/  Member Memories

Member Memories

Take a trip, decade by decade, through the one hundred year history of the Kingston Wheelers Cycling Club. Members, past and present, share their early memories of the club, to give a fascinating insight as to what the club was like back then – it’s size, make-up, the club runs, the club socials, and more. Like cycling itself, the club has changed enormously over the past century.


The Early Years

For the earliest memories of the Club, please see the Club History section to learn about KWCC pre-WWII, and it’s first few years following its reformation in 1953. Much of this detail came from interviews with the Club founder’s daughter Pam Jessop (nee Orpin) in 2022 and 2023, and from studying club documents and newspaper clippings that her father kept.

The 1960s – Roger and Janet Mitchell

Roger joined the Wheelers in 1961, shortly after club kit was first introduced and during an era when time-trialling was hugely popular. The following year Janet joined becoming the second female member in the Club at the time. They met in the Club and eventually got married in 1972. Club nights during their early membership were held in the Scout Hut on Victoria Road, Surbiton. Both were active within the Club, in races and in social events, winning many club trophies. For Roger in particular, the Kingston Wheelers was a huge part of his life – he raced for the club throughout the ‘60, ‘70, ‘80s and into the 1990’s. He joined at the age of 18 and was still a member 53 years later when he died in 2014.

Continue reading to see more detailed accounts, decade by decade, from the 1970s to the present day.


Gary Smith

Year joined: 1975

Club Runs

We used to meet for club runs in the driveway of a shop at the junction of Hook Road and Elmcroft Drive. A typical route would be out to Chertsey where there was a cafe for a mid-ride refreshment stop. I think club runs used to last about 2.5 hours. A typical club run would have 8 to 12 riders – a mixture of youngsters like me and the more mature members. I think the faster guys used to break away and do an extended ride but my memory is hazy on this. I remember enjoying the Chertsey cafe stops – milky coffee and a cake in a warm cafe with condensation on the windows. Then not enjoying when the stop ended and we had to go out into the cold and ride again! One weekend there was a special club run to Herne Hill cycling track which I was really looking forward to but I crashed while riding to the meeting point and damaged myself and my bike too much to continue. I remember a local homeowner looked after me until I recovered enough to limp home. It’s still an unfulfilled bucket list activity to ride on a track.

Time trials

We used to do more formal organised events which you had to enter in advance and less formal club events where you could just turn up and ride. Most members, particularly the juniors, did 10 and 25 mile events but a few would do 50’s or even 100’s. I remember 10 mile courses in the Wraysbury/Thorpe and Hampton Court areas and a 25 mile course out towards Staines and Windsor. We also did the Ranmore Hill Climb every year in October. Typically we used to ride from home to the event, do the event and then ride home but for more distant events, John Bornhoft used to take me with his son Mark in his car – an old Rover with a homemade trailer on the back to carry the bikes. I never really got into time trials – I always went out too fast, blew up and had to struggle to the finish. I was always beaten by Mark Bornhoft who was fitter and faster than me. I remember being paired with Peter Saunders, one of the fastest juniors, for a two-up 25 mile time trial and I drafted Peter virtually all of the way round before overtaking him in the final straight to the finish – I had perhaps conserved too much energy and definitely had not done my share of the work. I would be called a wheel-sucker now. I still feel the shame of it!

Club nights

Club nights were held in the assembly hall of Lather Road school. They were quite well attended. There was a corrugated iron shed out the back of the hall which stored a table tennis table and a set of rollers which we used to get out to use quite frequently. Most of the time we just chatted to friends while sitting on the edge of the stage or on the pommel horse that the school kids used for gymnastics. I always used the pommel horse and always spent most of the time chatting to Paul Fulcher, who I was very friendly with. Paul was very tall and had a really expensive bike – top of the range Campag groupset. I used to enjoy playing table tennis on club nights. Gil used to collect “subs” (club subscriptions) which I think was 5 pence per week. Club nights were also the time to get entry forms for events and make plans for club events or reliability trials. I remember John Bornhoft used to do quite a bit of the admin for the events and used to collect the subs sometimes. Whenever the school hall was unavailable, Gil would host club nights at his house – I remember his house always smelling of fried food!

