A Beginner’s Guide to Joining a Women’s Cycling Team
Joining a Team for the First Time
When it comes to joining a women’s cycling team, some are easy than others. Many open applications in the fall for a window of time. Others offer rolling admission at any time throughout the year. If you have a team in mind, make sure you know the deadline to apply.
1. Try Before You Apply
Most teams offer special group rides during the open enrollment period. This is the perfect opportunity to meet those on the team as well as others looking to join. Many of your questions can be answered in the casual environment of a group road ride. “If a social group ride turns into a hammerfest in the first mile, you’ve learned something important about the team already,” says CWCP co-founder Joan Orgeldinger. Fellow team members have a huge impact on the fun and success of your riding and racing season. Take the time to make sure you like the fit.
2. Find out Where the Action Is
If group riding is tops on your list for joining, then where the rides are held and how often is key. Can you access a team calendar and see when group rides are offered? If you can ride to the start, it makes it easy to join in. Close proximity to events plus frequent group rides equal greater team involvement. After all, joining a women’s cycling team is about the camaraderie and what can be learned from riding with others who share your passion.
3. Investigate the Must-Do’s
Teams have sponsors. This is usually a good thing. It might mean you receive a discount at the local bike shop associated with team. Or it can be a stressor if the requirement is not something in your comfort wheelhouse. Some teams require fundraising efforts or racing a required number of criteriums. Make sure you understand the commitment being asked of you before you join. CWCP; Naked Women’s Racing, asks team members for a volunteer commitment. Giving back to the community and promoting women’s cycling is a core value for CWCP. Do the core values of the team resonate with you and are the requirements do-able? The answer needs to be a resounding yes.
4. Sample the Kit
Some swear that looking fast on the bike makes them ride faster. Maybe so, but more important is the material between you and the saddle. Insufficiently padded bike shorts mean uncomfortable and shortened rides. Is the team kit of good quality and one you will proudly (and comfortably) wear? Most teams want you to buy and wear their team “kit” (jersey and shorts or bibs) during training and racing. You’ll probably need more than one. Ask about the expense and see if you can try on a sample or similar model at a local shop. It’s all about the bike AND the kit.
5. Are There “Experts” who will Help You?
The sport of cycling can be intimidating. Shoes with cleats, tubeless tires, chains that need lube …. and that is just a sampling of cycling equipment. What about skills such as learning to ride in a paceline, descending safely, and working with other team mates during a race? If you want to take your skills to the next level, join a team that mentors and supports your growth. Look for clinics, team camps and workshops offered by the team. Practice makes perfect and learning from experts on your team or professionals hired to coach, will help make you a faster and safer-on-the-road cyclist.