Useful information so thanks. I've been commuting to work for about 3 years (9 miles each way) and want to start doing some longer weekend rides building up to races. I 'd like to join a club but am struggling to find one I'm comfortable with, they all seem very serious. Any advice, recommendations for someone living in south-west London?
Edit: please note that cycling clubs are not like gym memberships, where you sign up and immediately ask what they can do for you. Whatever club you join, please be prepared to put back into the club/sport to the same degree that you take out of it. So if you end up racing, be ready to volunteer to marshal a race. If you go on club runs, volunteer to lead some. Or just volunteer to help where the club needs it. This sport runs on volunteers and a lot of big clubs have loads of money in the bank but nobody to help out. Don't be that person who pays membership dues and assumes that's the end of his/her obligation to the club and sport.