Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The PZ Wheelers

I’ve been a member of the Penzance Wheelers since my son took up cycling at twelve, a few years ago now. I joined to help out; when my son moved on I just seem to have stayed. I’ve been Chairperson for more years than I care to acknowledge. As I can’t or don’t ride a bike I miss out on all the Sunday rides and the fun of competition. I make up for this by helping at or organizing many of the events we put on. Many of the active members love time trials, a somewhat alien form of bike racing to me, and the club runs a club events (open to all comers) every two weeks and several ‘open’ events each season. The club is good at time trials; we are the proud holders of the prestigious Cornish Cup, a season long tt competition, and lead it this year. We also have five riders in the National 25 TT this year which I think from a small club in the far reaches of west Cornwall is a good turnout. We also run a number of criteriums and when we can, a few proper road races. Fewer of our riders seem enjoy to the road racing compared to time trials.

Our membership is around fifty, mostly male, of which I must know half well and the other half less well. We do have a few women members, more are very welcome. We no longer have any under 16 riders as we decided by a vote that there is too much arsing around to be done, with endless paper work and courses to go on. It wasn’t always the case but the modern world has made it just too difficult. Fortunately Tom, my son, joined when things were normal and he was initiated into the club in the time honored way by being taken for a ride and then dropped on the way home leaving him to find his own way back. I have to admit I didn’t think this a very smart thing to do at the time but on reading Barry Hoban’s autobiography realized it was the way. This practice ceased shortly afterwards.

We meet once a week for the Sunday ride and again for a social evening on Tuesday night at The Star, Crowlas, and our official HQ. On these evenings up to a dozen or so members turn up to discus, reminisce or yarn about an ever widening range of subjects and drink the excellent beer brewed on the premises by the landlord. This is way better than when we met at the Longrock Institute, a draughty World War1 wooden hut, brought back from France in 1920, with no heating, where we sat around freezing for many a winter evening, drinking cups of black tea or coffee because someone had forgotten to buy the milk.

We have a healthily informal attitude to officialdom. We occasionally have official meetings. To make these seem different we move to the opposite end of the pub. At the moment the big debate in the club is whether to include a skull and cross bones to our club kit, everyone appears to be in favour but I guess it should go to a vote as pirates were very democratic. We don’t do much paper work; we like to keep it simple. If you want to ride a bike come and join us. However, when we do organize a race or charity ride everything is done extremely well. We aren’t complete fools. This highlights a paradox about the club for although there is this air of informality our organization is top notch and the various events we arrange are always successfully run. We seem keep this fact well disguised.

We also have a very healthy disregard for petty politics that seem to blight many clubs. We don’t strictly adhere to the rule book as I don’t think we have one. There are a few unwritten ones but they are more a wish list or advice. Due to this, in the eyes of a few people we don’t do things correctly. In the past we’ve had a few people join who want every thing to be run properly. The trouble for them is no one takes any notice, we carry on the same. They soon leave. It’s this air of informality and the friendly nature of the club that I so like. It feels very egalitarian.

The club has a very long history being started in the late 1890’s.You used to be able to read about its long history on our website but it seems to have gone missing.( it’s now back) There were a few low points but the club has never gone away, I don’t think it ever will. It has one life member, who never appears. Nobody knows why he was made a life member but he is. Our most famous member must be Tom Southam who was the first Cornishman to make it into the pro ranks. Since then another rider who was in the Wheelers, Steve Lampier, has also made it to Elite level.

We have a club website, www.pzwheelers.co.uk and an active facebook page where a lot more banter ensues.

No comments:

Post a Comment