St Neots Cycling Club Newsletter
Welcome to our first Newsletter of 2012.
The past 6 to 9 months has seen a great upsurge in the general health of the Club, as we welcome new members on a regular basis, almost filling the Market Square on a Sunday morning for the Club run (well, OK a slight exaggeration). We launched our new website (www.stneotscyclingclub.info) and we are looking forward to celebrating our 125 years in St Neots with our Club Sportive on 7th October.
Our current membership stands at 40 (and counting) and we are delighted to welcome so many new members to the club.
In 2012 we welcome Steve Pleasance , Ian Leadbetter , Phil Laycock , Joe Finucane , Jane Stapleton , Ruth Stapleton , Steven Rodley , Trevor Porter , Tom Hipwell , Stephen Muchmore, Richard Hancock ( previously lapsed, but now seen the light again) , and Rob Black.
In 2011 we welcomed Wayne Tunnah , David Lindsay , Chris Preston , Adrian Lancaster , Adrian Bloxham , Tony Frost , Lee Brooks , David Smith , Ashley Cooper , Jason Dixon and Gary Paterson.
What is also encouraging over the past 12 months is that the average age of the membership is dropping and we now have members in their 20’s and early 30’s. Steve Blows has now lost his accolade of youngest member. Richard Ostler at 35 is now almost middle-aged!
The “young bloods” are needed if the club is to continue to thrive and develop. The more mature members are, as always, full of encouragement - especially on one club run when the line “keep up son, I’m giving you 40 years” was overheard!
The green and white club colours are now being seen on a more regular basis and at least two of the new members have told us that they only became aware of the club when they saw the kit out on the road. So, as they say, “if you have it, flaunt it”, as the kit is one of the best adverts for the club. Steve Rodley joined us after we stopped for a chat when we were doing the risk assessment for the sportive.
Of the 52 Sundays in the year, the club might skip one or possibly two club runs and the weather has to be very bad for that to happen. In 2012 we have cancelled one club run due to the snow; otherwise we set off from the Market Square at 8.30am every Sunday - such commitment and dedication to the cause of cycling.
We set off from the Market Square at 8.30am every Sunday
Richard Ostler and Mark Colmer must be thanked for their efforts in compiling and publishing the routes as they find interesting rides that take us across the surrounding counties. Many also look forward to the times when there is no previously determined route and Justin tells us he knows a good one and 4 counties and 70 miles later we are still looking for the way home!
The Club Runs on a Sunday morning now have an average of 16 and we have peaked at 22. With the good weather still threatening to arrive we expect the numbers to increase over the summer. If you have not yet been out with us this year then we look forward to seeing you soon at the Market Square.
The Group 1 and Group 2 split are now well established and a number of members have progressed comfortably from Group 2 to the Group 1 distance and pace. We are also finding that Group 2 is ideal for those coming back to the Club Runs or returning from injury.
We’re sorry to report a couple of crashes in the past few months however Adrian L and Alistair are now recovered and their bikes have no lasting damage we are glad to report.
For many, the Bushmead sprint is a bit of fun at the end of a Club run when we head back into St Neots down the Bushmead Road. This is a 3 mile stretch, partly downhill, into St Neots that gives a chance to stretch the legs on an informal competitive basis.
The Club TT season opened on 26th April with a very good turnout of 16 riders eager to test themselves on the 11.2 mile Abbotsley circuit and Richard Hancock set the early pace with an opening 26.36, improving to 25.59 on 17th May
It is very encouraging to see this level of support for the TTs and also that a number now have the “bug” and want to do more. As you will see from the results on the website there is a range of abilities for the TT and if you have not tried them, perhaps because you think you must be very fast, then do come along and give it a “go”. You don’t have to be a fast rider to time trial (or to be a tester as the old boys call it). Chris Gosling continues to have the results printed in the St Neots Town Crier and Hunts Post each week.
We had 25 entries on 17th May which is by far the best attended TT for a number of years.
Leon Bradford, at a mere 70, is still out there pushing good times. We have sibling rivalry with the Stapleton sisters, Ruth and Jane, pushing each other to get the best time.
It’s also good to see some of the young blood in the Club starting to compete in the TTs and pushing to go sub 30 minutes.
