Wheel­ing the time away over many years

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

Ray Singh never imag­ined the cy­cling club he helped es­tab­lish would still be go­ing strong 30 years on.

The Forest­land Wheel­ers will cel­e­brate its 30th an­niver­sary this year and 72-year-old Singh car­ries on with it.

Singh and four cy­cling friends cooked up the idea from club mem­bers in other districts.

‘‘We spoke to a cou­ple of other people and they kept go­ing on, ‘oh you guys should do this and that’,’’ he said.

Al­though the five orig­i­nal rid­ers had the ex­pe­ri­ence, they lacked in num­bers to cre­ate a reg­is­tered club.

‘‘We needed to have 15 people as a club so we signed up our fam­i­lies,’’ he said.

They man­aged to sign up their rel­a­tives and meet the re­quire­ments to reg­is­ter them­selves as a club in May 1984.

Found­ing mem­ber James Rusk put the name for­ward and it stuck.

‘‘We were de­cid­ing what we were we go­ing to call our­selves and then we said, ‘oh that is quite a good name’,’’ Singh said.

To Singh’s amaze­ment, a num­ber of South Waikato cy­clists be­came wheel­ers in only a few months.

The so­cial cy­cling club had the name and num­bers but some­thing was miss­ing.

‘‘James Rusk’s mum made us our club jer­seys, she made us about 40-odd full sets, she was a re­ally good sewer,’’ he said.

Singh said num­bers of rid­ers have fluc­tu­ated through­out the years but the club has stayed strong.

What has seen the club con­tinue is not a com­pet­i­tive na­ture but the friend­ships and sup­port that lies within it.

‘‘We don’t have di­vi­sions as such, we all in­struct each other,’’ he said.

Mem­bers as young as 3 years old are sup­ported by the older and ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers such as Singh.

With more than 30 years of ex­pe­ri­ence, the grade eight mas­ter cy­clist has a lot to of­fer new rid­ers.

Club pres­i­dent Theresa Large be­lieved the club has stayed strong be­cause of the men­tors.

‘‘I think a lot of it is the older men­tors who show the younger kids how to ride,’’ she said.

One of the more well-known Wheeler mem­bers among the cy­clist com­mu­nity is Jim McMur­ray.

Large said the 200- mile cy­cling marathon cham­pion is one of the club’s pro­fes­sion­als who plays an ac­tive role in the club.

‘‘It’s re­ally mo­ti­vat­ing to see them, these guys are al­ways happy to help out,’’ she said.

The an­niver­sary is of­fi­cially in May.

Photo: CAITLIN WAL­LACE

STILL RID­ING: Fight­ing fit and still rid­ing, Ray Singh continues to ride as a Forest­land Wheeler 30 years on.

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