Huddersfield Star Wheelers president Graham Piccavey is aiming to double the cycling club’s membership as the UK emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Star Wheelers are one of Yorkshire’s biggest cycling clubs. Based in Huddersfield, the club was formed in 1953 and currently has 250 members. 

Graham, 55, of Dalton, believes the club has the potential to double its membership with more people taking up cycling during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have 250 members at the moment but I’d like it to reach 500,” said Graham. “I can see lots of people taking up cycling as lockdown restrictions are eased.”

Graham has had a passion for cycling all his life but only joined the Star Wheelers in his 30s.

“I got into mountain biking at first and then road cycling later,” he said. “I bought my own bike and things just went from there. 

“As a child I was always into cycling and then as I got a bit older I got into motorbikes as they looked more fun. However, I gravitated back towards cycling and now I’m out on my bike more than the motorbike these days. 

“I never thought when I joined the club I would be in this position. It’s a privilege.”

The pandemic has made it tough for all sports but Graham is pleased the club membership has remained engaged, swapping suggestions for new routes and interesting rides.

“When the first lockdown happened we had to shut down all club activity immediately but one of the good things through lockdown was that our members were constantly coming up with routes.

“They’d post them on our Facebook group which was great. It gave people inspiration to get out riding. 

“We wanted to continue putting ideas into people’s minds,” said Graham. “It helped their mental health. One of our riders came up with a great scheme. Whilst out on your bike you’d have to find landmarks and tick them off.” 

As lockdown restrictions ease, club rides are now back on in line with guidelines from British Cycling and Graham said: “We have just started to send people out again. 

“We have various rides around the local area on a Tuesday and Thursday nights. On a Tuesday night they are split into three groups which go at a different pace on the route.” 

While casual rides might be back, Graham believes it may take longer to get competitive action going again.  

“We haven’t been able to organise any of the competitive events so far but hopefully we might get to do a hill climb later this year. We’ll just have to see how things go.”

The club also has a ladies’ section on a weekend and Graham added: “The ladies’ rides are usually 20-40 miles on a Saturday. They are really social and good fun and encourage ladies to get out and cycle.” 

The club has a large volunteer section including 10 coaches who lead the rides. There is plenty of different rides people can get involved with.

Graham said: “We have a friendly coaching team of volunteer coaches. All the coaches are qualified with British Cycling and work to their rules and regulations. All the coaches are qualified first aiders.

“We are lucky to have coaches specialising in Road & Track. These coaches run our popular Friday night track night for adult club members at Brooksbank Cycle Circuit.  This has been replaced with a virtual ride during Covid on the Zwift platform with regular races and challenges.

“We have a strong team of Go Ride Coaches who offer regular coached activities at Brooksbank Cycle Circuit. These sessions are very popular with our junior riders. 

“We offer two sessions on a Saturday afternoon and split the group into age or ability. Riders age between six to 16 years. 

“The closed road circuit at Brooksbank enables us to offer a secure and safe coaching environment. The track is excellent and our riders usually like to end their session with a fun race around the track. 

“These sessions are fun and we work on riders’ riding skill (not cycling proficiency). Corner like a pro; sprint with great technique; learn how to ride with clipless pedals! We coach all skills and some of our juniors go on to race in local and national events.

“We also have access to the grassy areas to coach cyclocross skills and mountain bike skills. Our Go Ride coaching team also includes 3 qualified level 2 MTB coaches. We are lucky to have bridleways near to the track that we can use to coach MTB skills which the junior riders love.

“During the winter months, our coaching team offer cyclocross training sessions at Newsome High School on Wednesday evenings. Muddy fields, floodlights, races (adults versus juniors) – what’s not to love? If only we didn’t need to clean our bikes!

“Our busy coaches also volunteer at Manchester velodrome for the British Cycling Talent Development cluster sessions. This is so rewarding to see our junior riders progress.

“There are also MTB Talent development sessions running in Yorkshire, usually at Leeds Urban Bike Park which our MTB coaches are involved with. How lucky are we in Yorkshire to have access to such great facilities?

“Finally, indoor rollers! Less popular these days due to Zwift but fantastic skills and core strength can be developed. We are hoping to go virtual via Zoom for these sessions in the future and we have club rollers available to borrow for members.”

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