Dave Nunn, time trial development secretary
CW: How long have you been riding?
KP: I’ve been riding for over 30 years now, but I was never a member of a cycling club until I joined Ilkeston CC. I tried a number of other clubs in the past but always found them to be very macho and very unfriendly. It’s never been like that here, everyone from fast to slow, from skinny to heavy is catered for. It is totally inclusive.
CW: Are you having any problems with coping with the rapid success?
KP: Not so far, and I think this is down to how well organised we are. Sitting at the helm are our two founding members, Dave and Nick, then under them 12 deputies, who together form what I like to call a benign dictatorship. Each deputy has a specific task — secretary, treasurer, coach — and reports upwards. So far it runs like clockwork.
CW: Tell me about the ride card you handed out, I’ve never seen these before.
KP: We just thought it was a good idea, just to simply explain the simple rules of the road; not to ram it down people’s throats but just pointers to keep them and other road users safe. We also run through key points verbally at the start of each ride to help educate and inform all new members. District if you want some proper hills. Today we were heading south to Beth’s Kitchen in Breedon-on-the-hill and as Nunn pointed out, ‘bree’ is an old Celtic word for ‘hill’, ‘don’ is an old English word for ‘hill’ and ‘hill’... well it means ‘hill’, so the place is actually called Hill-hill-on-the Hill — sounds like my kind of place.
As I worked my way round the group I stopped to chat to Amanda Smith, or ‘Smudge’ as she is known. She had started riding just a year earlier following advice from her doctor to help her arthritic knees. At first she went out with riders on a female-only Breeze ride and then went on a couple of FLAB rides (Fat Lad at the Back), but it wasn’t until she found the Ilkeston CC that she really started to progress. “I just felt at home right away; this club isn’t just about cycling, these people are my mates, we go away together, go out to the cinema, I have made great friends, oh, and done a number of 100-mile rides now, something I never thought would be possible,” said Smith.
As we headed south we passed one of the faster groups as they’d stopped for a mechanical, as all the groups do, because no one gets left behind, then a few miles later they came charging past us. “We cater for all abilities,” Dickens told me. “From young fast lads who race to absolute beginners and everyone in between, we can even boast a certain Dave Brailsford as a member. He lives just up the road’ in fact he gave out the prizes at our club dinner last year and comes to hold up riders at our evening time trials.”
This was another thing Nunn was particularly proud of. “Last summer we kicked proceedings off with some training sessions to introduce people to the concept of time trialling then followed these with our first event, which was just a very short 2.5 mile course. After this we built up to five miles, 7.5 miles and now have a proper 10-mile out and back.”
As we headed south we passed through the beautiful grounds of Calke Abbey and then onto ‘Hill-hill-on-the-hill’. Our cafe stop at Beth’s Kitchen lies at the bottom of the hill, but to earn your cake you have to head up and down first. With a modest length but on a sharp gradient, the twisting road takes you to the top of an isolated mound where you can survey the panorama in all directions as you nurse your sore legs then drop back down to fuel up.
After a solid feed and with the wind at our backs, the pace was up as we headed home, depositing riders as we passed their houses to finish back at the cenotaph with the market in full swing. The Ilkeston CC is a huge success story overseen by a group of dedicated people who have
quite literally, from nothing, facilitated something that is changing lives in the town, and long may it continue.
Ilkeston CC was born in July 2017, and no that isn’t a typo, it really is that young, and yes, it really does boast over 400 members.
The nucleus of the club — those who provided the initial spark that created the explosion — were a small group of local riders who got together to take part in some charity rides and thanks to the “unbridled energy” and “flawless organisation” of Nick Knighton and Dave Hartley, and through the medium of social media the Ilkeston has grown and grown.
Orange and black finery is now ubiquitous in the area’s byways and bistros
Build it and they will come: Ilkeston was crying out for a cycling club
Up and down Breedon Hill and into Beth’s Kitchen