75th anniversary souvenir booklet


As a club, we marked our 75th anniversary in 2021. Club President George Barker compiled a 75th anniversary souvenir booklet to mark the occasion, featuring recollections from club members past and present and a selection of materials from the archives. Everyone who attended the Annual Dinner in November received a hard copy, but if you weren’t able to make the dinner, you can now download the booklet as a PDF. George also has some spare printed copies, so speak to him if you’d like one.

Ian Taylor’s Tour 21 reflections


On Saturday 19 July 2021, I rolled out of Brest as part of a team of 18 cyclists aiming to ride the entire route of the 2021 Tour de France one week ahead of the professional race and in the process raise £1m for Cure Leukaemia. Just getting to the start line felt like a triumph…

The original plan was to ride the Tour route in 2020, one day ahead of the professional peloton, but like so many plans over the last 18 months, it was derailed by the pandemic. No problem, we thought: postpone to 2021 when the world is back to normal. Of course, as the months rolled on it became increasingly clear that 2021 was a long way from normal. As winter eventually became spring and lockdown restrictions came, went and came back again, the emotions of the Tour 21 team were up and down on a daily basis. We did the only thing you can do when facing such uncertainty: plan for the worst, hope for the best and with that in mind the logistical planning carried on throughout the spring and into early summer.

COVID vaccines, PCR tests, amber countries, green countries, antigen tests, quarantine, COVID passports, lateral flow tests, essential travel, non-essential travel, exemptions –  it was new territory with seemingly endless and constantly changing rules and regulations to navigate to even get to France, let alone attempt to ride round it. 

A few of our team went to Brest on 9 July and self-isolated. A handful of our team weren’t double vaccinated in time to allow them to travel. I was double vaccinated but didn’t have two weeks on the clock since my second jab, so my place was in doubt until I found a line on the French Consulate website that said if I could prove I’d previously had COVID then I would be able to travel – I was 99% certain I’d had it months ago so off I scurried to get an antigen test. Sure enough, the antigen test came back positive and I was cleared to travel. It was almost a disappointment to only be asked for my passport as we boarded the ferry in Portsmouth and we didn’t even have to show anything when we arrived in Caen, but no matter, I was finally on French soil and ready to ride!

A short 25km on Friday afternoon around Brest to stretch the legs after 36 hours traveling was welcome, if a bit surreal, and then all of a sudden it was 7am on Saturday morning and we were off! Lots of talk in the little peloton about pacing ourselves, taking it easy, it’s a three-week endurance test, don’t go into the red in the first week etc., etc. On that first morning, it looked like we were taking our own advice, riding nice and steady and ticking of the miles in a disciplined group. Having moto outriders stopping traffic certainly helped it feel like we were making good progress. We’re a team, one for all, all for one. Stay in the wheels if you need a tow, let’s stick together…until an hour after the lunch stop, with around 60k still to go, when without warning it all kicked off and suddenly ‘it’s on’, full-gas riding, hang on to the wheel in front, 30 seconds on the front before peeling off and desperately trying to recover before what feels like less than 10 seconds later you’re somehow back on the front and dangerously over your threshold. What the hell happened to pace yourself and take it easy, it’s a three-week test?

And so the pattern was set for pretty much every stage. Ride in a group till just after lunch, then hang on to your bidons boys and girls, all hell is breaking loose again! You could of course drop off and join the ‘tortoise’ group if you wanted to, but frankly where’s the fun in that? Well, by day five it turned out I could see plenty of fun in that and I was very happy to trundle like a tortoise now and again.

