If a week is a long time in politics 6 months is a lifetime in a cycling club ! It has been far far too long since the last newsletter, for which my apologies.
Where Are We?
Where are we ? Looking back at the year from November, it has been a fantastic year for a club that is young, but growing fast. We are still best characterised as having gone from 8 to 80 in 2-3 years which is no mean feat, but I think we all accept that it also means growing pains along the way !!!
The highlights are difficult to pick out.
Trips & Sportives
We have had excellent turn outs for a variety of local and favoured sportives, starting in March with the Longleat Lionheart, through to the Evans Lackham Ride in October. We have run our first club trips to the Newport Velodrome, which seemed to be enjoyed by all, and with a clamour for putting on more, and have run our first coaching trip to Castle Combe under Andy Cook.
We had 2 very successful club trips to the Alps, thanks in no small part to Chris Combe, and his strategically located chalet in Oz En Oisans. We had a fantastic turn out for our ³home² sportive the Wiltshire 100, which also allowed for a small family/children ride, which is something many of us want to capitalise on. We had the saga of the donkey, which seemed to stretch on for weeks and weeks of tireless banter. We have had spats over segment hunting on Strava (!!!), we¹ve had some fantastic charity riding (Pete Hatt , John Gracie, Andy Harper, and Ben Gale to name a few), and one of the most epic long distance ride in the form of Chris Combe¹s masochistic postings from northern Spain and his Cent Cols of genuinely epic proportions.
We also elected a new committee, with one or two new faces staying on, either in the same role or in a new role. In this respect, Billy Dyer¹s move into setting up a Racing dimension to the club is extremely welcome and perhaps overdue. We get to keep a little bit of the original club DNA as well, which of course is also important even as we go forward. We are going to start slowly here, more by way of coordinating and sharing racing interests of individual members, and then see how we go.
Sam Little has stayed on as Events Secretary, and not only offers continuity there, but also offers a focus for womens membership issues, which continues to be an area that we have to improve on. There no ³if¹s² or ³but¹s² here in my view, this is something British Cycling would expect us to do better at the presence of a small core of very strong female riders, needs to be worked to our advantage to persuade others to get past their fears and join in. On the Events front activities continue to grow in number and variety, and I know there is more to come here even over the next few winter months. But please if you can offer up help and assistance here..please do !!! The more the merrier !!!
Rich Monk brings continuity to the role of Ride Coordinator, and has already brought out a Winter Ride book, tailored to the need to generate shorter, steadier riding options over the winter. Rich and Kevin Maidment are also going to look at ride leadership more generally, and what we can do as a club to improve no conflict intended with formal British Cycling qualifications, just that there are pragmatic things we might be able to do in the short term that demonstrate we take this seriously.
Andy Harper stays on as Treasurer, which again brings some continuity to this vital role as we move forward, potentially into the requirement to bring in new sponsors or at the very least a different deal with our existing sponsors. We are in pretty good shape financially thanks to the previous committee, and the work Andy has done to carry this on.
Mark Surowiec is the new Membership Secretary, and has dived into this role with enthusiasm, and is already a font of ideas on trying to improve the club experience and continue growing the club. He is looking at ways to improve the arrival/starting out experience for new members but also to look at harder at the reasons why membership is not renewed in some instances. Of particular interest to most of us should be the aim we collectively have to move our membership administration (including the handling of personal details) onto British Cycling¹s own system, that offers time saving and efficiency over our existing very ³mandrolic² system.
Gary Hewitt-Long comes back after his long ³holiday² to Africa with a raft of ideas on how to improve on club communications generally. His experience running his own website on the hoof in Africa, makes him ideally suited as Communications Secretary, and he has already been hard at work designing the new club website. His aim is to use the website for things that the website is good for and Facebook for the things FB is good for. There are significant limitations to FB as a portal, or as a means to coordinate or ³book² rides. In addition, we have some club members who have no particular desire to ever use FB, which is something we need to respect. So this is an essential in the future: more functionality, greater ease of use, editing on the hoof for those that need it, simplified page templates, more improved ability to integrate across FB and the website, and integration for Instagram, Strava and others.
Kevin Maidment is the new Club Secretary, and has already had a real impact on committee business. In overall terms, Kevin is trying to professionalise how we do things, which simply means being more efficient, more timely, more rigorous in our considerations, and more transparent along the way.
Club Kit – Update
A word on kit. This is something the committee want to look at, partly to see whether we can administrate it more easily and more efficiently, with less burden on committee members time. But it is also worth reviewing the Owayo kit more generally, to see whether we can improve on it, by either buying the more premium lines, or by going elsewhere. The sensible move is to de-couple this from sponsorship altogether, and to commit to having no sponsors on club kit going forward, which mirrors the practice of many clubs. This would mean that we could tackle the sponsorship issue separately, offering space on our website, on our Facebook pages, and perhaps on any marketing material we distribute. It would mean that provided we could keep all future club kit within defined boundaries of design, colour and logo, that none of our existing kit would be obsolete, simply that as it wore out you could swop in logo-free kit as and when you bought it.
So what does next year bring ? What we would hope it brings is a bit more structure to some of our riding and our ride programme; more clarity on what to expect and how the rides are managed; an even greater variety of non competitive events (riding and non riding); potentially an Easter Ride camp in Wales; another Alpine ride camp in the summer, perhaps coinciding with the Tour de France and following a similar approach to this year.
Member Involvement & Womens Membership
I think the committee would like to think it also brought more involvement by club members in helping out with particular events (and we notice that other clubs have a points system to reward regular attendance and non riding support an idea for us perhaps ?), that it meant starting to correct the low level of womens membership in the club, and the emergence of this racing identity. I would hope that you see tangible signs of the sort of priority we attach to this over the next couple of months, but it will not happen overnight.
As for racing, I used to race a bit of Cat3/4 at Castle Combe and Upavon, and I know that there are club members with the wherewithal to do pretty well at this level, just as there are club members with big enough engines to produce some good efforts on the Time Trial circuit. So it would be good to see this dimension start to see the light of day next year !!