C-SIG Frequently Asked Questions

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After two years off due to the pandemic, the C-SIG is returning in 2022! In accordance with club policy, we will be limiting indoor stops and requiring all participants to be vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Our C-SIG training series kicks off in March! If you are still hesitant about joining, we say “Go for it!” To help you decide, here are answers to some common questions from potential riders. We also recommend attending the February club meeting, which is devoted to answering questions and getting psyched for the SIG. Please contact [email protected] with any questions that are not answered below.

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?

Will I ride with the same people every week?

How far and how fast will I ride?

How hilly are the routes?

Can I repeat the C-SIG next year also?

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

Preregistration is required. All participants have to be members of NYCC and sign up 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. For all preregistered riders, the C-SIG starts with a Classification ride on Saturday, March 19, 2022, meeting at 10:30 in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. (Rain Date: Sunday, March 20, 2022.) This is an evaluation of your cycling endurance, not a race. To participate in the C-SIG, it's essential that you do the Classification. We will not be holding a formal orientation event.

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What if I can’t make every ride?

Signing up for the C-SIG means you have made a commitment to spend 8 consecutive Saturdays (or Sunday rain dates) cycling with us this spring. You are required to attend at least six of the eight rides including the first ride. If you miss the first ride OR two of the first three rides, you will not be allowed to continue. Leaders have discretion to allow exceptions for Covid-related absences.

This is a progressive series, with each week taking us a little farther and a little faster. Each week, we build on what we have learned in the previous weeks. Since much of our course material is presented in the early weeks, attendance at the first three sessions is particularly important.

Due to the limited number of spots in the SIG, we ask that you double check your calendar and other commitments to make sure you can attend the required weekends to complete the SIG. 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?

Many 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!), start and stop correctly, 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 at least 9.5 miles per hour for 5 laps of the Prospect Park 3.3-mile 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 9.5 to 15.5 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 and 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 slowest B-SIG group, but with less distance and fewer hills as appropriate for a novice. Keep in mind that, due to demand, you can only do the C-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 inner tube that fits your size tires and valve hole. 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.

You should 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 during January and February, 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, narrower 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, pedal-assist bikes, and bikes with aero bars will not be permitted in the C-SIG.

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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 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. Also, see the write-up “Clothing and Accessories” near the bottom of the C-SIG main page.

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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. During the SIG rides you will need lunch money and a valid MetroCard.

Additionally, we've added the requirement, similar to the B- and A-SIG, that you lead or co-lead at least one club C ride sometime this summer/fall following graduation or help the club in another volunteer capacity. As mentioned on our home page, well give you lots of support on this! We intend to provide you with the tools necessary to become capable and confident cyclists. We expect by the end of the SIG that you will make use of the skills you’ve developed and be equipped to lead rides for the Club. If you feel you aren’t capable of leading a ride, there are many other opportunities to do volunteer work for the club.

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How safe is group riding?

The C-SIG places a very high emphasis on riding safely and predictably. We teach single-file group riding, and we start with a healthy gap of about one bike length 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. In case you have a vision 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, be advised that this technique is not taught in the C-SIG.

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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, and a spin class will also get you in shape. At home, you can do squats, lunges, pushups, and crunches to strengthen your legs, arms, and abdominal 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 10:30 and to be done 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. (Not all rides will get back that late, but because of the possibility of mechanical problems or other delays, you should not count on being back before 5:00.)

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Will I ride with the same people every week?

Yes, we assign riders into groups according to their riding speeds, depending on each rider’s classification time. You will ride with the same group members and leaders for the entire SIG.

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How far and how fast will I ride?

Rides progress from approximately 15-25 miles to 55-65 miles. Groups typically begin at a pace of 10-14 mph and progress to a pace of 13-16 mph toward the end of the C-SIG. (Pace is the speed ridden on flat terrain, NOT the overall average speed of the ride, which will be 2-3 mph slower.)

All groups start slower and ride for fewer miles, then gradually build up speed. The speed of the fastest C-SIG group is usually approximately the same as the slowest B-SIG group, but with less distance and fewer hills.

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How hilly are the routes?

C-SIG rides generallly include flat and rolling terrain. Ride leaders provide advice on gear-shifting and other aspects of technique for climbing along with encouragement and stops for regrouping as necessary. Almost all rides that go to New Jersey will have a notable climb to get back up the Palisades to the George Washington Bridge. In the beginning you may be walking up the steepest section, but you will have conquered it by the end of the SIG! Based on the group’s ability, other challenging hills may be included at the discretion of the ride leader.

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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 limit participation to one time per person, 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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