Chairman’s Annual Club Statement, March 2024

2023 was another great year for OCC with awesome events, fabulous trips and a record number of members too, including more women riders.

On behalf of the Club, I’m delighted to welcome all our new members and as we venture into Spring ‘24, I’m sure there will be more, new excited faces joining our gang. It’s great to see our Club values continuing to thrive and I want to thank each and every member for helping keep each other safe whilst out on the trails and increasingly rough roads.

We enjoyed some great club rides in 2023, a highlight was 19 riders on the trip to Mallorca in April, a record. A huge thank you to Dave for all the detailed planning, faultless execution and to our resident Spanish speakers Enrique and James for finding some delicious local restaurants. Mallorca is, and will always be, a really special destination, the quality of riding is sublime and we eagerly await the pictures of blue skies and smiling faces from Xabia in April. It’s also exciting to see members embracing their adventurous spirit and embarking on ever more challenging bikepacking and touring trips too. A special mention for Danny and Claire’s Spanish and Portuguese epic and Will B’s exciting French Coast to Coast expedition. What adventures does 2024 hold for Club members?

Nineteen members of OCC enjoyed five days of cycling nirvana in Mallorca in April.

Closer to home, not long now until the return of the hugely popular Thursday evening ‘pub’ rides organised by Mariusz. A spicy combination of 50km followed by a few drinks in a local Oxford hostelry. And please don’t be put off by any Strava stats, the pace is determined by whoever shows up and everyone is very welcome and normal club rules apply. The Thursday evening Winter Knightriders has proved somewhat more challenging – inspired by Colby’s North American ventures, we had a few awesome gravel rides armed with head torches and warm clothing. However, the extreme moisture can rapidly turn even the most hardened trail into a quagmire. With more and more members investing in gravel bikes, especially when overnight temperatures make road riding impossible, there’s definitely an opportunity for more gravel fun in 2024.

Saturday remains our flagship club ride and we’ve regularly put out two or even three good groups out each week. Keeping our group sizes down feels both safer and more fun, and after much discussion, seven seems to be the magic number! The steadier pace of our medium group rides throughout Winter has been popular, no more than 80 – 85km. As an intentionally small Club, it can sometimes be a challenge to get the balance right for members, ensuring we don’t compromise the eagerly awaited weekend ride for some, whilst accommodating those who are perhaps less strong. There will need to be some flexibility until we secure a regular gang of regular Medium riders and thank you to Tovi for helping lead the charge on establishing a Medium group. It’s worth noting we all have a part to play in recruiting new riders to the Club.

Looking to this year, we will definitely repeat the occasional longer Saturday rides during the Summer months – an 8am start and upping the distance to 120km to 130km means we can venture further afield and find some roads less travelled (and even a brief coffee stop too!). Another fixture now firmly in the OCC calendar is our round the island ride – hopefully the weather will be kinder this September so more members can enjoy the stunning sea views as we circumnavigate the Isle of Wight. One not to be missed. For 2024 we will try to have one away day each month between April and October – and we’ve a new page on our website to keep tabs on club events, and get those diary dates fixed – OCC Club Events 2024 – Oxford Cycling Club .

Riding safely remains our top priority as a Club. We are hugely encouraged by Thames Valley Police’s new firm attitude towards close passes. It’s through the hard work of camera stalwarts in our club, submitting quality footage, that their hit rate in terms of convictions is on the rise when unfortunate incidents are captured on camera. We sense word may be getting around of this new stance and with the state of the roads, we will continue to keep safety high on our agenda. Once again, it’s up to each of us to ensure we continue to communicate clearly and concisely when on club rides. If members have any suggestions or issues they would like to raise, then please message any of the committee so we can consider any changes or tweaks to how we ride. Thank you.

It’s great to see the Club continuing to support our local hospice, Sobell House, which does such fantastic work. Last year we donated £400 towards a collection in memory of Jimmy Smith, an enthusiastic Oxford cyclist who sadly spent his final weeks at Sobell in August. We have Jimmy to thank for helping get Dave back into cycling on a charity ride from Oxford to Paris in 2009 and Jimmy also joined OCC members, Danny and Dave, on four cycling tours to Mallorca, including riding the 2015 edition of the 312 together.

  Jimmy (second right) with Danny and Dave in the starting pit of the Mallorca312 sportive

On the social side, our regular calendar of events remains hugely popular. The annual breakfast ride in June is always a hoot, whatever the weather. The Summer party was a great success and thank you again to Will and Nicky Bibby for generously hosting the event in such a lovely setting. A dozen of us had fun wine tasting in November and the Christmas party is legendary, thanks to Jake for providing such a great venue. And finally, festive burger ride is a fun way to close out the year. This year we’ll look to repeat the successes and hopefully have more informal beers, curries and fun together. If anyone would like to help organise or host an event then please shout.

           A balmy September evening and the perfect setting for our summer party

And finally, last year was a very productive year off the bike for (some) OCC members – babies galore! Stephen Cohen celebrated the birth of his second child in May, whilst James K and Beth welcomed Luca in September. Congratulations also to oversees and founder member Honeybunny and his wife Penny with the arrival of Hugo. And then last but not least, Marcus and Hanna greeted Linnea in January before whisking her away to finishing school in Munich. Who says young children and cycling don’t mix!

In summary, 2023 was a great year. We really benefit from the constant flow of new riders living in such a great city. I hope we will continue to try and balance the club up with more women riders, especially now we have proper women’s Castelli kit that fits too! It’s sad to say farewell too as loyal stalwarts embark on their own new adventures and we wish Marcus, Hanna (and Linnea) all the best; I’m sure he’ll be back soon on an important ‘work’ visit – it might even involve the Punter! Equally, it’s exciting to hear about those who continue to fly the OCC colours in their new home countries too – a special shout out to Johnny and Honeybunny’s inaugural OCC Wollongong chapter club ride  – we’ll try to get out to New South Wales one day!

2024 has got off to a great (if rather damp) start but Spring is just round the corner now, so please join me in encouraging and welcoming members, as well as sharing more laughter and fun together.

Johnny Morrison and Paul Honeybone enjoying a coffee stop during the inaugural OCC Wollongong Chapter ride!