Chairman’s Newsletter – June 2020

Posted on July 2nd, 2020

Hello everyone

Although our normal programme of rides has been suspended by the COVID-19 epidemic, there’s been a lot going on as we have reinvented a number of aspects of club life to reflect the present restrictions. To address the question of group rides first, as a Committee we don’t feel that it is practical or safe to restart formal club rides yet. As many of you will be aware, Cycling UK nationally has recently stated that such rides are allowed from an insurance point of view, but must fully conform with Government rules. At the moment, this means a maximum of six riders with a 2m gap between all. There is an additional concern around the effect of both exertion and slipstreaming on breath particles belong distributed around a group and so overall we are not convinced that such rides would be practical or pleasurable. There has been some relaxation of rules this week (although not coming into effect until 4th July) and we wait to see what additional guidance will emerge. This is all very frustrating and I know we are all longing to get back to normal and in particular to enjoy each other’s company again. Clearly we need to think primarily about the safety of our ride leaders and all of our members. I would value hearing how you are all feeling about this – please let me know your views. Having said all that, let me now emphasise some of the good things which have been going on in the club in recent weeks:

If our normal Tuesday evening programme had been running, we would have been enjoying meeting up after the rides in the Fox at Denchworth once a month. We therefore decided to start up “virtual pub nights” on Tuesday evenings, hosted on Zoom and for the time being held weekly to enable members to meet (at least on screen) and to exchange stories and information. Look out for details on the website. It is worth noting that the real Fox at Denchworth is planning to start cautiously opening for business in a couple of weeks, so we may be able to make these sessions less virtual before too long!

Thanks to Jon and Karen Townsin for this inspiring idea – if you’re working out on your turbo trainer at home anyway, why not team up with others and make a virtual turbo club session? Operating every Tuesday evening over Zoom and with members sharing the leading duties, this has worked remarkably well. Details also on the website.

The weekly rides on Thursday mornings had become a much appreciated part of club life for those where this timing suited. It’s therefore great to see an initiative from the established Thursday gang to organise informal rides where the focus is to meet at a particular time somewhere with outdoor space and a cafe. Everyone rides there independently and then gathers at suitable distance to enjoy the social side (and cake and coffee).

A few of the regular Tuesday off-road gang have been going out on the trails informally and with appropriate distancing. This has proven to be easier to do in an off-road context.

Another nice innovation (although really a reinventing of an old CTC tradition) has come from Steve Swanton who has created ‘Treasure Hunts’, featuring a series of map locations with questions to be answered at those spots. The locations are carefully chosen to be nicely spread, and these are proving popular – some members are creating routes to join the locations together for their own rides, some are taking them one at a time to make their local rides more interesting. We are posting these on the website as an occasional series.

Many of us choose to ride with GPS gadgets and enjoy plotting routes and recording rides. We have tended to use Ride With GPS as our default programme to facilitate this and Jon Townsin had the great idea to establish a club account there in order to make available a collection of favourite rides for all to download and enjoy. This is now live and active. If you have an account of your own, you can search for ‘CUK Wantage’ in the Find Friends dialogue and request to be added as a friend. We will activate that and you will then be able to browse and download the extensive catalogue of favourite routes available.

Given the very apparent increase in general cycling going on in recent weeks, we have had a steady stream of enquiries from local people about how best to get out into the countryside, particularly with children for family rides. As a result, Steve Swanton has inspired us to produce a series of route sheets, in the form of A4 pdf documents, showing a map and with detailed directions and interesting local info, highlighting some easy local rides. We have seven so far, ranging in distance from 3 to 13 miles, and we hope that these will be of wide interest in the local community. Thanks to those of you who volunteered to test ride the routes – your feedback was really useful. David Smith has very helpfully set up a dedicated page on our website and so these can be accessed now at: We need to make a few tweaks and tidy things up before fully publicising more widely, but we wanted to make this available to club members first – please feel free to download and to pass on to friends and family members.

I think that’s enough for now – I hope you are all able to still get out on your bikes and we look forward to cautiously returning to something more normal in the coming months.

Best regards

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