Frequently Asked Questions ... and answers

Please refer to the COVID-19 policy pages for up to date details on group size and ride policy. 
What is the Safety Culture of the Club?

The Club actively promotes safe riding practices and encourages all members (new and experienced) to take CANBIKE 4 training, which is offered to club members at a greatly reduced cost of only $55. This fee is reimbursed in full, once a member has led a club ride.

Tour Leaders are expected to provide an appropriate "safety tip" at the onset of every club ride and members are encouraged to communicate any safety concerns to the Safety Advisor. In this manner, issues may be addressed anonymously through issue specific safety tips, which are included in our weekly Newsletters (Bike Shorts).

Members are responsible for their own safety, and need to be aware that The Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) treats a cyclist as a driver of a vehicle, and thus a cyclist has all the rights and responsibilities of a driver of a vehicle.

Helmets must be worn on all club rides and bicycles must be in good working condition with a bell or horn (the law), and ideally a front light and at least a rear reflector.

Why do we have insurance, and what does it cover?

If a third party makes a legal claim against the insured (which includes the club [KNBC], a club member, or a director of KNBC) for injury or property damage the Club's Insurer - Premier Marine - will act for the insured and will assume all related legal costs. If payment is required to be made to a third party to settle a claim or satisfy a court judgement then such payment shall be made by Premier Marine up to a limit of $5,000,000 per occurrence. 

The Club's insurance policy does not provide for any coverage or reimbursement for injury or death. Each member is also reminded and strongly urged to arrange for supplemental medical insurance if participating in a club activity outside Canada. 

What is KNBC's approach to the rides themselves?

KNBC's philosophy is to encourage riders to bike at the speed they are comfortable with and to enjoy the companionship and scenery. We ride spread out over a significant distance, and once in a while we will stop to re-group.

Each ride has a Tour Leader and a "Sweep". The Sweep is an experienced cyclist who rides at the end of the group, ensures that everybody is all right, and helps with any problem that occurs. The Tour Leader and Sweep usually communicate by cell-phone. 

Unlike some cycling clubs, KNBC usually does not ride in a pace line with the riders taking advantage of the reduced wind resistance that is achieved by following closely behind someone else. We feel that riders in a pack are so focused on the rear wheel immediately in front of you that they cannot enjoy the scenery or chat with others. 

How do I find out about a ride?

Members can find full details for all rides on the KNBC Club Calendar of Rides and Events on the KNBC website. There are various views, weekly, monthly, etc to help you plan your rides. 

Bike Shorts will generally have a list of the week's upcoming rides, but new rides can be added at any time, so keep checking the calendars. Cancellations and additions will be reflected on the calendar as soon as the Tour Director is notified. Additionally, if a ride gets cancelled or changed, all registered riders will be notified by email.

How do I notify the Tour Leader that I want to join a ride?

Registration for day tours is fast and easy. Those intending to attend any ride, regardless of the start location, must register using the Register button in the ride details. This is required for our insurance and so we can manage group size, update riders, and collect various legal acknowledgments. To avoid instances of people registering too far in advance and then forgetting about it, registration for each ride will only become available/active 2 weeks prior to the ride date. Do not be concerned if the ride shows "Registration is closed". This just means you are outside the 2 week window and registration is not yet available. 

After you register for a ride, you will automatically receive an email giving you full details about the ride for which you registered. You may also receive notices by email from your tour leader if there are any last minute changes, cancellations, special instruction etc. 

Do I pay anything extra for each ride?

No. The KNBC membership fee is for the full season and includes all one-day and multi-day rides. Some multi-day rides may require a small contribution from participants to offset tour scouting costs not otherwise covered by the club. Members are, of course, responsible for the cost of their refreshments, meals, and (for multi-day tours) the cost of accommodation. 

Can you explain the different levels of rides? (Updated May 2024)
 Category  Distance (increasing over season)  Speed (flat surface, no wind)   Stops  Terrain
 30-65 km  18-20 km/h  Frequent  mainly flat
 L2  45-100+ km  21-23 km/h  Frequent to occasional  flat, rolling, hilly
 L3  60-100+ km  24-26 km/h  As required  flat, rolling, hilly
 L4  70-100+ km  27-29 km/h   As required  flat, rolling, hilly
 L5  100+ km  30-35 km/h   As required  flat, rolling, hilly
  • The level of the ride indicates the relative average effort and endurance/stamina required. Since these can’t be precisely defined, the table uses speed as a proxy for average effort and distance for endurance/stamina. Actual speeds can vary significantly from the defined averages based on how hilly the route is, the wind speed and direction, the road surfaces, temperature and other weather conditions as well as unanticipated delays.
  • Rides at a given level will generally be slightly shorter and at an easier pace early in the season than those later in the season.
  • Note that ride levels indicate the level of the ride and not that of the rider. Individuals have a much wider range of physical abilities and riding preferences than can be referenced in a single level. As you ride with the club you will get a sense of which ride levels are best suited for you. New club members should start at a ride level where they think they belong until they determine which ride levels are best for them.
  • There are many club members who find longer rides at more relaxed speeds appealing and you will see several L2 rides with an L3 distance. This just indicates the ride has an L2 level of average effort, and an L3 level of stamina/endurance.
  • The average speeds and distances of gravel rides will be significantly lower than road rides at the same level.
For a day trip generally what time is the ETA at the endpoint?

