We weather the remnants of Storm Brian with a diverse group of riders from the Newport Shropshire Cycling Club
- Words: Sean Lacey / Photos: Andy Jones

Based: Newport, Shropshire
Formed: 1976
Members: 264
Meets: Sundays at 9.30am in the town square with A, B, B+ and C paced runs. Wednesdays also meeting in the square for a medium-paced shorter group ride.
Website: www.newportshropshirecc.org.uk | Twitter: @NewportShropsCC

There was an awful lot of weather-checking going on leading up to this ride, as Storm Brian was set to potentially spoil the party on Sunday morning, but luck was with us as the worst had passed through on Saturday, leaving us with the wind but otherwise fair weather.

This was reflected by the huge turnout in the town square, the Newport Shropshire CC’s traditional meeting point in the centre of the ancient market town.

It was good to see that a large proportion of the riders in the square that morning were women too — the club has made great strides recently with a big push into the British Cycling-initiated Breeze scheme; women-only rides that encourage more women out on bikes.

Catering for all abilities, there were to be four groups out today. The C ride would take in around 25-30 miles at a slower pace, the B group a step up to around 40 miles, the B+ I would be joining going to 55 miles at a 16mph average, and the fast A group usually doing 60-plus miles.

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Charlie Fisher, who has been a member of the club for three years, had started out as a newbie 14-year-old, tentatively joining a Sunday run, and was about to go out with the A group: “I remember those early days, unsure of what to expect or whether I would manage. The encouragement and knowledge passed on was invaluable. I now race for the club on track and road, and have recently represented the West Midlands competing in the Junior Tour of Ireland.”

Perfect storm
With all of the groups on the road, our B+ group is led by Paul Evans and Steve Grice, who are feeling strong today, with directions called out by club chairman and group disciplinarian Nick Jeggo.

Under his guidance the group rides in perfect formation and at a nicely consistent pace, with hazards shouted out nice and early — it’s needed; the storm may have passed, but the debris and standing water were making themselves a nuisance on the lanes.

Jeggo has been chairman for a good few years now and has seen the club build in number dramatically: “Six years ago, we found we had just 49 members, few of them were female and only one member was under the age of 19. We decided to do something about it. We became a Go-Ride club in 2012 and this has helped to revive us. Now there are 103 members under the age of 19.”

The loop today takes us through some of Shropshire’s lovely countryside and we meet at the cafe stop, at Alderford Lake, after 28 miles.

With suitable hot food, sweet treats and drinks ordered, I speak to Alex Capstick who tells me he had retired a year ago: “I joined the club a few years back through a colleague who was a member. I had ridden for years on my own but since joining have completed sportives all over the country, ridden Land’s End to John o’ Groats, and now I have more time to come along on the Wednesday and Sunday rides if I’m not somewhere exotic!”

Also present is Graham Cook, who after joining the club wanted to give something back; his insurance company is now the club’s prime sponsor.

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During the morning’s ride, a bike in the group had caught my eye, a handsome steel frame with modern components; an unusual steed for a young rider. I rode with the owner, 16-year-old Oli Hulland, to find out a little more: “My school, Adams’ Grammar [whose alumni includes Jeremy Corbyn] have run a Design Technology course for the last couple of years where we design our custom-fit bikes using CAD, then follow through the complete manufacture of the bike in steel, selecting our own components to finish the build, resulting in a product we can own for a lifetime.”

With their youth and women’s contingent blooming, Newport certainly made an impression as a club that is widely diverse and benefiting from the changes going by the huge turnout today.


History

The club was formed in 1976 by the late Robert Prentice, a history teacher and cycling coach at the local Burton Borough School. It started out with its young members training locally and competing in circuit racing, time trials, grass track and hard track racing throughout the Midlands area.

The club still has strong links with the school as a Go-Ride accredited set-up, which coaches children as young as four up to junior racing age, and meets there on Saturday mornings, mirroring those early days.

In 1977 the club had its first Midlands area schools champion, when Richard Goddard (still an active member to this day and still racing too) won the under- 13s race at Birmingham. With increasing interest from parents and friends it was decided to open up the club to more like-minded people who enjoyed cycling; and so in 1977 the Newport (Salop) Cycling Club was formed.

In 2007 it was decided that the name of the club needed to be brought up to date and was renamed Newport Shropshire Cycling Club.

In the following years as cycling was in the spotlight much more, membership has swelled and the biggest increase has been with youngsters and women (who now form 37 per cent of the membership), partly due to the bike club influence and a flourishing Breeze Ride initiative, with Newport running the largest number of women-only rides in the area.

Achievements

  • Brothers Ian and Simon Holt both started out with Newport, with Ian going on to be a criterium specialist and younger sibling Simon riding for various domestic pro teams.
  • Rob Lambton won multiple youth track National Championships and placed in the top three in a number of disciplines between 2007-2011.
  • Numerous members have completed LEJOG/JOGLE, some multiple times and in as short as four days, members even holding the relay record for a short time.
  • The Newport Nocturne, the UK’s first floodlit night race is still run by Michael and Nick Jeggo, Nick being the current chairman of the club.

Newport Shropshire club run

Ride highlights

1 Moreton Corbet
Crossing the River Roden into the village of Moreton Corbet provides a fine view of the Norman castle built around 1200AD. Although now a ruin, it’s still mightily impressive.

2 Wem
The historic town is a regular stop on the Newport runs, famous as the home of the sweet pea flowering plant, and the site of a couple of good cafes and a bike shop for rolling repairs.

3 Market Drayton
Another old town, but rather than the local attractions it’s the road out of town as it dips down into a fast descent, before turning sharply up into the woods for the testing climb of the day.

Favourite cafe
The club has a few cafes they like to visit in the area, but the favourite is the recently renamed Alderford Lake. It’s a popular destination for cyclists, with the added bonus of a 10 per cent discount if you arrive by bike. Alderford Lake, Tilstock Rd, Whitchurch SY13 3JQ.