No, not the oldest living cyclist, but the oldest cycling club in the UK and, indeed, the world.
The CTC (Cyclists’ Touring Club) was born in 1878, originally named the Bicycling Touring Club, thereby setting in motion what was to become an almost uniquely British approach to cycling: touring as a social and recreational activity. It’s most recent reincarnation occurred only last year, when it was re-branded as the CTC the National Cycling Charity, now the leading voice in campaigning and fighting for the rights of cyclists.
I joined in the year of the club’s 100th birthday, in 1978, and within a few months (still very much a rookie cyclist) I foolishly signed up for the celebratory 100 mile reliability ride from Manchester, along with 100 other riders. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. After 8 hours in the saddle, on the most basic of road bikes, I ended up a complete wreck. But I knew, in my heart of hearts, despite all the aches and pains, that I was hooked for life. Long-distance, endurance cycling became my aspiration.
So tomorrow, I will cycle up to Staffordshire, pitch my little tent along with hundreds of others, at Yarnfield Park Conference Centre (outside Stone), and join daily rides of some 60-80 miles per day, discovering the surrounds of that part of the country. All the routes will have been researched and ridden by local riders, so we will be rewarded with some of the most stunning routes.
For the ‘weight weanies’ amongst you, I will be carrying only 7 kilos of luggage for the week, and that includes tent, sleeping bag and Thermarest mattress. Any regrets I may have will be entirely of my own doing…………………