Looking back on the first 6 months of the year; trawling through months of Insta, Twitter and Facebook updates have highlighted two things: 1. We've done an awful lot this year, and 2. We post waaaay too much! This blog covers some of our highlights from January to June 2017. It doesn't include all of the rides and events that happened, there's just too many, and it's worth remembering that whilst all of the below 'headlines' were happening, every weekend (and during the week) club members were out there riding.
As with everything we've ever done, the tale really is in the success stories of the club members that have smashed so many of their personal goals this year! It's impossible to list everyone and everything that's been done this year; it would take an even longer blog post than this will inevitably turn out to be - and no one wants that! We will however try to list some of our personal highlights that have stood out over the year. Part two (July -Dec) will follow shortly, which will include the uber prestigious club awards!
Revived and rejuvenated after a brilliant Christmas break (failing to complete the Festive 500 again!) Our first ride of the year was a 'New Years Resolution' ride out to Windsor. Despite the freezing temperatures, it was a beautiful day in the saddle made even better by an influx of new talent taking up the sport for the first time. David rewarded all these new comers by accidentally taking them all on the A4 on the way home - great start to life in the club!
Early Jan also saw us head up to Scotland for a weekend to take on the always awesome Ben Nevis. Fearing the worst we booked a guide - crampons, climbing poles and everything - but we got the perfect day to climb the highest peak in the country. It wasn't easy, but the group managed the task perfectly. The minus 20 degree wind chill at the top meant we couldn't enjoy the amazing view for too long - but they always say it's more about the climb don't they?
A testament to the hardy bunch of riders we have in the club, rides went out every weekend in January, as well as regular Thursday Regent's laps and Friday Swains Lane sessions. It was these early January Swains sessions that saw future iron-women Charlie and Alice join us to beast themselves on North London's best hill. In doing so, proving that joining a group is the best way to train for a challenge. Props to everyone who came out in those sessions - that's where heroes are forged!
January was capped off with a London to Brighton ride that will go down in history. Many said we were brave; most said mad - but we weren't to be dissuaded from attempting the famous rid in mid winter. And the two groups that smashed the ride down to Ditchling for a burger at the beach would be forever glad that we attempted it.
Whilst riding a road bike in winter is great fun, we'd argue that riding off road in the mud is more fun! February saw us take a group off-roading in Swinley Forest for the first time. A perfect playground for off-road riding, Swinley is like a ski resort for cyclists. Sign posted runs of different difficulty mean everyone is catered for. Our group consisted of brand new off road riders right up to Alan who was practising on his own Cyclocross bike. First of many trips
February also saw us take on the Hell Of The Ashdown sportive for the first time. A speedy group of Viva Velo and Handsling racing boys joined us and watt bombs started getting dropped all over the place. The biggest casualty was club stalwart Oli Crosby, who with a raging hangover thought he'd 'give the ride a go'. Good job it didn't put him off for the rest of the year. A tough day turned into a mammoth day - 100 miles and 2,500 metres of climbing (we rode there and back). The game pie after the ride was totally worth it though :)
Sportives are a great way to test your fitness and give you a great training aim throughout the year. So when Wiggle offered their 'no excuses' sportive series a group of us jumped on the Cambridgeshire ride and set off out of London to take part. David, Steve and Santi were genuinely humbled to be joined by none other than last year's 'Ride Of The Year' Papiya for the ride. Pleased to report fame had not gone to her head, and she did still speak to the rest of the group! It was a very windy day (shock) but the ride was beautiful and the pub lunch after was even better. Worth leaving London for.
When Bella Velo CC and Queen Of The Mountains suggested their 'My First 100 Miles' series we took no time in jumping all over it. A series of rides that would help a great group of mostly female riders to complete their first 100 miles was a huge success, with hundreds of riders coming out across the series, and loads achieving the goal of that glorious century ride! Can't wait for this year's series...
