By Vern Pitt published
If you’ve ever wondered what the cast of Avengers Endgame facing off against that of the Hammer Horror films on cyclco-cross bikes would look like then you should have been at the North Cheshire Clarion Fancy Dress race in late October. There kids from all over the region, not just those in the club, competed for a host of prizes in what must have bee na bizarre sight to any casual passers by.
Chris Jones, the man behind the event, smiles as he recalls it. “There were a lot of super heroes,” he says when we ask him what his favourite costume was. That race was, Jones tells us, emblematic of the club’s underlying philosophy of promoting, fun, friendship and fitness all at the same time.
“Fun, friendship, fitness, those are the core values. It has got to be enjoyable. It’s not about championship jerseys or achievements. Everyone will achieve something at soe level its about recognising it and rewarding it,” says Jones the passion evident in his voice.
The fancy-dress race was just one in many events Jones has run as part of his role as club organiser for the Clarion’s youth section. It’s a job he’s done so well that we chose him as the recipient of our local hero award for 2021 - no cape required.
The club has grown substantially since Jones got involved and eventually took over its running a handful of years ago.
Within the first 12 months of volunteering he’d done the first tier of BC coaching training, funded by the club. “I was ‘actively encouraged’ to do it,” he says. “I didn't have any idea that it would lead to such a full on role as I’m under-taking now at the time,” he recalls. “But very quickly, I ended up taking the lead role in running the sessions.”
The 2021 season has brought its challenges, but Jones has taken them in his stride. You can read more about his role with the club in this week's Cycling Weekly magazine, out Thursday, December 9.
Passing the torch
The Clarion cycling club has been running since 1895 and has always had a strong community ethos.
There are Clarion clubs all over the country and Chris Jones clearly sees his own work with his local club through that community lens. “The people that came before me, gave me the foundation upon which to build from,” he says characterising himself as another brick in that wall.
“When the existing coaching team stepped away? I took over, so I had to build another team, another coaching team around me. A lot of the children who had grown up in the club moved away they they kind of outgrew what we were doing. And it was almost like a changing of the guard.”
While Metcalf is still racing herself she is commissairring most other weekends and has found time to build Team Boompods into one of the UK’s best domestic teams. She is a tireless promoter of the sport in the North East and impressed the judges with her deep reserves of passion and energy.
It’s safe to say derny racing might not be alive in the UK without Graham Bristow. Along with promoting races himself such as the Good Firday Meeting, he’s taken riders to national titles and foreign meetings on his derny as well as teaching others the art of riding one. He has been serving the cycling world for 30 years and long may he continue.
About the Cycling Weekly awards
The Cycling Weekly Awards recognise the best from the international and UK domestic racing scenes, as well as highlighting readers who have provided inspiration worthy of celebration. Each year our club of the year and local hero awards uncover the immense work being done at grass roots level up and down the country.
A new winner will be announced daily, from Monday December, 6. Keep track of the announcements here.
For a full account of Bäckstedt's 2021 season, and her interview reaction to winning the Rising Star Award, pick up a copy of Cycling Weekly magazine, in stores from Thursday, December 9. Subscribe online and get the magazine delivered to your door every week.
Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, world championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the middle east. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.
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