles in length – set to suit the people in attendance.

 

What club runs suit me best?

Ultimately this comes down to your own experience, fitness and choice. To help you make that choice, we have put together the following table…

 

 TuesdayT7s - TuesT7s - ThursSaturday 
Do I need to be on a road specific bike? YesNoNoYes
Is it suitable for people who haven't cycled with a club/group before?NoYes - 100%Yes - 100%Yes
How much mileage is it likely to cover?20 to 35 miles15 to 25 miles15 to 25 miles35 to 55 miles
What average speed is it likely to be run at?15½ mph+10 mph+10 mph+15 mph+
What time does it leave?6-30pm7pm7pm9-00 am in summer
9-30 am in winter
Where does it leave from?St. Comgall's Primary School car park, AntrimSt. Comgall's Primary School car park, AntrimThe Old Forge, John Street car parkThe Old Forge, John Street car park
How long does it normally last?2½ hours2 hours2 hours3½ - 4 hours
Is there a 'coffee' stop during the club run?NoNoNoYes
Do I need to wear a cycle helmet to take part?YesYesYesYes

If you have any further questions about the specific club runs, please look through our website for information and contact us with any queries you may have.

How much will this cost me?

For your first few runs, nothing. We don’t expect people to part with any money until they know they like cycling with Old Bleach.

Once a rider has decided s/he wishes to join Old Bleach, we require him/her to register for the appropriate licence with Cycling Ireland (the division of the UCI which covers our area). This provides insurance both for the club and the rider as an individual. To see what cover it grants, please look here. Licence fees are paid directly to Cycling Ireland. None of that payment goes to Old Bleach.

Cycling Ireland membership costs and their details can be viewed here on the Cycling Ireland website (fees are listed among the information for each licence type).

In addition to paying Cycling Ireland, Old Bleach asks for an annual membership fee  – to cover administration such as poster printing, web hosting, the club’s Cycling Ireland membership, general advertising etc.

The Old Bleach membership fees are currently £10, please see our “Join” section for further information.

 

What kind of bike will I need?

For the majority of our runs, we would recommend using a road bike when cycling with us, for comfort and ease. As our routes will take us almost exclusively on roads, road bikes make the most sense.

Additionally, we request people not use tri/aero-bars when cycling in a group – nobody wants a tri-bar poking him or her in the bum.

In relation to our T7s club runs, mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrids etc. are all suitable.

What clothing should I wear?

To a great degree, that’s up to you as an individual. The only item we’re strict about is wearing a helmet. We ask all people cycling with us to wear a helmet when doing so.

For your own sake, it’s wise to wear a pair of shorts/tights with padding in them. You can choose not to do so at your own risk but your undercarriage will not thank you for it; that only increases the more mileage you rack up.

Wearing highly visible clothing is always a good idea, as is making sure your clothes are tight-fitting – we all find headwinds difficult enough without making it any harder for ourselves.

Having multiple thin layers of high wicking clothing on helps with regulating body heat. You can remove and add layers as and when required.

It will be nice if you choose to wear club kit sometimes but whether you do or not is entirely one’s personal choice. We exist to serve our club members – not the other way round.

If you are just starting to use clipless pedals, we would ask you to get comfortable with ‘clipping in and out of them’ them before cycling in a group. Normally this takes a very short amount of time before it becomes second nature. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never forget – it’s like riding a bike.

Do I need to wear a cycle helmet?

Yes. Old Bleach requires all members to wear a cycle helmet while cycling with us.

Can I wear earphones/headphones?

No. For obvious safety reasons we require all club members to be able to hear and communicate at all times. Therefore it is not permissible to wear earphones/headphones while out on a cycle with Old Bleach.

I’ve got my bike and clothes sorted; What else do I need to bring?

Firstly you will need at least one bottle of fluid to keep yourself hydrated. Likewise, having something to snack on will stop you from (what cyclists, runners etc. call) ‘bonking‘. You don’t need to rush out and buy energy drinks and bars (although bicycle shop owners will be more than happy to help you if you do) – many of our group bring the likes of bananas, fig rolls, slices of malt loaf etc. As with so much, it all comes down to personal preference.

As well as food/drink, it’s very wise to bring at least one spare inner tube, tyre levers and some means of pumping the tyre up in the event of a p******e. There’s a good chance someone else in the group will have tyre levers and a pump (and will normally offer to change the tube for you, which is nice) but bringing your own will make sure you 100% definitely have the required items at hand.

In winter months (and for all evening cycling) lights are pretty much a necessity (particularly a rear light) and mudguards are a welcome addition to prevent filth from our wet dirty roads ending up on the face of the person behind you.

Other than the items already mentioned, bringing a mobile phone and a few pounds for a cup of coffee/tea (‘coffee’ stops form a regular part of almost all our club excursions) should cover everything you may need.

