Since more bicycles than cars are sold annually in Australia, it is no wonder Sydney Spokes cycling club has a large membership. About 270 sign up each year to be part of this endearing and enduring club. Not that they all attend every ride, for which Sydney motorists might be grateful.

Variety is evident with Spokes -“ from the types of people in the club to the types of rides and from the types of bikes to the types of events they tackle. Spokes secretary, Michael, explains.

We have activities almost every weekend. Some suit beginners, sometimes we have maintenance workshops, and some are quite challenging rides like Sydney to Wollongong, he says.

Not all the rides start in Sydney. Among other places this year, Spokes members have been seen riding around Mudgee, Canberra and the Blue Mountains. Emphasis is often placed on the social side of riding with many outings including stops at caf? At Mardi Gras time Spokes members escort visitors from out of town on rides to the best viewpoints and along the coast past our fabulous beaches.

Spokes rides go at the pace of the slowest rider but everyone likes to ride at their own pace so it’s often ride, stop, regroup and ride, stop, regroup again, Michael says.

Ride numbers range between 15 and 30 and often take in little known areas of Sydney. There’s the ride from Pymble station to Manly Dam or the bike and ferry ride that gets as far as Woy Woy before boarding the train back to Sydney.

While a few rides are for mountain bikes only, it mostly doesn’t matter what style of bike you ride. There isn’t any competition between the drop and straight handlebar brigades -“ everyone rides what suits them best. Advice on buying a new bike is freely given and discounts are available to Spokes members at some bike shops.

Beginners should check out the Spokes website and phone a ride leader to be included in a ride that suits their ability -“ they are sure to be made welcome.

Female president, Lea, who returned to cycling about five years ago, says, Spokes is a great place to meet people, away from the bars and out in the fresh air. She and the other president, Derek, agree that a good quality bike is money well spent but being comfortable with your steed is important for social riding.

Derek says, Some people have a couple of different bikes for different types of riding; it depends how serious you are. We have plenty of members who are very knowledgeable; if you are new to bike buying, the first thing to do is talk to some people who ride.

Both presidents are along for most of the rides and are great examples of the friendly nature of Spokes and its members. Each ride has a ride leader who does the organising and the variety of ride leaders is matched by the variety of rides on offer.

Spokes membership doesn’t cost the earth. The only expenses apart from the cost of your bike are an annual membership fee and Spokes recommends you join Bicycle NSW to take out your own insurance through that body. After that, just join the rides of your choice for the whole year.

Figure-hugging lycra isn’t compulsory but bright yellow Spokes tops with a rainbow stripe are highly visible. Look out for them on the road at weekends and at the Spokes stall at Fair Day. If you want to join in, check out the website or give Michael a call.

Michael can be reached on 0411 171 566. Alternatively visit the Sydney Spokes website.

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