St Ives Open 10.
Richard H, Tim, Justin and Wayne entered this event in April returning excellent times:
Richard Hancock 22.16
Justin Lomas 23.29
Tim Pennell 24.25
Wayne Tunnah 26.15
Tim Pennell is now racing in the LVRC (League of Veteran Racing Cyclists) at Milton Keynes Bowl on Tuesday nights. The LVRC is aimed at over 40s, but as Tim has discovered the racing is still very competitive! Tim and Richard O have both been racing the MKCA series on Thursday nights, although they’ve yet to distinguish themselves on the circuit. Early days! If you’re interested in road racing and would like to have a go, have a chat with Tim or Richard or take a look at the club forum.
The Tumblr site, which started in February 2011, had served us well but was lacking in a few areas and had limited functionality.
Our thanks go to Alec MacAndrew and Richard Wales for agreeing to take on the project of developing a website for the Club.
We now have an excellent website including a forum which is generating a lot of healthy debate and allows members to communicate easily and to be kept informed.
The website is a considerable step up for the club and can only continue to enhance the awareness of the club and stop us being, as someone once said, “the best kept secret in St Neots”.
The feedback has been excellent, and Alec as webmaster has ensured that the quality is maintained and has already included a number of the ideas for improvement put forward by club members.
We decided that in view of the 125th Anniversary that we would include the dates 1887 – 2012 and the Club badge on the front of the various bits of kit. These could become collector’s pieces in years to come!
Normally these orders are turned around quite quickly by Endura however we were told at the time of the order that there would be an 11 week delivery time which has now been pushed back to 22nd June
As some may have noticed on the Forum, there is a demand for more kit, and we hope to be placing another order very shortly. We will have another order in the autumn for the “winter kit”. Anyone wanting to order now please let Richard Ostler know.
Members on Their travel
- Mark Colmer – Tour of Flanders – Mark with a few friends took himself of to Belgium (see his grimacing face on the homepage of the website) to ride part of the course and then to watch. Found the cold and the cobbles a challenge but thoroughly enjoyed the experience and a few members want to go with him next year
- Justin Lomas cycled from London to Cannes in March, almost a 1,000 miles, in six days, for charity.
- Richard Hancock has been testing himself with a few dualathons and triathlons, and achieving some respectable times and places.
- Adrian Taverna and Tim Pennell are riding some of the Giro d’Italia parcours at the end of May, and watching the pros climb in the Italian Alps. We have been promised updates, so watch out on the website for these.
St Neots Cycling Club Anniversary Sportive “ Autumn Breeze”
On 7th October this year we will be hosting our own sportive as part of our celebrations to acknowledge the Club’s 125th Anniversary Year.
This will be a 125 km run starting and finishing in St Neots from the Ernulf Centre (the ride route is on the website) and the route has been risk-assessed, the police and local authorities have been informed, a feeding station booked at Southwick (around the 40 mile mark), insurance purchased from the British Cycling Federation and entry will be through the BCF site.
We will now be stepping up the publicity for this event, and both on the day and in advance as much help and assistance from club members would be appreciated to make this a successful event for the Club.
Member in the Saddle
Geoff Smith - “ The Man behind the Lycra “
For this edition's “Member in the Saddle”, we feature Geoff Smith and as you will glean he has a very interesting and varied cycling pedigree.
None of us will have competed in 3 countries – UK , France and South Africa – been on the short list for Olympic selection and still be doing a mere 10,000 miles a year on the bike at the age of 67 .
Geoff now lives in France for most of the year so we only see (and hear him) a few times a year. When he is in the UK he continues to log the miles and is a great supporter of the Club runs and the TT. He is always looking to get out on the road when he can and no doubt this summer, when he is back, will be looking for riding partners once again.
Geoff is now 67 and, as most us know, whether on the Club Runs or at the TT’s, his age does not prevent him setting the pace or being under 30 minutes for the TT
A proud Yorkshireman, who, when thinking about establishing a base in the UK to visit his family, chose St Neots not only for location but also for the good memories of cycling and competing in this area when he lived in Yorkshire. He has been a member of the Club for 3 years and we asked him to share some of his cycling history with us.
