"I just want to ride with my mates!"

Eltham Velo Cycling Club South East London SE9 Kent

An Idea is Born

So, here I am. It’s the first day of half-term and I’m sitting in my lounge encouraging my son to take his Performing Arts assessment seriously and wrapping my thigh in yet another icy tea-towel. There’s Ruby (don’t we all give our bikes names?), leaning expectantly against the table in exactly the same place as I left her after last week’s inaugural Eltham Velo ride. There was no action for Ruby this weekend. Having tweaked an old quad injury I couldn’t ride yesterday and boy, did I miss it? What could be nicer than riding your bike with your mates?

But let’s rewind a bit.

Eltham Velo Cycling Club South East London SE9 Kent

"Ooh, are we setting-up a cycling club?"

As many of us do, I started the year by setting myself some goals: sort out my stumbling professional life; help my 15-year old son not to make the same academic mistakes that I made; ski a black run without giving myself a pounding headache; set-up a cycling club. Hold on, where did the last one come from? That wasn’t in the plan.

But it happened. Just three short weeks ago, four friends decided that the time was right. Like all big decisions there’s often a catalyst and that was no different here. Then there was an email that posed a question, although not everyone immediately understood what question was being asked! Then there was a great deal of excitement, ‘Ooh, are we setting-up a cycling club then?’ quickly followed by a never-ending stream of emails about who we are and what we wanted to be…or perhaps what we didn’t want to be.

Eltham Velo Cycling Club South East London SE9 Kent

Orange & Black

At the core of all this correspondence was always the same philosophy; and what a philosophy? That’s the thing about starting something new: it’s scary but it’s also exciting, it’s fresh, pure and stripped back. I kept hearing it over and over again. In conversations people kept saying the same thing and it became a mantra, a rhythm that can be tapped out on a climb: ‘I just want to ride with mates.’…right after, ‘Not another bloody hill, Ian!’

So we had a starting point in terms of our philosophy, our ethos. The name came easily. Some ideas were floated but Eltham Velo always seemed right. Next, the jersey. We had a blank canvas but it had to be classic, chic and visible. We’re the new kids on the block and we want to get noticed. That evocative Eddie Merckx Molteni jersey was the inspiration. Bright? Just a bit! Classic? I should say so! Visible? Er, yes, but if it was good enough for Eddie…

Eltham Velo Cycling Club South East London SE9 Kent

The Lion Inn, Farningham - 3rd February 2014

And so it was that four friends (for the record: Ali 'Lip Gloss' Goodwin, Si 'Dr L' Rees, Ian 'Mountain Goat' Jenner and Martin 'Streety' Street) met at The Lion Inn, Farningham on 3rd February 2014 to establish Eltham Velo Cycling Club.

Ian was all boyish enthusiasm with talks of summer training camps in Spain. Ali reminded us that it’s not about creating an elitist club where every ride is a tear-up. Si talked of a riders’ co-op, which I loved: we depend on each other to succeed. That’s what it’s all about, the shared experience of riding with your friends out on the open road: about giving your mate your wheel and knowing they’d do the same for you; about knowing how deep someone had to dig to get up that Category 4 hill because we’ve all been there; about understanding the sense of satisfaction and pride when someone completes a challenging sportive.

Eltham Velo Cycling Club South East London SE9 Kent

Inaugral Ride - 9th February 2014

The following Sunday, Eltham Velo met at Caffe Nero on Sidcup Road for it's very first ride, a 30 miler to Lullingstone Cafe, Eynsford.

There was much excitement as we welcomed some old friends and new. Along the way, we chatted about how great it was to be out on this chilly but sunny morning. And when we got to the traditional cycling cafe stop, we talked about the future, our kit, what people wanted from their Club... basically the same stuff we talk about now!

So that’s what Eltham Velo is built on but it’s not our Club, it’s yours. On our first ride, we asked people what they wanted from a bike club and we’ll continue to do that. But there’s one thing we keep hearing and we love it because we feel exactly the same way. ‘I just want to ride my bike with my mates.’ Now you’re talking!

Martin Street, Eltham Velo Co-founder - 17th February 2014