Monday 1 September 2014

How to find cycling events, activities and friends

Summary: Once you've begun to enjoy cycling you may wish to find social and recreational activities that involve it. And if you have gone car-free, cycling may actually become critical to much of your social life - at least in terms of getting to places, if not the journey itself. Having local friends to go cycling with is also very desirable. This post collates links and examples of how to find local cycling events and activities, and also meet new people interested in similar recreation. My focus is on Victoria and Melbourne but many of the best resources are available everywhere.

Related Posts:
Tips for cycling Melbourne's Around the Bay bike ride

1. Facebook Groups
- Facebook is ideal for cycling groups as it's well-known, free, almost everyone is already on it and it has all the intuitive functionality needed for groups, events and social coordination. However, it isn't as well used as Meetup (see below). To see local Facebook groups that do exist, simply search for the name of your city/region and also cycling, bike, bikers, cyclists, etc. Then click "See more results" and then click the "Groups" filter to browse all groups that it may be possible to join. If there are no existing, suitable groups you can create one.

- For example, I searched for "melbourne cycling" and found these existing, popular groups:
Melbourne Cycling (630+ members)
Cogs Girls Cycling - Melbourne (430+ members)
Yarra Ranges Mountain Bikers (690+ members)
> St Kilda Cycling Club (1700+ members)
Northern Combine Cycling (690+ members)

2. Meetup Groups
- Meetup tends to be far more popular than Facebook or any other social network for creating and joining cycling groups, especially social/recreational ones rather than clubs. It has a limited cost (typically $15/month) paid by the admin for each group but there is often no required, regular cost for members - joining is free.

- The Cycling Meetup groups can be browsed for your city or you can search for ones within a specified distance (e.g. 10 miles):
> Cycling Meetups
> Cycling Meetups - Melbourne
> Melbourne Cycling (1,560+ members)
> Go Cycling (600+ members)
Cycling Victoria Off Road (270+ members)
> Melbourne Mountain Biking (180+ members)
> Sporty Weekends (1,200+ members)

3. Work-based Groups
- These may be organised via the intranet, noticeboards or information posted in the bike garage or parking area. Yammer is the most popular organisation-based social network (you need the organisation's email address to join) and social groups are common and easy to start and join. At my workplace, there is a bike group with a diverse set of members. You'll typically find such groups have an initial audience and common interest based in commuting to work by bike. However, subsequent social connections with colleagues can enable you to find others with shared recreational interests or who are interested in participating together in upcoming cycling events or activities.

4. Bicycle User Groups (BUGs) and Bicycle Clubs
- BUGs are the traditional stakeholder groups that represent local cyclist interests in each particular area. Most of the active involvement tends to be by a few core members who are involved in advocacy, campaigns and representing cyclists at local government meetings. Around Melbourne some BUGs are active socially but most are small and not primarily social groups.

- Bike clubs are much more common and active in Australia but they mainly revolve around sports, paid events and competitions and typically require membership fees. Most bike clubs also have social and training rides that are free.
> Find all Australian bike clubs and BUGs in the Bicycle Network directory
Strava Clubs; Strava Clubs - Melbourne
> Cycling Australia - Find a club

Strava Clubs > Melbourne > 99 Bikes Fitzroy North

5. Websites with riding group and ride listings
- There are both global and local sites that collate lists of riding groups and regular rides (known as "bunch rides" in Australia). Most of these sites and rides are for those with road bikes. In Melbourne and Australia these include:
Bunch Ride Finder
Strava Clubs - Melbourne. E.g. 99 Bikes Fitzroy North
Cycling Tips: Bunch rides
Cycling Profiles - Melbourne popular

Bunch Ride Finder

6. Organised, formal event directories and calendars
- Organised cycling events (which typically have fees) are a popular way to join others, meet new people and engage in longer or more challenging rides. Most regions and cities will have cycling-specific event listings and calendars. For Victoria and Melbourne these include:
> Visit Victoria: Cycling events
> Bicycle Network - Events
> Treadlie - Events
> Cycling Profiles - Recreational rides

7. Local, casual social events and activities for urban cyclists
- In many cities where cycling is popular there are social groups for people who just ride a bike (any bike) to get around. These social activities are often fun, casual and often not really about cycling (e.g. outdoor cinema) - cycling is sometimes just the way most members will get there.
Bike Fun
> Yarra BUG Events

Bike Fun

8. Touring clubs and rides (longer rides)
- Touring clubs run recreational rides, including overnight or multi-day trips. Most rides are on-road but there are also some mountain bike rides.
RideOn - Join the club
Melbourne Bicycle Touring Club

9. Sites to connect with other local cyclists also looking for people to ride with
- A few websites now exist that allow people to find other cyclists looking to connect up directly to ride together. These may be useful if simply looking to ride with a local who has similar riding preferences. E.g. Same age group, similar bike type, prefers bike paths at casual speeds, is riding for health and enjoyment.
Cycling Buddy
> Cycling Buddy Australia Facebook group

Cycling Buddy

Further Info:
Bicycle Network
> RideOn - Join the club
> Australian bike club/group directory

Meetup - Melbourne

Facebook Groups

Cycling Buddy

Cycling Profiles

> Bike Exchange - Australian bike clubs directory

Murray to Mountains
Bike Exchange - Bike events