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In order to bike race in Australia you need to be a member of a cycling club. Even if you don’t race you can still benefit from joining a club. Clubs usually offer things like social events, racing and training rides, club facilities, retailer discounts, etc. It’s that time of year when club memberships are coming up for renewal it might time to re-evaluate. Or perhaps you’re looking to join your first cycling club and the choices are too overwhelming.
In a place like Victoria there are heaps of clubs to choose from. But which club to join? It’s actually a pretty big decision if you want to enjoy the cycling community you’re involved with and get the most out of it. Each club has very different characteristics, vibes, atmospheres, histories, etc.
Depending on how involved you chose to get, the club you join will connect you with a social circle that will influence the rides and races you attend, the people you associate, club sponsors, and all sorts of other benefits that will shape your cycling experience. Most clubs send out newsletters or have websites to help members keep abreast of what’s happening in the local scene which will ultimately make you feel part of something.
I’ve made a list of the major cycling clubs in Victoria as well as tried to concisely characterize each of them (Thank you to Brad Davies and Matt Keenan for all your help on this). I’ve gone to each and every club website listed and I tell you, many of these clubs could use some sort of value proposition or mission statement. It’s very difficult to tell most each of these clubs are all about for the uninitiated.
If anyone has anything to add to any of the subheadings for a club please feel free. There’s undoubtedly things we’ve missed and the point of this is to help provide more information on each of the clubs and help people make an informed decision. I’ve only scratched the surface.
Metro Victorian Cycling Clubs
St Kilda Cycling Club (SKCC) (website)
Notable Members: Matthew Lloyd (National Champ and ProTour rider), Robert Crowe (Dual Olympian ’92, ’04 and National Champ)
Club Characteristics: Slick, popular, social, welcoming, great overall atmosphere.
Join if you…Rate the quality of coffee and quality of racing in equal measure. I’m a member of SKCC and am obviously very biased. The social events that this club put on are sensational. Everyone is very welcoming and they have a great calendar of events and races. The summer crits are one of SKCC’s best drawing cards.
Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club (CCCC) (website)
Notable Members: Baden Cooke, Simon Clarke, Hilton and Johnny Clarke, Mick Hollingsworth (1964 Olympian and one of the world’s nicest guys)
Club Characteristics: Fast, serious, hard racing. Has a very rich history. Great calendar of events that anyone is welcome to race. Glenvale and Sandown crits are some of the best and most competitive in Australia.
Join if you…Are serious about getting on to State and National teams. CCCC has an outstanding track record of producing world class cyclists.
Chelsea & Peninsula Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: Matt Wilson
Club Characteristics: Joined at the hip of Carnegie-Caulfield
Join if you…Live in the area and want to support your local club while benefiting from racing at Carnegie-Caulfield
Footscray Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: Peter `Bulldog’ Besanko
Club Characteristics: Hard, unforgiving (in a good way), did I mention hard? FCC holds Thursday evening and Sunday morning summer criteriums on a great course.
Join if you…Enjoy throwing it in the gutter and building your season around the Warny.
Brunswick Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: Mitch Docker, Will Walker and brothers Johnny and Nick (recently having moved over to CCCC)
Club Characteristics: Well run, junior focused, friendly, track emphasis. Great Tuesday night track racing on an indoor track (DISC).
Join if you…You are a kid, or have kids, and a penchant for track.
Northcote Cycling Club (no website)
Notable Members: Cadel Evans, Gary Niewand
Club Characteristics: Track-focused (DISC is their home). Great Thursday night track racing on an indoor track (DISC).
Join if you…Like the boards and prefer to do it indoors.
Preston Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: Carey Hall (world sprint champ for 24hrs before going pos, coach and partner of Kathy Watt), Remo and Sal Sansonetti (twins, Olympic and Commonwealth reps and Sal makes the BT bikes)
Club Characteristics: Track focused, Committed (they run the prestigious Preston Mtn Classic)
Join if you…Want to smell the liniment and old style track racing.
Coburg Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: Darren Lapthorne
Club Characteristics: Friendly, rich history.
Join if you…Enjoy hilly handicaps that typify the Northern Combine.
Italo-Australia Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: David McKenzie
Club Characteristics: Small, tight group.
Join if you…Are hoping to find a club with a core training group. Or if you want to join a club that chooses its club champion with a game of poker. No one here takes things too seriously in the end. Good times…
Hawthorn Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: Daniel Braunsteins, Phil Anderson (in previous incarnation of club)
Club Characteristics: Strong many years ago before collapse and now back as an emerging club. Great Wednesday evening summer criteriums off Kew Blvd.
Join if you…Like your criteriums hilly
Blackburn Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: John Nicholson (world sprint champion), Scott Stewart (Seoul Olympian and MTB pioneer), Tom Leaper
Club Characteristics: Great core of talented riders in the past. Blackburn used to be one of the powerhouse clubs back in the day.
Join if you…Want to divide your time between road and track.
Southern Vets Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: ???
Club Characteristics: Masters club. Have a great calendar of events. The Thursday evening Sandown criteriums during the summer that SVCC put on are sensational and very challenging.
Join if you…Want to race competitively with a group of cyclists 35yrs+
Regional Victorian Cycling Clubs
Ballarat Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: Pat Shaw
Club Characteristics: Friendly, growing club
Join if you…Want to be able to ride the Nationals circuit on a regular basis.
Geelong Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: Leigh Howard, James Langedyk and some guy named Russell Mockridge
Club Characteristics: Traditional TTT powerhouse, quality riders
Join if you…Enjoy smashing yourself in a team time trial.
Alpine Cycling Club Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: John Kent
Club Characteristics: Highly committed, Organiser of one of Victoria’s best bike races (Tour of Bright)
Join if you…Prefer your hills long… and don’t mind MTB cross-training in the winter when you’re snowed in.
Shepparton Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: Brett Lancaster, Scott Peoples, Stephen Fairless (88 Olympics road), Shaun O’Brien (92 Olympics team pursuit), Stephen Pate
Club Characteristics: Long and proud history with numerous Olympic representatives, great velodrome, supportive of juniors.
Join if you…Like to have experience guys around that will offer advice and support (Leigh Egan)
Bendigo Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: The McCaig family, David Pell, Glenn O’Shea, this list could go on forever. What do they put in the Bendigo water?
Club Characteristics: Steeped in tradition, racer’s club.
Join if you…Want to be part of cycling royalty.
Warrnambool Cycling Club (website)
Notable Members: Jamie Drew, Michael Lynch (84 Olympics road and Melbourne-Warrnambool winner)
Club Characteristics: Small and supportive
Join if you…Want to learn how to ride in a cross wind