The benefits of joining a special interest club are many.
- You get to meet people who share (or help you find) your passion and will encourage you to get out more often.
- You will likely learn about new routes and options.
- Getting out more often will increase your personal fitness and skill levels.
- Going on group rides can be more fun and safer than riding alone.
- Club members often have varied experience levels, so you are likely to find people who can give you some tips.
- Club websites also provide a community to share information about trails and temporary detours as well as advice on the latest gear.
- Rides are rated by ability to help you find a group that matches your interest and ability.
- There are also volunteer opportunities; non-profits generally count on volunteers to make experiences good for everyone.
The Philadelphia area has a number of bicycling clubs. Each of the following has a website that lists rides; many also offer safety tips and guidelines on choosing a ride suitable to your abilities. Most require a signed waiver to participate in club activities. (Note: Information on these clubs came from their respective websites and was accurate at the time this was written.) PennDOT has put together a Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual that details the laws bicyclists must adhere to.
The Bicycle Club of Philadelphia
The Bicycle Club of Philadelphia (BCP) was founded in 1979 and “offers a wide variety of rides in the Greater Delaware Valley for cyclists of all abilities and interests.” A $15 annual membership fee gives you a monthly newsletter, discounts at selected bike shops and entrance to special events such as the Labor Day-weekend New Hope to New York Ride, the Fall 3-Day Event held in October and the annual June picnic. The website lists many rides sponsored by BCP as well as events of interest sponsored by other organizations. You do not need to be a member to join a ride, but if you choose to do so, be sure to check the Ride Guide and Rules for Group Rides and make sure your bike is in good condition before arrival.
The Brandywine Bicycle Club
The Brandywine Bicycle Club began in 1976 and grew quickly. The club’s first century ride, the Brandywine River Century was held in 1977 and two current events, the Dog Daze and Taxing events date back to the early 1980s. The group rides mostly in Chester, Lancaster and Delaware Counties and welcomes cyclists of all levels and abilities. They offer a weekly ride calendar for all levels and have created a library of routes. The club welcomes non-members over the age of 13 to participate in events. Be sure to check out their Ride Etiquette page as well.
Central Bucks Bicycle Club
The Central Bucks Bicycle Club (CBBC) was established in 1975 and sponsors rides on the back roads of Bucks County as well as those across the river in Hunterdon County, NJ. In addition to evening and weekend rides, the group also organizes overnight and week-long excursions and monthly “tailgate rides” which conclude with a social event. Annual events include a century ride and picnic, the fall Covered Bridges Ride, and a club banquet and holiday party. Member dues are $2 a month and provide a monthly newsletter, supplemental insurance, food at some events, discounts at a number of bike shops, and access to members only portions of the website. Non-members are welcome to try out a ride before committing to joining the club. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian club member.
Delaware Valley Bicycle Club
The Delaware Valley Bicycle Club (DVBC) is a small group that offers group rides for all abilities in Delaware, Montgomery and Chester Counties in PA as well as northern DE and NJ. In addition to a listing of rides, the annual $20 membership ($25 for a household) provides social events, secondary insurance on club rides and discounts at bike shops and related businesses. Non members can participate on rides, but must sign a waiver. Children under 18 cannot ride without a responsible adult. Check out their Rider Info for more guidelines. http://dvbc.org/rides/rider-info/
South Jersey Wheelmen Bicycle Club
The South Jersey Wheelmen Bicycle Club started in 1979 and is based in the Vineland, NJ area, with rides in Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties in NJ. The club organizes weekly rides during the summer, a Vermont trip in August, the September Century ride complete with a picnic at the end, and a weekend-long fall convention. Membership fees are $15 annually ($20 per family). Members range from kids-in-tow to senior citizens and the club plans a variety of rides at all ability levels and interests.
Suburban Cyclists Unlimited
Suburban Cyclists Unlimited is a group of cyclists who tour Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and surrounding counties on roads and trails. They offer rides over varying lengths and difficulty on weekends and weeknights throughout the year for road, mountain and touring cyclists. They also sponsor the Quad County Metric in May. A membership fee of $22 ($32 for a family) gives members a monthly newsletter, access to members-only web pages, discounts on some event fees, admission to club events and discounts at sponsoring bicycle shops. Prospective members are offered a 30-day free trial subscription.
West Chester Cycling Club
Founded in 2004, West Chester Cycling Club members participate in cycling and social events. They offer frequent club rides from casual rides to sanctioned races. Membership is a three step process: 1. Complete a waiver; 2. Order $60 or more of clothes through their website link; and 3. Buy your ride leader a beer.
White Clay Bicycle Club
The White Clay Bicycle Club started in 1973 and now has over 400 members from Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania or all ages, abilities and interests. The club is affiliated with the League of American Bicyclists, Adventure Cycling Association and United States Cycling Federation. Membership is $20 for adults, $10 under 18 or $25 household and includes a monthly newsletter, an online ride calendar, secondary insurance coverage on club rides, discounts at local bike stories and members-only social events. Though the club is based in northern Delaware, rides are also scheduled in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey. In addition to regular rides, they also host the annual Ride of Silence and several century rides.
Outdoor Club of South Jersey
The Outdoor Club of South Jersey has been around since 1966 and offers activities for those interested in bicycling as well as canoeing, camp and backpacking, hiking and cross country skiing. Membership is $20/individual or $25/family and includes club insurance, a newsletter, access to the club website and database and deposits for club activities. Non-members may join one activity from each activity section prior to joining the club.
Wilmington Trail Club
The Wilmington Trail Club is another organization that schedules events for a number of outdoor pursuits, including cycling, hiking, kayaking and canoeing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and car and canoe camping. Most events are in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, with others throughout the U.S. and even world-wide. Membership is $18/individual or $30/household and includes access to all club events, the members-only portions of the website and an annual directory. Non-members may participate in two activities before joining.