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  • 16/01/2023 - Now we are 10 - Part 1 - before we even launched

    And just like that Islington Cycling Club is 10 years old. Happy birthday, ICC!

    Like our monarch, our club has two birthdays. The committee has plans to mark the first club ride later this year, that took place on 28 April 2013, and I hope many of you will take part. But there is another birthday, 16 January, because on 16/01/2013 the club’s first constitution was signed and Islington Cycling Club began to exist. Why was there such a gap between the two dates? Well, I’ll answer that and tell you all about our pre-history, so-to-speak, in this first of two blogs about the history of our wonderful club. (Maybe more than two, let's see how this goes).

    Going back to the very start – before the start - all the way to September 2012. This was a highly successful year for British cycle sport with a ton of gold medals at the London Olympic Games and the first British Tour de France winner, Sir Bradley Wiggins. It was also the year Islington Cycling Club was conceived. I was working at Islington Council as the cycling officer and my colleague, Michael McNeill, on the Sport and Leisure Team suggested (no doubt prompted by all that British cycling success) that I start a local cycling club. Hackney had one. Finsbury Park had one (but their rides all began in Potters Bar), there was an almost defunct CC lslington. We need one. I accepted Mike’s challenge and got cracking.

    We did not fancy any turf wars with CC Islington. A little research was called for and it revealed CC Islington was founded back in the Fifties and that they now numbered just 5 or 6 members and had all - it was said - moved to Hertfordshire. In our early days of the club, old met new when I ran into a CC Islington rider in the flesh at the start of the Suburban Breakout audax.

    Islington Cycling Club and CC Islington come face to face

    Back to the development stage and I freely admitted that I really didn’t know that much about sports clubs. So, I created a working group of local people with a range of expertise that might help. My cry for help was heard by Andrew Castiglione, a fellow cycling instructor and cycle sports fan who has professional financial skills, Halim Bouderghouna, former pro rider, in fact No 10 in Morocco (now the owner of Future Cycling shop in Muswell Hill), Keir Apperley the founder and coach of nearby CC Hackney and Peter Catermole, regional development manager for British Cycling and I’d met a guy on a Gregarios club ride, Richard May, who, it turned out, lived in Islington and was a lawyer, which sounded useful.

    • Andrew became our treasurer and still is, in fact the longest-serving committee member. It’s 10 years now!
    • Halim advised and then stepped back to develop his business. Also a former cycle instructor he’s a really passionate cyclist and great mechanic and builder.
    • Keir was just super generous and gave us lots of ideas and encouragement. At the time CC Hackney had nearly 200 riders and a very successful youth programme that Alex Peters and Tao Georghegan-Hart had passed through. Keir ran that. He’s also a masters road a track racer with some distinction himself.
    • Peter helped us take some key decisions - to simply be called “Cycling Club” and not to specialise in one discipline, so members’ interests could guide what we offered. He provided much useful information and guidance. He was extremely generous and wise. Our first constitution was on off the shelf British Cycling one.
    • Richard was something of a maverick and I couldn’t imagine him being the member of any club. And yet he was very committed to having a local cycle sport offering, one that was inclusive and had a youth programme. Richard would serve as our chair for five years.
    • And yours truly served as club secretary for six years.

    Aside from that working group, I put together what I called a steering group. This mainly included council colleagues from various teams. It had a grand title, but it was simply a group of various stakeholders that I formed to spread the word and offer advise. In particular, to get their steer on what they thought local people wanted. I brought in Housing, Youth Development, Sport and Leisure and also some local bike shops. Mosquito Bikes in Essex Road (now Velorution) sent us Jordan Gibbons, more of Jordan in a bit.

    When we got close to signing the constitution, I made the call to join the two groups and form the committee. That’s when all but Jordan from the steering group dropped out!

    • Jordan stayed on the committee for several years, he was also working as a journalist for Rouleur at the time. He enlisted a designer buddy to help design the kit, led our very first club ride and created his infamous “Jordan Specials,” which were bone crunching or super muddy off-road sections on road rides.

    Some of the things we put into our early vision were:

    • To affiliate to British Cycling
    • The thought that people wanted rides that start locally
    • A nobody gets left behind policy
    • The ambition to have a youth programme from the start
    • That the club should be called Islington Cycling Club, full out. Not Islington CC. This was to make a strong difference to CC Islington and avoid confusion. One of CC Islington's number at least was still time trialling, so we needed to sound different.

    We had absolutely no money though. We knew kit would be important. It would advertise our club and give us an identity, but it’s not cheap to buy in bulk. Hmm. What to do? I was at work one day and a Transport for London colleague contacted me and asked if I had any projects that could benefit from some underspend. She was vague about how much was available, I was just to put a list together and the costs. Well, I had just the community project... Islington Cycling Club and I wrote a long shopping list and the rationale for the spend. Bikes, kit, turbos, tools, repair stands, helmets, event equipment, money for coaches. You name it. I threw everything at it. I think it totalled about £30,000. In the event, she said, yes, and we were awarded £2,500 and we blew the lot on our first kit order.

    By the time Jordan and I signed the constitution, we were in a deep and cold winter. It would be months before the weather improved and we felt like we could confidently stage our first club ride. More of that next time…

    Watch out for my next instalment will cover how we developed our kit, our first club ride and how the club quickly grew in numbers that none of us could predict.