Weekend Road Biking
Every Saturday and Sunday morning at 08:00. Suzhou Riders' take road bike rides around Suzhou. Long rides on Saturdays and social rides on Sundays. Free of charge. Helmets necessary. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Meeting point: Starbucks, 88 Zhongxin Dadao Xi, Suzhou SIP.
Anyone that has been amazed by a group of cyclists speeding around the streets of Suzhou will not be surprised to learn that Suzhou has an active group of bicycle enthusiasts. Suzhou Riders was founded in 2005 by keen cyclist Andy Caron and friends which, has grown to be a social group of around 80 cyclists at the time of writing. From the outset, a group of friends would ride their road bikes and this is still true of today and the group grows year on year with many returning visitors who have moved away from Suzhou but keen to cycle during their limited time in Suzhou.
Cycling is increasing in popularity worldwide, thanks to high profile events such as the Tour de France and the Olympic Games where the racers cover great distances every day. China is no different as many people look to sports as a way to unwind from the pressures of work. Suzhou Riders is an eclectic mix of people from around the world and many feel that it is a good way to meet new friends. The group has had most nations represented at some point of its existence and continues to welcome new cyclists from the furthest flung parts of the globe.
Echo, a local cyclist told of how the Sunday rides are an opportunity to train hard and get to know more about people from around the world as they are chatting and pedaling together. Another keen rider - David from Slovakia, insists that the thought of donning his lycra at the weekend and joining the group rides helps his working week pass quicker, “I wish that I had discovered this group earlier, it is a good way to get motivated to ride longer distances and meet some great friends”. Another keen cyclist Brett tells of how he was able to see so many beautiful places around Suzhou and that has helped develop a deeper bond and understanding of the local geography and culture. The rides are challenging and hard work, but the rewards are amazing in terms of my personal fitness and the wonderful people that we meet”.
Typically the Suzhou Riders cycle between 50km to 200km. What many people are surprised to learn is that cycling in Suzhou is some of the best in the area. The 20km of bicycle track at Yangcheng Lake is the envy of other cycle groups. This track offers traffic free cycling through the breathtaking scenery. As the city is relatively flat without any hills which, the challenge for experience cyclists is limited. Fortunately there are spectacular hills Xi Shan and Dong Shan only 50km or so from SIP. The steep climbs gets the heart pumping, and legs’ burning as each cyclist pursues their personal goal.
The real challenges come in the form of the races that are held in China. The winter months are used for training in preparation for the race season for a dedicated few. Recently the group has joined a number of national events including an overnight non-stop race from Shanghai to Yellow Mountain covering 400km in approximately 19 hours, Moganshan Race and 1000 Island Race to name but a few. Each year a group complete a circuit of Taihu lake, starting early morning and returning late evening after covering close on 300km – the motto ‘Leave as a Team – Return as a Team’ rings true on such occasions. “When someone falls behind, we will always wait for them catch up” said experienced racer Steve.
New riders often ask about safety on the roads around Suzhou. Traffic and the risk of collision with a car is the first thing on every cyclist's mind. Helmets are compulsory when riding with the group, even for the slowest riders. Some reach speeds of up to 50km/hr and this comes with its own risks so safety must be high priority, hence a strict No Helmet – No Ride policy. Experienced rider Emer confirmed that “even the best riders fall off at some stage and it is not always their fault, wearing a helmet helps prevent serious injuries”
So, how do I join you may ask? For those who are keen to join Suzhou Riders, the weekend rides fall into three distinct categories:
Saturday am: Typically this group of cyclists would cycle from 100 to 200km taking them anywhere including Wuxi, the outskirts of Shanghai taking in many every changing scenery including Taihu Lake, Water Towns, Hill Climbs & Wind Farms. This session is particularly favoured by those who have the endurance and enjoys a ‘good ride out’
Sunday Social (am): This group would typically cycle between 50 & 75km venturing out to Yangcheng Lake, Stone Lake and Huang Shan areas. The pace is slower on a Sunday than that of Saturday but nonetheless still a great workout for those who are new or returning to cycling
Sunday Super Social (am - 1st Sunday of the month): This session is for those who are dipping their toe into the world of road cycling. Note that neither this nor the Sunday Social ride required you to own a road bike – only a bike that you are comfortable with and can handle the distance is all that matters!
For those who are keen to join, details of rides can be found via the following links: