Friday, 4 July 2008

A New Cycling Club: Wychwood Road Club

A New Cycling Club

Wychwood is the name of an ancient area of forest in Oxfordshire, on the high ground between the Rivers Windrush and Evenlode. Not much of the forest survives now, but the name is still used for this distinctive little region, and many groups and organisations identify themselves by using it. The latest addition to the list is the Wychwood Road Club, a new cycling club serving the area around Witney, Burford, Chipping Norton and Charlbury.

Why do we need a new cycling club, when there are already several well established clubs in Oxfordshire ? Well it’s nothing personal, and we are very good friends with many riders in the Oxonian CC, and the Oxford City RC. But it’s always fun to start something new, something of your own, so a small group of us dreamed up The Wychwood Road Club.

The new club is completely informal - no rules and regulations or committees, and we don’t even charge a sub, because at the moment we are not spending any money, although that may have to change. We meet for training runs at the weekend. If we have a general aim it is to encourage cyclists to try the traditional British sport of time-trialling, which is far less popular now than it was some years ago. In our first year several new members have tried it and found how challenging but rewarding this sport is.

Our highlight of the season is our own hilly time trial of 36 miles, based on Charlbury in April.

The club secretary is Peter Whitfield, author of a number of books on cycling history, and a time-triallist for many years, but now easing off from racing. Peter raced successfully on a tandem for many years. We have a Merckx riding for the club ! Thomas Merckx is a research zoologist from Belgium, but unfortunately no relation to big Eddy. And we have a computer wizard, Jonathan Brooks, who has set up this website for us.

Our honorary president is Les West, legendary road champion of the 1960s and 70s. Les won two Milk Races, two national amateur road championships, two national professional road championships, and two Manx Internationals. He is perhaps best remembered for his silver medal in the 1966 World Road Championship, and his fourth place in the World Professional Road Championship in 1970. Modest, relaxed, humorous, Les is a true gentleman of the sport, and he is still riding and still racing.

If you are reasonably fit and interested in raising your cycling a little, why not contact us about joining the club ? Our weekend rides are between 30 and 50 miles, steady pace. Actually we were going out more regularly during the winter, as everybody seems to be busier in the summer, but theoretically we go out from Charlbury on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings. For more information contact Peter Whitfield (email