More and more people are coming along for the ride at Islington Cycling Club
- Credit: Archant
During the heady days of London 2012, the British public were gripped by individual achievements from Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and the like.
However, Islington Cycling Club – which was established in the wake of post-Olympics enthusiasm for the sport – revolves very much around a group mentality rather than the success of individuals.
Set up just over two years ago, Islington have quickly built up a sizeable membership and focus on providing regular rides for cyclists of all ages and abilities.
Their rapid success was recognised recently when they were named Club of the Year at the annual Sport Islington awards – as well as receiving a nomination for the London Cycling Campaign’s best cycling scheme.
Islington CC secretary David Shannon, a founding member of the club, told the Gazette: “There was a lot of inspiration in 2012, with the first British winner of the Tour de France (Wiggins) and a slew of gold medals at the Olympic Games.
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“We saw an incredible London-wide passion for cycling, but we didn’t have an outlet for it in this area. A lot of clubs do migrate away from the centre of London – for instance all of Finsbury Park CC’s rides begin in Potters Bar.
“What we found was that people wanted rides that began locally, on their doorstep, and so all our events start from Whittington Park.
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“A lot of people who come to ride with us are new to cycle sports and we have what I would call a soft landing for them. We have a policy on our club rides that no-one gets left behind.
“Rides begin at different speeds so there’s an entry point for people to start off and somewhere for them to progress to. It’s not much fun trying to hang on to the back of a group that’s too fast for you.
“We ride in groups of 12 and people rotate, taking turns to be at the front, so everyone looks out for everyone else – if someone gets a puncture, the rest of the group stop to help them repair it.”
Islington CC’s membership reached 100 after just nine months and they currently have close to 400 on their books – more than half of those are aged 35 or under and almost 20 per cent are female.
They are now the fourth largest cycling club in the capital, organising nine club rides each week as well as two public events – a 200km audax, which took place in May with an expanded field of 400, and a 10-mile time trial scheduled for July 25.
And the club are aiming to expand that programme in the coming year, with a 100km public ride and a hill climb both in the pipeline.
“We want to offer more and we’re also looking to build our junior section through the development of Go-Ride schools in partnership with British Cycling,” added Shannon.
“We have burgeoning men’s and women’s sections – 16 of our riders qualified for the UCI Amateur and Masters World Championships in Denmark in September.
“And the club are picking up points at British Cycling regional events as well. We’ve got people doing time trials, circuit racing and we’ve got some very able teams out there.
“We’re self-financing, self-organising and we all work for the love of the sport. It’s an honour to have that work recognised by Sport Islington, who have supported us throughout.
“We’re a very welcoming club and people are encouraged to come along and try it out – come on one of our monthly introductory rides if you’re not sure about how to cycle in a group.
“Personally, I find it a real joy, when I’m out doing something else, to see a group of our riders go past in club colours, all working together and enjoying themselves.”
As well as the monthly introductory rides, the club also provide written guidance on group riding etiquette, taster coaching sessions for juniors and bike maintenance courses.
For more information about the club, or to enter the 10-mile time trial event later this month, visit www.islington.cc