Cheltenham & County Cycling Club celebrates its 100th birthday!

Originally founded as a section of the Cheltenham and County Harriers, 23 October 1921 saw the first club group ride with a ride to Broadway. A mere two years later the club disaffiliated from the Harriers and became a completely separate cycling club.

With regular evening and weekend runs the club membership went from strength to strength in a time when there were more bicycles than cars on Britain’s roads. Some truly long and fast rides took place, such as a ‘breakfast run’ to Whitney on Wye, a mere 106-mile round trip and timed runs to Rhayader in Powys and back amongst others.

The current club is not short of fast riders too, there are several successful racers across the disciplines and age ranges, one of them being a National Masters Cyclocross champion.

C&CCC covers all aspects of cycling, road, mountain bike, cyclocross and gravel riding. Rides take place over differing terrain, distances and speeds to cater for all abilities and tastes. Usually there’ll be around 10 different rides taking place each week, with many road rides involving the customary café stop for coffee and cake.

In addition to just riding C&CCC are looking to promote safe and considerate cycling together with its many benefits to the public at large, and at the same time broadening the club’s appeal.

There are currently around 300 members who regularly ride with the club. Being part of the Cheltenham area community C&CCC are aiming to be as inclusive as possible and see more women and younger members coming on board.

There was a great mix of 135 riders including present and past club members who assembled at Cheltenham Pittville Park Pump Rooms on 23 October 2021 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the inaugural ride of 1921 by the club’s founders. The day’s route would take them via Teddington Hands, the original starting point, and over to Broadway.

In an effort to honour the past and make things even more special, 20 members rode an assortment of classic bikes from the 1960’s onwards. Of course classic bikes require classic clothes, so tweeds, wool jerseys and goggles were all present. These riders followed a special route, even taking in two sections of unsurfaced roads to really get into the spirit of those early days of cycling.

The Centenary day involved the club running 16 group rides, including road and mountain bikes covering a range of both speeds and routes.

Return to Cheltenham meant a trip to the town cricket club for the centenary party and a full display of those classic bikes, an exhibition of antique bikes including a hair raising demonstration of over the handlebars dismounting from a Penny Farthing style 1880’s ‘High Bicycle’, the cutting of the celebratory centenary cake and the club awards. The winner of the club ‘styling it up’ prize, missing only a Gitanes and snatched bottle of vin ordinaire, neatly summarised his alter ego with “It turns out I am neither a grimpeur nor a rouleur; my specialism is more poseur.”

All in all a great day, thoroughly enjoyed by participants and one that the club feels has perfectly honoured the original founders.

All photos taken by Dan Freeman, Cheltenham & County CC's photographer.