The club is formed in the name of Airedale Olympic Cycling Club and is open to all persons to make application for membership.
The aims of the club shall be:
Now I know that tracing the history of anything can be a frustrating task; so it is with Airedale Olympic Cycling Club. Despite the advent of the internet, which has provided a mine of information, and despite numerous conversations with past and present members, huge gaps are left unfilled, dates "nearly" and in most cases non-existent, hand me down stories I have assumed were facts I can find no trace of and sadly, some members have died taking their information with them.
I joined Airedale in 1953 as a 15-year-old, along with Colin Heath and Bill Boyce. Colin was tragically killed riding a time trial about 1970, Bill is still with us, a one club man and, between us we still find it difficult putting names to faces and dates to past times. We sort of graduated from the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC); it was during our club runs with the CTC that we kept coming across this group of much faster riders known as The Airedale. To us brought up on sensible, no-nonsense club runs this was glam! Coloured jerseys, tubs tied round shoulders, no mudguards, no saddle bags so your daily needs were carried in a musette known as a hoppy bag, sprinting for signs and hills, this was as near as we could get to the images we had seen in a film at the CTC club room called Spinning Wheels (now in the Club Library), this actually showed us footage of Le Tour and the legendary Fausto Coppi in the Alps. Heady stuff indeed!
This was the early 50's and previously happy clubs had still not recovered after being torn apart with the rise of the British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC), the breakaway group from the long standing National Cyclist Union (NCU) founded in 1878 as the Bicycle Union. To appreciate the significance of this schism in British Cycling I recommend you read chapter VI of the book One More Kilometre and We're in the Showers (also in the Club Library). In 2008 it is difficult to appreciate the difference between the BLRC and the NCU at this time in the formative years of the BLRC. Here reprinted are the last two paragraphs which were tagged on to the finishing sheet of the 1956 Yorkshire Road Race Championship by the event organiser.
If you were one of the riders who had difficulty in seeing the finishing line because of the crowd, remember this the next time you are a spectator, and keep on the pavement. If road races are stopped, one of the major causes will be the actions of crowds. It is only fair to remember that motorists pay towards the upkeep of the roads you race on, whereas they do not cost you a penny. They therefore expect a free passage and not a huge mass of ill-mannered cyclists in their path, shouting obscenities at them. Antagonism of the other users of the road will only help the cause of those who wish to see us on closed circuits, or, so to speak, behind bars. Remember these words and try to behave like a well reasoned human being the next time you ride or watch a race. Dennis Keelan and I have blacklisted all those who did not start because of the threats of NCU officials, and we are going to make sure that they do not get chance of riding any more events that we promote. If they prefer riding under NCU rules, let them do so and see how many rides they will get without shelling out pounds in travelling expenses. To conclude, I would like to thank all those who helped to make this event possible.
Thank you, Bev Barratt, Event Organiser.
Airedale Club runs were long, hard, and very random. I don't ever remember a club runs list. I cannot remember being informed of an official secretary, chairman or treasurer; the late Tim Teale seemed to be in charge of the club runs. We just sort of turned up at his house next to Rawdon traffic lights and rode off to Morecambe, Richmond, Bridlington or wherever, it was usually a long ride and a long day out (less than a 100 miles and we were a bit disappointed), sometimes in the summer arriving home late evening and knackered. Occasionally we would come across other League clubs particularly in the off racing winter months when other local "leaguers", some with guitars slung over their shoulders, would gravitate to the Sun Inn at the top of Norwood Edge for a few beers and music. Somehow in the middle of this haphazard muddle we obtained racing licenses and someone entered us for junior events. We were guided and advised by the senior riders in the club, of whom quite a few were first category, among these were Brian Colby, Bob Ellam, Tim Teale and particularly exceptional was Ronnie Perkins, sad to say all these guys have joined the great club in the sky. There were of course other lesser lights whose names have been lost in the mist of time, but Tim Teale seemed to be the guy that the club revolved round.
Now, two long-held bits of information passed on to me about this time appear to be myths. One: that about 1900, a group of cyclists calling themselves The Airedale used to meet on Manningham Lane, Bradford and go for a bike ride; and Two: that pre 1948 there was a club called The Airedale, and that the Olympic was added in 1948 to celebrate the fact that the Olympic Games were held in Britain. No evidence has been found or presented to me to support either claim.