Training rides

I used to go out in the evening mid-week on training rides with two other members I became friendly with: Paul Fulcher and George Carro. We used to meet in Esher and ride through Kingston, Ham, Richmond and return via Hampton Court. I have fond memories of these rides because we only went out when the weather was good and the pace was within my capabilities! I remember another memorable training ride when we were overtaken by a group of riders from another club, the Clarence Wheelers. They had a really fast guy, Tony Doyle, riding for them (he became world pursuit champion in 1980 and became a successful professional 6-day rider afterwards). As he overtook me, Tony reached down and flipped my down-tube gear shifter into the small chainring, immediately causing my cadence to go from my usual 70rpm to 100rpm or more! Perceived wisdom at the time was that juniors like me were supposed to “spin” smaller gears (max 76”) at higher RPM and not try and try to push higher gears. I remember being outraged at the time but this was before he turned professional. Tony was known for his fluid pedalling style and he was only trying to help me. I see Tony died earlier this year – RIP.

My time at Kingston Wheelers was relatively short and I wasn’t a great cyclist then but it must have seeded something in me because I came back to cycling in my late 20’s (after university and a short career in international construction) and I have been cycling recreationally ever since. I currently have a mountain bike, a road bike and a gravel bike, all of which get regular use in the summer here in Canada. I’ve done many “sportives” including the Etape du Tour and Ride London. My cycling activities also rubbed off on my son who is an avid cyclist and rides at top-class club level.

Mark Bornhoft

Year joined: 1975

The Club

The club was quite small at the time and had a few teenage riders and just one female member. Alan Haynes and Roger Mitchell rode everywhere together. Alan was famous for fast head down time trialling in very high gears and on one occasion allegedly rode into the back of a horse. My recollection is that Roger never tired of telling that story.
There were about 20 active riders in the Wheelers at the time, and most of those would race. I left the club in 1978 to focus on my A level but kept abreast of some of the club goings-on through my dad.

Club Runs

My first club run was to Chertsey and we stopped at an Italian cafe there. Club runs were always led by Gil Jessop and would start at the Ace of Spades roundabout in Hook, outside the Sainsbury’s that used to be there, and start usually at 9:45am but also quite often at 10:15am. In 1975-76 the club ride would be between 8-12 riders most weeks but occasionally there were only be 3-4 riders (on one occasion it was just me and Gill!). I think numbers picked up a bit in 1977, but never more than 20 riders on a club run. The club rides were casual and at the pace of the slower riders. We rode all throughout the year every Sunday from 9am regardless of the weather; I recall freezing rides where our fingers and ears were pained from the cold.

The routes were very varied and often plotted to stop at one of Gil’s favoured cafes. Shorter rides were 30-40 miles out to the North Downs (now called the ‘Surrey Hills’) and every few weeks a longer ride of 50-60 miles would go out to Horsham and around W.Sussex or over to Ascot, Windsor and Maidenhead direction. A common destination was via one of several circuitous routes to Dorking where the favoured café was next door to the Dorking Halls theatre, or a little further on towards Reigate with a stop at Earlswood Lake cafe. Occasionally we would ride up Boxhill although there was no cafe at the top back then (the motorbike cafe at the bottom was though).

Longer routes had an exploratory feel to them (but that was probably because it was all new to the younger members of the club). Many routes went out through Oxshott, Cobham and Effingham and into the N. Downs, taking in Shere, Abinger, Leith Hill and Coldharbour before café stop in Dorking and back.

The club entered several people in a cross-country run every Winter on Coulsdon Down – that was probably the coldest event of the year!

Club Nights & Social Events

I remember the first club night we cycled into Kingston in 1975 and met Gil, Alan, Roger and Paul Fulcher and a few others. The club night atmosphere created by Gil and the others was welcoming. I think there were usually 10-15 people there each week in 1975-76? I remember the high point of weekly club nights (after any organisational matters) was some very competitive table tennis playing! Gil would also canvas for entries to upcoming time trials. Club nights were on Tuesday nights in the hall of Latchmere School in Kingston.

The annual prize giving was a big black-tie event, where members would bring their spouses and sometimes children, held in a large hall in Kingston Market Square.

Club Racing

The first-time trial I joined was the 10 mile course at Hampton on 28th Sept 1975. Members were keen TT racers in the ’70s. There would be a full calendar of TTs throughout the season starting with the winter Sporting series. During the warmer months some members would race a 10 TT on a Saturday and a 25 TT on a Sunday most weeks. Road racing was uncommon with only a couple ridden across the club per season. Randonees and reliability trials were also popular amongst members, as well as hill climbs later in the year, especially the inter-club Ranmore Hill Climb. There was also an annual club trip to the Herne Hill velodrome.


