We ride with Godric CC
Owen Rogers meets a lively Suffolk set-up that’s as busy as ever
toke Holy Cross village hall is buzzing with chatter occasionally punctuated by the chink of teacups or plates loaded with food. Amongst the laughter there are also a few curses and coughs as Godric Cycling Club members recover from the efforts of their annual hill-climb. The special atmosphere brings a smile to almost every face.
East Anglia may be largely flat, but Long Lane is tough enough to provide a decent challenge and fuel plenty of post-race banter. Add the ride out from the club’s home town of Bungay and the cake is well earned, especially as there is still the ride back to be dealt with before the Suffolk club’s members go their separate ways.
They won’t be apart for long though — Godric is one of the busiest clubs around, with rides on most days of the week throughout the season.
“We do have a pretty full calendar,” says club secretary Allan Bell. “We run training rides on Wednesdays where we do a mixture of chaingang and sprints aimed at the middle people who want to get quicker. Thursday nights is the fast chaingang, and the other training ride we do is on Saturday morning. They're named after train times because the first route they did was to Euston near Thetford. So we have the 7.55 and the 7.57, which is very popular with the lady members,” Bell concludes.
There are also Friday rides for some of the club’s older members, the 50-80 mile Sunday club runs, and of course the Tuesday evening time trials.
Time trial heritage
When they formed during one of British cycling’s heydays, time trialling was a staple for Godric’s competitive youngsters. They started with 10, 25 and 50-mile races and still run open events at each of those distances.
Barry Minns was present at the first, then won the second and third before rising to become one of East Anglia’s best. “When I first joined the club we were all 15 years old,” he says after riding to the hill-climb. “When we started getting into open events we realised how bad we were, but we gradually built up. We were racing three times a week, a grass track on Saturday, a road race on Sunday and a time trial in the week.”
Though the time trials remain important to the club, and some members race the crit series at the nearby Lotus test track, a recent surge in membership has not brought more competition.
“The Godrics have a history of time trialling and we mustn’t ever lose that,” Bell says. “We have a good reputation from our racing pedigree, but I think it helps to try to promote a more modern image, make it a little more inclusive, and spread the range of activities.”
With a woman as a founding member, inclusivity is part of the Godric tradition. “There were about 10 women when I joined,” explains Nikki Holland-gladwish, one of
nearly 30 female members. “We do things together and we are quite competitive, but in a supportive way. And when we meet people we ask them to come along with the Godrics, so it is self-fulfilling.”
From its headquarters in rural Suffolk, Godric has become a thoroughly modern outfit while managing simultaneously to retain tradition and older members. Marshalling events, catering for races, even offering to organise a road race, the older riders happily lead the club.
Placing his cup back on its saucer, 79-year-old Minns concludes, “It’s a big part of me; it’s one of the best things I have done in my life.”
Kings of Anglia talk hill-climbs
Heavenly catering at Stoke Holy Cross village hall
Post-ride refreshments are well-earned