CLUB RUNS HISTORY
By: Ron Lee
Clubrun Charing 1970s, L-R: Geoff Wilkens, Aubrey Ring, Gordon Cronk, Laurie Broad, Jane, Richard Broad (child), Terese Mason, ?, ? Martin, Malcolm Martin, Don Beevis, Brian Pendleton (Ex-"Pretty Things" (guitarist), ?, Mike Pitches.
I asked Laurie if he could add any information about earlier clubruns and this is what he had to say:
"I understood from the older members that prior to the war there had been an all day ride on Sunday and an afternoon ride on Saturday. This included a tea and more often than not a stop in a pub on the way home. This arrangement was not popular with the shop workers who worked on Saturdays and had half day on Wednesday. This prompted the start of a similar ride on Wednesday afternoon and I understand they were often joined by other members for the ride home after tea. By the time I joined in 1951 the two weekend rides were still going strong all the year round but the Wednesday ride had changed to an evening, starting at 7 o'clock from South Park and heading through the lanes to Harry's Café near Staplehurst railway station. Due to lack of support the Saturday run ended I believe in November 1989. It is worth mentioning that all through the war Arthur Goodhew kept the Saturday runs going and I remember the members that had been in the war valued the knowledge that when on leave there would always be a club run to look forward to."
For a few years after 1989 there was only the Sunday ride until Ernie Bray formed a Saturday morning run starting from Marden. David Law took over in 1997 and gradually the numbers built up. Somewhere around this time the Sunday rides were extended to include the summer months.
By January 2003 numbers in the Saturday group had reached the point where it was possible (and because of the range of abilities necessary) to break into 2 rides - A and B. David always led the A group for a 35 mile ride whilst the B group had a rota of leaders for a shorter ride.
Health problems made it difficult for Brian Williams to keep up with the B run so in March 2004 he formed the Easyride. Targeting beginners and anyone else who wanted an easy ride with adverts in bike shops and the Kent Messenger resulted in 123 riders coming out at least once during the next nine months, with many of them joining the club.
The original plan had been to suspend the rides during the winter but a number of the new members were also keen walkers and had both the clothing and attitude to enjoy being outdoors in the winter so the rides continued. When new riders started to come along in Spring some of the original members had developed to the point that the Easyride was too easy. Georgina DuBern introduced the C group with this item in the May 2005 magazine.
"Easyrides is facing divorce. It all happened suddenly. We are going to remain firm friends but go our separate ways. Brian didn't want to take the steep assaults and I am definitely over the hill and round the bend. We have had such fun too. What shall we call the upstart group? No, I refuse to name it "Pot-bellied and Co", we think we can refer to it as C group". This typically Georgina introduction set the style for a group that is very different and very special.
Another new group that started early in 2005 was the Intermediates. The rides, led by Philip Thorpe, were pitched between the A and B groups. At the AGM in December 2005 the committee posts of Saturday and Sunday Captains were replaced by a Clubruns Secretary with Martyn Peal being the first incumbent. He updated the descriptions of the rides to ensure a logical progression between them.
At this time all except the Easyride and C group started from the car park behind Marden library. With around 50 or more riders and their bikes we caused a major obstruction for local residents trying to get to the recycling containers. Although only for about half an hour it created a bad impression so in 2007 we moved to the railway station.
The last 4 years have seen a steady increase in the number of riders and the consequent formation of the Early (9.00am) Intermediates in March 2008, Fast Intermediates in December 2008, D group in August 2009 and B+ in March 2012. .Most weekends around 100 riders are now out with the various groups.
Also in 2012 a number of members who wanted an organised ride during the week started a Wednesday morning ride, the Midweek Meanderers. It has evolved into a ride of around 30-35 miles which is a little too far for some so there is the possibility of yet another group appearing. A number of not yet retired members adjust their work to enable them to join this ride so the wheel has turned the full circle back to the pre-war pattern that Laurie has described.