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“Tomorrow the bicycle races through the suburbs on summer evenings: but today the struggle”     W.H. Auden



History Of MCG


When I was asked to write something about the genesis of MCG I suddenly realised that, as it grew somewhat organically, I may not have the complete picture. Please read this as my personal and subjective memory of how it all began.

Thinking about it, I find it somewhat ironic that the seeds of the MCG were probably planted by someone who, though he is our Honorary President, does not in fact manage to ride with us. I am referring to Marc Thompson who was the driving force behind the Activate Programme, originally based at Moors Valley, but which quickly spread to other areas, in particular to a cycling group at Kingston Lacy. In the early days, there were rarely more than a dozen riders who were committed to a weekly ride round the estate but I think it was as the country got excited by the forthcoming London Olympics in 2012 that we saw a blossoming of interest in the Thursday rides.

Marc had started publicising some longer rides around the county with a view to extending the people now committed to cycling at Moors Valley and Kingston Lacy. These were arranged under his auspices but were led by a ride leader from outside the groups who was paid for organising these rides. Several riders from KL paid to attend one such ride in The Purbecks and it was so uninspiring that the next Thursday at KL many of us were of the opinion that “we could do better” and save some money. So it was that a dozen of us arranged to meet for a 20 mile cycle the following Monday. This was the first, historic Monday ride led by Colin Atkins in July 2012 in Wareham Forest. It proved such a success that we agreed to arrange other rides on the first Monday of each month until the end of the year and these rides were attended by an average of 14 riders on each occasion.

As we entered 2013, news of these Monday rides spread round the coffee tables at Kingston Lacy and Moors Valley and the group started to swell from the original dozen or so the riders. At this early stage nobody foresaw the momentum that was gathering and rides continued being organised in an ad hoc and informal way but as the year progressed there was a general consensus to increase the number of rides to two per month as it was noticeable that there were more people who wanted to ride. By July we had moved into a more ambitious stage of development when Trevor arranged for a sizeable group to leave on the early morning catamaran for a day cycling round Guernsey.

Emboldened by the success of the adventure on Guernsey, Colin Parks and Colin Long started planning for a trip across the Channel to Normandy in September 2014. Meanwhile there was a full programme of rides planned for the year nearer home and, although there was no formal club structure, the rides were now published on the website that Colin Parks had kindly set up and “business cards” had been produced that gave the address for this website. These cards were distributed to passers-by who had begun stopping us on our rides to ask if we were an organised group which, in our naivety, we probably thought we were! We were rudely awoken to the fact that we were not an “organised group” on Monday, June 9th 2014 at St Leonards.

I remember standing in the car park of “The Woodman” as car after car rolled in with bikes on the back. Alan Webb and Colin Atkins were our guides that day and the look on their faces as 44 cyclists, some of them unknown to any of us, lined up for their briefing is still vivid in my memory. It shows their resourcefulness that they managed to make the ride a success by finding two other leaders, one to back up Colin and the other to back up Alan, so the ride could be split into separate groups that could be more safely managed. As a direct result of that day, those who had led Monday rides got together and agreed that some form of structure needed to be put in place to ensure that future rides were manageable and safe. The seed for the Monday Cycling Group had been sown.

There was much discussion amongst those who had led the previous rides about the best way to proceed; some thought that increased organisation would ruin the ethos that had developed within the group. However, the need to ensure that we didn’t end up with unsafe numbers attending rides and to give leaders ride a measure of legal protection it was decided that we needed to have a formal structure and some sort of insurance protection. The thorny issue of what this club/group should call itself was addressed by suggestions being submitted for a ballot and the laconic but descriptive “Monday Cycle Group” was selected. Thus it was that Linda, Madeleine and myself found ourselves “volunteering” as club officials at the end of 2014 with the task of setting up a club that had a bank account and could be affiliated to CTC (now Cycling UK). Some of you will know that setting up a bank account is not quite as easy as it sounds and the bank were insistent that they needed to see a constitution and set of rules for the putative group before the account could be opened. To say the necessary documents were initially written on the back of a fag packet is not a million miles from the truth, but with the documents accepted by the bank, an account was duly opened and MCG was officially born in January 2015.

With the submission to the bank stating that the group held an Annual General Meeting one was arranged for 8th May at Broadstone Leisure Centre. If January saw the “birth” of MCG that first AGM in May would represent the “christening”. Between January and May much discussion had taken place about the rules and regulations we thought should underpin the group and although, as in any large group, there were differences of opinion a measure of consensus was achieved to take us forward from that AGM. Madeleine, Linda and I somehow got left holding our executive powers but four other members (Colin A, Colin, L, Marion and Chris B) were co-opted to join us to form a steering group. A major topic at the meeting revolved around the ideal number of members that the group could support safely. By this time there were in excess of 80 people nominally on a mailing list for rides and this was considered to be unsustainable. After much discussion a limit of 50 members was set and a major task for Linda over the following months was contacting those on the mailing list to find out who wanted to continue to ride with MCG. The fact that it had been agreed to levy a £20 membership fee did deter some who weren’t very committed to riding, others decided the more formal rules and regulations were not for them and did not join. Other members agreed to give up their place in the MCG if they could remain on a mailing list for the social events that had sprung up over the years that the group had been forming.

