From: Alderley Edge, Cheshire
Meets: Sunday club runs ride out from Aldeli Cafe in Alderley Edge at 9am. Thursday night rides set off from Tesco in Bramhall at 7pm throughout the year. Saturday morning rides both leave Aldeli Cafe at 9am for a steady 35-mile flat ride or Robbo’s training ride, a hilly 35 miles. Track sessions are organised on a regular basis via the website and Facebook page.
I’m so ready for this coffee,” says Cheshire Maverick Cycling Club chair Simon Foy. He’s not the only one. The temperature gauge is hovering just above freezing and it’s pouring with icy cold rain and sleet. “Normally we’d have two groups out on a Saturday morning, one that takes to the hills, and this coffee run, with up to 20 riders on both.”
The hills Foy refers to are the Peak District climbs, which sit about five miles east of the meet point in Alderley Edge, some 15 miles south of Manchester, while the coffee run we’re out on today is a flat circular spin on the Cheshire Plains to the south-west.
“That’s the great thing about riding here, you get the best of both worlds, with hilly and flat rides on your doorstep,” club member Euan Begg tells me. “But we don’t take any risks in weather like this — there’s snow in the hills, so that ride has been cancelled.”
“The ride leaders are excellent at communicating ride information,” club member David Billington adds, “either by text, Facebook, or even as soon as you go to the website where ride information pops up.”
Bad weather has been a theme with Cheshire Maverick CC, with today’s ride being the second time we’ve met the club as our first attempt was aborted early on due to unforecast snow making the conditions treacherous. However, it did allow for plenty of cafe chat, with everyone happy with the impromptu club gathering, which is not unlike a celebratory party.
“We’re like a big family,” says club sectary Karen Dillon. “Everyone is treated equally and gets looked after. Everyone talks to each other, it’s not elitist and non-judgmental.”
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“I think that’s why the Kennys like coming out with us,” agrees club member Jason Hales. “They turn up for a normal club run and are treated exactly like all the other members.” The Kennys are Olympians Laura and Jason Kenny, both of whom ride out with the club.
“I’ve made friends for life since joining the club eight months ago,” confirms club member Jilly Jackson. “I come all the way from Blackburn, an hour’s drive away, to ride with the club. I’ve found everyone so encouraging and welcoming. I couldn’t imagine riding with another club.”
“There’s a few that travel to the club, because of its riding ethos,” Wai Lee, club treasurer, chips in.
“I ride out from Manchester, to join the A-group rides. We’ve become really well drilled as we ride together so regularly and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so we call on different riders’ abilities to pull each ride along. We also dabble in track riding. We’re lucky to have Danielle Riley, our own British Cycling track coach in the club. She’s amazing, managing to get 30 mixed-ability Cheshire Maverick riders on the track.”
“We really do have something for everyone, with a great progression path for riders, both adult and youngsters,” says Peter Carmichael, the club welfare officer. “I have the job of looking after about 30 juniors, and experienced kids’ coaches, Mark Burns and Billy Ackers, take them out weekly. Then they come through the ranks, eventually joining in with the A rides when they get to about 14 or 15 years old.”
“We’ve got everyone from five-year-olds up to pensioners in the club, both giving us middle-aged folk a run for our money! In what other sport would you get that?” asks club member Dan Gooding. “We’re like a mini community. Even when we’re not on bikes, we still love a get-together.”
The Cheshire Maverick Cycling Club was initially formed in 2011, and became a British Cycling affiliated club in 2012.
Founded by Billy Ackers and Phil Frazer-Thomson, the pair were keen to provide a safe environment for their children to ride on the road. It didn’t take long for more juniors and their parents to join, then parents’ friends joined and the club grew and grew.
Many of the junior members race at Manchester Velodrome, but had little road experience, so now there’s up to 30 youth and junior riders on the specific Saturday session, run by accredited coaches, all of whom are DBS checked.
After two years of the club becoming official, and Ackers funding affiliation fees himself, the club was so big that British Cycling provided advice on how to set up an official committee, with members paying a £15 annual fee which goes towards club fees and events.
Much of the membership recruitment still takes place in the school playground, with many members recommending the club to fellow parents at the school pick-up. Other members have joined after finding the club members so welcoming and encouraging on sportives or charity rides, they’ve joined up, even though they aren’t particularly local.
As well as juniors just starting out, returnees to the sport, partners new to the sport and pensioners becoming members, the Cheshire Maverick CC’s down-to-earth approach has also attracted cycling royalty, with Matt Crampton and both Laura and Jason Kenny honorary members, regularly riding with the club.
In the seven short years, the club has grown to beyond 250 members and is predicting closer to 400 members by the end of 2018.
- Eleven-year-old George Hales rode 170-mile coast to coast ride between Morecambe and Bridlington last year, raising £9,400 to buy 103 bikes for disadvantaged children as part
of the Cash for Kids charity.
- Cheshire Maverick CC founder Billy Ackers has recently established Trek Innovation Racing Team, to help guide young racers from participation to professional rider, with all but two of the seven riders Cheshire Maverick members.
- Junior club rider Joe Burns was selected to compete in the Future Stars league at the Revolution Track racing series for Team 100% ME.
- Under-16 youth Adam Mitchell is on the Great Britain Cycling Team Junior Academy Development Programme, while slightly younger Tom Lord has been selected for the Great Britain Cycling Team Apprentice programme.
Cheshire Maverick club run
1 Alderley Edge
A favourite with WAGs, it’s a tour of footballers’ mansions and expensive supercar spotting. Even if you’re not interested in either, it’s a window on the world of how the other half live!
2 Tatton Park
A relatively traffic-free 1,000-acre ancient deer park that was one of the finishing locations to 2016’s Tour of Britain, and is free to enter for those travelling by bike (or foot).
3 Tatton Wall
A mile-long straight which acts as a dragstrip for club run burn-ups. Having also featured in the Tour of Britain, the Strava top 10 is a pro peloton league, with top speeds clocking 60.5kph!
Aldeli is a New York inspired family run cafe, delicatessen and ice-cream parlour in Alderley Edge offering home-made and locally sourced food. The cafe is open seven days a week, and, as a sponsor of the Cheshire Mavericks, opened its doors early on a Sunday for the club on the day of our ‘Ride With’. Most rides start and finish at the cafe, which serves excellent coffee, pastries and savoury food. Aldeli, London Rd, Alderley Edge SK9 7QB, telephone 01625 587509
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