C-SIG Frequently Asked Questions

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Our C-SIG training classes start in March! If you are still hesitant about joining, we say “Go for it!” To help you decide, here are answers to some frequently asked questions we have received by e-mail and phone.

Do I just show up, or must I register for the C-SIG?

What if I can’t make every ride?

How much biking experience do I need to join?

I’m an experienced rider but really want to learn more about the fundamentals of cycling. Will the C-SIG be too slow for me?

Do I need special equipment?

Do I need certain type of bicycle?

I'm getting clipless pedals; can I start the SIG with them even though I haven't had time to practice using them?

How should I dress?

This is all free?

How safe is group riding?

Is it too late to get in shape for the SIG? How do I train?

How long does each ride last?

Can I repeat the C-SIG next year also?

Do I just show up, or must I register for the C-SIG?

In addition to joining the club, you must register in advance for the C-SIG using the form on our C-SIG web page. February is a good time to register for SIGs. It gives us an idea of how many people want to join. It also gives us an accurate e-mail address so we can get in touch with you, and an emergency phone number, in the event of injury on the ride. After pre-registering, the C-SIG starts with a Classification ride in March. This is an evaluation of your cycling endurance, not a race. To participate in the C-SIG, it's also essential that you do the Classification.

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What if I can’t make every ride?

Because the C-SIG is a progressive series, we expect you to attend all 8 Saturday rides (or Sunday rain dates). Each week we teach new skills and ride a little farther and a little faster. So if you miss classes, it's unfair to both you and to your group when you fall behind in skills or endurance. We do allow for a few absences; we know that life happens! But you must contact your ride leader in advance if you have to miss a class. If you know, or think it likely, that you will miss more than 2 rides of the 8, or miss any 2 of the first 3, please wait until next year and give the space to someone else who can commit to the series.

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How much biking experience do I need to join?

May people have questions based on their own situation. For example: I’m a runner but new to biking; I just got a new bike; I’m an experienced rider but haven’t ridden much in the past few years. All of these people can benefit from the SIG.  There are three minimum requirements for joining the C-SIG. First, you must know how to ride a bike (no, we’re not kidding!) and be able to control the bike. This is for your own and the group’s safety. During the SIG, you will get lots of time to improve your bike-handling ability. Second, you must be able to maintain a minimum average pace of 10 miles per hour for 3 laps of the Central Park 6-mile (10K) loop. We’ll divide riders into groups with different riding speeds, depending on each rider’s Classification time. Last year’s C-SIG group ranged from 11-16 miles per hour at the beginning. All groups start slower and ride for fewer miles, then gradually build up speed and distance. Third, you should be willing to commit to attending all 8 weeks, to follow instructions from your ride leaders, and to have fun. Being a beginner cyclist is an advantage, in a way. We like to start at the beginning and train you our way. Having no previous bad habits to overcome is good!

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I’m an experienced rider but really want to learn more about the fundamentals of cycling. Will the C-SIG be too slow for me?

The C-SIG tries to give you a thorough grounding in all aspects of cycling including basic group riding techniques, basic bike handling skills, and helps you develop a good relationship with your equipment, and with your body on the bike including posture, pedaling, etc. The B-SIG assumes you are somewhat experienced in shifting, braking, group riding fundamentals, and familiar with your equipment, either from the C-SIG or from your own experience, and moves forward from there to intermediate group riding techniques and longer and hillier rides. The speed of the faster C-SIG groups is usually approximately the same as the slower B-SIG groups, but with less distance or hills as appropriate for a novice. Keep in mind that, due to demand, you can only do the C-SIG once and only do the B-SIG once. Many graduates of both C and B SIGS participate in the various century and other events over the summer, as well as the numerous weekly NYCC rides.

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Do I need special equipment?

You must wear a helmet on all rides and bring a spare tube that fits your size tires. Also at least one water bottle and a portable bike pump. If you haven’t yet bought a pump or bike tools, you can hold off until the C-SIG starts, when we’ll talk about this. It’s a good idea to make time before the SIG starts to get your bike in good working condition: brakes adjusted, chain cleaned and lubed, tires pumped to recommended pressure. Many cyclists visit their bike shops around now, when it’s not too busy. A tuned bike should be good for several months of carefree riding.

