We cycled all together, we didn’t cycle at all; we cycled in twos and we cycled in sixes; we drafted and we rode two-metres apart; we cycled with no stops, with stops, with stops but no open shops. We Zoomed and cycled together indoors when we weren’t allowed to cycle outdoors, and met up outdoors when we weren’t allowed to meet indoors.
A flick through the club EBulletins and WhatsApp groups shows that in 2020 we were nothing if not adept at adapting to new laws and ever changing cycling guidance in, what was, one extraordinary year.
Before the C-word was the F-word, with floods and the weather scuppering our ride plans. When annual alphabetically named storms get to the letter J before the summer, you know the weather has not been conducive to cycling. Very frustrating, although with a January social and March BCC Quiz under our belts, their was something quite amusing about being a cycling club that at one point had got out for more socials than social rides.
After the storms came COVID-19. Time then for plan B. Our new indoor cycling ‘Club’ BCC Velo de Turbo took off with regular Zoom meet-ups for those on a smart turbo, turbo or those who just fancied a chinwag. The highlight was the indoor club ride in support of the St George’s Hospital Charity. Aiming to collectively cycle from Lands’ End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) using indoor turbos, Zoom and Zwift, by the end of the day we had exceeded all expectations, cycling a cumulative 3,392km and raising £5,605 thanks to the extraordinary generosity of members, families, friends and the local community. All this was turned around from idea to £5.5k in St George’s hands in a week.
The ride captain pulled together a great new ride for the times for us all to try solo. The Two-Bidons Breakaway was short enough that you didn’t need a stop – stores and cafes were closed for refills and refuels – but lumpy and long enough for a decent work out.
We also organised a summer challenge to replace the club rides. Consisting of three rides we could take on solo as a household or with 2 to 6 BCC buddies. The Longest Day focussed on the challenge of riding our longest ride of the year on the longest day of the year. Join the Dots had us aiming to climb the most we had climbed in a day for 2020 in honour of the Tour De France and we played BCC Staycation Century, ticking off European place names on 100 mile rides around the Home Counties.
With the roads of London desolate, members started to share and complete some imaginatively themed London rides. We took on the Cobblemonster – taking in London’s best cobbled roads; a route that took in every London Premier League ground; a route around closed-down tube stations; a ride that took in all Thames bridges; and a ride that took in the roads and buildings of a Monopoly board.
The Joy of Six and The Rough Stuff
With lockdown rules relaxing social rides took on a new ‘Group of Six’ format and we headed out in groups of six with different start locations and routes and coffee stops for different groups and a new signing on process. It meant we could try our newly tweaked and improved Biggin Hill (Long) and Box Hill routes.
Our Team Latte group combined a club outing with the Rapha W100, which by coincidence fell on the same day.
This year’s Balham Rough Stuff – our now traditional season closer – took on a change of format with a slightly different course, new coffee stop and a team challenge twist. It went down well and we are looking to incorporate some elements of this year’s format with some of the previous two years for BRS 2021.
James Buchanan carried the BCC flag into competition and made history in the process. James added first Balham CC hill climb competition entrant to his BCC palmares riding in the Jersey Island BMRT Bonne Nuit Hill Climb.
Taking part in the Full Gas Winter Series Criterium at Lee Valley VeloPark he also came a creditable 17th out of 51 marking his and Balham CC’s first venture into Category 3 racing. Two weeks later and he came 7th in his next ride and so claiming the first points for a BCC rider in a Cat 3 race.
Members took on the Box Hill Strava Challenge. Rides from Ed (in August) – who retains his KoM status – and Lisa (in January) were good enough to claim KoM and QoM glory.
Goodies, fantasy and heritage
We launched a rather nice club pin badge with the original logo from 1897 and a new bit of exclusive kit for our youngest recruit.
With a condensed pro-season and many of us working from home the BCC Fantasy League proved a popular distraction and a great way to follow the racing. Pete Paterson was crowned overall BCC Fantasy World Tour Champion after winning a very close Tour De France and the Tour of Flanders fantasy games. Ben Mitton won an equally exciting Fantasy Giro d’Italia.
Delving into our heritage, this year we focused on researching some of the backstory of some of the club’s trophies and Balham’s cycling history more widely. As part of the 2020 Lambeth Heritage Festival, the Chairman teamed up with the Streatham Society to share the story of the 1890s South London cycling boom’.
We also managed to pull-together the Booth family photo archive, a fantastic snapshot of Balham CC through the 50s, 60s and 70s.
And that was 2020. A year when we were reminded of the benefits and joy of cycling club life and the positive impact cycling can have on physical and mental health.