Derek Griffiths

Year joined: 1983

The Club

Finding a club to join was hard in those days; I went to the library, then I phoned the local Guildhall, and eventually after quite a lot of hard work on the telephone I got a phone number from someone in the Kingston Wheelers.

It was a club in transition, very small, seemed like a bit of a low point, really suffering – it didn’t even have any club kit. The only regulars I remember seeing from my early days with the club were John Bornhoft, Gil Jessop, Alan Haynes, Reg Baynham, Roger Mitchell and a guy called Robin.

When I first joined the club we did not promote any races ourselves, instead members were called upon to help out and marshal other club’s races.

Club Runs

Back when I joined there would be up to 5 or 6 out on a Sunday club run, my first one met at Kingston Market Square. We would follow pretty much the same route each week, well twice a week as there were Saturday and Sunday morning rides – we would ride up Sandy Lane, past the Drift golf club, up Hungry Hill Lane and either on to Pyrford Lock or towards Heathrow. We’d ride along a section of the A3 near Wisley in the days before the intersection with the M25 was built.
I remember the roads being more cycle friendly back then, less cars and less cycles.
Until I joined, I had just been riding my bike for pleasure and trying to work out what the sport side of it was all about. So going on my first club run was quite nerve racking, not knowing how good I was on the bike, I didn’t know whether I would be able to keep up. And I remember having an adrenaline rush when I realised I could keep the pace, but then had a word with myself “Come on Del, keep a sense of reality, you do have an 80 year old leading the club ride!”. That was Gil Jessop.

Club Nights and Club Events

I got a lot out of the club nights in my early days at the club, I felt cheated if I missed one, the camaraderie was evident, straight away I thought the club had great ethics and ethos. On a good club night there would be about four to six people attending, probably 2-3 people was more typical – on a Monday evening at Ham Remand Centre. My first dinner dance was on Market Square in a hotel function room and there were about 30 of us there including wives. Some years we had more in attendance.

Tim Lawn

Year joined: 1985

The Club

When I joined there was a maximum of 30 members I’d say, but less than half were still riding. I was the only junior and KWCC had no female members back then. For the rest of the century, I’d guess the overall membership was broadly stable but active riders increased a bit as the years went on.

There were far fewer cycling clubs back then, and more spread out.  Our membership at that point was very locally focused, when compared to now where we draw people from a wider area.  Although membership is much more transient now, far larger turn over.

A year or two after I joined my younger brother Simon joined too, and we were the only ones in the club who road raced.  Because we were the only Wheelers at events I remember we built up a network of friends across lots of clubs.  It was much morecommon then to socialise with other cycling clubs. In particular we did a lot of shared activities and rides with the South Western, I met my wife through that club!

I remember during my first year with the club Des Borland, perhaps our strongest rider, helped me a lot to get into racing. A member called Ian Keegan helped me too. Some of my early road races were held on the M25 before the full orbital route opened.


Club Runs

We met at the same meeting point we do today, I believe always at 9am, it was a car sales place back then called John Ashley Motors. I turned up for my first club run with a school friend, who knew about the Wheelers. On that first run I remember there was John Bornhoft, Des Borland, Paddy O’Donnell, Derek Griffiths and possibly one or two others.  A turn out of about half a dozen was good back then, eight riders on a club run would be the max.  

John would lead the club runs every week and would always stand up for us against any motorists driving dangerously. He usually took us towards Old Woking direction and there was a Happy Eater on a roundabout that we would always have our tea stop in. 

Club Nights and Club Events

I remember always seeing Gil Jessop at the club nights, he was a real figurehead of the club back then. Reg, John, Derek and Des were the other club night regulars I recall. John really encouraged me and my parents to attend the Dinner & Dance night. I had never been to anything like it before and I would see a number of people there every year that I would not see in between on any other club occasions.

Any other stories

Someone I remember well….Saad Al Hilli was a member of the club for a number of years, joining because he was a neighbour of John Bornhoft’s. Saad was very active within the club and well liked – a nice friendly guy and a character. He would turn up at club runs on a mountain bike, wearing a tracksuit and would sometimes bring a cigar. Unfortunately, he is infamous for being shot in a random attack, along with his family, in Annecy, France.

