Joining a Cycling Club : Chat with Rider Joseph Herschel

Joining a Cycling Club : Chat with Rider Joseph Herschel

With so many inquiries about racing, we chose long time customer Joseph Herschel, Committee member of Randwick cycling Club since 2020, to answer some burning questions. Racing can be intimidating for cyclists looking to start. But racing proves the best motivator for riders seeking to increasing fitness, bike handling and overall performance. Better yet, when you join a club you've an additional social network to help establish and achieve your cycling goals.

So lets dive into our chat with Joseph who kindly shared his experiences as well as upcoming racing events you are welcome to dip your cycling shoes in to.

Randwick cc sydney

Alison McGregor : Joseph, we've been chatting about some of the difficulties riders have getting involved not only in a club but also racing. I meet many riders looking to start racing but don't know what to do. So the opportunity to share your experience is exciting. Firstly, what's your involvement in Randwick Cycling Club?

Joseph Herschel : I’m a Committee member since 2020 and have responsibility for coordinating sponsorship. I also manage the Club’s social media accounts. So if you make a comment or send a message on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., it’s likely that I’m the one behind the screen! IRL I lead philanthropy and fundraising programs that are focused on reducing and hopefully ending, the number of people who are sleeping rough on our streets across NSW.

Ali :Thats a great initiative. Your involvement is really involved I wonder what inspired you to begin riding? And secondly, how did you get involved in Randwick Cycling?

Joe : I’d always cycled as a kid - and run cross cross country, too. However, a niggling knee injury slowly forced myself out of running and into cycling. At the time I was living in Canberra and found a really good club that taught me the basics of bunch riding and team work. I’ve been living in Sydney for over 20 years and miss Canberra’s winter (not!). When I arrived in Sydney I struggled to find the club that was right for me and I realise how difficult it can be to ensure that you’re made feel welcome and matched with a group that suits your ability and your direction. By word of mouth from another member, (who I know through my local dog park), I was introduced to Randwick Cycling over 10 years ago. I've really enjoyed making good friends and improving my cycling skills and fitness as a member of Randwick.

sydney womens cycling

Ali : Social aspects seem really important for riders seeking clubs. The bunch ride is actually a good entry point for this. Can you explain a bit about the bunch riding the club members enjoys throughout the week?

Joe : We roll six days a week (Tuesday to Sunday) from the Randwick Gates of Centennial Park. We seperate some of our rides based on skills and pace, whilst other rides are combined. All of our rides have a ’no drop policy’ - that means we will not leave any rider behind - even if you can’t stick with the pace of the group. During the week, our club rides stay local in the eastern suburbs because we realise riders need to get on with life off the bike.

(See below for Joe's advice on the Randwick Bunch Ride Schedule)

After our rides, we end chatting over coffee, respecting COVID Safe practices. That way you get to know us a little better and vice-versa.

The full ride schedule including start times, locations and coffee locations can be found here.

Ali : Racing is a feature many of our clients are interested in. How does a rider get involved, particularly those new to the idea of racing?

heffron racing

Joe : Randwick Cycling has a long history associated with racing, dating back to when we were formed in 1903 and our members used to race around the streets of Botany and Mascot. Imagine the mayhem with cars and cyclists racing today! After WWII, there was a former munitions site located in Maroubra that now forms part of Heffron Park. Our Club gained permission from Randwick Council to use it for criterium racing.

A criterium, or a crit, is a bike race over a closed circuit with the circuit ranging from 400m to 10km. The Heffron crit track is just over 2km and is a Sydney institution. International cyclists such as Cadel Evans, Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas and Manfred Otto have all raced at Heffron. On Saturday afternoon over 100 cyclists from across all parts of Sydney converge to Heffron, with races held for juniors and five seniors divisions. There can be up 50 riders per race.

racing at heffron
All competitors need to have a racing licence. This is offered exclusively by AusCycling and is required for your own protection and the protection of others.

The way I got involved was to to try it out, and I think that’s the best way for most people. Even if it seems daunting at first, you just need to give it a go. I’m yet to climb on the podiums at Heffron. However, I have succeeded elsewhere. Perhaps this season is my big chance at Heffron ….!

Ali : When it comes to equipment, what is expected of the rider when they turn up for either bunch rides, or racing?

Joe :

*A well-maintained bike is essential for safe riding and racing. You don’t need to have the most expensive bike. If you’ve done some work with the Chainsmith team in getting into and out of cleats, that is certainly very important as many of our weekday rides involve a little bit of stop and start due to traffic lights.

