Updated: Nov 7, 2018
The club was started by three keen local cyclists, Jeff, Luca and Simon in 2014. They wanted to share their love of cycling and encourage more people to get out and enjoy the great routes in the area. They had a vision of a club that was a little different, more inclusive and catering for all abilities and providing a friendly environment for those who may feel intimidated by larger clubs in the area. The club has grown steadily over that time but has kept the same ethos and inclusive approach.
Jeff - President
My first bike was a Hercules Jeep which was built to handle rough terrain and got plenty of that being ridden up and down steep hills and jumps in the abandoned quarries near where I grew up. My dad fitted tyres that had a white insert under the black rubber to show when they were worn and I was busted after a week wearing away a big section doing skids and exposing the white indicator underneath.
Now I’ve got a few bikes but my favourite is my heavily upgraded Specialized Tarmac which is almost like triggers broom, with only the handlebars and frame left from the original spec.
I’m currently resisting the urge to buy another bike, especially as there’s no room left in the garage, if money was no object I’d probably buy something exotic like a top end Wilier or Cervelo with disk brakes, tubeless tyres and DI2. Still, it’s more about the rider than the bike and I should (as always) be doing more training and eating better.
My favourite ride locally would be the Boxhill blast. If you’re feeling strong there’s always someone racing off the front to chase down and it can be a real buzz. For more epic rides there are so many to choose from but the one that started it all was Semnoz near Annecy where we’d gone on a family holiday. I woke up early and sneaked off from the family tent before the heat of the day kicked in. I only had one water bottle and a couple of Madeleines to keep me going and riding up into the mountains above an abandoned ski resort made it feel impossibly high, although it really wasn’t by Alpine standards.
Descending the long and relatively straight road back to Annecy felt like flying and after that I was completely hooked.
I’m president of the club, which I think I got by default by being the person who used to email everyone before we formed, trying to get people out riding on a Sunday morning. Forming the club was about getting a bunch of people out for a ride and a chat, to swap stories on great places to ride, how to get better, what kit worked and just generally burn through the countryside having fun and staying fit and healthy.
The thing I love most about the club is seeing people joining and watching them progress in their fitness and confidence until they’re out on a club ride either at the front dragging the whole club along, or at the back helping a slower rider by encouraging them and giving them a wheel to draft.
The once in a lifetime annual cycling trip we do to somewhere in the mountains is always an incredible experience, although sometimes those epic climbs hurt so much that it’s not until a couple of weeks later you really start to appreciate how special the mountains are.
I’m kidding of course, really it’s all about having two cakes at the coffee stop
Luca - Treasurer
For 40 years a bike was a means to an end, the easiest way to get to school, work or friends' houses. Hills were to be avoided and the closest the chain got to being cleaned was when it rained. My first bike was a Raleigh Striker, its back pedal break meant that I spent most of the time seeing how long a line of rubber I could lay down on the approach to my house. From then on I went through a series of functional workhorses until my early 40s when I bought my first "proper" bike. I now have two bikes: a Bianchi Sempre for the weekends and a Cinelli fixie for the daily commute. As for a dream bike, well that would be the one that has just one more gear when going up Leith Hill.
The club came about during a short break in the French Alps. I had only known Jeff and Simon a few months and it was actually my wife who put me in touch with them. A decision I feel she now regrets! My role as Treasurer is relatively straight forward and mostly involves making sure subs are paid and up to date and that various fees are settled or reimbursed.
The the thing I like most about the club is that we take our cycling seriously but we don't take ourselves too seriously. We are just as likely to discuss 1970s punk bands as optimal tyre pressures on a ride. There's always a sense of camaraderie, a feeling that we're all out doing something we love. So it's that and also the coffee stops. And the annual bike trip. And seeing the club grow.
Simon - Secretary
First bike: Raleigh Tomahawk (obviously the smaller version of the famous Chopper....)
- current bike: Lapierre Aircode 300
- dream bike: Lapierre Aircode SL 900 Ultimate (ok, so I dream small, but it's a nice bike!)
- Favourite ride: Redhill Airport - a couple of nice climbs, lots of scenic countryside, and a nice, slightly different cafe destination; also love the Alps; the ride to Formentor Lighthouse in Mallorca will take some beating too!
- Why you started the club: 3 main reasons really, (i) to encourage like-minded people to get together and experience what Jeff, Luca, and I were, each Sunday; (ii) to offer a chance for novices to learn to cycle safely in a group, and (iii) to get fit and have fun!
- What your role in the club is: Club Secretary, ie managing affiliations and organisation of club
- What is the best thing about being a member of the club: I love the fact that we have so many members now, and there is constant talk about what routes the club will take at the weekend (although I get very jealous when I can't make it out). Plus taking a big group to the mountains each year is the highlight of my year. I feel we are definitely achieving the objectives of encouraging new riders to get out there, improving cycling ability, and having fun. I have seen member fitness improve dramatically since we founded the club (the downside is that I now struggle to keep up!)
Karl - Communications
i joined the club in 2015 and it’s been a game changer, I’ve met great friends, improved my cycling fitness and endurance to a point that I wouldn’t have thought possible before I joined (I still have a long long way to go!). I’m only a recent member of the executive team and my role is to manage the communication aspects of the club. This includes the Facebook page and group as well as Instagram, Twitter and of course our website, including the recent redesign.
Growing up in Nottingham, I had always wanted a Raleigh bike, my Dad worked at the factory when he was younger, so I had always wanted a chopper or a grifter and then later a super burner bmx in gold with mag wheels! In the end I got a beautiful red bmx, not Raleigh but I loved it! I now ride a Scott CR1 team bike which is my joy. I’m not sure what my next bike will be, but can be found staring longingly at the Cervelo S5 or the Specialized Venge.
I didn’t ride for the longest time but started again in 2008, by this time I had moved to London. I started to ride a bit further doing the London to Brighton ride a few times and riding out to Boxhill and round Richmond park but only small distances until I joined the club. I feel lucky that we live so close to such a beautiful area in Surrey and my favourite ride is probably the lost lanes route, it takes you on areas a little less well trodden and beautiful little villages.