What is fact: the club was born from the inspired Walter Greaves. The first secretary was James Shaw, now of Cambridge, for whom I am indebted for this information about W Greaves. Walter Greaves was a frame builder, renowned for the unconventional "King of the Mountains" frame, also a more renowned cyclist, a one-time world record holder for the highest mileage ridden in a year. (This was in 1936 but no match for the miles subsequently ridden by the great Hubert Opperman in sunny Australia.) It was on January 8th 1936 when Walter Greaves started his record attempt. It had been delayed a week when the specially adapted bike promised for the January 1st attempt failed to turn up. The handlebars and brakes were adapted to suit the shortened arm he had suffered in an accident as a teenager. If this delay wasn’t bad enough, 1936 was the worst winter in years and he was disappointed to cover only 500 miles in the first week and falling in icy conditions on numerous occasions. Despite the snow, pot holes, cobbles, tram lines and roads used by farmers, Walter averaged 15 mph and 120 miles a day but increased this considerably when better weather arrived. From September 20th to October 8th he rode 180 miles a day and on two occasions 275 miles and 374 miles without sleep. On December 13th he cycled into Hyde Park having broken the record with over two weeks to spare. All this on a bike weighing well over 30lb, only three gears (59, 71 and 79 inches) adapted to suit his disability and no back-up. He rode on doing 130 miles a day until the end of the year in now atrocious weather to complete 45,383 miles. His regret was he felt he could have done 50,000 miles but for being hospitalised for two weeks in summer because of an abscess on his leg after an accident. Walter’s “King of the Mountains” bike is now on display at Bradford Industrial Museum.
Two more interesting articles on Walter Greaves can be found on the links below.
Walter Greaves, like many a cyclist, seems to have been at odds with things and people; James Shaw likened him to having an anti-establishment gene and he had fallen out with various Bradford cycling clubs, cycling authorities and cyclists generally. These were the halcyon days for cycling, very few cars on the road and working man's access to the glorious Yorkshire Dales and Wolds was to get on your bike, and boy, did they? There were many cycling clubs in Bradford at this time, to name a few, East Bradford, West Bradford and Bradford Elite (all NCU). Bradford Velo and Bradford RCC (BLRC), and the smaller non-racing club North Bradford. Later came South Bradford and Bradford Star who both eventually joined the League and to great celebration among Leaguers Bradford Elite also turned League. Walter Greaves frame building shop was on the corner of Toller Lane and Whetley Lane near Whitaker & Mapplebeck’s Pennine Cycles. James Shaw and other local lads frequented the shop and used to go off together on bike rides and this became a regular group. Walter saw this as a heaven sent opportunity to form his own club and do things his way. All were agreed to join the BLRC, but, what about a name? Walter's sporting ideal was Olympian so what about Bradford Olympic? Not with so many Bradford named clubs in circulation. Walter pushed for Airedale so Airedale Olympic was born and the year was 1948. Who knows, maybe it was a coincidence that this was the year of the Olympics in Great Britain. They sought to register the club colours as yellow with black chest band but another club, the Polhill RC already had that so it was plain yellow with black collar and arm bands. Heavens above! All this in the days of the NCU's compulsory all black strip. Over time new members arrived from Farsley and West Leeds and eventually The Airedale got to be known as a Leeds club. The only other name I can trace from these founding members is Geoff Wood, I kept bumping into this well known figure during my formative years in the club but only on social occasions and I cannot remember him joining us on a club run.
Evidence of what happened between the birth of The Airedale here in Bradford and when Bill, Colin and I joined in 1953 are just about non-existent. Somewhere along the way the club lost its yellow jersey to be replaced with a maroon strip with yellow, green and red chest bands. The club reverted back to the traditional yellow jersey with black chest band, black collar, red Olympic lettering and red Olympic rings in 1956. Strangely enough, we were informed at the time that the coloured Olympic rings were copyright and out of bounds. This strip, with pockets both front and back, was much envied at the time by other local clubs.
Apart from the first category riders, particularly Ronnie Perkins achieving great results, juniors like Bill Boyce, Colin Heath, Malcolm Greenfield, John Hewitt and Bernard Metcalfe formed the basis of a very good junior team and were making their presence felt; following these were Richard Simpson and David Owen both of whom did some exceptional rides.
