This year’s Ards CC Annual General Meeting will be on Wednesday 10th December at 7.30pm in Ards Leisure Centre. All members will have the chance to select the committee that will run the club for the next 12 months, and to influence what the club does.
Below is an editorial piece. It does not necessarily represent the views of the committee, but will hopefully promote some constructive debate.
There has been some tension in the committee recently, partly caused by differences of opinion on how best to run the club. This is not entirely unexpected as the objectives of the club evolve over time.
Ards CC has a long and proud history.
In the late 1970s, the focus was on recruiting and developing younger riders. The current medal scheme and handicap trophies were put in place. Ards CC schoolboys and juniors won races and championship medals in Ulster and Ireland, were picked for representative teams, and even set a couple of unofficial world records. Over half the membership was under 18.
Five Ards CC schoolboys were part of the Discovering America cycling expedition that cycled 3960 miles coast to coast across America in 1980, setting 2 unofficial world records along the way.
By the late 1980s, the younger membership started to decline and the focus changed to our senior riders who were successful throughout Ireland and beyond. For example, Ards CC teams took the yellow leaders jersey in the Gorey 3-day, the Tour of the North and the Tour of Ulster. As new branches of the sport emerged there was debate about whether we should get involved in Mountain Biking and Triathlon – we had champions at both disciplines. The club was even affiliated to the Cycle Touring Club for a couple of years.
Graeme Obree and Chris Boardman went head to head on the Portaferry Road
The club also became heavily involved in event promotion, peaking with two head to head races featuring Olympic Champion Chris Boardman and World champion Graeme Obree. We also promoted two very successful Irish Championships.
We’ve also been lucky enough to have had many excellent officials and support volunteers, including international mechanic Lindsay Gamble, and Dany Blondeel’s Belgium Project.
Lindsay pictured helping out with the Belgium Project. He has been mechanic on teams from Ards CC right through to the Irish team at the World Championships, and has a huge wealth of experience.
In recent years the cycling scene, and Ards CC, have continued to evolve. On a positive note, membership has grown steadily and our club runs are very popular. Club race participation is increasing. Our Tour of Strangford sportive was a huge success this year with over 270 riders taking part. And of course there is the rise of Strava….
On a slightly more negative note, underage membership has continued a long decline, with just 2 members under the age of 18 this year. The number of Ards CC riders competing in open races has also continued to decline, particularly in road races. And we lost the Portaferry 3-day this year.
This pattern of change of not unique to Ards CC. There is no right answer to what a cycling club should be.
I think the changes outlined above have, in part, contributed to the tensions in our committee. It is important to periodically discuss and agree a set of objectives for our club. This will allow our members (new and existing) to understand what sort of club we aspire to be. And it will give a clear direction to the committee.
I therefore suggest we take 15 to 20 minutes at the start of this year’s AGM to review and agree the objectives of the club. We can then proceed to elect a committee that is bought into achieving these objectives.