BikeExchange caught up with Kent from Cyc'd Cycling Club to chat about the creation of the club and its evolution into one of the most forward-thinking clubs in Australia. The club boast its own women's cycling team complete with development program, supported charity organisation Smiling for Smiddy, members only smartphone app, and social nights comprising of cheese, wine and bikes... Where do we sign up?!
How did the club form?
Going back ten or so years, there was a small group of riders in Brisbane that rode together. It was a collection of dads who knew each other from school, and over time it started to get bigger. As the group continued to grow we soon realised we needed to manage the group a little more seriously and the idea was born to start our own social cycling club.
We knew Jaaron from Cyc'd for Bikes, which was the local bike store, and he was really supportive of us starting up a club. He provided a lot of support to the group as well as helping out with funding. Although we share the same name, the store and the club are separate entities. The name actually came about because most clubs at the time were named after their geographic location, whereas our club was from all around Brisbane, so we wanted a really cool name that reflected who we are and what we are all about. Cyc'd fit that perfectly.
The formation of the club about three years ago provided the framework and governance that was needed, and we have been growing and developing ever since. We started with 20 members and now we are sitting at about 240 members, 55 of them female.
How would you describe the club?
Our club is all about inclusion. When we set out to create the club we wanted first and foremost to be a social cycling club. Not everyone wants to race, so we really wanted to focus bringing together people who wanted to ride their bikes, learn more about cycling and have fun. It's easy to fall into the trap of becoming just a racing club, which goes away from how we started and our core principal that we are a social group.
The great thing for us is that we had no history, no set ways of doing things, which was a huge advantage. It enabled us to be nimble in our approach and develop the culture as we had always wanted it to be.
We offer a variety of activities and support the non-racing clubs members. In fact, we have a wine and cheese night tonight at Cyc'd for Bikes to launch the new Giant TCR range.
You mentioned before the large female presence within the club, can you chat about how that came about and how it has developed?
The strong female presence is something we are very proud of at the club, and that has resulted in our own female cycling team. I think it all began after a couple of women came down to ride and really enjoyed the environment and inclusive nature. That then encouraged other women to come down and it has grown from there. We are a much better club for having ladies there, people tend to be more courteous and it sets a better tone for the rides. Interestingly the feedback from the ladies is that they prefer to ride in mixed groups not ladies only groups.
Our female cycling team started last year. We had a lot of interest from women who wanted to go from riding in a group to racing. A couple of individuals moved across to racing, but things really took off when Liz Young joined the group. Liz is a very accomplished rider, winning National Age Group Championships on the track and the road, and she brought with her a lot of experience and knowledge. As a result, a lot of women followed suit.
The team has its own identity, 'Cyc'd Chicks' or more well known as #cycdchicks, and Liz acts as the Team Director. We had a big social night for the official launch last year, complete with jersey presentations, interviews with all the girls, and presenting the team to the club. The group has raced in the Battle of the Border, Cunningham Classic (where one of the girls won B grade with another coming fifth in A) and Giro d' Yarrabilba where we had two teams in A grade coming second and fifth as well as third overall for one of our girls. Fingers crossed you'll see the team in the National Road Series (NRS) some day.
We really try and support the ladies through training and racing. A lot of the team ride A grade but we have set up a development pathway for women who want to try their hand at racing as well. It all comes back to inclusion, we want to focus on the people not just the racing.
Another great initiative of the club is the support for the charity 'Smiling for Smiddy'. Can you tell us about that?
The charity has been running for ten years and was founded by Mark Smoothy, who was a bit of a legendary triathlon figure having complete 50 or so Ironman races. Mark was coaching a group of athletes and one of them, Adam Smiddy, died of a melanoma at the age of 26. Adam was a close friend of Mark’s and he decided to do something about fighting cancer through bike riding and “Smiling for Smiddy” was born.
Since that time the charity has raised over $5-million through cycling events and triathlons. A charity ride from Brisbane to Townsville is run each year in September, and we get really involved with that. The ride is 1,600km across eight days and last year about 20% of the people doing the ride were Cyc'd Cycling Club members.
When we started the club, we wanted to identify a club charity, which would help create the sort of culture we wanted in the club. It's not always about the bike or the riding, it's about what we can do for the community. So each year we raise many thousands of dollars for Smiling for Smiddy.
What are the goals of the club moving forward?
Our focus is on supporting the women's pathway and putting some more structure and support into the men's program. A lot of guys within the club race, but having a structure around that would make a significant difference.
We are now affiliated with MTB Australia and are looking to grow the MTB and Cyclocross aspects of the club. We have also found a lot of kids are looking to join, so developing a junior program will be a high priority for the club. Keep an eye out for #cycdkids down the track!
Last year the club went to the French Alps, and next year we are going to the Pyrenees.
We are always on the lookout for new and better ways to do things. At the moment we use an App for club members which improves communication and doesn't rely on members always going to the website for information. We started doing Orica-GreenEDGE inspired Backstage Pass type of productions for our Youtube channel and are actively building on our social media presence with hast tags like #iamcycdcycling. We even have our own club branded energy bars courtesy of Megabake…how cool is that!
The great part about cycling is we don't have to have a committee meeting to get things done or hear ideas. Chatting away during our rides provides an endless source of ideas for the future and ways the club can evolve.