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Riding through the Winter Months

Chairman’s Update – December 2022

Does cycling stop when the weather gets cold?

This is a time of year when the onset of cold, wet and wintery weather typically leads to rider numbers reducing, and the Time Trial season ended many months ago. Whether it’s because it’s been unseasonably mild, people now have better cold-weather kit or we’re just being a bit tougher (probably a mix of all 3), rider numbers remain high as we move into December.

For example we have 25 riders scheduled to join a midweek ride this week! This is great, as it means that we are still get our cycling fix, even this close to Christmas.

While daytime rides are bulging at the seams, the dark evenings have definitely limited ride opportunities for people with restricted time, whether as a result of demanding jobs or young children. We have therefore been looking at what we can do to address this and have launched 2 new opportunities in recent weeks:

Night Riders. This is continuing our popular Tuesday evening rides, but now in the dark. I tried out this ride last week, and while it’s probably not for everyone, modern cycle lights are so strong that it’s almost as bright as riding in the day. Having said that, it’s important to have good lights, wear something bright & reflective and take care – the group tended to take it a little bit slower - but by taking these measures it’s a safe ride for experienced cyclists. These rides are now on SPOND and definitely worth a try.

Virtual Team Time Trial – since October, a growing bunch of riders have been racing as a team in the WTRL (Zwift Racing League) Team Time Trial series. This involves joining the virtual Zwift cycling world using smart turbo trainers, and working as a team, with everyone having a turn at the front, to get around a 20-mile course as quickly as possible. If you have a turbo trainer and fancy an hour’s workout on a Thursday night around 7pm, why not give it a go? Contact Steve Dawes or myself for more details

Cycling with different groups:

Over the last month, in my first month as Chairman, I have tried to join as many rides as possible, and in particular groups I wouldn’t normally ride with. What I found was a friendly welcome in every case, with members clearly enjoying themselves and loving what the club is offering them. The social side of the rides is a key part of the club offering (as well as the actual cycling), and we are very fortunate to have such wonderful cafe stops in the local area.

I'm pleased to report that the standard of riding across the groups was high, but as we progress into winter, here are a few useful reminders:

  • Our roads and lanes can be filthy at this time of year. Helmets, rear lights and particularly mudguards and are a really good idea, as they protect not just you, but also make it a nicer experience for others riding close to you.

  • You are more likely to get punctures in these conditions. Make sure you are kitted out with everything you need in case the worst happens

  • Don’t forget to point out all hazards to your colleagues during rides, as in groups it’s hard to avoid them once you’re right on top of them

  • It’s particularly important to stick together when road and weather conditions worsen, to share the workload and support each other. Don’t be the individual who constantly rides off the front of their group - these are social rides and the aim is to ride safely as a tight group looking out for one another

On the rides I met a number of people who were interested in joining faster/longer rides, but were concerned about their ability to keep up with the pace, and didn’t want to inconvenience other riders. As a result, they are being put off trying to advance up the ride ladder, which is a shame as it is limiting their progression. We are actively looking at ways that we can support individuals in ‘stepping up’ and a number of ideas are being considered. The aim is that we will launch something next year to help.

Safety first:

In my time in the club I have probably been out on around 500 rides but have seen only a small handful of accidents. The majority of these have been really minor with injuries limited to minor cuts and scrapes. However, I have also been involved in one much-more serious incident, and have heard the occasional story of colleagues having fairly nasty incidents. We clearly should hope for the best (as the likelihood of incidents such as these is low – you are way more likely to have a puncture!), but we should plan for the worst.

As a result we have been running first aid courses, aimed primarily at our ride leader population. 35 people are now fully trained and qualified as First Aiders, with plans next year to train more. This means that all groups should have at least one qualified first aider riding with them. I’m sure that this is what you would expect from a friendly club who put the needs of its members first.

What you may have missed in November:

  • 44 rides during the month (covering Ladies, Emerald, Green, OGRES, Blue, Red and Black rides)

  • The continuation of our successful Tuesday Evening rides, which have now morphed into Night Rider rides

  • Remembrance Day rides on Sunday 13 November

  • Our virtual Team Time Trial Team have continued racing every Thursday evening

  • 2 first aid courses were run for Ride Leaders

Libby Pannett explaining an important LEJOG point to an enthralled audience using a cereal box
  • The first social event was delivered by the new Social Committee (Maria Davidson, Jan Raymond, Jo Harrop, Maureen Appleton & Lucy Hutchins) on 24 Nov. This was entitled ‘LEJOG & More’ and was a great success. There were 6 different speakers discussing their very different experiences of riding from Lands End to John O’Groats, accompanied by food and drink at the Bowlers Arms.

  • The first two meetings of the new committee on 08 & 28 November

  • The first meeting of the cross-organisation, Festival of Cycling Steering Group on 30 November

And in December:

  • As 2022 nears its end, it’s almost time to renew your club membership, so that you can continue to be part of this wonderful club throughout 2023. Emails are being sent out next week with full details

  • A further 40 rides from across our comprehensive range of Ladies, Emerald, Green, OGRES, Blue, Red and Black rides

  • The Mulled Wine and Mince pie event at Newbury Rugby Club on Sunday 04 Dec

  • The traditional Mince Pie Ride to Uffington on 11 Dec

  • Night Riders rides will continue on Tuesday evenings, weather permitting

  • Our virtual Team Time Trial Team will continue to race every Thursday evening

  • Our fun and festive Boxing Day TT on 26 December

  • One of our long-standing members, Neil Taylor, is appearing in an evening of plays at the New Era Theatre in Wash Common on 1-3 and 6 -10 December called ‘The Whole Truth’ about truth in marriage. Tickets are still available.

And finally:

On behalf of the committee I would like to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas, and a 2023 stacked full of more wonderful riding experiences.

Chris Matthews



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