How come you don’t always stay within the speeds listed for club runs?

As you probably know, we have an approximation of average speeds, pertaining to specific club runs, listed on our club run overview. We emphasise this is an approximation; Sometimes we are slower and other times faster.

A lot of factors come into consideration – was it windy (thus slowing us down), was it hilly (again slowing us down), was it a large group (speeding us up), was anyone having an off day (slowing us down) etc etc.

The suggested pace is more related to effort level than actual speed. Sometimes we’ll go out and do a flat route on a calm day in a big group and it’ll be easier than doing a hilly route on a windy day in a smaller group but the former will generate a notably higher average speed.

A good source of information to ascertain our effort levels on different club runs is our Garmin Connect profile. In many instances it even shows a power output in Watts.

What age do you need to be to cycle with Old Bleach?

We request any cyclist coming out with Old Bleach is at least 18 years of age, we are a ‘Senior only’ club at present.

What is a ‘Run Skipper’?

At its most basic level, the ‘Run Skipper’ is the person who takes the club run.

He/She should introduce him/herself at the start of a club run and will be the route guide for the duration of the club run. He/She is also likely to be the person with the whistle; using it to let riders know when to change round positions.

In depth information about the “Run Skipper’s” role can be found in our Rules of the Road document (particularly Section 5). We recommend you read and fully understand the entire document to enhance your own safety and enjoyment and the safety and enjoyment of those around you.

Someone else (or a group of people) may take over some/all of the “Run Skipper’s” duties. In this event the change shall be announced so everyone is aware who is performing which role(s).

When someone says ‘Car up!’ or ‘Car down!’ what does that mean?

If you hear a ‘Car up!’,  there is a car coming ‘up’ from behind.

A ‘Car down!’ means you shall be meeting a car further ‘down’ the road, in front of you.

An effective way many people have been told to remember it is: ‘Down your throat and up your (we’ll not write what ‘up‘ is and leave that to your own imagination)’. It may not be the most mannerly way to remember but it works.

What do all the other peculiar things people say and gesture mean?

Generally people will point out an obstruction. If someone says ‘left’, ‘right’ or ‘middle’, that means there is a hole, parked car or something else you would like to avoid in that location. It’s a pretty safe assumption to take the shout of a location to mean ‘Keep away from the…’. About the only time someone will say ‘left’ or ‘right’ to mean anything other than that is when it is ‘Turning left’ or ‘Turning right’. In that situation it is fairly self-explanatory and normally accompanied with someone at the front pointing his or her straightened arm in the appropriate direction.

With gestures, there aren’t many you really need to know. There’s the ‘turning in a direction gesture’ we all know (addressed above) and you might see someone waving his or her left hand behind his/her back while saying ‘On the left’. That means there is an obstruction on the left – generally parked cars. That is (as you might guess) flipped for obstructions on the right of the road. In a country where we drive and cycle on the left, a ‘right side obstruction’ isn’t as common as a left side ‘obstruction’.

If someone stops at a junction and raises one hand with the palm facing forward, it means to stop as the way is not clear. Sometimes you’ll also see an action like someone patting an invisible dog or playing invisible basketball slowly – that means ‘Slow down’. Generally people will say things like ‘Stop’ and ‘Slow down’ too. It’s not difficult to pick up what’s going on.

You might see some other peculiar gestures along your way. We probably have no idea what any of them mean and, quite honestly, doubt the people doing the gesturing know their meaning either. We find it best not to make eye contact with those people.

NB It is important to note – If someone calls ‘Clear!’, always check for traffic yourself.

NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER trust a ‘Clear!’ 100%.

Even the most level headed practical people can get it wrong from time to time. Others will do their best to help but it’s still up to you to look after your own safety. Always look for traffic at junctions.

How do we ‘single up’ when it is called for?

There won’t be too many times when the group is called upon to ‘Single up!‘ but, when we do, it’s good to know how to go about it so we can manoeuvre efficiently and safely.

When the run skipper (normally, but not always, the person with the whistle) calls for the group to ‘Single up!‘ the riders on the outside should fall in behind the rider directly to their inside. That means, in a country where we ride on the left, a cyclist in the right-hand column should slip in behind the rider immediately to his or her left.

The riders in the inside column (aka ‘the line on the left’ in this country) should allow space for the ‘outside cyclists’ to integrate into a single line and let any rider moving in front of them know it is clear to do so by saying (unsurprisingly) ‘Clear‘ and the rider’s name. If you don’t know the rider’s name, a ‘Clear!‘ on its own is a heck of a lot better than nothing.

Why do people only ride ‘road bikes’ on most runs?

We ask people to ride road bikes on most runs because they’re designed specifically to be suited to on road usage.

Apparently the energy required to ride an average mountain bike at 20mph is twice that for the same speed on an average road bike. We think it’s best to have everyone getting roughly the same benefits.