Throughout 2015 the organisation and running of the group continued to evolve and, although the need to reduce our numbers did cause some heartaches, progress was being made to get the membership to a more manageable level. Once again, 2015 saw a wide variety of rides being offered to members including two visits to France, a trip to the Isle of Wight and several rides out of county.

The 2016 AGM was held in Holt Village Hall and by now the membership had reduced to 52 with 10 people on a waiting list. After the somewhat frantic establishment of the terms of reference for the MCG in the previous 18 months, this AGM was a relatively straightforward affair. After the sterling work Linda did in managing the club membership in the previous year, she stepped down to be replaced by Debby. Thankfully, Madeleine agreed to stay on as Treasurer and, in the absence of other candidates for Chair, I agreed to do one more year.

If you look at the ride archive on the website you will see that 2016 had a fantastic variety of rides with new leaders stepping forward to share the load of organising. With the teething problems of the Group’s birth behind us the organisation ran reasonably smoothly from 2016 into 2017 and to the next AGM. Looking at the data for the year it was noted that most rides rarely exceeded 20 members and it had become accepted by ride leaders and the membership that sometimes leaders might need to set a lower limit for safety on a particular ride. In light of this, it was agreed to raise the membership to 65 to allow for those who had been on the waiting list for some time to be able to access rides. With Madeleine agreeing to remain as Treasurer, Debby agreeing to take on the Chair and Lianne agreeing to take over as Secretary that brings us up to date. Can I take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all those who have served the MCG, not just the “executives” but all those who have gone out, organised rides and led us to some fantastic places.

To finish I must return to the beginning. What an impact Marc’s role in getting cycling established at Moors Valley and Kingston Lacy via the Activate programme has had! It was his enthusiasm to get people out on bikes and, whilst getting fit, establish social links that made us want to come back for more. Not only come back for more of the same but develop things further. In addition to MCG other people have gone off to form their own groups or join established ones like DCN or CTC/UK Cycling. Small offshoot groups have arranged cycling holidays at home and abroad and it seems to me that these developments have the same point of origin but there is something else. The joy of cycling certainly drew people together to form the MCG but it is the bonds of friendship that have been established that has held it all together and caused it to blossom. As well as the organised MCG events: Summer BBQs, Christmas Meals, skittles, quizzes, etc a whole host of less formal, smaller scale events continue to take place and they would not have done without what MCG. I know that I am exceedingly grateful to have been able to make so many new friends and I am sure that I am not the only one to feel that way. Thank you all and may the wind always be on your back.

Keith Pugh (March 2018)



2012 rides | 2013 rides  2014 rides  | 2015 rides | 2016 rides | 2017 rides
    2018:
If you would like to obtain any of the photos then please contact Chris Branford



Date (linked to photos, thanks to Chris) Rides Leader Description Level  Distance  in miles
8 January Cranborne
John S
3
17
22 January Furzehill
John S 2/3 21
29 January
Weymouth Colin/Keith 2
17.25
05 February
ND Trailway
Chris B
2/3
20/32
12 February
Ringwood
Len
2
16
19 February
ND Colin
2/3
20
26 February
NF
Len
2
20
26 March Cranborne Quentin 2/3 28
09 April
NF
Len
2
20
16 April
Upton House
Keith/Chris
2/3
22
23 April
Prom
Trevor
1
18
07 May
Stur Marshall
Trevor
1
16
14 May
Lymington
Anita
1
16
14 May
Piddle Valley
John
3
13
21 May
NF
Len
2
21
22 - 25 May
Normandy
Colin L
2
100
04 June
Puddletown
Lianne
2
19
11 June
NF
Len
2
15
18 June
Bovington
Richard
2
6
25 June
Bere Regis
Debby
Blue
15
02 July
Ferndown
Colin P
Red
20
09 July
Mudeford
Colin A
Blue
38
16 July
NF
Annette
Red
19
23 July
Verwood
Brian
Blue
15
30 July
Holt Heath
Norman
Blue
19
06 August
Avon Forest
Norman


13 August
Holmesley
Richard B
Blue

13 August
Child Okeford
Trevor
Green
13
20 August
Wim/Bland
Keith
Red
26
03 Sept
Blandford
Mick
Blue
18
03 Sept
Purbecks
John S
Black
20
10 - 13 Sept
Normandy
Lianne
Blue
100
10 Sept
Lymington
Geoff
Blue
20
17 Sept
Blandford
Quentin
Black
17
17 Sept
Gussages
Linda
Green
16
24 Sept
Purbecks
Richard P
Blue
25
01 Oct
Bathampton
Geoff
Blue
25
01 Oct
Child Okeford
John S
Red
19
08 Oct
Ox Droves
Colin P
Red
30
15 Oct
Wimborne/Cranborne
Geoff
Blue
25
22 Oct
Bovington
Richard P
Blue
6
29 Oct
Canford Heath
Keith/Chris
Red
21
05 Nov
Gussages
Robin/Linda
Blue
25
12 Nov
Piddle Valley
John
Red
22
19 Nov
Bulbarrow
Lianne
Red
17

It would not be at all strange if history came to the conclusion that the perfection of the bicycle was the greatest incident of the nineteenth century.”

Anonymous