The whole of winter 2017 was dominated by one man - Chris Hall! Chris' #107for107 charity effort captured the imagination of the UK cycling scene and the wider public (national news, donctha know). It was amazing seeing Chris riding EVERY DAY! Sometimes riding around on his own, sometimes in groups, but always riding around. We were lucky enough to do a couple of rides with him to promote the cause, culminating in the 'wettest windsor ride on record'. Can't wait to see what 2018 brings for this incredible man
As March often heralds 'the beginning of the season' for most cyclists, we took the go big or go home approach to the month. This was illustrated in our 'Complete Kent' ride - 14 Kent climbs over 120km. Three of them over 20% and the other 11 all getting close, it was a tough but incredibly rewarding day out. To be honest, we weren't sure of anyone would show up to this mad ride, so when around 15 people signed up and came along for a day of pain it was lovely. It was also nice to introduce Not In The Peloton's Ben "Surrey is the best" Ryan to some 'proper' hills. He loved it. Sort of.
To go from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous, March was the month we attempted a Kent Audax with Queen of the Mountains. You'd think March wouldn't be the best time to attempt a hilly 200 mile ride... and you'd be right. Despite an incredible day in the saddle, starting in Crystal Palace at 5am and riding literally all over Kent, we were eventually defeated by darkness. Riding through the Kent lanes in the pitch black after 170 miles, bats flying around in our light shadows, we decided it was getting a bit silly, and diverted to a train station. Thanks to everyone who came out - we will be back to finish the ride in 2018!
Easily one of the highlights of the year was our first trip to Mallorca with travel partner Viva Velo. You hear stories about this 'island cycling paradise', but expectations have never been so surpassed. Our group of riders, all female it must be noted, experienced sunshine, perfect roads, no traffic and amazing infrastructure. Climbing Sa Calobra for the first time, as well as all the other legendary climbs made famous by Team Sky and other pros, was unforgettable. Whether a club legend like Papiya, or a brand new rider Vivien, everyone smashed the week and gained loads of confidence. Can't wait for our 2018 Mallorca trips to kick off in April.
Post Mallorca chill was soon to be disrupted by a day in hell! Going from Mallorca's glass like roads to Rapha's Hell of the North ride was a huge shock. An homage to Paris-Roubaix, the ride takes in all of the farm tracks, dirt roads and ditches in Hertfordshire - and it is awesome! A small group of intrepid (very) Dirty Wknders took on the ride, and celebrated in the pub afterwards with the Rapha crew. Belgian beer and frites have never tasted so good. If you're looking for a great ride in April 2018 - sign up for Rapha's Hell Of The North.
In April we also met Parcours Wheels and promptly made them our official wheel partner. Impressed with the quality of their wheels and the reasonable price tag (plus our 10% member discount) we were stoked to run a 'test day' where people could come down and try out the wheels on their own bike in Richmond Park. You can't do that with Zipp can you! It's great to see so many members now running Parcours and we'd recommend you try out a set to see the difference - more test days coming up in 2018.
Having already completed many London to Brighton and Cambridge rides this year, we started to think where else we could ride to and get the train back from easily. The obvious choice was Whitstable on the North Kent coast, so we set about creating a sublime route (if we do say so ourselves), and took a group there for fish, chips and Kentish ale. Don't tell Brighton or Cambridge, but this is our favourite 'London to' ride!
April had been a packed month, but we certainly saved the best until last. When Sophie Radcliffe asked us to help with her London to Paris 24 hour sportive we jumped at the chance. It's a great ride anytime you do it, but helping 120 riders to complete this massive challenge made for a weekend to remember! Some of the stories of accomplishment of some of the riders were truly heartwarming and the emotions under the Eiffel Tower were so high - if you're looking for a challenge in 2018 Sophie's Sportive is a great one.
At best ambitious, at worst psychotic - David decided to ride back from Paris as well. Not to be outdone, Patrick decided to join him and a great adventure was undertaken. Riding back to the French coast, a freezing overnight ferry and a dawn ride back to London was certainly an achievement. 600km in a weekend is a great achievement, but the boys will definitely only ride the one way next time!