The rides generally start between 9:00am and 10:30am, depending on the distance and whether it is a remote start or not. We are normally back at the starting point by 3:00pm to 4:00pm and sometimes a bit later. For remote starts, there is also the additional time to get home. 

How many people are on day rides?

Most rides are generally in the 10-20 range. When we have more than 16 people on a ride we usually break into two groups. When the weather is poor we could have less than 5 participants. 

What are the ages of the people in the groups?

The average age of KNBC members is just over 65. We have some members in their 40's and a few in their late 70's and early 80's. 

What sort of roads and trails do you ride on?

The routes within Ottawa are on paved paths, arterials with bike lanes, and residential streets. Outside the city limits, most of our rides are on quiet paved side roads. Sometimes, a ride takes us on busier roads, but we try and keep these to a minimum. The club bikes on unpaved trails far less than we used to, but sometimes we cannot avoid a short section of unpaved road or trail. If there is a portion of the ride on unpaved road this is usually mentioned in the tour information on the web. We've recently started offering Gravel rides as this aspect of cycling is becoming more popular.

What sort of bike should I buy?

Buying a bike is like buying a car: it is a very personal decision. What works for one person may not work for another. To keep things simple, there are four basic categories of bikes: mountain bike; hybrid or touring bikes; road or racing bikes; and e-bikes. 

The one thing that most people will agree on is that mountain bikes are unsuitable for medium or long-distance touring. The wheels are smaller and the tires are fatter (more rolling resistance) and far more knobby. Also, the frame is heavier and the gearing is optimized for hills rather than roads. 

Within KNBC, hybrids, road bikes and gravel bikes are very popular. 

Road bikes (often with drop handlebars) are certainly the fastest and their geometry offers the least rolling and aerodynamic resistance. The new trend to wider tires (28 mm / 32 mm) is quickly opening up more routes since they're more forgiving on stone dust trails, unpaved roads, etc. 

Hybrids/touring/gravel bikes are a compromise: wider tires than a road bike, but smaller than a mountain bike. They have a heavier frame than a road bike, but lighter than a mountain bike. These can be equipped with either drop handlebars or the straight variety. 

e-bikes are very popular with our members. Only pedal-assist e-bikes are allowed and riders need to take care with the extra weight and acceleration/deceleration they can exhibit. Ask to review our e-bike policy if you're concerned. 

Regardless of the type of bike, the size of the frame is very important, as are the adjustments to the handlebars and saddle. We suggest you go to your local bike shop and and take advantage of their expertise. 

What else should I buy?

When buying a bike, there are some accessories to consider:

  • A helmet is essential. KNBC insists that everybody on a ride wears a helmet. The general recommendation is to replace your helmet every three years or so due to the degradation of the foam from sun, sweat, etc. Certainly replace it if you've had a crash with a head impact.
  • Bike gloves are inexpensive but very useful for absorbing the vibration of the handlebars.
  • Do buy a couple of water bottles and holders. Staying hydrated is essential for long hot rides in the middle of summer.
  • A pump for keeping the tires properly inflated is also a must.
  • Many KNBC'ers have a bag that sits on a rack over the rear wheel. You can use this to hold a wallet, keys, jacket (as the day warms up), tool kit, lunch, etc.
  • A bike lock is always useful.
  • Everybody gets a flat tire once in a while and we encourage riders to buy a flat tire repair kit. We also recommend carrying a spare inner tube for those flats that are better left until you get home. The tour leader, sweep (and others) will be enthusiastic in helping you with the repair, but they may not have the right size inner tube for your bike.
  • There are also many optional items that you can buy later as and when you want to: padded biking shorts, biking jacket, bike mirror, a computer that measures speed and distance, biking shoes, a tool kit, and a first aid kit.
  • Most KNBC rides are in daylight so don't require lights by law. However, most cyclists now use at least a rear facing light in daytime to make themselves more visible to traffic.
  • New! Be aware that if you cycle in Quebec, there are new laws for mandatory visibility accessories. Click here to see what they are.