When I was voted in as chairman at the 2020 AGM, I did not think we were heading for one of the toughest years any of us have experienced. The Covid pandemic has impacted on every aspect of our lives and curtailed club activities for a major part of the year.
I started my tenure as Chairman on a positive by helping Andy Singleton to present another fantastic awards night at Styrrup Country Club. Organised by our very own Hilary Thompson, we celebrated the achievements of our club over the previous 12 months in front of members and invited guests. Our annus horribilis started to go downhill after this with severe flooding as storms Ciara and Dennis combined to give us the wettest February since records began in 1766! Not very good weather for riding but we still managed to get out most weekends.
On March 23rd in response to the deepening Covid-19 crisis the country was put into national lockdown and for the first time in the club’s history we had to stop club activities suspending all rides and all planned Go-Ride activities for the Spring term. As the weeks passed, we also took the sad decision to cancel the 2020 Scarborough ride, a popular event which had raised significant funds for charity on previous years. While we were encouraged to exercise on our bikes, we were not allowed to meet up so members continued to log solo or Zwift miles to maintain fitness while waiting till the restrictions could be lifted and we could get back to some kind of normality.
As dark as these times were there was a small advantage during the lockdown, quiet roads and while group riding was not allowed members did keep active, certainly Gareth who logged 100+ consecutive training days. We also had another first for the club, a virtual Committee meeting complete with rogue background noises and visiting pets! We got the business done but it was not as good as a face-to-face meeting over a pint at the Cricket Club.
In June we got the news we had been waiting for, the infection rates were falling so the lockdown could be relaxed but we had to wait a few more weeks before rules around group sizes and exercise were worked out. It was, therefore, Sunday 19th July when we resumed club rides following British Cycling guidelines on social distancing and group sizes of six. On a sunny Sunday morning 12 red riders and 6 blue riders turned up, we split into 3 bubbles and all took different routes to the Happy Café at Sandtoft. It was good to be sitting outside the café in the sunshine with a coffee and a scone once again even if it was at a 2m distance!
Early August we ran our Open time Trial, the first CTT event in the North Midlands district post lockdown, under Covid compliant restrictions to ensure the safety of TVC Marshals and competitors. The 2019 event was cancelled 2 days before hand due to a passing tropical storm so being able to put on the 2020 event was a double bonus. After weeks of lock down the CTT members were keen to race and we had 125 entrants including local professional Connor Swift! Despite the Covid restrictions the club Marshals and volunteers delivered a brilliant event, won by Connor who three weeks later was taking part in the Tour de France. We had positive feedback from many entrants complimenting the club on our friendly and professional event, thanks to all involved.
Determined to save some of the 2020 ride program we held our first post lockdown feature ride when 12 riders in two bubbles completed the 108-mile Humber bridge ride in some windy & wet conditions despite it being 23rd August. This was a special event for Robert Stephenson who, on the 2018 event hit a pothole on the outskirts of Tickhill and ended up in hospital with a fractured shoulder! No such problems this year and a cheer rippled through the two bubbles as the accident location was passed successfully.
Maintaining the momentum, a second feature ride was completed 13th September when 16 riders, again in bubbles, rode to Cleethorpes which was as challenging as ever but not half as windy or wet as previous years.
The summer relaxation allowed us all to get out and about on the bikes a bit more but some of the notable achievements were Martin Bowdler & Dave Morgan completed an epic 600+ mile Scottish road trip; Paul Storey, Andy Singleton and Rob Barnes developed a strange compulsion for cycling & wild camping; Andy Singleton flew club colours in France during a family holiday joining Sporting Club de Quimper for ride. Add to this the Blue, Red and occasional Black Sunday rides all made it as good a summer as possible under the circumstances.
Autumn arrived and on 11th October we ran our annual CTT open hill climb up Bib lane. Once again held in crisp bright autumnal sunshine and with our biggest ever field of 55 riders including 7 Tickhill Velo riders! Another successful event thanks to the great Tickhill Velo Marshals and volunteers. Restrictions meant there were no post event refreshments or prize giving but again feedback received from first time entrants was very positive with several planning to return in 2021.
November saw a second Covid related suspension of club activities, but this was relaxed early December allowing a final couple of chilly rides to finish off the year.
Our other club activities also suffered with disruption, the closed road track sessions in Doncaster had to be cancelled on several occasions and our Go-Ride program of training delivered to local children was completely cancelled due to the difficulties experienced in local schools. We remain committed to the program and welcomed Catherine Adams on to the team as she continues with her training to become a BC qualified coach.
This year has also been a challenge financially for the club. A decision was taken by the Committee that due to the fact a lot of companies were struggling with their finances, we would not pursue sponsorship this year meaning our only income was from membership subscriptions. Despite this we paid our annual affiliation fees to British Cycling & Cycling Time Trials and a made our annual payment to Tickhill Cricket Club to allow us to use the changing rooms and function room. We also funded the training program for the Go Ride coaches all of which has left the accounts down this year and while we still have sufficient funds to run the club, we will be approaching our sponsors for potential support in 2021.
To finish on a few positive notes; during the lockdown there was a renaissance in cycling, and we have had several emails asking about joining the club, all have been contacted and once we get back to something like normal, we will be inviting them for a ride. We have dates booked for our 2021 Time Trial, 2021 Hill Climb and are beginning planning our 2-day charity ride, potentially to an alternative destination. Going forward the existing committee members are happy to stand for re-election and I must thank them for their support over a turbulent year the likes of which none of us have experienced before. A club, however, is nothing without its members and we have a fantastic group with genuine friendship on and off the bikes. Thank you for making Tickhill Velo a friendly, supportive cycling club, I have enjoyed my first year as Chairman despite the problems and look forward to a second term if re-elected.
Chairman Tickhill Velo Club