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Do I need a certain type of bicycle?

The C-SIG focuses on group road cycling skills and a road bike is highly recommended although hybrids and mountain bikes will be accepted. If you are participating in the C-SIG with a hybrid or mountain bike, thinner and smoother tires in lieu of knobby tires are recommended to save energy. Any bike shop can advise you on the range of tire widths available for your wheel. Consistency and predictability are the foundation of safe group riding, therefore bikes with significant differences in handling from road bikes such as recumbents, tandems, single-gear bikes, BMX bikes and aero bars will not be permitted in the C-SIG. Most participants have road bikes, but the C-SIG can be done with hybrids. If you will be riding a hybrid, it is wise to tell your bike shop that you will be using it for a beginning road cycling class and ask them to put appropriate width tires on the existing wheels in place of extra-wide or knobby tires that come with some hybrids.

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I'm getting clipless pedals; can I start the SIG with them even though I haven't had time to practice using them?

If you are new to clipless pedals, it's best for you to start the SIG without them. They do take practice getting used to, and as we'll be doing group riding, good bike control affects not just you, but others around you. Once the SIG starts talk with your group's ride leaders for guidance on this and tips for making the transition to clipless, shall we say, painless?.

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How should I dress?

Dress in layers for cold weather: covered knees (tights plus windbreaker pants are good if it’s in the 30s), layered tops with a windbreaker as the outer layer, gloves, something to cover your ears that fits under your helmet, two layers of socks and winter cycling boots or booties to cover your shoes. Many of you won’t have cycling boots or booties, so try putting plastic bags over your socks inside your shoes or buy chemical toe warmers found at most sporting good stores. Keep in mind that even at, say, 40 degrees, with a combined 20 miles of wind and bike speed, your body perceives a wind chill temperature of 13 degrees! We will cover bike clothing in more detail during the SIG.

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This is all free?

Well, not quite. We do say the SIG is free, but we require that you join the NYCC before the SIG begins. Later, we will also ask you to buy a Metro North bike pass (we'll tell you how); it's $5 and is good for a lifetime. The only other up front expenditure is lunch money during our rides. And this year, we've added the requirement, similar to the B- and A-SIG, that you lead at least one club C ride sometime this summer following graduation. As mentioned on our home page, well give you lots of support on this.

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How safe is group riding?

You’re probably thinking of pace line riding, where you’re inches from another cyclist’s rear wheel and you keep your eyes on the road and that other wheel all the time. We teach single file group riding, and we start with a healthy gap between bikes. The gap will narrow over the course of the SIG, but you should be comfortable riding within the group. We spend a lot of time on verbal and hand signals and correct positions on the road vis-à-vis left-hand turns, traffic circles, etc. Honestly, you’ll feel like such a pro riding in a group.

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Is it too late to get in shape for the SIG? How do I train?

If you can, try to get out and ride before March. There’s nothing better than riding to train for riding! If you have access to a gym, the leg press, leg lift and hamstring curl machines are great for building leg muscles. Aerobic exercise on the treadmill or elliptical fitness cross-trainer will build lung capacity. At home, you can do squats, lunges, pushups and crunches to strengthen your legs, arms and lower back muscles.

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How long does each ride last?

Plan to show up for the Classification ride a little before 9:30 and to leave 2-3 hours later. Then, for the next 8 Saturdays, we’ll ride all day, getting back around 5 PM. So this is, in a way, the “cost” of doing a SIG—you hand over your Saturdays to us! But we don’t think you’ll regret it; you gain life-long skills and get to know a great bunch of fellow cyclists.

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Can I repeat the C-SIG next year also?

The short answer is NO.  Due to the popularity of the SIGs, we must limit participation to our graduates to one time, thus allowing others the opportunity to enjoy the C-SIG experience.  If you started the C-SIG but had to withdraw before the end of the series, due to injury or other excused absences, your case will be reviewed by the C-SIG leadership team and you may be allowed to retake the C-SIG.

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