61. Is a Cycling Club for Me?

A Cycling Club for You, a Cycling Club for Me…

To be or not to be?  That is the question.

But I’m not talking about shuffling off this mortal coil.  I’m talking about something way more important.  I’m talking about whether I should join a cycling club.

Actually, should I join ANOTHER cycling club. I’m already on Team Colin–I mean I AM Team Colin–but Team Colin has literally the lowest membership of all cycling clubs in the history of the world:  Me.

Nonetheless, a few weeks ago, legendary Lapdog, Barry Cox (totally his words) sent a message to me on the Facebook:

Colin, have you ever given any thought to joining the lapdogs? You know it would be a good fit….

I replied

Of course it would be a good fit. Have you met me? I’m awesome (totally my words).

To be honest, I’ve been pondering the idea of joining a(nother) cycling club for some time, and the thought was already scratching at the back of my brain, so when Barry sent his message, I figured the universe was talking to me.

And since we’re being honest, I’m also not that awesome.

However, while it’s been on my mind, I had few reservations.  Aside from not knowing what it actually meant to belong to a cycling club, I wondered about my responsibilities if I joined, and how it would affect my current club membership.  Also, I’m not gonna lie, I was worried about the jerk factor–or at least the perceived jerk factor.  When something is exclusive, there can sometimes be people who take it too seriously.  I’ve met them. You’ve met them.  We’ve all met them.  I don’t want be one of them, or surround myself with them.  My fardels don’t bear the proud man’s contumely  (totally, sort-of, another Hamlet quote), so what would I do if I joined a club that was heavy on the JF?

Back to the question at hand.  I’m so lucky that in Southern Ontario there are a billion clubs to consider, and  I have no doubt they’re all awesome, but each seemed just out of reach for me.  Most were either too far away (Team Van Go; MTB Kingston; WCC, and all the clubs west and east of Toronto), or they were too discipline-specific (Dark Horse Flyers, Don Vivants, Morning Glory, Beaches Cycling Club), or they had a boob requirement (Wild Betty’s–by the way, at 250 pounds, I’ve almost got boobs), or they were too cool for me (pretty much every club).  And like I said, each club is awesome, but maybe just not for me.  Click this link for a list of a bunch of other Ontario Cycling Clubs.  By the way, I failed to mention IMBA, DMBA, and all the other ‘MBAs.  In fact, looking at some of the websites, many of them actually listed things like “Toronto’s friendliest cycling club” (Dark Horse).  Really, the whole camaraderie thing seems pretty common (and I gotta say, pretty cool) and that’s what sold me on the idea of joining a bike club:  Playing bikes with other bike minded people. So I not only had options, but awesome options, and I’d probably meet some cool people too.  Then I realized the whole thing may be moot because I’m already part of the DMBA, and they always have rides and events that I never seem to be able to fit into my schedule…

Nonetheless, if I was going to join a club, I figured it would be the Lapdogs.  They’re based in Toronto, they’re a big club, they do MTB, road, CX, and track, and I already know a bunch of people who don their jerseys (although when I thought about it, I knew a bunch of people who donned jerseys from every club).

Uh oh, back to some good old fashioned Team Colin Indecision. Was I really sold on joining a club?  On one hand, I never pass on a new opportunity.  On the other hand, Team Colin is actually a bit of a lone wolf (I’m really not a lone wolf, but it sounds cool to say it). But if I was going to take arms against a sea of troubles, the opportunity at least merited exploration.

So I asked Barry what it means to ride with the pack.  Here’s a summarized list:

  • weekly MTB rides in the Don (weekday and some weekends)
  • weekly group road rides, typically in the west end (weekday and weekend)
  • a modest discount at Gears Bike Shops
  • pub nights and socials about once a month
  • track sessions in the winter
  • support at races

Hmm.  Not bad.  Although I have to wonder how they’ll support me at a race when I’M THE ONE WITH THE RV…

So I made a list of pluses and minuses.

Wait, did I mention that my RV always has a freezer full of frosty iced treats?  Yeah, it has a freezer…

Okay that list.  On the plus side, the thought of group rides and the team spirit sounds kind of cool.

On the minus side, even though I’m super extroverted and find energy from groups of people, there’s that lone wolf thing (awooooooo).  To be clear, there is a legion of support behind Team Colin, and between my family, friends, my bike shop people, and a bunch of awesome bike pros, I always have people to ride with and talk bike stuff with, but at a race, when most people are riding with a group, or wearing a cool team jersey, or riding with a friend, I’m riding with, well, me.  Team Colin.  And I dig that.

I’m kind of worried that joining a club will dilute the TC vibe.