Peter Anderson

Year joined: 1987

The Club

I had been a member of Actonia CC which had folded and I was looking for a local friendly club, so joined the Wheelers. I recall we had about a dozen active members who were regular on the racing scene and/or club runs (there was a good road race contingent competing in the Surrey League). In total we would have had less than 30 members. John Bornhoft was a one man committee covering all the roles. John used to organise the club 10 TTs, which used to start near the Hampton Water Works (by the rowing club), through Shepperton and turn at Chertsey roundabout.

Club Runs

Like some others in the club, I only rode club runs during the off season when not racing. We would meet at the junction of Brighton Road & Portsmouth Road, but we had only just moved the start point to there and some were not happy about it. We would quite regularly be told off my motorists for congregating at the side of the road (not in the car park like today). John led all the CRs, and I remember John would teach each new member how to ride as a group, to look after one another, and to ride efficiently by developing a consistent cadence. They were social runs and ridden at an average speed of 16mph, like a Reliability Trial. Almost nobody wore helmets back then and I don’t remember us stopping at cafes.

Club Nights and Club Events

Club nights were well attended back then, on my first one – at the Hawker Centre in Kingston – there were around 10 of us, each putting money into a plastic pint glass to pay our subs.

The annual dinner dance was a formal and surreal affair. Wives would attend but often looked bored, and cross toasting was a big feature but really an excuse to drink more wine. My early Xmas lunches with the club consisted of about 6 of us in a small pub near Dorking, and later moved to the Wotton Hatch pub. Looking back it was unwise to have drank as much as we did and then cycle all the way home often in very cold conditions.

Lyndsay Pullen

Year joined: 1989

The Club

I joined with colleague Andy Paul. Club nights were held at the Officers Club in the grounds of Ham Prison. It was a small club of 35 members or so. Half were active on club runs or racing in time trials. Tim and Simon Lawn were the stars and could have joined bigger clubs like the Clarence Wheelers. The Clarencourt CC 4-up team trial was a favourite race and they fared well. John Bornhoft was club president and used to bring Gil Jessop to club nights. Gil was in his 80’s and had joined the club pre war and was instrumental in reforming the club in the 50’s. He occasionally rode his Wren road bike but enjoyed his club nights. Club night subs were 50p. Roger and Alan were club run regulars, with Alan on his hand painted frame.

Club Runs

Club runs on Sunday were invariably led by John B from the same place on the Portsmouth Road starting at 9am. We would head for the Surrey Hills and 8-10 riders would be a good turnout. There was no Sunday opening in those days and the lanes were quiet so we got little antagonism from local drivers. A regular coffee stop was just off Hungry Hill at a local farm but that no longer exists. John B would organise a weekly 10 mile TT starting at Sunbury going through Shepperton.

Club Nights

Every year there would be the end of season Dinner and Dance and prize giving with maybe 60-70 present including elderly ex members. Today it would seem a bizarre occasion with cross toasting. A strange ritual when a club member might suddenly stand up and shout ‘I’d like to take wine with Bozo for falling off the most times in the year’. Initially it was held at a hotel in Richmond but the club was shrinking and it became low key. A popular annual event was the annual trip to Majorca and I remember John Bornhoft cycling up and down the road at Puerto Pollensa as he’d only done 97 miles that day and wouldn’t pack up until he’d down the full 100!

Other Stories

When John Bornhoft passed away most of the club members (19 of us) met at Tim Lawn’s house to debate folding the club or carrying on. We were fortunate to have some good people around and the website was born and the rest is history with membership soaring. Derek Griffiths was appointed Club President, Tim Lawn Club Chairman, Mark Briers press officer, myself as Treasurer, Nicola and Peter Anderson, Dave Wylie, Richard Williamson as Race Secretary formed a new committee. There followed long discussions about new kit as the current blue and yellow kit was unpopular and replaced with something much more in keeping with modern style.


James Beaumont

Year joined: 1990

The Club

Cycling was a minority sport and then some in the early 1990s. If you saw a fellow cyclist it was like meeting another traveler in the desert. You didn’t just wave or nod, you or they’d often turn around so you could ride together for a chat and compare notes. One day someone in Richmond Park suggested the Kingston Wheelers as a local club. So I went to a club night and signed up, nervously hoping I would be proposed and seconded as a member, a formality but not a given as club nights might have 3-4 people or less sometimes. Still, it was all very welcoming for a teenager and a big thanks to John Bornhoft, Gil Jessop, Lon Pullen, Lindsay Pullen, Derek Griffiths and Tim and Simon Lawn.

