This time last year I wrote a similar post. A reflection on the previous years activities and longing glance to the future. To a 2015 that is now in the past. It’s interesting to read that post back and to see how far I/the club have came since then; to see what I achieved and , just as importantly, to see what I missed so I can correct that in future.
Achieved & Missed
Going through that list right from the get go, there are a few things there that I didn’t do (let’s get the minor fails dealt with right off the bat). I didn’t do a sportive (I’m not overly fussed about this but reasons were ‘knee-gate’, more on this later) and I didn’t do a 100 mile ride (I am more fussed on this but more on correcting that later).
Let’s focus on the things that I did complete on a personal level. I DID break my target of doing more miles this year than I did last year! I also more than doubled the amount of climbing (elevation gained) that I did (the rides were harder) and I also spent less total hours on the bike (I am getting quicker). Positives all round on that front. My overall Strava stats for 2015, for anyone that is interested, were:
Distance: 3,140.6 miles
Time: 225hours 50minutes
Elevation Gain: 161,745 ft
The final point on last year’s list was to get at least one person who wasn’t already a friend to attend a ride. I am incredibly happy to say that target was well and truly smashed! I think at last count there were around 40 different people who had attended the rides throughout the year (thanks to every single one of you who have came) but more importantly, for me on a personal level, there is a (growing) core of ‘regulars’ who have emerged. That core of regulars has lead to friendship and this for me is one of the cornerstones of the club and something I personally really wanted as bonus but never set it as a goal, as riding with good people was enough for me. An example of this can be typified as recently as the New Year’s Eve just passed. Mark, Rob and I (briefly accompanied by Martin Ash.) headed out for a ride on the last day of the year. Inadvertently, it became somewhat of a 2015 montage of Allez Prestwich. Passing points along the route that allowed us to reminisce about earlier rides in the year and that allowed us to see just how far we’d come and how much had changed. Of course, we saw out the year with a refuel at a local establishment before heading home.
For the record, I did a ride just before new years last year and that was on my own, so to do something similar this year, to see off 2015 with friends I’ve made though this club was a lovely moment and a fitting way to close my 2015 on a bike.
From Humble Beginnings
From heading out on the early rides, just me and Rich in February/March in utterly horrendous conditions; to Josh and Simon being the first people outside of our friends circle to come to a ride; to having 17 people careering down Cragg Vale (only to come back up it again later) on one of the hardest rides we’ve run, has been an utterly thrilling journey. To have established and to continue to run this club is something that I am immensely proud of. Thankfully – I hope – my passion has not waned. Rather, it’s grown and I’m even more sure that Allez Prestwich is growing to be a completely viable, enjoyable and genuinely different alternative to the ‘traditional’ cycling club.
Those clubs absolutely have a place.In fact, if thought necessary, I’d recommend someone going to one of these clubs if they contacted us and I though they were better suited to that; in fact, we’ve already done that. But cycling, like everything is and does, is changing and people have different requirements as things evolve. This last year has more than confirmed my initial hunch that there “must be more people out there like me”. That, for avoidance of doubt, is:
- people who love cycling and getting out in their local area.
- people who like challenging but doable rides.
- people who like meeting other social people and having a drink and chat in/after rides.
- people who don’t think they are pro cyclists when they’ve never raced in their lives.
Initially starting out with one ride per month, with as little as 25-30 miles, our rides, like the club, have evolved and grown. Partly down to an improvement in my on going knee condition, which I hoped would always be the case.
I must pause and give an honourable mention here to the fantastic Rob Harris and his team down at Harris & Ross physio. They’ve got me on the right track. Though I’m not fully out of the woods, I’ve only had a serious recurrence of the injury while on a ride once in the whole time since I went and saw Rob back in June of 2015. I’m already looking forward to seeing them again for strengthening and more prevention techniques to get rid of the slight niggles. Seeing Rob Harris has left me in a much more positive place in regards to my knee than I have been in a long time. Oh, he’s also an ex-pro cyclist, so it’s great to chat to him throughout your treatment and get a real insight to cycling. Great guy.
Anyhow, back to the rides. As I was saying. They changed. Also, the demand changed and it was clear that people may want more than just one ride per month. This led to us introducing our ‘Big Ride’ series back in August. We had one of these each month, along with our usual 30-40 mile monthly rides. The big rides were a roaring success and we had fantastic attendances across each of them. Our record single ride attendance of 17 was actually set on one of our big rides.
These rides allowed us to ride a little further out that our usual rides, letting us further discover the awesome countryside that envelops us up here in our lovely little part of the world. Hebden Bridge, Holmfirth & Glossop, & Pendle were all big ride destinations passed and ticked off, while taking in iconic UK hill climbs such Holme Moss, Isle of Skye, Cragg Vale, Blackstone Edge and Nick O’ Pendle. As I look back there are some wonderful moments from these rides that will form a very large part of my “nice bits of 2015” mental show-reel.
The monthly rides were still alive and kicking and gave us a great base to introduce new people, to chat with our buddies over more familiar terrain and to find challenges much nearer to home. With this dual combination of rides I’d like to think we achieved a great balance that can appeal to many people.
Off Of The Bike
There are some other highlights from the club this year that are not linked to actual rides themselves. A main one being the day that we received our own kit! This was a brilliant day for the club but also for me personally, as it really felt like we were a ‘proper’ club. To see those jerseys bombing ahead down Cragg Vale in the ride mentioned earlier left with a great sense of satisfaction and pride.
The other that sticks out was the inaugural Allez Prestwich Christmas do. What an excellent night! I’m already looking forward to 2016’s! We had a great attendance and it was great to hang out off the bike, grab some good food, some drinks (refuelling, obviously!) and even meet some of the riders’ partners. It felt like we’d really begun to establish a proper little community and of course we celebrated right here in Prestwich! Thanks to Croma, All The Shapes and Cuckoo for hosting us throughout the night.
I’ve met some fantastic people this year. I’ve enjoyed chatting to everyone of you and, as mentioned earlier, you have my heartfelt thanks for attending and help make Allez Prestwich grow as it has done.
However, this segment is to give a huge nod of appreciation and, in the spirit of cycling colloquialisms, a massive ‘Chapeau!’ to all of those people who have helped me with Allez Prestwich this year. Whether it be advice, suggestions, helping run rides out on the road, planning routes or just coming out for a beer and chat, I’d like you to know that I appreciate it greatly and it has directly translated into the success of the club. This is our club not mine.
If you’re reading this and it even slightly fits to you, then you’re one of the people I’m talking about, so thank you. (I won’t name names as I don’t want to leave anyone out or to embarrass anyone).
I hope I can count on your support in 2016 and I look forward to sharing many a great ride (and beer) with you in the coming year.
2015 was ace an ace year for Allez Prestwich but I reckon 2016 is going to even better.
We’ve already got some plans in motion: we’ll be doing more riding, more socialising and generally just having more fun next year. So, come along for the ride and enjoy them with us. If you know someone who you think would enjoy our rides, then give us a share and get them down. We’re chatting about some tours/overnight stays, possibly the odd sportive and we’ll be adding sporadic rides and events throughout the year, so keep your eyes peeled for what we’re up to. Many more details will be released in the very near future.
From a personal point of view, I WILL be completing that century ride this year, without a shadow of a doubt.
I’d like to wish everyone affiliated with the club, in fact anyone reading this, a very happy new year. I hope 2016 is awesome to you. Just enjoy it and be happy.
Craig | Allez Prestwich