Having trained non stop for nearly 18 months I was in probably as good a shape as I could have hoped but nothing could have prepared me for the relentlessness of riding hundreds of kilometres day after day. It was physically and mentally draining, despite the brilliant logistics (police outriders in towns/cities, team coach, mechanics, decent hotels; there was even a laundry service every three days for your kit!). But despite the tiredness and the strain, the feeling that it was an absolute privilege to be part of this was always at the front of my mind. The daily routine was punishing but it was also crucial to follow it and minimise the faff. Oh god, the faff! If you’ve ever rolled your eyes at the level of faff when a club run gets ready to leave the café stop, trust me, that’s nothing compared to the frankly world-class level of faff from 18 tired middle-aged cyclists half-way round the route of a Grand Tour. The daily routine didn’t change much, irrespective of the stage. Up at 6am. Breakfast at 6.15am. Bags packed, kit on, bidons filled, helmet, glasses, gloves, gilet, arm warmers and rain cape at the ready. Main bag on the coach and in the luggage hold by 7.15am. Bike stowed in the bike trailer by 7.15am. Day bag on the coach by 7.15am. Coach transfer to start of the stage from 7.30am. Arrive at the start of the stage by 8.30am. More faffing. A good half hour of it. Has anyone seen the track pump? Where’s the SiS powder? Has anyone got today’s route on their Garmin? Will I need a gilet? Is it going to rain? How the four ride captains maintained their smiling and friendly demeanour, I’ll never know. 9am, start riding. 11am, water stop. 1pm, lunch stop. 3.30pm water stop. 6pm finish line. Wait for everyone to finish and get on the coach. Transfer to new hotel. Arrive hotel at 8.30pm. Dinner at 8.45pm. Shower at 10pm. Prep kit and bike for the morning. Phone home. Lights out 11pm. Repeat times 21 days.

I joined Strava a few days before we started, largely to give people at home the chance to see an update from the ride along with the odd photograph. It quickly became a daily highlight of the Tour, uploading the day’s ride during the coach transfer right after the stage, including a route profile and a few photographs from the day. The kudos and comments from home that appeared into the evening and the following morning helped lift my spirits and knowing that people were cheering us on meant a huge amount.

There were so many highlights that will stay long in the memory. Riding twice up the Mur de Bretagne on stage 2, the longest stage in 25 years on stage 7 (which included some km long ramps of 18% gradient I might add!), the thrill of reaching the Alps on stage 8 and 9. The dread of a 24km climb up to Tignes to finish that stage – I suffered that day. The high temperatures of week two, with Nimes, Carcassone and other iconic Tour destinations seeming like a heat-induced blur. The angst of climbing Ventoux twice after 80 miles of riding that day, in blistering heat. Climbing up into Andorra to the high point of the route above the clouds. Hitting the Pyrenees and the iconic Tour climbs: Col du Tourmalet, Peyrousourde, Luz Ardiden, Col de Portet.

We devoured highlights of the professional race whenever we could, largely on the coach transfer via phone or iPad, and the news that Cav had won one stage was greeted with huge cheers – as his wins stacked up, the cheers got louder and louder. Some enterprising soul managed to get live updates on the road as we headed towards the finish of stage 19 so when the news came through that Cav had picked up his 4th win, our little group rolling through rural France was cheering, high-fiving and crying tears of joy all at the same time.

With every passing day, Paris was getting just that little bit closer. The last few days seemed to fly by and what had seemed like a very distant dream three weeks ago was coming into focus – we were in Paris and ready to ride the final stage. It was a shock to the system to ride 75km in a city after the landscape we’d been revelling in for the previous three weeks. Once the Arc de Triomphe was in sight, we knew we’d done it. 

So, what were the cycling highlights? The stats tell one story – 21 stages, 3490km of riding, 44,000m of climbing and 143 hours in the saddle – to say nothing of the hundreds of croissants, thousands of gels and energy bars, 7 to 8 litres of water for each rider every day, most it consumed, some of it poured over heads as the temperature went up.

But there’s really only one stat that matters. As we arrived at the Arc de Triomphe, the news came through that we’d just hit our £1m fundraising target for Cure Leukaemia. Whoever was writing this script knew how to come up with a Hollywood ending!

After the photographs, hugs, handshakes, tears and outpouring of relief in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, it was a race for the Eurostar and the dash home in time for kick off. And what better way to get back to reality than to see England lose on penalties in the Euro 2020 final?

Annual General Meeting 2021


This year’s Beacon AGM will take place at 18:30 on Thursday 9 December 2021, in Seminar Room 2, Hillscourt Hotel and Conference Centre on Rose Hill. We’ve moved the AGM here from its previous venue to ensure that there is step-free access to the meeting.

For members who would prefer to join the meeting online, we will also be using Zoom to facilitate this. Please see the AGM notice sent out to all members by e-mail on 18 November for the Zoom link.