Club Runs

Club Runs riding out of Kingston on the Portsmouth Road in the early 90s always had a fraught moment as the club run start point came into view: would anyone else be there? John Borhoft, Roger Mitchell and Alan Haynes were stalwarts but more than six was lively. People in their 20 and 30s like Andy Paul, Nicola Wadham and Peter Anderson made the club feel a bit younger while I was the lone teenager. We always seemed to ride out to Hungry Hill near Ripley via Esher, Oxshott and Cobham for a tea stop – tea because almost nobody drank coffee then – and back. Looking back I wonder if the others opted for this short route because I was the youngest by far, or maybe everyone wanted to be back in time for lunch.

Club Nights and Club Events

The weekly club night was in Ham, at Latchmere House which was a prison. There was a staff bar and we’d gather there. In the summer we had Club 10s by the Thames near Hampton and you’d ride out via Shepperton to the turn before the Chertsey bridge.

Other Stories

Some other clubs were more focussed on some types of cycling, say just road racing but the Kingston Wheelers had people who just enjoyed the club run, some people doing time trials, others road racing and a few doing a bit of everything. The Club has changed so much in the last two decades thanks to the boom in cycling and more, but it does keep the same open feel.

I remember finishing a lap of Richmond Park when three boys from Archer RC rode in. They were going to Box Hill and asked if I wanted to join. A big yes as it was rare to ride with someone of a similar age back then and off we went. A good ride, plenty of chat but the third Archer rider was a couple of years younger and really shy, his name was Bradley and years later he’d win some big bike races but you’d never have guessed that day.

I used to run the club’s website in its early years, before online maps became a thing. I’d get regular enquiries from people wanting to come on a club run only they just couldn’t find the start point. Turned out they were Canadians keen to find a cycling club in Kingston… Ontario and they’d ridden up the Portsmouth Avenue over there many times searching for the meeting point on a Sunday morning!

Ian Humphries

Year joined: 1991

The Club

I joined aged 23. Was a KWCC member for 2 years (before I rejoined KWCC in 2007)
In those days the membership then was around 30/40. This time period was pre internet so finding info out regarding cycling clubs was done by leg work. I saw the club jersey on riders now and again so wanted to find where they were based. You could find the contact details from cycle shops. I got my info from Evans Cycles.

I wasn’t a racing road rider then, I was a mountain biker and a racing mountain biker. I was doing national races so really wanted to race under a club banner. When I finally joined with my friend Simon Thomas (who now owns and runs Nirvana cycles in Westcott). I was the KWCC mountain bike section. Mountain biking was in its infancy and that was reflected in the lack of clubs and club riders. The Wheelers were open and non judgmental, even though I didn’t have a road race bike but I was excepted. I do have big regrets regarding those days, I could have probably got some good advice regarding race training and diet from other members but again no internet, no web site, and no forums I was left to my own research. Club mates info would have been easier to put into practice.

Club Runs

This might sound strange now but never did a club run. Near enough every Sunday I was in the Surrey hills off-roading or I was MTB racing. So because of no other racing club mates I would mix with other MTB riders who tended to be affiliated with cycle shops and not cycle clubs. Because of this I didn’t really get to know too many KWCC members.

Club Nights

Club nights were held in the Latchmere Remand Centre Social Club (now gone). We would meet once a week on a Monday I think. We would announce any racing results which would be written up on a board. In those days I was meeting the living history of the club which I didn’t really appreciate it at the time. Regulars would be John Bornoff, Derek Griffith, Gill Jessop who was very elderly then, Roger Mitchell and the young road racing Tim Lawn and his brother. We would sit around drink tea and chat bikes. Great days..

Other Stories

Regarding my short MTB racing was to have the KWCC name broadcast over a PA system while I was racing (Amateur level) at the British championships.

Mark Briers

Year joined: 1992

The Club

Cycling was such a minority pastime then.I think the membership stood at about 35. The club was virtually held together by John Bornhoft who did nearly everything.
Club 10s were held on the riverside road between Sunbury and Chertsey. Some of the active members were Derek, Lindsay Pullen,who did accounts,Tim and Simon Lawn, Roger Mitchell and time trialist Alan Haynes.

