The Manukau City Veterans Cycle Club is an interesting group bridging the gap between recreational and sports bike riding. In recent times, CAA has had some good contacts with them in settings like the Tamaki Drive Working Group, and the “Good Bunch” initiative – and we’re very pleased to see a guest post from them giving us all an idea on “how they roll”.
Guest post by Allan Bridge, MCVCC
In April 2012 our Club celebrated its 20th anniversary since coming into being.
The guiding principles of the founding members was to have a group of older cyclists who, having established riding etiquettes, would ride together weekly on a variety of the South Auckland country roads, without the rules and dictates required to be followed by the more formal licensed riders clubs. To ride safely and caringly with each other. We treat our rides as friendly group rides as they are not intended to be full-on pre-race training efforts.
To help achieve this a minimum age of 30 years old was soon established. The guiding etiquette was to ride the pace of the slowest rider and never leave a rider to ride on their own and obey the road rules. These fundamentals are still core in the clubs existence. We are not affiliated to Bike NZ or the Masters Associations more fundamentally aligned with highly competitive racing.
As the club grew bigger it was decided that in the interests of safety the bunch should be limited to 16 and when this number was exceeded a division would occur that resulted in two bunches and so on until we have reached the stage where a bunch departs every 10 or 5 minutes for 50 minutes from 7.50am at our current meeting spot at the Ardmore Hall, with most often 70 to 100 of our 245 current members riding each Sunday.
For the past 6 years we have reduced bunch sizes to 12 to create more safety and on many roads have compulsory single file except for the dropping back lapping riders. This number was arrived at by likening the length of 6 x 2 abreast being about the same length as a medium truck and whilst in single file still able to be heard at the front from the back by voice command. It also overcomes the sometimes slight rise in numbers from “hitch-hikers” or “join-on’s” from one of our other groups. Limited bunch size also reduces the variability between riding standards as bunches are riders of like ability.
We prefer our riders to have lights on all of the time, particularly tail lights as we often ride in sun-strike conditions. Our Club Jersey has a predominance of yellow in it but on dull days many augment with Fluro tops for safety
We now have low key racing for those who wish, every second month which is one of: team’s time trial, individual time trial or the most popular being an Italian pursuit style with 4 person teams of mixed ability. Until a couple of years back we used to run a down hill road time trial before our annual meeting, followed shortly after by a down hill coasting race.
Obviously there those of us who train specifically for down hill racing (eat too much) and maybe it was the thinner riders who had this dropped from the program. On the other month from our race, we have a ride away, where we use another hall in the more Southern parts of the extended city or in the North Waikato.
In the early 2000’s it was decided that the club should become incorporated, both to preserve our ideals of friendly and assistive riding, but also to show; responsibilities to transport departments requirements for our few races.
Probably the annual highlight of the club is participating not only in the many recreational race events but most particularly the Round Taupo Ride. Many riders have clocked up big numbers of starts, or done the twice (and more) times around, or on retro-bikes and so on. Discounted accommodation is organised by the Committee, with a Marquee at the finish and a club dinner at night with awards. The most starters we have had in one Taupo race was over 120, plus a good number of family and supporters.
We pride ourselves in accommodating those of all abilities, sexual being, and age and are proud to have one rider, Bruce, still riding about 45km every Sunday at the age of 93, although since turning 90 Bruce has developed a strong distaste for hills. There are several in their 80’s, more in their 70’s and obviously increasing numbers down the decade breaks.
As life has become more sophisticated so we have had to adapt, with a live and up-to-date web page, with live access free to all cyclists who wish to view it, on riding skills, bunch etiquette, puncture repair 101 and so on.
We have a training day on riding skills every May but prefer to guide new riders as they ride within each bunch – we welcome and assist new members.