125 Years of Chesterfield Club Cycling

Chesterfield Spire Cycling Club.

Issue no. 52 – April 2014.

Words by Paul Chapman.

Cycling Club

“Nobody seems to remember what happened about 1880 but it appears that the old penny-farthing lads packed up the game, not seeing much future in a velo with equal-sized wheels” excerpt taken from ’50 Years of Cycling in Chesterfield.

The Rover ‘safety bicycle’ of 1885, designed by John Kemp Starley, was one of the most popular diamond framed, chain driven bicycles. It became the template model from which evolved the recognizable modern machine. It soon drove the old ‘ordinary cycle’, better known as the ‘penny farthing’ into near obsolescence. The new design fitted with John Boyd Dunlop’s pneumatic tyres which resulted in cycling taking off in a big way.

It was 125 years ago that, in 1889, The Chesterfield Cycle Club was founded, one of the first in the country. It was the start of the earliest and biggest cycling boom, when cycling for day-to-day transport, leisure and sport really took off.

Cycling Club 2The Chesterfield Cycle Club soon produced a world record holding club legend, Thomas Jepson Gascoyne. For a time, in 1896, he held the mile and 25 mile records.

As with many sports clubs there have been periods of growth, decline and regeneration. The club thrived and expanded and in 1911 changed its name to Chesterfield Cycling and Athletic Club, to reflect its many and varied sporting activities. Sadly, soon after, probably as a result of the Great War, the club faded, to be re-formed in 1923 with athletics being a major part of the club’s programme, one of the club’s achievements being the organization of a Derbyshire Times Road Walk.

After the interval of another war, the club re-formed, yet again, in 1947, from this time through the 50’s and 60’s the club continued as a cycling and athletics club promoting a range of events from mass walks to road races.

In 1969, the cycling club was re-named Chesterfield Spire Road Club. There had been an earlier Chesterfield Spire Cycling Club, which by this time was defunct.

Once again, in this new guise, the club flourished. This was the heyday of some of today’s senior club members.

Details of the exploits and feats of club members, bygone and present, can be found on the history page of the club’s website.

Nowadays the club is a bit more relaxed with around 40 members. Interest in silver cups has been replaced by an enthusiasm for cups of tea and coffee at café stops on the regular road rides on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. These rides vary in length from 35 to 70 miles at a pace of about 10mph, the weekend ride being just a tad quicker, around 11 – 12mph. Members also get together for the occasional short holiday tour or weekend trip.Cycling Club

New this year is a Sunday ride of 15 to 20 miles with regular rests and a pace of around 8 – 10mph. If you’re just starting out or want to get back into cycling, this is the ride for you. We are blessed to live in fine cycling country with many quiet roads to enjoy and new riders are always welcome. Check the club’s website for more details.

The club is organising three open rides this year, the customary Spring and Autumn rides which follow the same course and are useful indicators of how your fitness has improved over the season. There are two ride lengths, 38 miles & 63 miles and they take place on 26th April (for the Spring rides) and 13th September (for the Autumn rides).

The third ride is to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of club cycling in Chesterfield, they are running at 125 km (75 mile) ride on Saturday 14th June. This is a challenging course through the stunning Derbyshire landscape that should appeal to regular club, sportive and Audax riders, a fitting tribute to the exploits of our forebears.

Entry to these three events is free and open to all. See the club’s website, www.chesterfieldspirecyclingclub.co.uk for all the details.

Photography by Chesterfield Photography Club