Club Runs

My first club run went to a place called The Dell in Burnham Beeches.There we’re about 12 on in, led by John, I remember Roger was on it. About this time I made friends with Mike Hughes, Colin Boxall and Andy Ward. John’s runs tended to be short and leisurely to try and encourage as many newcomers into the club as possible. A cafe in an outbuilding of a farm at the bottom of Hungry hill was always a favourite.

Club Nights and Club Social Events

Club nights when I first joined was at the Latchmere Remand Centre in Ham!! John always liked the club dinner / prize night to be a very old-fashioned formal affair. I remember we held it in a hotel on Beaufort Rd in Kingston.
I remember several organised trips abroad, as a club, to sportives including Flanders, Roubaix, Milan San Remo and the Etape.

Everything changed after John died. I remember Tim chaired a meeting to plan a way forward…even folding the club was on the agenda!! Many of us stepped up to fill the huge hole left by John. Derek, Lyndsey, Tim, Richard Williamson,Dave Wyllie chipped in with sponsorship to buy some kit. The dynamic of the club along with the rising popularity of cycling changed it to what it is now. Andy Ward also created our website, probably one of the first which was instrumental to the booming membership. From there club runs flourished, new cafes found; eg Henfold Lakes, Hector’s etc.


Gafyn MacMillan

Year joined: 2002

The Club

I didn’t join a growing club. It was some years before the beginning of the cycling boom in the UK and the Wheelers were struggling to attract new members. At the Club’s 2002 awards/prize giving lunch, members who’d joined during that year got a mention from the President and a round of applause – it was only me and one other. I still have my joining membership card, I was member #46 although I am pretty certain that there was not as many as 45 others in the club – in fact I’d guess there were less than 20 riding members plus a few old gents who we’d see at club nights and other socials. If memory serves, we had a total of 4 female members, 3 of them South African who’d all returned home by about 2004.

It was a small but friendly and inclusive club, where the vast majority of its members were very regularly involved in club activities. We all knew each other and turnover was low. Despite its size it had an active racing scene with several of us competing in road racing and TTs. Proportionally, the club had a much bigger chunk of racers back then which was great for travelling to races together. I last raced regularly in 2006, even then all open events were entered by posting a handwritten form and a cheque – seems archaic now!

Club Runs

Differing wildly with how we operate in 2024, there was only a single club run ride each Sunday morning – no choice of pace, distance, departure time or routes. Unless he was away (rarely), all club runs were led by our club president at the time John Bornhoft. On my first club run, there were just 3 others. Like today, the meeting point was on the corner of Portsmouth and Brighton Roads, although it was a Honda garage back then (and some time before that the Globe pub), always at 9am.

One fond early memory was that club runs would invariably head out via the opulent Claremont private (golf) estate and re-join Portsmouth Road to Cobham, at the time the gate was not code locked for exit (until they replaced the gate in the mid-noughties). A custom around this time was for the fastest climber on the club run to turn around atop of some of the meatier hills and decent down to the slowest member to ride back up with them.

Club Nights and Club Events

The club’s members arranged a number of cycling trips abroad each year, the most regular ones were Mallorca in March (with the South Western) and Flanders in April – both involved huge amounts of beer, particularly Flanders. It’s more formal social events were towards the end of each year, the prize giving in Nov and the Xmas lunch in Dec.

Other Stories

I hadn’t been in the club long but was getting fitter having had a good winter with the club doing several long club runs for base miles and had just starting time trialling. In May 2023, I rode the South Western Randonee (now called the Mayflyer) with John Bornhoft. I had no idea at the time, although John certainly did, that he had cancer and it was terminal. But despite his age (69) and his health he dropped me near the top of the last climb on the 160KM route, Coombe Lane. I don’t believe I ever saw John again.

Keith Aldred

Year joined: 2003

The Club

I had been doing a little weekend cycle touring for years.I wanted to expand this to multi-day continental trips, which required a little more training, so me and my touring friends looked to join a club. Initially we did the Sigma shop rides but Wheelers was our local club so our group all joined up: Dave Irving, Keith and Brian Shepherd, and John Reay. The club was made up of a maximum of around 50 members then.
I met the (in)famous Mark Briers on one of m first club runs and noticed his front garden tree full of bike tyres hanging from branches! He became a lifelong friend, amongst others who I still ride (and drink with), and I visit Mark in Andalucia where he now lives.