This is the tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) part.  Feel free to skip it:

I can’t believe this is a thing for me, and I can’t believe I’m writing it in my blog, but I like not having any official connections to anyone. My shop once talked to me about “riding exclusively” for them, and as much as I love my shop, I declined (and they understood).  I mean, I already pretty much ride exclusively for them because they are the only people who touch my bikes and they are the only bike shop kit I wear, but it’s not officially sanctioned.  When I talk about “my” shop (at a race or on my blog), I want it to continue to be because of how awesome they are, not because they gave me a pro deal on a new seat (even though they probably did).

Also, I know this sounds kind of hokey, but I like MY brand.  I AM TEAM COLIN.  It wasn’t intentional, but my blog became the Team Colin brand.  I became the Team Colin brand.  That’s actually a tough thing for me to say.  Aside from the fact that I’m naturally self-deprecating, it’s only a blog after all, and not many people will read it in any case, but still, some how, some way, Team Colin became a “thing”.  In the big (and small) picture, it’s really just about playing bikes, but it’s important to me. 

As much as I joke about it, and as much as most of my blogs aren’t read by that many people, I’ve had a few posts reach almost 7,000 people on Facebook, and almost 10,000 people visited my blog last year.  Yeah, pretty sweet.

Also, it’s important to me because I have a voice on my blog, and that voice is as much a part of me as my thumbs.  I don’t want to lose my identity.  If I join a club, I don’t want to be “that Lapdog, Colin”.  I’d much rather be “Colin, who is also a Lapdog”.  Plus, and I can’t stress this enough, I really like my thumbs.  

Hey, what about the Lapdogs kit?  Would I have to wear the Lapdogs kit at races and on the podium (Ha!  Like I’ll ever be on the podium)?  Because I have a few kits in my rotation, and aside from the fact that I ride too frequently to wear only one kit (can’t do laundry in time), I really really really like my principal kits:  my original XCM kit, my two Cycle Solutions kits, and my Joyride 150 jersey.

Barry’s response on this was a bit murky.

In past years, when we have had a race team with pro deals on gear the expectation was that race team members wear the team kit (and OCA rules are that if you affiliate with a team or club for insurance purposes, you wear club/team kit but in the past year or so, the line between club and team has diminished. I would say that it’s not a requirement to wear team kit at races, but most people do and why wouldn’t you? It’s great looking kit.
So in response to whether or not I have to wear the kit, the answer is “Depends”.
Fair enough.  

 

I should also mention that while Barry is a legendary Lapdog (totally his words), he is not their official spokesperson.  However, he has a British accent, so it sounds authoritative.  He’s also a buddy, so I’m taking whatever he says as fairly accurate.  And like I said, he’s all “bangers and mash” this and “cheerio” that, so who am I to question.  By the way, he really doesn’t talk like that, but with his accent, that’s the way he sounds in my head.

If only there was another source of information about the Lapdogs.  Wait, there is: the world wide web! The Lapdogs Cycling Club website corroborated Barry’s info, and added a bit more, but it also raised a few questions.  Barry (and the website) pointed me to their leader president guy, Michael Cranwell.  I’ve sent a message with a few questions, and I’ll post the answers ASAP.
team-colin-lapdogs.jpg
By the way, looking at their website, I saw a “Nobody gets left behind” policy.  But what about right behind?  And what if I actually want a left behind (that’s the new Cannondale full suspension bike, right)?
In the meantime, I had a few more question for Barry. 
Do I have to lead rides? 
It’s not a requirement by any means. But it’s always appreciated. My attitude is that if I want to do a certain ride, I will make it a club ride and if others show up, I have company. If no one comes, then that’s fine too as I was planning on doing the ride anyway.
Okay, cool.
So what does it all mean?  I’m not sure, but here’s my take on the LDCC sitch:  for 56 bucks, I might as well find out, and it might as well be with the Lapdogs.  I don’t need the discount at Gears, and I don’t think I need the support at races, but I think the group vibe might be cool. I’ll still keep my own insurance, register at races under Team Colin (for organizers who recognize it), and may or may not stuff myself into the LDCC kit–that is, if they make them in XXXL (yup, triple XL, that’s my size).
team-colin.jpgAnd even though I feel like it sounds arrogant when I say I’m “worried about losing my brand” it’s a real thing, and it just means I’ll have to be mindful to maintain the me-ness of me.
In truth, if (when) I join the Lapdogs, I’ll join the Team Colin way, and that means there is a stronger likelihood that by the end of this, the Lapdogs will all be wearing Team Colin hats.  As much as I’m not sure whether I’M ready for a cycling club, I also have to wonder if THEY’RE ready for me.
I better call my hat guy…
Ride.
PS
Something to say about this blog?  Something to say about bikes (or bike clubs)?  Comment here, send an email  to teamcolinblog@yahoo.com, or check out the Team Colin Facebook page.
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