Please do join us to help set the direction of the club for the coming year.

December 2021 intro ride


Newcomers are warmly invited to join us on our next Introductory Ride.

Date

Sunday 5 December 2021

Where and when does it start?

The car park of the Black Horse, Bristol Rd South, Northfield, B31 2QT. We’ll set off at 09:15, and we’ll meet ten or fifteen minutes before that to say hello and chat about the ride.

Where’s it going?

This month’s Intro Ride is going to the Aztec Adventure café near Wychbold. Here’s a map of the route we plan to follow, which you can download to a GPS device:

We’ll cover roughly 49 kilometres (30 miles), mostly on quiet lanes. We’ll stop for refreshments at Aztec Adventure, approximately two-thirds of the way through the route.

Will it be hard?

You should be fine if you can already ride for an hour or two at an average of roughly 16-20kph (10-12mph). We’ll stick together and go at the pace of the slowest rider. We’ll ride for a total of about three hours, with a break at the café and maybe a breather at the top of one or two hills.

Who can join in?

Our Intro Rides are mainly for people new to club cycling and not yet confident about doing one of the main club runs. They’re ideal if you already cycle and fancy getting a bit more involved, or if you’re returning after a break. They provide a chance to get to know the club and decide whether it’s for you. If you’re very new to cycling, it’s probably best to do a few independent rides first, and join an Intro Ride once you’re comfortable riding for 90 minutes or so. Under-16s need an adult with them.

How do I join the ride?

At the moment, because of COVID restrictions, Intro Rides are limited to eight people, including the leader(s). Everyone needs to be signed up in advance. To put your name down, either mail clubruns@beaconrcc.org.uk or answer the post on our message board.

Do I need a fancy bike?

No. For an Intro Ride, the main thing is that your bike is comfortable and reliable. Of course, it must also be legal, which basically means having two working brakes. For safety reasons, we don’t allow use of tri-bars on group rides.

Do I need special cycling gear?

No. Proper cycling clothing is generally more comfortable, especially for people riding far and/or fast. But Intro Rides aren’t like that. It’s good to avoid things that flap about and you certainly don’t want anything that chafes. In winter, you obviously don’t want to be under-dressed. But be careful not to over-dress either: if you’re sweating heavily on the hills, your wet clothes will make you cold the rest of the time. Layering is good and, if it’s likely to be wet, windy or very cold, your outer layer should be a lightweight waterproof or wind-stopper. Make sure all your extremities are well protected, but be aware that keeping your hands and feet warm depends as much on keeping your core warm as on gloves and footwear.

What should I bring?

Bring a bottle of water and maybe something like an energy bar. You’ll also need a little money for refreshments. If there’s a chance of rain, have a lightweight waterproof in your pocket or bag. Most club cyclists carry a mobile phone and a credit/debit card in case of emergency.

Anything else I need to know?

Yes, you need to read our Club Run Guidelines. Also, while we’ll always do our best to help, it’s important to recognise a rescue service isn’t part of the deal. So have a think about how you’d manage if you were miles from home with a bike that won’t go. Could you phone home for a lift, for example?

Club trophy winners 2021


The club’s 2021 Annual Dinner was held on 14 November – earlier in the calendar than usual, to mark our 75th anniversary. Guest speaker Ned Boulting was on hand to present the all-important trophies.

The continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the range of trophies that could be awarded was slightly smaller this year than usual, but we had some very deserving champions for those categories that were contested.

