A belated happy new year, 2022 was a great one for the Club and we hope 2023 will be even better. We’ve enjoyed some fantastic rides together, fabulous trips away and also had a huge amount of fun off the bikes, helping keep the Punter afloat as well as supporting other local hostelries. On behalf of the Club, I’m delighted to welcome 12 new members last year, a record, and for us locals, brilliant that we continue to attract such a diverse, international community. It’s great some have expressed an interest in getting more involved in the Club too, from helping plan rides to joining the committee. It’s also hugely exciting that we’re starting to redress the gender balance in OCC, albeit slowly, with much more to do. And lastly and perhaps most importantly, the Committee are delighted that all our members continue to live our Club values, helping keep each other safe on the roads.
Overall, the riding last year was terrific, aided by some balmy weather and virtually skipping Autumn after an extended summer season. Not ideal if this is the new norm, but good for riding. This year we want to continue putting out at least two groups as we enter the peak season, and ideally three. There’s clear demand for a steady Medium group, at least 10km shorter and a few clicks lower than the stalwarts who make-up the Medium Fast group. To make this an ongoing success, we need more ride leaders to come forward and help make the Medium ride a regular and predictable fixture. The Fast group has also enjoyed some spirited and lively sorties, with plenty of fresh new faces too. As the average age continues to fall, I fear for our senior members – our days are definitely numbered!
It’s been a while since our last overseas trip to the mountains of Vercors, France, and Mallorca 2022 didn’t disappoint. Sublime riding, great company and fabulous food and wine – what’s not to like. Riding the MA10 Port d’Andratx to Puerto Pollensa is arguably one of the top ten all-time great rides. Clearly the trip was a huge success so hardly surprising we have nearly 20 members signed up for Mallorca 2023 in April. We also enjoyed our adventure to Cheddar Gorge, which frustratingly was ‘sans fromage’ due to a landslide blocking the famous route up through the gorge. However, this didn’t dampen enthusiasm and is a good excuse for a return visit, as well as finally locating the mythical tunnels through Bath. Other day trips were equally popular; the epic day ride around the Isle of Wight, the adventure to the Western Cotswolds and the sub-zero CX ride in the New Forest in December. A huge amount of organisation goes in to making these trips a success and a big thank you to Dave, Johnny, Mike, Mariusz, Tom and Marcus for all their planning and locating great cafe spots too. We all agree we need more adventures like this in 2023.
Socially it’s been another good year and the Punter has definitely been the prime beneficiary of our post-ride bonhomie. It remains a fabulous spot, although we may need to find an alternative winter option if the pub continues to be busy inside with diners. The Summer party is now a regular calendar fixture and thank you once again to Andrew and Tom for their gardening and cooking skills respectively, both much appreciated. The Summer breakfast ride is another OCC tradition and the cheeky smiles of Johnny and Tom as they put their poaching skills to the test are etched in our memories. The winter Burger Ride was another highlight with the Up In Arms doing us proud. The Thursday evening 45km social ride was a regular feature in the summer and thank you Mariusz for leading the charge on this. Finally, the Christmas party is a great celebration of another successful year and we’re hugely fortunate to have Jake in our peloton; thank you for your generosity in offering the Varsity Club for such a prestigious event. Great times and thank you all.
As well as having fun, we should also acknowledge the sterling effort made by Dave Nash in engaging with Thames Valley Police. Cyclists have been blighted by close passes for years and it’s reassuring that TVP have finally woken up and smelt the coffee on this issue. Members have reported a number of incidents to TVP along with video footage resulting in either written warnings, or even prosecutions; this demonstrates the issue is now being taken seriously. We will ensure ride leaders have cameras so no one driving in an aggressive, or dangerous manner, gets away with it. To end on a really positive note, it was hugely gratifying to hear from TVP on how well they feel OCC members ride together; this is based on their viewing hundreds of hours of footage submitted by other cyclists. Maintaining a strong culture of safety and discipline on the road is a core ethos of OCC – well done.
So, we have much to look forward to in 2023. We will make sure we have Club away days within a couple of hours drive of Oxford and hopefully more warm spring sunshine in Mallorca. There’s plenty of new places to explore and there’s no restriction on who can organise a trip so please come and discuss your idea with a committee member if you would like to do so; we can then build it in to our calendar of events and offer any support as well. A little local knowledge is invaluable when visiting unfamiliar areas. CX rides are another great opportunity, they really shouldn’t be limited to sub-zero temperatures!
In summary, thank you all for making OCC such a vibrant and welcoming club. Our ‘Friend of OCC’ membership has been a really positive move. It’s enabled those who now live further afield to stay in touch with the club, as well as local riders for whom group riding is no longer an option. Please come forward if you would like to be ride leader, it’s great fun, particularly for the Medium pace amongst us. I hope we can build on the successes of this year, welcoming more new members and encouraging more women to ride with us. To that end, at the upcoming AGM we would really like to ensure the Committee reflects the make-up and direction of the Club too, so please come forward if you would like to help shape and steer the Club. The success of the Club is down to our members, the Committee are merely here to facilitate that and ensure we stay true to our values.
Chair, on behalf of the OCC Committee