Chorley Cycling Club was reformed in 2011 after a long absence and despite the coronavirus pandemic threatening many sports, cycling doesn’t appear to be one of them.
In government guidelines people are allowed to do one hour of exercise per day and cycling has been one of the activities allowed, interest in taking up the sport has grown as a result.
I spoke with the Chairman of Chorley Cycling Club, Phil Waterhouse to discuss whether the club had been impacted by the pandemic. Mr. Waterhouse admitted that the club has emerged relatively unscathed from the lockdown.
“It hasn’t, is the honest answer. We have membership which is £20 per senior, that is anyone over the age of 18. We start the ball rolling in November/December and everybody pretty much by the end of January/February membership fees have been paid for the following 12 months. As you can imagine with lockdown being in March, everyone had paid so that didn’t have any impact.
“We also have a slight sponsorship with Merlin cycles, if you look at our club kit it has Merlin cycles they pay to have their name on the front and back of our kit. That has been invoiced and paid for in the first 60 days of the year. So we haven’t lost any money. However, the following year’s impact is going to be great because we have decided as a committee that we are gonna reduce our fees from £20 to £5.
“On the flip side we haven’t had to pay any money out and normally we would have had to pay for charity rides, we haven’t to pay out any race licenses, we also haven’t had to pay for any of the Northern League TT(time trials) races and we haven’t had to pay for the local village hall where the riders come to sign on.
As a result of the suspension of elite and recreational sports, people have been looking at ways to remain active and for a number of people Cycling has filled that void. Mr. Waterhouse believes that the pandemic has helped the growth of the sport.
“Yeah if I look at most people I cycle with. Because of their jobs they would do three to five thousand miles a year, but with that one hour of exercise a day they have gone out for an hour doing 15-20 miles every day. They have been doing 100 miles a week that was just during the lockdown working week. There has been a real growth in people cycling more for general exercise and getting out for fresh air. It has been great for cycling,” Mr. Waterhouse said.
Although Cycling is growing, many clubs suffer from a gender imbalance and many of those clubs hope to attract and encourage more female members to the club. Mr. Waterhouse says that is something that Chorley Cycling Club are trying to do.
“We are and we have a discussion of how we can tap into this new market of people. I think most clubs suffer from a strong majority of male cyclists to female cyclists, I think we have a strong majority of 90% to 10% Male to female majority,” Mr. Waterhouse said.
“Personally I have seen a lot of new female cyclists and are trying to put the word out through a targeted social media campaign to advertise to them to bring them in. So that we do grow the membership for future years and it grows that female side because it needs to grow, and we’d love to have a female race team and we actually have enough girls who are good enoufh to do that at the moment so there is a thought process we can do that for 2021, providing we can go racing,” Mr. Waterhouse added.
“It is a position we are in to get growth for the club, but growth on the female side as well because we see people who are cycling that haven’t done it before and they’re new to it. We have had a lot of enquiries through our Facebook page and our website about how we can join, so we know that market is there,” Mr. Waterhouse concluded.