Touring ChampionHelen Colson
Audax ChampionJohn Williams
Sportive rider of the yearJason Hogg
Club Run Points ChampionNeil Orchard
Mountain Bike ChampionBarry Evans
Cyclo-cross ChampionNot awarded
Junior Cyclo-cross ChampionNot awarded
Junior 10-mile TT ChampionNot awarded
Women’s 10-mile TT ChampionGemma Johnson
Senior 10-mile TT ChampionRoger Cutler
Junior 25-mile TT ChampionNot awarded
Women’s 25-mile TT ChampionClaire Fudge
Senior 25-mile TT ChampionRoger Cutler
Women’s 50-mile TT ChampionFenella Brown
Senior 50-mile TT ChampionEd Moss
Senior 100-mile TT ChampionNot awarded
Senior 12-hour TT ChampionNot awarded
Junior BARNot awarded
Women’s BARFenella Brown
Senior BARNot awarded
Veterans’ BARSimon Dighton
20-mile Handicap TT ChampionNot awarded
Handicap BARMark Roberts
Hill Climb ChampionAnthony Featherstone
Women’s Hill Climb ChampionNot awarded
Junior Road Race ChampionNot awarded
Senior Road Race ChampionKyle Gatier
Senior Circuit Race ChampionKyle Gatier
Track Sprint ChampionStuart White
Track Distance Race WinnerStuart White
Track Pursuit ChampionNot awarded
Track Omnium ChampionStuart White
Women’s Track Omnium ChampionBethan Gillies
Junior Track League ChampionNot awarded
Senior Track League ChampionGavin Passmore
Special achievement awardIan Taylor
Club Person of the YearNeil Orchard

Well done to everyone who won an award, and thanks to everyone for helping to mark our anniversary!

November 2021 intro ride


Newcomers are warmly invited to join us on our next Introductory Ride.

Date

Sunday 7 November 2021

Where and when does it start?

The car park of the Black Horse, Bristol Rd South, Northfield, B31 2QT. We’ll set off at 09:15, and we’ll meet ten or fifteen minutes before that to say hello and chat about the ride.

Where’s it going?

This month’s Intro Ride is going to Rowberry’s Garden Centre in Chaddesley Corbett. Here’s a map of the route we plan to follow, which you can download to a GPS device:

We’ll cover roughly 56 kilometres (35 miles), mostly on quiet lanes. We’ll stop for refreshments at Rowberry’s, approximately two-thirds of the way through the route.

Will it be hard?

You should be fine if you can already ride for an hour or two at an average of roughly 16-20kph (10-12mph). We’ll stick together and go at the pace of the slowest rider. We’ll ride for a total of about three hours, with a break at the café and maybe a breather at the top of one or two hills.

Who can join in?

Our Intro Rides are mainly for people new to club cycling and not yet confident about doing one of the main club runs. They’re ideal if you already cycle and fancy getting a bit more involved, or if you’re returning after a break. They provide a chance to get to know the club and decide whether it’s for you. If you’re very new to cycling, it’s probably best to do a few independent rides first, and join an Intro Ride once you’re comfortable riding for 90 minutes or so. Under-16s need an adult with them.

How do I join the ride?

At the moment, because of COVID restrictions, Intro Rides are limited to eight people, including the leader(s). Everyone needs to be signed up in advance. To put your name down, either mail clubruns@beaconrcc.org.uk or answer the post on our message board.

Do I need a fancy bike?

No. For an Intro Ride, the main thing is that your bike is comfortable and reliable. Of course, it must also be legal, which basically means having two working brakes. For safety reasons, we don’t allow use of tri-bars on group rides.

Do I need special cycling gear?

No. Proper cycling clothing is generally more comfortable, especially for people riding far and/or fast. But Intro Rides aren’t like that. It’s good to avoid things that flap about and you certainly don’t want anything that chafes. But things like sweatshirts, close-fitting jogging trousers and trainers are fine. Two or three thin layers are usually a good idea, especially in autumn, when it’s often chilly early and warm later. With lightweight clothes you can stuff in a pocket or bag, you can add or subtract layers as conditions change.

What should I bring?

Bring a bottle of water and maybe something like an energy bar. You’ll also need a little money for refreshments. If there’s a chance of rain, have a lightweight waterproof in your pocket or bag. Most club cyclists carry a mobile phone and a credit/debit card in case of emergency.

Anything else I need to know?

Yes, you need to read our Club Run Guidelines. Also, while we’ll always do our best to help, it’s important to recognise a rescue service isn’t part of the deal. So have a think about how you’d manage if you were miles from home with a bike that won’t go. Could you phone home for a lift, for example?

October 2021 intro ride


Newcomers are warmly invited to join us on our next Introductory Ride.

Date

Sunday 3 October 2021

Where and when does it start?

The car park of the Black Horse, Bristol Rd South, Northfield, B31 2QT. We’ll set off at 09:15, and we’ll meet ten or fifteen minutes before that to say hello and chat about the ride.

