When my wife returned to work after maternity leave with our daughter, six years ago, we both switched to working four day weeks. I stayed home doing the childcare on Mondays, and my wife Fridays, with three days at nursery in the middle. We've continued the arrangement with our son (now two). It's worked brilliantly, means we both get quality time on our own with them and isn't as big a hit on income (especially as we're now both doing condensed hours - 4.5 days into 4). I've no intention of going back to a five day week when my son starts school in a couple of years. I'm looking forward to having a day to myself every week
I went on the local bike club website and sadly realise it will not be for me. Their club rides are a steady 15-18mph! I ride around 13-14mph, but could I sustain that speed all the time - doubtful.
Seren nos beat me to it, but I'd back that up - if you're riding 13-14mph on your own then you'll be able to go comfortably faster riding in a group. The same is true of distance - any distance you ride on your own is going to be easier as part of a group, so ultimately you should be able to go further riding with others.
Written as a keen cyclist who wears a helmet some of the time, but not always, has cracked a few helmets over the years and been grateful for them, but is strongly against compulsion...
While I'd accept that when you whack your head, you're probably better off with a helmet on, it's not quite as simple as that in the real world. There are studies that suggest (and propose plausible reasons for) helmet wearing increasing your risk of getting knocked off your bike in the first place. If I get knocked off I'd probably rather have a helmet on, but if by not wearing one I'm less likely to get hit, then I may be safer without it.
The other factor is the negative effects helmet promotion / compulsion has on numbers of people cycling, and the perceived risk associated with it (it must be dangerous if everyone says you should wear a helmet) and the negative consequences of that for the health and fitness of the general populace. While any serious head injury is obviously very traumatic for the injured party and people around them, by virtue of being easier to quantify, it gets given much more weight in any discussion than the millions of people whose lives are blighted by illnesses related to inactivity that could be prevented if they weren't scared to get on a bike.
For me the most compelling argument is that countries with the lowest rates of head injury among cyclists are also those with the lowest rates of helmet use. That's largely down to having invested in proper cycling infrastructure, so that's what we should focus on rather than endless debates about polystyrene hats.