We're incredibly proud of all of our partners and we only promote people that we really believe in. The majority of our partners are start ups; people who have put their entire lives into their business or product. That level of commitment shines through in everything that they do and we love that. One of our partners who epitomises this is Yorkshire Velo Tours who run cycling trips in Yorkshire. These guys live and breath cycling in Yorkshire and genuinely thrive on showing people around their backyard. Our May weekend in the Dales with Charles and the YVT team was perfect and our 2018 trip (coinciding with the Tour de Yorkshire) are going to be even better.
May was also the month that we partnered up with Cycle Republic and began to plan expanding outside of London. Whilst far from a start up, Cycle Republic's desire to get as many riders on the road as possible, from beginners upwards, resonated with us and our own goal. Collaborating on loads of rides and giving members 50% off bike servicing means we can help new riders getting out on the road in fun groups and show them the best routes in their area. Rides in Purley and Twickenham in May kicked off the partnership, with loads of members also using the 50% bike servicing servicing discount.
Only roughly 17 months overdue, the Dirty Wknd Maglia Nera Club Kit finally arrived in May! What can we say - we care about what you wear so we wanted to get it right. The kit arrived and we couldn't be more pleased with it. Seeing you guys rocking that black and white look out on the road is so cool and we're always proud to see it. More and more people are picking up kit now so we're looking forward to seeing more Maglia Nera on the road
Finishing with a big ride always fells like a nice full stop for the month. May's big ride was "The One V3" with Not In the Peloton. A rainy start didn't put off the 25 or so riders who started out, and the 17 Surrey Hills we took on would've been a tough day out regardless of the situation. Giving every climb KOM/QOM points may have been a mistake however, as every ascent quickly turned into a race. Everyone finished, and Fraser took ALL of the KOM points. Well, all except one, where David used local knowledge to pip him to the top. He's still talking about it today! Can't wait to see what madness awaits in version 4...
With summer well under way, and so much already acheived so far, all eyes began to turn to Ride London and our training series. Ride London is a huge event for so many cyclists, and having trained alone for the ride ourselves, we wanted to create a support network to help everyone complete and enjoy the ride. We were astounded with the amount of people that came to the first ride in early June, jumping right into the series and giving it their all! Throughout June we ran 6 training rides at weekends and in the week, all of them hugely well attended by riders with the bit between their teeth. A particular highlight was asking a large group to ride up and down Edge Hill in Wimbledon 10 times. Grumbling, murmurs of 'I'll be lucky to do 3" ensued as we set off. Every single one of the 20 or so that started did 10 reps, and it was glorious to watch. More on the rest of the training series and Ride London itself in part two...
A big moment for us in 2017 and something we'd always planned to do was to start a club in another city. Bristol was always the first choice, so we were delighted to start doing Bristol rides with Cycle Republic in June. It's something we'll be doing a lot more of in 2018, but the best thing about the Bristol rides was that, despite being a different group in a different city, the camaraderie, banter and support was the same. Cyclists are awesome and we can't wait to ride more in Bristol after Christmas.
Open water swimming is always something we've wanted to promote in London as it can be so hard to find if you don't know where to look. Therefore we teamed up with our partners Threo to organise an open water swim session at Shepperton Lake. Loads of people came along on a beautifully sunny Saturday morning swimming outdoors - some training for triathlon, some just wanting to enjoy the open water. It was a huge success and we can't wait for more in 2018 with Threo.
The brain child of ride leader Helena (a.k.a The Fit Advisor), and as part of our Ride London series, we teamed up with Queen of the Mountains for a Summer Solstice Box Hill ride. It was the hottest day of the year (probably), so it was incredible to see 60 people turn up on a Wednesday evening. The ride was beautiful, as was the sunset at the top of Box, but it was the number of people who came to the pub afterwards that really made it for us. Thanks Helena, and everyone else for a great night out. Definitely a fixture for 2018 and going forward.
That's it for part one. Tune in on Sunday night for part two, including the prestigious Dirty Wknd club awards!