Where’s it going?

This month’s Intro Ride is going to The View café in Wootton Wawen. Here’s a map of the route we plan to follow, which you can download to a GPS device:

We’ll cover roughly 52 kilometres (32 miles), mostly on quiet lanes. We’ll stop for refreshments towards the end of the route.

Will it be hard?

You should be fine if you can already ride for an hour or two at an average of roughly 16-20kph (10-12mph). We’ll stick together and go at the pace of the slowest rider. We’ll ride for a total of about three hours, with a break in the middle and maybe a breather at the top of one or two hills.

Who can join in?

Our Intro Rides are mainly for people new to club cycling and not yet confident about doing one of the main club runs. They’re ideal if you already cycle and fancy getting a bit more involved, or if you’re returning after a break. They provide a chance to get to know the club and decide whether it’s for you. If you’re very new to cycling, it’s probably best to do a few independent rides first, and join an Intro Ride once you’re comfortable riding for 90 minutes or so. Under-16s need an adult with them.

How do I join the ride?

At the moment, because of COVID restrictions, Intro Rides are limited to eight people, including the leader(s). Everyone needs to be signed up in advance. To put your name down, either mail clubruns@beaconrcc.org.uk or answer the post on our message board.

Do I need a fancy bike?

No. For an Intro Ride, the main thing is that your bike is comfortable and reliable. Of course, it must also be legal, which basically means having two working brakes. For safety reasons, we don’t allow use of tri-bars on group rides.

Do I need special cycling gear?

No. Proper cycling clothing is generally more comfortable, especially for people riding far and/or fast. But Intro Rides aren’t like that. It’s good to avoid things that flap about and you certainly don’t want anything that chafes. But things like sweatshirts, close-fitting jogging trousers and trainers are fine. Two or three thin layers are usually a good idea, especially in autumn, when it’s often chilly early and warm later. With lightweight clothes you can stuff in a pocket or bag, you can add or subtract layers as conditions change.

What should I bring?

Bring a bottle of water and maybe something like an energy bar. You’ll also need a little money for refreshments. If there’s a chance of rain, have a lightweight waterproof in your pocket or bag. Most club cyclists carry a mobile phone and a credit/debit card in case of emergency.

Anything else I need to know?

Yes, you need to read our Club Run Guidelines. Also, while we’ll always do our best to help, it’s important to recognise a rescue service isn’t part of the deal. So have a think about how you’d manage if you were miles from home with a bike that won’t go. Could you phone home for a lift, for example?

Winter 2021 training for adult riders at Birmingham Wheels Park


Starting on 23 September, Adrian Ravenscroft is running Academy sessions for kids at Birmingham Wheels Park’s 400m banked oval track on Thursday evenings. These will be organised together with Nick and Luke Selibas of KarbonaUK, and Ade wants to open use of the track up to adult riders following the Academy sessions. The structure of the training will vary from week to week. It would be good if you could sign up on Eventbrite so that we can keep an eye on numbers; places are free; max 20 riders per session. Please see the link below for more details and to book your place.

Sadly, the Wheels Park is having to close at the end of October, but we’re going out with a Halloween special race night on Thursday 28 October. Book below!

September 2021 intro ride


Newcomers are warmly invited to join us on our next Introductory Ride.

Date

Sunday 12 September 2021

Where and when does it start?

The car park of the Black Horse, Bristol Rd South, Northfield, B31 2QT. We’ll set off at 09:15, and we’ll meet ten or fifteen minutes before that to say hello and chat about the ride.

Where’s it going?

This month’s Intro Ride is going to the café at Waseley Hills Country Park, with a stop to watch the club’s Hill Climb Championship en route. Here’s a map of the route we plan to follow, which you can download to a GPS device:

We’ll cover roughly 42 kilometres (26 miles), mostly on quiet lanes. We’ll stop for refreshments towards the end of the route.

Will it be hard?

You should be fine if you can already ride for an hour or two at an average of roughly 16-20kph (10-12mph). We’ll stick together and go at the pace of the slowest rider. We’ll ride for a total of about two and a half hours, with a break to watch the Hill Climb for about 30 to 45 minutes, refreshments at the café and maybe a breather at the top of one or two hills.

