Columnist Allan Grey discusses cycling with Rutland Velo Club
Whatever happened to ‘The Middle Ground’, or ‘Live and Let Live’, writes Rutland columnist Allan Grey.
It seems we are becoming an ever more divisive society, you’re either on the right side of any issue, or you are a complete pillock and regularly advised to stay indoors with the curtains drawn… and not very politely either…
Just the other day I’m out in the open air on a warm sunny day with like-minded friends, when the passenger window of a passing car is wound down, a head thrust out, purple in colour, almost foaming at the mouth and a stream of invective issued forth. Needless to say the car was long gone before any of us could make sense of the message that may have been conveyed. I suggested that perhaps the driver and his passenger were lost, and were asking where they might find the nearest anger management counsellor, or maybe the passenger was being kidnapped at gun point and trying to draw our attention, more likely the former I suspect.
It will come as no surprise to readers of this column that I was out riding my bike, with cycling friends. We were on a lon, straight road, white line down the middle, no oncoming traffic, and even riding single file, heading for a mid-ride refreshment break.
Ah, but wait, we were all wearing Lycra, bright high visibility Lycra, comfortable Lycra, club colours Lycra. That must have been what so enraged the puce protagonist, after all anyone wearing Lycra can only be a testosterone fuelled felon, hell-bent on ignoring any or all regulations of the road, so the great cycling mythology goes.
Well no actually, not in the club I belong to, the club I have been riding with for the last nine years, The Velo Club Rutland. Joining the club back in 2013 after finally concluding that 15 years of distance running was not doing my infrastructure any good, a kindly club member took me under their wing and taught me how to road ride safely, how to ride in a group, and importantly, how not to be a complete dipstick on the highway. The ethos of our club is to comply with the Highway Code a far as is possible, and to respect all other road users, whether pedestrian, equestrian or vehicular, even those drivers needing immediate anger management advice.
Velo Club Rutland is a socially minded club, and although there are different group rides, some slow, some moderate, some pretty quick, and even an annual series of ‘time trials’, the main raison d’étre is to enjoy, make friends, have fun, drink coffee, eat cake and stay reasonably fit. In the time I have been a member I have made many good friends, led many rides, ridden a good few sportives including the 100 mile Ride London, but most importantly now know virtually every café stop within a 50 mile radius of Oakham, most of whom these days stock oat milk and a wide range of calorie free cakes.
There are many reasons to ride a bike, and we can all reel off the health, the environmental, and the social reasons, but you may not be aware that it can also improve your sex life, can I say that in polite company, well there, I’ve said it. There is no doubt that being more physically active improves your vascular health, which has the knock-on effect of boosting your sex drive, something I’m very happy to believe.
I guess there are also a number of perceived reasons not to cycle, the main one for many being safety, but also "I don’t want the hassle of joining a club, it’ll be too quick for me, it’s all old blokes, can you really see me in Lycra?". Well, can I suggest that all of those concerns can be overcome when considering riding with Velo Club Rutland. Firstly, every official club ride is a ‘non-drop’ ride, no-one is ever left behind to fend for themselves and, of course, should anything untoward happen, you will be covered by public liability insurance as the club is officially affiliated with British Cycling.
Secondly, all rides have long welcomed both male and female riders and there is safety in numbers on a small group ride. With more and more e-cycling, the club now also welcomes people riding e-bikes, as long as they don’t drop their pedal powered colleagues on the first hill, and naturally if you’re on an e-bike you don’t need to wear Lycra, come along as casual or smart as you like, DJs and frocks encouraged.
Based on the assumption someone can ride a bike, there are several opportunities to ride with Velo Club Rutland, whether you are a novice rider or a seasoned cyclist. The best entry ride for the novice is the Saturday Café ride, typically 20 to 25 miles, at a gentle 12/13 mph average speed. Alternatively for the seasoned cyclist, the Saturday Café Plus, 45-50 miles at a brisk 15/16 mph average. There are two midweek evening bimbles during summer time, each finishing at The Grainstore for liquid refreshment and post ride analysis, typically 20 to 25 miles at circa 14 mph average.
The club is also planning to introduce a summer non-Lycra midweek introductory café ride, circa 15 miles at around 11 or 12 mph, anyone over 18 years of age is welcome, plus an occasional ladies-only ‘breeze’ ride is one of several British Cycling initiatives.
Lastly, each August Bank Holiday Sunday the club holds its annual charity day in memory of much-loved former member Graham Thomas, who left us in 2017.
On the day there are three rides, a 75 mile round Rutland sportive, a 35 mile partial lap of Rutland, and a 20 mile, family, off-road lap of Rutland Water all in aid of local charities. All three rides finish at a local hostelry for food and refreshments, a great day to come and sample what Velo Club Rutland has to offer, p-bike or e-bike.
For more information about Velo Club Rutland, visit or contact them via their website, www.veloclubrutland.co.uk, or their Facebook page, veloclubrutland, and I hope to see you on a ride shortly, sporting a dickie bow or even wearing Lycra.