1957 saw my participation with Airedale Olympic finish, as with nearly all 18 to 19 year olds National Service interrupted normal carry-ons. Some, of course, rode in the Services but these were the keen ones and definitely more gifted riders, others like me just got on with what was on offer, girls, courting, beer, getting married and having families took over and in most cases cycling went onto the back boiler. Records show that in 1958 the club ride out dinner at the Star Inn in Ilkley saw 14 members and 4 guests pay 14 shillings(about 70p) for Christmas dinner. The club had only 3 senior and 6 junior members in 1962. Richard Simpson was secretary from 1959 through 1963 and honorary president in 1966 by which time there appeared to be only 5 other members. So into the Sixties the club continued but with a slowly declining membership, runs petered out, racing membership dwindled: for example Brian Dennison, who was a stalwart of the club in the 1950's, didn't ride as much and joined Otley, Bill Boyce raced infrequently and liked to toddle out on his own, Richard Simpson joined Leeds St Christophers, Colin Heath joined the Middleton RC, John Hewitt and Bernard Metcalfe both emigrated, you get the gist!
The club’s name and registration was kept on, despite little membership, by one Bill Bailey. Trevor Gatehouse and Mick Dewhurst raced for Airedale in this area but Bill Bailey, the club secretary moved to London and registered the club there. He gathered members in the London area and organised races down there, one of which was Airedale Olympic GP won by the great Ian Cammish. I understand Alan Leach and Andy Swanson were two other London members who did well and kept the club name in print. As the club was registered in London both Trevor Gatehouse and Mick Dewhurst had to travel to London to ride their divisional championships.
Fast forward to 1979 and at last a positive date and location (thanks to some sad git keeping a diary). Someone, probably Tim Teale with the help of Malcolm Greenfield who at the time was a member of The Horsforth Club, organised a bit if a get-together of ex Airedale members at the said club on New Road Side. Quite a few ex-members turned up and boy did things move fast; people were pestered to get bikes, meet up, little runs were arranged, a few sneaky training rides and another positive date, 27th of April 1980, a group of us did an official club run with the cafe stop at Skipton.
There was hardly a chance to draw breath, throughout the rest of 1980; Sunday runs and training groups were organised and every week seemed to see a new face. Harry Ramsdens at Guiseley was the Sunday departure point and often we would have 20 plus riders turn up, enough some weeks to send two groups off. We decided to re-register the club in Yorkshire. Trevor Gatehouse and Mick Dewhurst, along with Derek Smith, came on board to make sure all was official, after all, these were the guys who had kept the club alive through the lean times. Trevor and Derek were Chairman and Secretary respectively, I think, and Tim Teale was Club Captain. Meetings were held at the Horsforth Club and the Club plumped for the traditional yellow and black jerseys.
The following few years saw the Club promote a string of events, notably the John Padgett Memorial Race in June 1983; this circuit went through the middle of Esholt Water Works. Mike Gaunt ran the Club series of Spring Criteriums at Cross Green in Leeds on three successive years. A ladies road race was held at Aberford in 1983 which featured the rainbow jersey of the 1982 World Road Race Champion, Mandy Jones. Worth a mention were the counting events in the Pete Fryer series that the club promoted and the very successful Horsforth Town Centre events which were successively organised by Trevor Thompson and Alan Edmondson. Believe it or not but these were held on closed roads on a Saturday evening before big enthusiastic crowds lapping up the atmosphere. Funnily enough, one officious Conservative club official laid down in the road in protest at the road closure, he couldn't get his car near enough to the club!
Airedale Olympic has prospered through the 90’s and into the twenty-first century, obviously membership has dropped and while the odd new member keeps joining it is regretful that they are the more mature rider rather than the young beginners. However, club runs, which are the bedrock of any cycling club, are very much active and members still turn out every week of the year. Peter Mason has organised the LVRC road race events over the last few years, John Oldridge has promoted excellent road race events at Beckwithshaw and Andy Waters did a brilliant job with the Club's time trials.
I have had two spells with Airedale Olympic, which apart from the CTC has been my only cycling club, these were from 1953 to 1957 and 1979 onwards. I feel very fortunate that during these two stints I have met some fabulous people, one or two eccentrics (raving lunatics) would be a better way of describing them. The Club, over the years has been blessed with some super officials who have done tremendous work, a lot of it very much unsung. Walter Greaves, the founder of the Club, Jim Shaw, its first Secretary got the ball rolling in 1948. Tim Teale was Mister Everything in the 50's and later on in the early 80's got bums on saddles through sheer bloody-minded persistence. Richard Simpson was most instrumental in keeping the club active in the early 60’s as old club accounts show.The Club would not have survived the late 60's and 70's without the efforts of a few local riders in Yorkshire who kept the name alive while the club was registered in London, hats off in particular to Trevor Gatehouse and the late Bill Bailey. In later years Alan Edmondson worked his socks off as Secretary, followed by Chris Johnson and presently Rob Wardle. There has got to be a special mention for the best Club Captain of any cycling club in Britain, the late Ted Bell never missed a club run, looked after new arrivals, nurtured the young ones and coached them into promising young athletes. OK, they may not be now riding their bikes but all over the area there are young men and women who look back at Airedale Olympic and Ted Bell with great affection. And what about his club runs? If there is a climb in Yorkshire (better still if cobbled), Ted took us up it.
