What is the point of a cycling club?
Clubs are essentially the building blocks for organizing and fostering competitive grassroots cycling in the US. The governing body for competitive cycling in the US (USA Cycling) depends on a clubs to: help new riders get started in the sport; establish and support race teams at all levels of competition; and to help advance the sport of cycling in general by organizing and promoting events and supporting the advancement of cycling in a variety of ways.
Why would I join a cycling club/team?
- Camaraderie: Virtual and in person community. Opportunities to connect with other like-minded individuals for training rides, social activities and traveling to events. Positive peer pressure to motivate riders to get out the door and out of their comfort zone (in a good way!).
- Education: Opportunity for newer riders and less experienced riders to ask questions of and learn from more experienced riders and for experienced riders to “give back” to the sport by helping newer riders learn various aspects of the sport.
- Teammates: Both from a social perspective and as a necessary function of the sport. For mass start road racing, at the higher categories and levels of competition especially, cycling becomes more of a team sport and tactics and team dynamics can be critical aspects of racing.
- Benefits: Most clubs seek sponsorship and support from businesses to cover administrative costs and often provide some level of discounts and support for members to help offset racing costs.
Why do sponsors give clubs/teams money?
For most it’s a combination of the following:
- Love of The Sport: They often are passionate about the sport and want to give back in some way. Might be cyclists themselves or have family members or friends who are cyclists.
- Public Relations/Advertising: They are looking for positive exposure and company or product promotion via representation in the public and results at events. This is why it’s common for club jerseys/clothing to have key sponsors on them and why it’s common for clubs to promote team results and activities and events via social media. Some sponsors may also look to support specific aspects of cycling (competitive/elite development, women, juniors etc.)
- Direct Sales: A club/team can have a lot of volume buying power and be a focused audience. Many companies (especially cycling focused businesses) may provide team discounts and funding to support clubs in hopes of recouping that investment and more via sales to team members.
In all cases, it’s important for members to remember they are representing these businesses in public spaces! Negative actions and behavior can have large ramifications for future sponsor support. Its also important to remember that supporting these businesses supports the larger club as well (often validating some of their drivers for sponsorship).
Why is there so much formality with meetings and boards and such?
Requirments for regular (non board) club members in this regard are fairly minimal. Due to taking on funding from sponsors, member dues and entry fees for events, most clubs are set up as formal organizations, often as non-profits which have a category specifically for organizations that support amateur athletics. With this comes specific requirements for club management including, but not limited to: formal bylaws, insurance requirements, required boards, meetings, organizational documentation and certain rules for accounting and filing taxes.
Clubs can be focused on different areas (recreational, elite etc.), what does Team Integrity focus on?
Team Integrity is primarily a road focused racing club. We support brand new racers all the way to experienced elites in addition to promoting racing events and clinics in our region. That said, we encourage and support athletes who race off road, gravel, gran fondos, cyclocross and multisport. In fact, many of our athletes race in multiple disciplines. Our reimbursement and support structures are set up to incentivize racing in general (regardless of discipline) and race support (race volunteer and organization). However, we are happy to have casual and recreational athletes/riders who don’t race, or race infrequently, included as part of the program and representing us as well. Outside of club wide discounts on offer, there are just fewer material benefits in place for members less focused on racing or supporting races as volunteers.
Why are there so many team names? “Team Integrity” vs “Otterhaus/K&F Construction”?
Team Integrity is the formal name of the underlying non-profit organization and historically was the name of the race team as well. As part of our sponsorship activities, leveraging the “naming rights” of the racing team can net us relatively significant funding to support our activities. The practice of naming the public facing team after key sponsors is very common amongst racing clubs. It’s also common for the primary racing team name to change to reflect new sponsors when and if sponsors change out.
Do you support regular team group rides?
Yes and no. We have all the challenges of any amateur cycling team in organizing group rides: differences in ability and experience; differences in work, family and racing schedules; different training priorities and different riding focus. In addition, we also have the reality of the geographic spread of our club compared to a team in a larger metropolitan area. Given these combined factors, it’s not practical to expect a large segment of the club to meet and ride together regularly. What we have found success in, is more of a “franchised” approach to team and group rides. Club members often start rides of certain types (social, skills based, race focused etc.), most commonly in their local areas, and invite other local club members who are in their area who can align to participate. Members are always encouraged to post up in online group comms to inquire about rides or offer to start their own. This has been a successful approach with several members having small recurring groups in their area.
Why should I join, why not just go it alone?
It’s certainly your prerogative! No one is forcing you. We try to be transparent about who we are and what we have to offer. If none off the reasons for joining our club, or a club in general, appeal to you, no sweat! We realize we can’t make everyone happy. There is certainly nothing wrong with just getting out and riding your bike on your own or joining a club that better aligns with your expectations.