The “Chain Gang” was his idea and, as anyone who has been out with him on these runs knows, he is a hard taskmaster always pushing you to work harder but at the same time providing advice and hints on how to improve.
The photos of Geoff not only show the “young version to the current version” but also give a glimpse into the different world of cycling that he has lived through. The photo him struggling to hold the trike on the bend, the wonderful old motor bike and the rider in his leathers all set to pace the “young man”, and then the 60+ French Masters Champion .
Geoff was born into a cycling family and his father was Captain of the Armed Forces team in the First Tour of Britain in 1945 which included shaking hands with the King before the race at Buckingham Palace. His mother and father both raced with the Yorkshire Road Club before and after World War II so it was no wonder that the young Geoff got hooked on cycling.
He joined East Bradford CC when he was 11 in 1956 and remained with them until 1970. When he was 12 he started Time Trialling and won a 1st Handicap that year.
The next 14 years saw him continue to time trial, move into road racing and then find a niche in track racing.
Not sure how many 14 year old boys today would decide that a cycle ride from Bradford to Inverness and back , a mere 600 mile round trip , just for fun, would be the norm, but Geoff and a friend did this in 2 weeks staying at youth hostels. They had racing bikes with 5 speed blocks, saddle bags and mudguards.
He hasn't changed at all
His Schoolboy record was:
- 2nd British Schoolboy Sprint Championship
- 5th British Schoolboy Road Championship
- 2nd Yorkshire Schoolboy Road Championship
- Yorkshire Schoolboy Track Champion
- Yorkshire Schoolboy Roller Champion
His Junior record was:
- 3rd Yorkshire Junior Road Race Champion , 1962
- 7th World Junior Road Race , Germany 1963
- 3rd British Junior Road Race Championships , London 1963
- 1st Yorkshire Junior Road Race Champion , 1963
Steady on there!
His Senior Record was:
- 1st Yorkshire Road Race Champion , 1965
- 3rd Isle of Man Viking Road Race
- 21 Road Race wins between 1964 and 1970
- British & World Record Holder Class B Motor Paced Flying Start – ¼ mile, ½ mile and 1 mile.
- British Track Team v Rest of Britain , 1966
- British Track Team v Holland , 1966
- Olympic Track Team shortlist for Tokyo (1964)
Note the front wheel - an early version of the lo-pro TT bike - now banned by the UCI - to get low and get close to the motor-pacer
Geoff made the Olympic squad around Easter 1964 when he won a major sprint event at Herne Hill near London. Having made the squad he then took part in a number of selection events winning a number of them. There was a final selection weekend meeting at the UK Sports Centre in Lilleshall followed by a track meeting in Middlesbrough where he won the 5 mile event only to be taken out by a rider who lost control at the finish. Result was a broken shoulder and off the bike for 6 weeks and his Olympic dream gone.
Geoff, in 1970, then emigrated to South Africa where he continued to compete and actually represented South Africa three times on the track. He continued to win on the road and track including winning the Paarl Track 25 Mile Race on 88 fixed in 56m 42 secs a record which still stands today.
His cycling journey continued when he returned to the UK in 1977 when he re-joined his alma mater, East Bradford CC. His competitive juices had not abated and within 5 weeks of racing he had gained his Category 1 licence in 1978.
He moved to Evesham and rode for the Evesham Wheelers taking the Birmingham & District VTTA Championship in 1991.
The wanderlust took hold of the Smith’s again in 1994 when they moved to France. Geoff, as you would expect, has not been idle and so far he has won:
- 8 Divisional Master RR titles
- 5th in the French Masters RR
- 27th in the Master
- 2 South of France “ Languedoc Roussillion” Masters titles ( when over 60, by the way)
When in France he rides with the Velo Club Alberes, based in Argeles sur Mer.
Compare with the Herne Hill photo above
Finally we have a look at his Personal Bests - and how many of us at 63 would be able to achieve 386 miles in 24 hours! He would certainly have won a number of the St Neots CC trophies over the years with these times.
1hr 07m 49secs
1hr 51m 01secs
4hr 05m 32secs
We hope that you have enjoyed this glimpse into Geoff’s rich cycling history. He is back in the UK in July and his first Club Run will be on July 22nd.