*If you ride in triathlons, please remove your tri-bars before coming on a group ride or racing. They can cause series injury and damage in bunch rides and races. With bunch rides, we ride two abreast and a ride leader will guide the bunch through the route. Hazards (such as pot holes, dangerous motorists, etc.) are called up and down the bunch so that we communicate openly. We have a guide on ride etiquette.

*You should be self-sufficient in the case of a mechanical breakdown. That includes carrying a spare tube, some tyre levers, a pump and/or CO2 canisters. The team at Chainsmith should be able to help you with what is essential. You should also carry a bidon (water bottle) and our aim is to develop your skills so that you're comfortable drinking from it whilst riding.

Ali : What stands out about Randwick in comparison to other clubs?

Heffron race track
As a family club, we offer kids in the community a training program that helps them make the transition from learning to ride to competing. On Thursday and Saturday afternoons, the Heffron Park Junior Cycling Academy is open to all junior cyclists, girls and boys, from ages 5-6 to 15 years. Led by an accredited cycling coach, the focus is on skills, confidence and fitness.

For those young riders who want to take the next steps and compete in State Championships, our junior development squad provides more focused group training with a leading cycling coach and mentoring by more experienced cyclists.

For our elite women and men racers, streams are available to assist riders compete at their peak. And we have several club members who are national champions in masters division - as well as a UCI World Masters Track Champion!

podium at heffron
We also offer a good social program - and provide opportunities for the club to come together and enjoy each others’ company off the bike. For major events such as the Bathurst Classic, we organise group accomodation and team dinners. And over the January long weekend, we hold a three-day camp in the Snowy Mountains.

Ali : What's your advice to someone considering joining Randwick CC?

Joe : Come join us for a ride this Friday to test us out. We roll from 6am at Randwick Gates. Contact us on Facebook or via our website and the ride captain will keep an eye out for you. It also helps to contact us in advance to address any questions that you may have.

cycling australia

Thanks to Joe for his time explaining the involvements of belonging to a supportive local club and how to enter the world of racing.


The ride schedule for Randwick CC:
Tuesday = hills (A & B groups at a firm pace, multiple spots to regroup after hills)
Wednesday = La Perouse and the Botany break wall (combined at a steady pace)
Thursday = Hour of Power (A & B groups) to La Perouse and back via Maroubra = at a firm pace
Friday = easy coffee ride to La Perouse (combined). This is a good ride to join us and ’test us out’. We may even shout you a free coffee!
Saturday = if it’s the first of the month, we will be heading north from Hyde Park to either Palm Beach of Akuna Bay (A & B groups)
otherwise, we’ll be riding around the eastern suburbs, doing a slightly longer ride around the port and back via Maroubra. We call this ride Kellog’s (combined)
Sunday = lots of options
two groups head to Waterfall (A & B) with a firm pace line between Waterfall and Sutherland on the way home. The groups typically meet at Sutherland on the way back and if the timing is right, the A group tows the B group home
Another option is to join the group to Cronulla, leaving a little later to accommodate Saturday night excesses, this group has a steadier pace with less hills
And if you’ve had a huge night out on Saturday, perhaps coming back from an injury, or starting out, there is a ride to La Perouse and back through the eastern suburbs at a very easy pace
Finally, if it’s a long weekend, we will do something different. It could be Three Gorges, Mount White, Ettalong, Sublime Point, or Stanwell Tops/RNP. There are so many great options.

If you're keen to start racing Joe provides some dates for upcoming rides.

Joe : After a long and enforced lockdown break, racing is resuming at Heffron Park on Saturday, 30 October. Racing kicks off with our juniors at 1:50pm, with Divisions 5, 4, & 3 from 2:25pm and Division 2 & 1 from 3:10pm.

30 October and 6 November are ideal for anyone new to racing - especially in Divisions 4 & 5. The NSW State Championships are held the following weekend - so many of our riders will be competing there and we’ll take a short break. From 20 November, we're running a three-week series across Divisions 1, 2 & 3 in conjunction with the Bowral Classic where winners gain entry to the Gran Fondo event and Bowral Crit. Divisions 4 & 5 will also have good prizes over those weeks.

To round out the year we have a normal crit race on 11 December and the added bonus of Pudding Races on 18 December - you need to be there to experience it!

Please note *At present, all riders are required to be double vaccinated, in line with the Public Health Orders.

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