Last Sunday, 31st May, Mid Devon Cycling Club would have held it’s 90th Birthday Celebration with members and their families choosing to ride a 90 mile, 90k or 90 minute route all arriving back at Teigngrace in the afternoon where there would have been a BBQ and large cake. What a glorious occasion it would have been as well with near perfect weather, just a little on the hot side so needing plenty of liquid in board.
In addition the club intended having had a commemorative 90th Birthday polo shirt. That opportunity has not been lost and has now been linked into the near £5000 fundraising and provision of skin cream that the club has provided to our two district hospitals in Torbay and Exeter and all surgeries and some care homes in the Teignbridge and Torbay districts.
So how did it all begin?
Early one Sunday morning in April 1930 three cyclists were climbing out of Chudleigh and up the long slopes of Haldon Hill to join the Exeter Wheeler’s club run. One made the casual remark “Why can’t we form a club in Newton Abbot and save us from this hill every week?” From this question it can be said that the Mid Devon club was formed. The three pioneers were Fred Bolt, Charlie Phillips and “Bill” Best.
A meeting to be called on May 14th 1930 at which the club was formed – with 17 members – under its original name of the Newton Abbot Wheelers. The very first club run was to Berry Head on 18th May 1930 and the first club road time trial was a 10 mile event held on 1st June of that year, won by “Dick” Lake in 29mins 20 secs.
In 1936 the club’s name was changed to “Mid Devon Road Club”. A name that was to last until the mid-2000s when the slight change to Mid Devon Cycling Club was made, to reflect the wider cycling interest of the club’s members.
Now 90 years later, we boast over 500 members and in normal circumstances would have 8 club runs now leaving Abbrook Park each Sunday morning, with often close to 100 riders in attendance. Those 90 years have seen many successes, with the club boasting 5 former-national champions, Colin Lewis (National Pro Road Champion twice and now Club President, still riding very regularly in his 70s), Jeremy Hunt (National Junior Road Champion and twice National Pro Road Champion), Yanto Barker (National Junior Road Champion) and Roy Hopkins and Mike Parker (both National Veterans’ Road Champions). Both Colin and Jeremy have also competed in the Tour de France – the very pinnacle of the sport.
Club Chairman, Liam McGrath adds: “Nowadays we share enjoyment of our sport with the likes of Ken Robertson, 83 years of age and Club Vice President, he is to be seen leading a group ride most weekends, At the other end of the spectrum we enjoy hearing about the exploits of our latest semi professional protege, 20 year old Harrison Wood who is a member of a Dutch Under 23 racing team ‘SEG Race Academy,’ competing regularly in international events across Europe and aspiring to participate in the Tour de France one day.”
The Club enjoys a status as one of the UK’s leading cycling clubs and has consistently promoted road races, time trials and other cycling activities, including several national championships. Since 2007, the club has also promoted the Dartmoor Classic cyclo-sportive, voted by readers of Cycling Weekly as the nation’s favourite sportives, and attracting 4,000 entrants each year to tackle Dartmoor’s rugged terrain.
Mid Devon Cycle Club is a community resource giving open access, supporting and promoting cycling for all, across a wide range of cycling activities to people in Devon and beyond. The club is a ‘Club Mark’ accredited club and : –
- Offers substantial physical and emotional health benefits including a broad social programme
- Nurtures diversity
- Provides coaching, funding and facilities to aspiring competitive cyclists at the Torbay Velo park and a full range of alternative cycling based activities at its various sites in Devon to suit all types of riders
- Contributes to improvement of the environment by influencing positive change.
Over the next 90 years the MDCC intends to be an exemplar of a modern and progressive community Sports Organisation; a centre of excellence unlocking the potential of all its members and providing opportunity for fun and good mental and physical wellbeing.