2021 was another vintage year for OCC and it’s great to see the Club thriving.
We finished the year with a record number of regular riding members (28), and it’s exciting to see our new members buying in to the ethos and values of the Club. It’s also pleasing that each and every one of our members continues to embrace our focus on discipline and safety on the road. Offering a genuine ‘Medium’ ride, both shorter and a tad slower than the ‘Medium Fast’, has proved popular with new and old members alike. Our day trip to Wales was a huge success and has inspired us all to be more adventurous. Other highlights include our traditional Chairman’s Full English in June (elegantly aided by two of our resident chefs, Johnny and Tom), our fabulous summer party (everyone chipped in!), autumn Burger Ride and Christmas Party in the best outside venue in Oxford (thank you Jake!). We were also proud to maintain our support for Sobell House (£500) and we hope we can do even more this year.
With regard to safety, we will continue to ride in smaller groups, typically 6 to 8 riders, and the consensus is that we all feel safer on the road. As a club, riding safely together remains our number one priority. With the poor state of local roads, we need to remain vigilant, continuing to watch out for each other so we can ride tightly as a peloton (a trademark of OCC riding). In general, we do this well as a Club, though we can never be complacent, and we will continue to be diligent in learning from any near misses, or incidents. Close passes are a growing concern, and whilst the majority of drivers are giving cyclists a wide birth, there remains a minority who still actively (and aggressively) come well within 1.5m of cyclists. Following some lengthy discussions between representatitves of OCC and Thames Valley Police (TVP), it is clear that TVP will pursue motorists in cases where there is unequivocal video evidence of a close pass. In recent months two OCC members have reported incidents to TVP, both with supporting video footage, and both cases have resulted in actions against the offending drivers. In one incident, the driver received a ‘Letter of Advice’ providing ‘advice and guidance on the safe passing of cyclists’; in the other, the motorist has been invited to either attend a ‘Safe and Considerate Driving Course’, or face prosecution. I think this is really significant and as a Club we can do more to lobby and champion rider safety, as well as encourage more members to adopt the use of onboard cameras. Finally, we must also ensure our own behaviour can never be viewed as either intimidating, or threatening in any way; this is something TVP highlighted to us during our various discussions and we will take note of their advice, however aggrieved we may feel!
Covid-19 remains something we are going to have learn to live with and I suspect will continue to disrupt our lives and plans in 2022. I want to thank members once again for sharing their status and preferences (in confidence) in December and acting responsibly to keep each other safe, both on and off the bike. I’m really pleased that neither the Chairman’s burger ride, nor our Christmas party were super spreader events; to me this demonstrates that we can live normally, but only if we all do our part. It’s increasingly clear the only way to live and travel without unnecessary complexity and risk is to be vaccinated, and as a Club we are very conscious of this.
Looking ahead to 2022, we really hope we will be able to get to Mallorca this year, we will start planning as soon as we think it’s sensible to do so. We will do another away day in March, and we all want to get to the Isle of Wight sometime soon. There seems to be growing interest in doing a track day at a Velodrome sometime and our CX rides are proving popular too, both in Winter and Summer. We have our regular rhythm of social events (June brunch, summer party, etc) but we will also try to organise more ‘informal’ social evenings (pub, curry, pizza, etc) which should be easier this year than last. Importantly, if members would like to organise something, please talk to the Committee; arranging events isn’t the sole responsibility of the Committee.
We have a few ongoing challenges as a club. We could do with more Ride Leaders, particularly for our Medium group. Our summer time evening ride on Thursdays has been somewhat intermittent and it would be great to get a regular event going for those who can’t join the legendary Wednesday mid-week slackers group. I am also very aware that we are very nearly an all-male Club and it’s certainly not by design, or a lack of trying to welcome women riders. We know it’s not easy to attract women cyclists and hopefully the adoption of a regular genuine Medium group will help, but we are under no illusion, this remains an ongoing challenge (for most clubs). Thank you in advance to our members in helping us address each of these opportunities!
In summary, I’m excited that OCC is thriving and that we have such an engaged and lively membership. Lets hope 2022 is another great year of cycling together!
Andrew Webb, Chairman.