An Edinburgh cycling club with an eclectic mix of professions... and one shared passion
- Words: Trevor Ward | Photos: Andy McCandlish

Based: Edinburgh, Scotland
Members: 250
Formed: 2012
Meets: Saturdays: fast, social and development rides leave from Ronde Cafe, 66 Hamilton Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, from 9.10 am; Mondays: hill reps up Arthur’s Seat, 6.15 pm, Holyrood Palace car park; Wednesdays: social ride leaves from Ronde Cafe, 10 am.
Website: http://www.rondecc.com/ | Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rondecc

With a roll call of members including artists, architects and lawyers, Ronde CC may not fit the typical image of traditional cycling clubs, but the sense of camaraderie is no less tangible.

As we negotiate Edinburgh’s excellent bike path network out of the city centre, newly-qualified lawyer Chloe Watson tells me: “There’s a great sense of community. From students to millionaires, we are all here to ride our bikes and enjoy the social side of it.”

To reinforce the point, she and fiancé Paul Hill, an architect, are busy arranging the details of a party later that night with other members of our peloton.

One of these is Catriona Munro, who joined the club to make friends after she moved to the city after graduating from Aberdeen University.

“The social side is really important,” she says. “I could have gone out with the fast group today, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed the ride. With this group, I can mix with riders of different levels.”

Today’s “fast group” includes artist Craig Mitchell, who has just started sculpting cycling figures from clay.

“I had a studio set up during the Fringe Festival and just sold my first piece for £2,000,” he says. “It was a 60cm sculpture of a rider on a turbo called, ‘Winner of the Tour de Garage’.”

Fellow artist Cornelius Wright paints famous cycling cols — the Stelvio is his favourite — and recently returned from a spell living in France. “I wasn’t a member of a club out there because they are very race-focused, there isn’t much of a social side to them. I much prefer the relaxed atmosphere here,” he says.

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Echoing the point is legal consultant Charlie Middleton. “It’s all about a work-life balance,” he says. “I know if I’m away because of work, I can slot back into one of these rides and it’s as if I’ve never been away.”

Road buzz
Audio engineer Peter Lee is the only rider still with a smile on his face by the time we reach the summit of Linlithgow hill.

“I was a bit of a raver in my late 20s and early 30s, I’d be out clubbing twice a week, but now I get just as big a buzz from riding my bike, except it’s much healthier,” he says. “The club’s also got a great social side, and I’m their official DJ at events.”

We wait at the top of the hill for Kenny Cruickshank, who suffered a flat at the start of the climb. By the time he arrives it is raining heavily and he is looking distinctly miserable. “This 9.20 group can be a bit fast, especially when you haven’t been on your bike for four weeks because of a crash. But at least they always wait for you,” he says.

Cruickshank took up road cycling only a year ago after injury forced him to quit running. “I watched a mate in the Etape Loch Ness and got a buzz from seeing them all crossing the line, so made a bet I’d be in next year’s event. I’d bought a bike and all the Lycra within a few months, but felt very self-conscious leaving the house in daylight wearing it until I’d got used to it.”

Duncan Brown is still smiling despite the rain. An IT manager, he joined the club after riding a sportive and “enjoying the sensation of riding in a group”.

“I’ll go out in all weathers now. If I don’t go out on a Saturday, I’ll start getting twitchy by the end of the day,” he says.


History

Ronde CC was officially founded in the autumn of 2012, with less than a dozen regular customers of the newly-opened Ronde Bicycle Outfitters in the Stockbridge neighbourhood of Edinburgh.

Founding member Alasdair Anderson recalls: “We decided to formalise the club for the purposes of insurance, but it also gives it some structure. We now have a range of rides catering for all abilities that go out during the week, including a development ride for newbies on Saturday mornings and a Wednesday ride for people who are retired or who have the day off work.”

The first batch of kit was designed by Ally Munro, who took his inspiration from the colours of a BMC bike frame. The name was eventually shortened to Ronde CC, to show that it was independent of the bike shop and cafe where it still meets (and where members are entitled to a club discount on kit).

“From the beginning, the club had an emphasis on having fun on our bikes, encouraging each other and the social aspect of cycling,” says secretary Fiona McDonnell.

By the time of its first AGM in October 2013, the club had 120 members. Its ranks now number 250, including around 70 female members.

A small group of members began competing in road races and TTs, though the club’s emphasis continues to be on sportives and long-distance events, including the overnight Ride To The Sun — which sees riders tackle a 100-mile route from Carlise to Cramond beach near Edinburgh — and the Ride of the Falling Leaves in Pitlochry.

The club hosts regular taster sessions at the Chris Hoy velodrome in Glasgow.
Recently, cyclo-cross has become popular, with a few members tackling the Scottish Series in 2015 and 2016, and taking a couple of podium places in the 2017 SuperQuaich series.

Achievements

  • Charlotte Anderson was 16th at this year’s Scottish National Road Race Championships.
  • Kayhan Jafar-Shaghaghi was second in 2016 London to Paris.
  • Kayhan and Kaveh Jafar-Shaghaghi (2015) and Jane Wright (2016) have completed Lands End to John o’Groats (with Ride Across Britain).
  • Alasdair Anderson, Jimmy Grant and Kayhan Jafar-Shaghaghi completed the North Coast 500 (2016 — supported) and Jamie Pearson completed a variation of this route unsupported (2017).
  • Sandy Anderson and John Fitzgerald took podium places in rounds of the 2017 SuperQuaich CX series.

Ronde CC club run

Ride highlights

1 Bathgate Alps
These are the fearsome local hills, all short but steep, and this route features three of them — Linlithgow Hill, The Knock and Cairnpapple. The first one is the longest and toughest…

2 Binny Descent
This is the reward for all that climbing — a gradual descent that lasts nearly 10 kilometres, offering views as far as Edinburgh airport and the river Forth.

3 Harry Potter’s house
The final stretch into Edinburgh takes you through the millionaires’ enclave of Cramond. Quiet, leafy roads and shared-use bike paths thread past mansions, one of which is home to JK Rowling.

Favourite cafe
The cafe at Ronde Bicycle Outfitters hosts various club functions, including regular cake and coffee nights. Its usual fare consists of soups, cakes and a wide selection of coffees and teas. Ronde Cafe, 66-68 Hamilton Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh EH3 5AZ