Who can join in?

Our Intro Rides are mainly for people new to club cycling and not yet confident about doing one of the main club runs. They’re ideal if you already cycle and fancy getting a bit more involved, or if you’re returning after a break. They provide a chance to get to know the club and decide whether it’s for you. If you’re very new to cycling, it’s probably best to do a few independent rides first, and join an Intro Ride once you’re comfortable riding for 90 minutes or so. Under-16s need an adult with them.

How do I join the ride?

At the moment, because of COVID restrictions, Intro Rides are limited to eight people, including the leader(s). Everyone needs to be signed up in advance. To put your name down, either mail clubruns@beaconrcc.org.uk or answer the post on our message board.

Do I need a fancy bike?

No. For an Intro Ride, the main thing is that your bike is comfortable and reliable. Of course, it must also be legal, which basically means having two working brakes. For safety reasons, we don’t allow use of tri-bars on group rides.

Do I need special cycling gear?

No. Proper cycling clothing is generally more comfortable, especially for people riding far and/or fast. But Intro Rides aren’t like that. It’s good to avoid things that flap about and you certainly don’t want anything that chafes. But things like sweatshirts, close-fitting jogging trousers and trainers are fine. Two or three thin layers are usually a good idea, especially in autumn, when it’s often chilly early and warm later. With lightweight clothes you can stuff in a pocket or bag, you can add or subtract layers as conditions change.

What should I bring?

Bring a bottle of water and maybe something like an energy bar. You’ll also need a little money for refreshments. If there’s a chance of rain, have a lightweight waterproof in your pocket or bag. Most club cyclists carry a mobile phone and a credit/debit card in case of emergency.

Anything else I need to know?

Yes, you need to read our Club Run Guidelines. Also, while we’ll always do our best to help, it’s important to recognise a rescue service isn’t part of the deal. So have a think about how you’d manage if you were miles from home with a bike that won’t go. Could you phone home for a lift, for example?

75th Anniversary Dinner and Prize Presentation


In the closing weeks of each year, we get together to recognise the achievements of our members during the season just ended. The Annual Dinner is the centrepiece of our social calendar, when we celebrate everything our club stands for. And this year’s dinner is going to be a particularly special occasion.

On 10 November 2021, Beacon RCC will be 75 years old. This year’s Dinner will therefore be held on the Saturday closest to the anniversary of our formation: Saturday 13 November. Here are some of the special features we’ve got planned:

Q&A session with TV commentator and author Ned Boulting
Ned is a hugely entertaining speaker, with a wealth of anecdotes drawn from decades of close involvement with the biggest races and the biggest stars in the world of cycling.

A great new venue
Kings Norton Golf Club has a spacious function room and a cosy bar, in a leafy setting on the edge of town, close to the Alcester Road (A435) and the M42.

A look back at highlights of our first 75 years
Picture displays, a souvenir booklet and the chance to learn about, hear from and raise a toast to some great champions and wonderful characters from the past.

After-awards music and dancing

The traditional end to the evening is back, led by our very own cycling DJ Vince!
(Not your thing? Don’t worry, there’ll be quiet areas where you can chat.)

So, come on everybody, let’s have a really big turnout and make this an occasion to remember! We’ve all been cooped up for a very long time, and you’re only 75 once! A three-course meal, an evening of great entertainment, plus music and dancing – all for £35, or £65 for a pair of tickets. You can’t say fairer than that, now can you?

Everyone is welcome: current, former and prospective Beacon members and friends of the club, plus their partners, family and guests. Whether you’re a newbie or an old hand, a racer or a pootler, you’re an important member of the Beacon family, and the Dinner is meant for you.

The evening starts at 18:00 with a welcome drink in the bar (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), followed by dinner and toasts, leading up to Ned’s Q&A session. After that, Ned will be presenting prizes to achievers in every field of cycling we’re involved with. To round off the evening, DJ Vince will deliver a set that’s guaranteed to get your feet moving.

Although the Dinner’s structure is formal, the atmosphere is very relaxed. There’s a quiz, party poppers and rocket balloons, plus jokes and banter aplenty. Even in the coldest winter, a warm glow is guaranteed!

Ticket sales close on 4 November.