Apart from the club runs and racing, the Club has and has always had a great social scene. One social event which a few of us did on a few occasions brings happy memories, this was the end of racing season ride up to Bowness in the Lake District on the Saturday, overnight stay at Holly Cottage after a meal and a few beers, then the ride home on Sunday. You wouldn't think it possible to have a gale force headwind and lashing rain both ways. Also were two memorable organised trips down to Winchcombe in the Cotswolds to ride "The Hell of the North Cotswolds Reliability Ride" plus a great club run around Broadway, Bourton on the Water and the Slaughters.
Over the years there has been many great social functions, I defy any club to have had better annual dinners than those organised by ex-president Les Lewthwaite, plus excellent after dinner speakers such as Phil Liggett (TV commentator and journalist) and Ken Russell (1952 winner of the Tour of Britain). In the last few years, Pete Mason as Club Captain has taken the club all over Yorkshire and found time to organise holidays and Cyclo Sportive events in France. Jane Ramsdale has been responsible for numerous brilliant social events including lovely evening dinner/slide shows at Buffers. The list is endless and unfortunately I am going to miss some deserving names out, so many apologies to them, it is not intentional.
Hundreds of men, women, boys and girls have passed though this club and all have contributed in some way, some small, some big, some memorable.
Welcome, and thanks for the interest in Airedale Olympic Cycling Club. Feel free to browse the site for information then join us for a ride. Non-members are always welcome to try out club rides before deciding whether to join the club.
Airedale Olympic is the local cycling club of west Leeds and Aireborough and is therefore convenient to cyclists from Rawdon, Yeadon, Guiseley, Horsforth, Calverley, Pudsey, Rodley, Cookridge, Headingley and surrounding area.
Our base at Rawdon/Yeadon gives direct access to the roads of the Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale and beyond. We ride the roads of the Tour de France Yorkshire stages every week! The club provides and facilitates a wide range of road cycling including weekend club runs, training rides, social rides and events, velodrome sessions, time-trials and races. See our guidance on grading and rides.
The club is working at present on introducing new riders and providing progression and opportunities for experienced riders. A small number of former club members have gone on to become professional or successful amateur cyclists.
Fundamentally, you will meet and ride with fellow cyclists, and benefit from the identity and support of a club. All members are equal within the club and are encouraged to contribute with their ideas and suggestions. You can help make the club what you want it to be.
Welcome, and thanks for the interest in Airedale Olympic Cycling Club. Feel free to browse the site for information then join us for a ride.
Non-members are always welcome to try out club rides before deciding whether to join the club.
Our club members range in age from 17 to their 70s. At present the club does not cater for children outside of specified events. Teenagers may take part in club rides if accompanied by a responsible parent or guardian. New cyclists should be in good health and reasonably fit.
Rides should be chosen carefully to be of a achievable distance and difficulty. Initial rides can be arranged to help new riders assess distance or difficulty by speaking to the Club Secretary, or see our guidance on grading and rides.
All riders must be able to control their bicycle.
Don’t worry, you don’t need a Tour de France type superbike! Bicycles for on-road rides should be ‘road bikes’ or ‘hybrids’. These generally have smooth tyres and no suspension. Other types of bike like mountain bikes and BMX’s are not encouraged as they make road riding much more difficult, tiring and slower.
It is important that bikes are in roadworthy condition, with good tyres, gears and brakes in particular. Why not have yours checked and serviced at a local bike shop? We recommend Woodrup Cycles in Kirkstall. In winter months lights are essential and in wet weather mudguards make group riding much more pleasant.
We take our rides onto quiet lanes and avoid main roads wherever possible. We ride in a manner that is safe for cyclists and respects other road users. We ride as a group, two-abreast or single file where appropriate. We obey the highway code.
Fundamentally, to meet and ride with fellow cyclists. Riding with a club opens up new routes and destinations, it helps to develop your riding skills and provides progression to competition if you want that. Being in a club provides access to events such as riding at the Manchester Velodrome, club time-trials and cycling trips at home and abroad. Club members enjoy social get-together and benefit from each others knowledge and experience.
Being in Airedale Olympic provides a strong identity as a cyclist with our classic red, yellow and black kit.