Celebrating 50 years of big achievements
Waterloo Cycling Club celebrating 50 years
In 1967, Canadians had a lot to be excited about. The country was celebrating the Centennial across the nation, the Toronto Maple Leafs won their 13th (but last) Stanley Cup and Expo 67 in Montreal was becoming one of the most successful world’s fairs in the 20th century. It was also the year the Waterloo Cycling Club was born. This year, it is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Roy Conway, who had emigrated from the U.K. and raised a family in Canada, ended his 13-year hiatus from competitive cycling and started the wcc with the hope of growing the sport in his community. Conway made the club official in 1968 (with the Canadian Cycling Association) and was able to get a group of young riders to come out.
“Since competitive cycling was virtually unheard of by the youth of the day, it was a major achievement that we persuaded six or seven youngsters to get decent bikes and ride. We had several older riders join, most of them having ridden and raced in their country of birth before coming to Canada,” says Conway.
In the ’70s and ’80s, the club participated in many organized events and social functions, with membership reaching 45 cyclists. Now, that number is almost 500 strong. “We’re a club that gets people on bikes. We support the Milton velodrome and kids’ riding and whatever else as long as it has two or three wheels, like handcycling, so it’s quite inclusive,” says Alain Francq, wcc’s current president, who was awarded the Ontario Cycling Association’s president’s award this past November.
The wcc, along with a handful of other cycling clubs, has been asked by the oca to develop a road cyclist ride guide for all 100 oca clubs. Currently in the works, the ride guide will value doing the right thing on your bike and community-minded leadership. “We try to normalize a behaviour on the road. I think we’re third in Ontario for road results so we’re not a passive club. We produce the top cyclists in this province. We have a ride guide that definitely teaches the art of the ride, but in a way that keeps people safe. I think that’s key,” says Francq.
The wcc is also the founder of the Hydrocut Trail System, which it manages in agreement with the Region of Waterloo, that sees close to 40,000 users annually. This network of 25 km of singletrack features armoured walls, switchbacks, boardwalks and bridges. “I got into cycling in 1991 on those trails when it was just a single line along the power line. We started building trails off the side. We followed the imba principles and we have an incredible group of volunteers to come together to build,” says Francq.
At 50 years old, the wcc has a strong history to celebrate. With plans in the works to bring past champions back and host big rides, ideas are flowing about how they can not only commemorate the longevity of the club, but show thanks to a community that allows them to be out there.
“It was a major achievement that we persuaded six or seven youngsters to get decent bikes and ride.”