Do please forgive the Edwin Starr paraphrasing but the recent regurgitations about scheduled Saturday rides, complete with accusations of closed shops because “only” five folk went out last Saturday, has got me thinking. I find it all a little galling – and not just because the moaners are often those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk, but mostly because there is this tendency to see five out on the Saturday ride as a sign of decay and a harbinger of doom. Even after those five posted that they had an absolute belter of a ride and were still flying the high some six hours later.
So here is a little thought for us: is Walkers Cycling Club defined purely by its Saturday road ride or should we be looking at the broader picture before we ask Death to let us have it with the scythe?
My take is this: I joined this club because it offered something for everybody, including newcomers to cycling who wanted to do more than pootle around a park on a Skyride.
This club has not disappointed on that front.
In the eight years I have been a member I have probably tried all of the activities offered (with the exception of the Tuesday road ride as I recognised my limitations early doors after trying to keep up with Bryce on the way home from somewhere.) Moreover, when I write it all out, I find that this is a pretty impressively long list, going something like this.
Under the umbrella of this one club I have taken part in:
- Wednesday evening road rides
- Wednesday evening MTB rides
- Thursday evening leisure road rides
- Thursday evening Marine Drive chain gang rides
- Saturday main Club rides
- Saturday trek rides in Ayrshire and beyond
- Cyclocross skills sessions (well okay, one thereof)
- Club TTs
- Club Spring Classic events
- The pie-winning Georgetown Cup team on three occasions
That’s just the routine stuff. Add to that an away weekend to the Great Glen, some birthday bashes to Largs and to Prestwick, several day excursions such as Three Ferries, Around Arran and the recent See You in Strachur.
I have also had the pleasure of helping the club run several road races.
I have also had the honour of helping at the legendary Irvine Beach Cyclocross event – an event so noteworthy and acknowledged as so well run by Walkers CC that we have been awarded a round of the HSBC National Trophy series. At which I will be again honoured to help.
The question is could I have got that elsewhere? Could I have got it, specifically, at Johnstone Wheelers whose HQ is a mere half mile from my house? I don’t actually think so.
So given that this small but well- above-our- weight-punching club does all of the stuff on that list and more, how should we define Walkers Cycling Club?
If we asked the cycling public, the answer might come back as Walkers being the club who runs the very successful Cyclocross event that is sold out minutes after it goes live. If we asked our three American visitors from last weekend, they would say they saw a club which opened its doors to them for a week and which welcomed them without any question as to their ability levels or whether they rode without cleats. (Don’t laugh: I know of at least one club who deems those who don’t have the Looks as inferior beings. Not Keo players, indeed.) They would even tell you that this “wee” club rallied round to lend them bikes for the week on which they could explore our county. Yes, we are a small club. But look at the competition locally? Cycling is not a big player when compared to something like football. But surely the signs are clear that we hold our own in our smaller sporting community?
Why, then, do we constantly return to this issue of (perceived) small numbers on a Saturday main club ride as being indicative of a general failing? Would scheduling the rides make that much of a difference? Knowing a route in advance wouldn’t cause me to attend. This is simply because I am aware that I can’t keep up and I wouldn’t want to hold people back. On the handful of occasions I have been in the past, the regulars have been brilliant at helping me along. They also made sure that the route selected for that day was one I could cope with – in itself a good reason for not pre-scheduling. I wouldn’t want to be that burden every week though. But I still wear my Walkers colours with pride as I head out on the trekking ride.
I ask myself why do we assume that a club cannot exist if it doesn’t have a Saturday club ride that is pre-planned in terms of routes? Is this really the only fruit? No it isn’t, and the Walkers’ fruit basket has already been shown to be extremely well stocked. When I look at the club FB page I see plenty of examples of people out doing things on bicycles on a Saturday. I see people racing in Scottish events wearing Walkers colours. I see people out on their own or in a group mid-week in Walkers colours. Why can’t we just accept that the Saturday club ride of course is an important part of our repertoire, but it isn’t always the main headliner?
As someone has just said to me, there is a massive attraction in a club which consists of small self-directing groups doing what they want within a bigger club environment. It really does provide an opportunity to have it all and do it all with active, indeed very active, members aged from 15 to 70 – doubly so when by dint of doing that old-fashioned thing called talking to each other, the various groups can come together from time to time to do joint activities.
And in an environment not shackled by an administration who realise they are there to facilitate and not dictate.
So Walkers, huh, yeah!
What is it good for?
Well, actually, absolutely everything
Say it again, why’all