We don’t require people to ride a specific type of road bike. If you want to use a race style bike, touring bike, flat bars, drop bars or whatever suits, that’s all good. The most notable exception to this is tri bars; we don’t permit them to be used on club runs as they can poke people in a rather unpleasant and painful manner and the position one adopts when using them is not suitable for group riding.

As long as you’re enjoying yourself, it’s safe and everyone is getting the most fun possible from the cycle, that’s all we ask for.

If we ever develop an Old Bleach off-roading section, we’ll ask people to ride the appropriate style of bicycle for that too.

Our ‘Wednesday Sevens’ run is open to most bicycle types – including road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids etc.

Can I join a club run part of the way along the route?

We often post up proposed club runs (see the ‘Weekend Route(s)’ section on the right side of this website).

If you look at the route and think ‘It would suit me better to meet part of the way along rather than at the start‘ you can do so.

Please contact Old Bleach well in advance to let us know where you would like to meet and wait for an acknowledgement agreeing that’s suitable and stating an approximate time when the club should be there.

Do not simply turn up part of the way along a proposed route and expect to meet the members of Old Bleach without confirmation directly from the Run Skipper. Routes may be altered without advance notice and if we don’t know someone is waiting ‘en route’ there is a distinct possibility we will miss him/her completely.

There is also a chance the club could be delayed before reaching an agreed meeting point. In this event we shall endeavour to contact the cyclist who is waiting around twiddling his/her thumbs. For this reason please make sure the Run Skipper has your up to date mobile phone number.

The easiest way to make sure you join with the rest of the group is, of course, to turn up at the start point at the start time. However we appreciate it might suit some people better to meet along the route occasionally and will do our best to accommodate everyone.

Do I get ‘three free club runs’ if I rejoin after a break?

No. If you were a member of Old Bleach, allowed your Cycling Ireland membership to expire and then want to come out again, you are not insured.

You will have to renew your membership with Cycling Ireland in order to come out on a group ride. WIthout doing that you are putting yourself and the club in a vulnerable situation by not having any legal cover.

The ‘three free clubs runs’ only apply to people coming out first time round, not those who have been out before and let their membership expire.

Is Old Bleach a racing club?

Old Bleach is both a race and leisure club. We treat all cyclists equally and try to provide suitable activities for each rider based on his or her personal desires and goals.

If you are interested in road racing, time-trialling etc. we would be delighted to have you represent Old Bleach in such endeavours. However, if you simply want to go out for a pedal and enjoy yourself merely by virtue of the cycle itself, we are equally delighted.

What matters most is that people are getting the maximum enjoyment they can in the safest environment possible.

Do you have any ‘woman only’ runs?

We don’t see the need for them. The cyclists in Old Bleach are not such a bunch of ogres we have to split people into groups based on their sex/gender.

In our experience, everybody has been able to cycle together in a friendly and welcoming environment regardless of what sex they happen to have been born. We like to cater for and treat everyone equally.

Who are Old Bleach’s club officers?

Like all Cycling Ireland clubs, Old Bleach has the following club officers:

  • Chairperson – Michael Heggarty
  • Safeguarding/Child Protection Officer – Damien McCollum
  • Secretary – Hazel Reid
  • Treasurer – Brian McGookin
  • Website – David Creelman

Our Volunteer Policy and Code of Conduct will be published shortly.

 

 

What benefits do I receive as a member of Old Bleach?

As a member of Old Bleach you will get to:

  • Come out on club runs – Improve your fitness and happiness and enjoy the social aspects of group cycling
  • Enjoy ‘away days’ – From time to time we take our bicycles elsewhere and do a little ‘day tour’ on roads we don’t normally use or even go away for a couple of days
  • Go to meetings – Have your say in how the club is run and help shape its future while drinking tea and eating buns
  • Make friends – You can’t possibly hate us all. Well, probably not
  • Get involved in events – Help promote Old Bleach activities (club membership drives, races etc.)
  • Partake in despicable online chat – As a club member you will have access to our Old Bleach Facebook group
  • Join our ‘secret’ club runs – We occasionally enjoy cycles which aren’t listed on our website and are for members only. By joining you’ll have access to these. This includes autumn/winter night rides with lights and all sorts of fun and hijinx
  • Buy merchandise – Our club members have ‘first dibs’ on any clothing, crockery, badges etc. we get put together. Have a look here to see the kinds of things we’re babbling on about
  • Attend social events – Members can come along to our Christmas Dinner and various other events throughout the year

 

Does Old Bleach host any sportives?

At present Old Bleach doesn’t host any sportives.

If you would like to come out on an Old Bleach organised cycle round the local area, please join us for a club run; We won’t even charge you for it.

If there is anything further you would like to ask about, please contact us and we shall do our best to come up with an informative and useful answer.