With more Olympic gold medallists, a Briton winning the Tour de France for the first time, Sir Bradley Wiggins installed as BBC sports personality of the year and Mark Cavendish undisputed top international sprint finisher, cycling in the UK is enjoying a steady and sustained rise in popularity. Yet, despite us living in the new golden era of cycling, because many lead more sedentary lifestyles the government is keen to promote the health, environmental and economic benefits of cycling. And, lobbyists are seeking to seize the opportunity to improve the infrastructure, the lack of which partially explains why, compared with the rest of Europe, so few of us use a bike as our main means of transport.
Horsham Cycling, though, founded in 2005 and with approaching 200 enthusiastic members, is ahead of the game. The club is affiliated to principal cycling organisations and puts on cycling events for people of varied ages and abilities – from social peddlers who like to enjoy a leisurely ride, through to talented racers who love competing in time trials – and there are a wide range of members in between. Seven groups from the club meet in Horsham’s Carfax every Sunday morning for rides, each covering a variety of distances and speeds to match their capabilities. The rides, culminating at the café in Horsham Park, are lead by experienced riders promoting safe riding techniques along pleasant, country routes. New participants receive a friendly welcome and it is not necessary to join the club to sample a ride.
Apart from the Sunday rides there are many other year round events, including time and reliability trials, track cycling, hill challenges and off road and mountain biking. Members pay a modest subscription, qualify for discounts at local cycle shops and receive general cycling advice. They are encouraged to really get to know the fantastic countryside around our area and, if they wish to do so, as many do, to stretch themselves.
But there is more to the club than cycling – other activities include social nights, quizzes, an annual post ride lunch, a Christmas dinner and occasional pub get togethers. There are also away weekends in the UK and Europe.
Members receive regular communications, including their own dedicated magazine, Chainlink and there is a wealth of further information about the club, including contact details on the website www.horshamcycling.co.uk.