As the clubs fourth year comes to a close, and I sit here with a dodgy leg unable to race in the best conditions of the Christmas break so far, I've taken time to have a little peek through some old posts and tried to remember all the cycly? things I've done with the club. Not to mention some of the great things other club members did in 2015.
I always think a cycling year starts in Spring, not on the first day of the year. In fact the very first official LBRCC ride was in the Spring of 2011, when a staggering four members turned out. A far cry from todays turnouts, and yes 2011 so we're just about to be five years old.
Like the start of most clubs years the riding is always a bit disjointed while people make plans for the forthcoming year
Though stand out memories are those of Tom preparing to tour the States and Keith getting ready for the Paris-Brest-Paris. Whilst I admired them, I didn't envy them, but I did like to picture the club green jersey on an American black top and in among the thousands of international jersey's riding the PBP.
Some were very busy and hard at work because they'd applied for BC race licences, and the ideas and dreams born in the Black Lion over winter were soon to become reality. Grim reality.
Racing in 2015 really kicked off for the LBRCC with more members racing than ever before. And I was very pleased to see that our racers weren't pot hunting for points in easy short races, the club picked tough races, earned their points, but most of all earned the respect of those around them. Everyone of them was an ambassador for the club.
Whilst green jersey's were rolling across the States, riding non-stop across Europe or battling the peloton, something else was going on.
The day to day life of a club, the meat and bones of riding that bonds all members. Late 2014 saw many new riders join, and by 2015 many of those new members had new bikes and a new enthusiasm. I could tell 2015 was going to be a good year.
My plans were to simply race, a cocktail of tough open road races followed by a long summer on the Criterium circuit. And throw in as much fun stuff between as possible. The first real fun of 2015 was the Rapha hell of the North, a homage to the Paris Roubaix but with beer and frites at the end instead of trophies.
Something else I noticed as chairman was the quality of the clubs riding, so much better. There were issues, but they were very minor. Behind the scenes it was decided that we'd get the most experienced riders to share their knowledge on the club runs even if it meant upsetting a rider or two, but I know that riders have more fun and enjoyment when they're part of a well oiled machine so it was worth cracking a few eggs.
We also had a 'Race Experience' day were racers old and new from the BC and LVRC shared their experience with newcomers on the safety of a closed road race circuit. That really paid dividends.
So members old and new on bikes old and new settled in for the summer miles. I was confident that we'd all hold our own and do the club proud.
The race lads were well underway. Clubs rides were finally sorted and free from issues for all to enjoy. And a whole host of LBRCC riders were spreading they're wings on the Continent, usually the Alps!
I'd had some races under my belt by the start of summer, but my trip to Belgium with Fraser was the highlight to the start of the year. We rode the Gent-Wevelgem, but then became tourists for the rest of the weekend due to the terrible weather (remember G being blown off he's bike? that was there and that weekend)
Summer 2015 went well for the club. By the end of the season the racers had gained points and moved up categories. Keith had completed his first PBP. Tom was back safe and sound from the US of A. Club runs were leaving the Black Lion every Sunday. Everything was how it should be.
By September my race season had come to an end, and so it was off to the Pyrenees with Fraser and Neil for our customary end of summer week long trip in the mountains. We met Phil there, our host from Belgium earlier in the year. If we weren't fit at the start of that trip, Phil was going to make sure we were when we went home at the end of it. We climbed every day, and there was always a HC mountain thrown in.
October is often a time when clubs wind down, but not us. I have a passion for cross and I was determined that as many other LBRCC members would be forced to share this passion. People that don't like cross are like those that say they don't like a certain food even if they've never tried it. No time for that nonsense, plus a few members had cross bikes sat doing nothing. We were going to have big numbers representing LBRCC in cyclocross.
Sadly it was about this time that the club had it's first bad news of the year. Star LBRCC cross riders Chris and Jules both broke bones. Chris off the bike and Jules in a mountain bike accident. Similar bad news came later in the year when our youngest rider Nathan was seriously injured whilst out riding in a collision with a car.
When the cross season started at RAF Halton we had eleven LBRCC members racing, and more would later pin on a number.
The season is still underway, and it has gone very well for us, even further respect has been gained. And we've been asked to host a race in 2016.
As the year came to an end the cross races stopped being every single weekend. And it was a chance to all meet up again. I'd been racing solid and hardly knew the members that joined during 2015, so it was great to get out on G rides and actually meet people and be a bit chairman like.
But the ride that tells you it's time to take a break and enjoy the festive season is the 'Sausage Ride' or 'Sausage Rides' a mountain bike sod about in the woods with tea and sausage rolls afterwards. Always fun and open to everyone no matter what your riding background.
So that's about it. Awards at our, and I use the words loosely 'Awards Ceremony' went to all the right folk. A handful of crossers are racing as I type. And some are finishing with a final flourish by doing the 'Festive 500'
2016 is our fifth birthday, and it looks like the party will begin even before the champagne of new years day goes flat. Last few cross races, Lion Of Leighton and the Harp Hilly Hundred anyone?