Veneto Cy­cling Club

We meet. We ride. We eat.

Pedal Magazine - - Out In Front - BY RON JOHN­SON

Veneto is a re­gion of Italy that sur­rounds Venice’s pic­turesque Grand Canal and its other wa­ter­ways. But it’s also the name of a pop­u­lar cy­cling club in Wood­bridge, Ont. that has put some se­ri­ous bi­cy­cle rub­ber to the road and es­tab­lished a win­ning for­mula, pro­vid­ing both solid cy­cling ex­pe­ri­ences and a so­cial out­let for cy­clists in the suburban Toronto area.

It all started at the Veneto Cen­tre, a lo­cal Ital­ian cul­tural and recre­ational cen­tre that was grap­pling, over Grappa nat­u­rally, with a way to at­tract younger peo­ple to the club. And what bet­ter way than cy­cling (and food – lots of food)?

“The goal was to at­tract a younger gen­er­a­tion to the Veneto

Cen­tre,” says Rick March­esan, the cy­cling club’s cur­rent pres­i­dent. Found­ing pres­i­dent San­dro Zoppi ap­proached club board mem­ber Steven An­dreetta about start­ing the cy­cling arm of the Veneto Cen­tre, who, in turn, got Fausto Ros­setto and Frank Maz­zuca on board, and a plan was hatched for the in­au­gu­ral group ride.

And it went pretty much as ex­pected, which is to say, in­aus­pi­ciously. “Peo­ple showed up with road bikes, city bikes and mountain bikes. Some peo­ple also had shop­ping bas­kets at­tached to han­dle­bars,” says March­esan. “There was ab­so­lutely no dis­ci­pline as we set out from the Veneto Cen­tre in Wood­bridge and rode out to Bramp­ton along Langstaff Road.”

For a cy­cling club to be suc­cess­ful, there needs to be guide­lines and rides to ac­com­mo­date dif­fer­ing abil­i­ties or else it is chaos on the roads, and that isn’t good for any­one. That’s just what Veneto did, first bor­row­ing the Ot­tawa Cy­cling Club rule­book and then draft­ing vol­un­teer ride lead­ers to teach and en­force the new rules.

“Lit­tle by lit­tle, the dis­ci­pline and the club grew,” says March­esan. To­day, the club, with the motto “We meet. We ride. We eat.”, is thriv­ing. There are nu­mer­ous weekly rides at many dif­fer­ent lev­els and dis­tances from 40 to 150 kilo­me­tres, as well as women-only rides, an­nual so­cial events (of­ten in­volv­ing plenty of food) and a reg­u­lar Sun­day af­ter­noon lunch at the Veneto Cen­tre, where the club main­tains its own fa­cil­i­ties. There is also a web­site, reg­u­lar news­let­ter, in­door spin­ning ses­sions and more, thanks in part to the ex­ten­sive net­work of spon­sors. But it all started with smooth­ing out the rides.

“The suc­cess of the Veneto Cy­cling Club is di­rectly at­trib­uted to its or­ga­nized rides,” March­esan ex­plains. “The vary­ing ride lev­els keep groups in bal­ance and avoid rid­ers be­ing dropped. The VCC mem­bers quickly find and ad­just to a ride level that they feel com­fort­able and con­fi­dent to ride with [and that] matches their cur­rent rid­ing abil­i­ties.”

The club of­ten cy­cles up through On­tario’s Cale­don area, in­clud­ing the charm­ing town of Belfoun­tain. It’s a lovely re­gion char­ac­ter­ized by its rolling hills and beau­ti­ful vis­tas. But the club also or­ga­nizes des­ti­na­tions rides such as a long trip from Toronto to the Ni­a­gara Re­gion. And, of course, two 10-day trips to the Veneto re­gion in Italy ev­ery year.

Hav­ing a va­ri­ety of ride lev­els and rides from which to choose also fa­cil­i­tates so­cial in­ter­ac­tion as in­evitably rid­ers of the same abil­ity end up on the same group ride.

“A so­cial bond­ing de­vel­ops as cy­clists share their time to­gether on a cy­cling jour­ney, [aris­ing] from sim­ple things such as chang­ing a flat to stop­ping at a lo­cal cafe for espresso,” says March­esan.

This past Novem­ber, the Veneto Cen­tre played host to the 18th an­nual OCA Cel­e­bra­tion and Awards fea­tur­ing top rid­ers such as Peter Dis­era, Jennifer Jack­son, Jor­dann Jones, Bay­ley Simp­son, Kather­ine Maine and many more, along with ris­ing stars and youth rid­ers as well. Veneto Cy­cling Cub’s own Maz­zuca re­ceived the 2017 OCA Board of Di­rec­tors Spe­cial Recog­ni­tion Award for his pas­sion and “al­ways yes” at­ti­tude.

The Veneto Cy­cling Club has come a long way in a rel­a­tively short pe­riod of time, and cur­rently boasts a mem­ber­ship of ap­prox­i­mately 200, though closer to 400 have made their way through the ranks at one point or an­other since it was first founded back in 2012.

In 2015 and 2016, the club even hosted the Vaughan Cy­clocross Clas­sic, which was a huge suc­cess de­spite the very lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence in run­ning such an event.

“It has be­come ac­cepted in the cy­cling com­mu­nity,” says March­esan. “We of­ten re­ceive re­fer­rals from other clubs that direct new rid­ers to us to re­ceive proper train­ing for group rid­ing.”

The Veneto Cy­cling Club has a win­ning for­mula, and March­esan adds that th­ese days, it doesn’t take a lot of con­vinc­ing to get peo­ple to sign up.

“Great peo­ple, great rides and free food, com­plete with a club­house and an in­door spin-ses­sions room for win­ter train­ing. If you’re look­ing for a great cy­cling club, you’ve found it,” he quipped.

Veneto Cy­cling Club 7465 Ki­pling Ave.,

Wood­bridge, Ont. L4L 1Y5

905-851-5551 www.vene­to­cen­­to­cy­cling/

The club’s suc­cess is di­rectly at­trib­uted to its or­ga­nized rides.

Great cy­cling and great food... what’s not to like?

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