Grass-roots Movements

We must apologise for harping on about Boneshaker for a second post in quick succession, but an article in issue 19, entitled Generation Next sparked our interest.

It talks about a handful of cycling communities and groups that have sprung up in various places around the world, outside the traditional club circuit.

The anti-club

Rightly or wrongly, cycling clubs often give the impression that racing and results are the be-all and end-all. They often form around cycling as a sport, be that cyclocross, traditional road racing or mountain biking. This unfortunately means that the demographic can be quite narrow –often white, male and in a relatively young age bracket. It also leaves out an often forgotten facet of cycling –cycling as a form of urban mobility and of freedom. After all, it is for many of us our first taste of freedom as youngsters.

A number of groups picked out by the article are somewhat anarchic in nature, with some who keep politics out of discussion as much as possible, as well as those who formed around one particular political stance. One that caught our eye in particular was the Ovarian Psycos, established in 2010 in Los Angeles.

…where cycling can often seem to be merely so many MAMILs meeting to spin and drink coffee, Ovarian Psycos stand as the antithesis of that placid apolitical idea.

With a name like Ovarian Psycos, it won’t surprise you to learn that they’re a women’s group with a rebellious streak. At the other end of the spectrum, Fahrtwind from Berlin are relatively apolitical and make a point of embracing everyone –their website even has a “riders” page that simply says “EVERYBODY”.

This got us thinking about Cardiff, unsurprisingly. Whilst we do have our choice of clubs, we also have many, many groups of people who ride together, sometimes with a purpose like Singleminded –a group of single-speed enthusiasts raising money for a variety of cancer charities, like Velindre, Kirkwood Hospice and Target Ovarian Cancer, but there are also some who just like getting out there and riding the streets of Cardiff.

Fixed-gear bikes tend to attract a following wherever they go. There was a Fixed Gear Cardiff, but the twitter account has been dormant since 2011, which is a shame.

Nothing pleases us more than seeing groups of riders gathering around a common purpose, whether that is a charity, a type of bike, a political cause or just for the camaraderie and friendship. Of course, the question you are probably asking is “when does a grass-roots movement become a club?”.

Fine lines

We suppose the main distinguishing factor is structure. If there is a secretary, or perhaps an annual subscription to be a member, either to the organisation itself or to British Cycling chances are it is more of a club than a movement. The presence of a name, a logo, a website and perhaps a branded jersey can be acquired at very little cost these days and does not necessarily constitute a club.

We’ve been adding pages to our directory lately and we’d like to advertise your group too, particularly if you would like to attract new people to it.

If you would like to be added to the list, please get in touch, either on social media or in the comments below.

Gavin

Bike commuter, randonneur and cat wrangler

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