Club Runs

The first ride I remember was the late John Bornhoft’s Sunday ride. Quirky but enjoyable. Quirky because he would take us on so many little cut throughs and alleys, even on some gravel tracks (before gravel bikes were a thing). Sunday club rides probably topped at around 10-15

Joining a club meant things inevitably got more serious, although apart from a few club 10s and the Sporting 14, racing and TTs were not my bag. Started doing Flanders sportives regularly: Liege Bastogne Liege, Ghent Wevelgem, Eroica and long Paris Roubaix (>220km+)

Audaxing has become big part of club and I can remember Bulgarian Svilen turning up for 1st club run on a hybrid with a rucksack who later did Paris Brest Paris. 320km for Amesbury Amble is my limit!

One fond early memory was that club runs would invariably head out via the opulent Claremont private (golf) estate and re-join Portsmouth Road to Cobham, at the time the gate was not code locked for exit (until they replaced the gate in the mid-noughties). A custom around this time was for the fastest climber on the club run to turn around atop of some of the meatier hills and decent down to the slowest member to ride back up with them.

Club Nights and Club Events

Club nights to be honest, never really took off perhaps due to us lacking our own clubhouse. Tried doing gym sessions before Hawker Centre period to attract numbers, but no luck. Myself, Matt Cooke, Phil Barella, Mark, Keith Griffin with guest appearances by Derek tried to encourage night at Druids. Kudos to Matt Kumar and others for getting good turn out for park laps and pub.

Club awards/Xmas dos have always got a bit boozy with improved attendance when membership increased. Sometimes they were directly after Sunday cub run or after a quick shower, but always on the bikes. One I’m sure was at the Black Swan (mucky duck) Ockham – don’t know how we got back from that after dark without mishaps, Such was the drinking, I remember that Harv forgot where he’d left his bike after one year’s Thames Ditton Swan Xmas lunch and I’m not sure he ever found it.


Geraint Lewis

Year joined: 2010

The Club

My first Club Run, led by Danny & Cathy Clifford, was late 2009, although I didn’t actually join until spring 2010. A standard Effingham & Box Hill with a cuppa at the NT café at the top. Club runs were always 9am Sunday at Laithwaites. Chris Wright would shout out the rides. There were two or three other rides of varying speed & distance. It was always the same faces each week; you got to know the other riders of a similar pace very quickly, so it was easy to pick your group each week. There was also a training ride led by Dan, famous for his tri-spoke front wheel and for wearing an old skinsuit regardless of the weather. One good thing about fewer new joiners is that you’d be told pretty quickly if you were doing stuff wrong! Peter, the club’s coach, would also be out regularly, and would offer advice on riding position, climbing technique, group riding, etc.

Routes were similar to now, though cafes come & go. Favourites were Henfold Lakes, Tanhouse Farm, Peaslake Shop, Seale Tearooms, Fairoaks Airport, Windsor Park Village Shop or Hector’s Bistro.

I never raced for the club, but I’d help out at events such as the Club Hill Climb or the Sporting 14, or join a club ride to watch other members racing at a Surrey League event, then grab some tea & cake at the finish.

There was a Club Night every Monday in the Druids Head. I could never make it until, following a poll on the forum, it was changed to a Thursday and I started to attend once or twice a month. It still happens now, although any mention of it has disappeared from the website, and it’s not always in the Druids. Only a few of the regular attendees have joined the Wheelers within the past ten years, and some have let their club membership lapse, but we still meet up and chat sh*t about riding bikes and watching racing.

There was also the club awards night up at the Surbiton Tennis Club, which was a good opportunity to meet others you didn’t ride with so much. It was Steve Irwin & Phil Ember picking up all the TT trophies then, rather than Adam & Henrik.

Club kit was a lot easier; there were barely 100 members, and Kitmaster Keith would sell it direct, keeping all the stock in a large wardrobe in his spare room. Fewer items of stock made it much easier: long- or short-sleeve jerseys, bibshorts or tights, gilets, caps & socks; that’s your lot! Apart from the odd special order for skinsuits…

My first track riding experience was a weekend at Newport Velodrome arranged by the club. About two dozen of us went down the M4, staying overnight in the Travelodge. Two five-hour sessions, split 50:50 into two groups, were great fun. The Sunday session was definitely harder though, after a few beers and a curry!

There were trips abroad too: over to Majorca or the Alps, a 3-day ride to Paris, or the weekend trips to Flanders to ride the cobbles, then watch the pros do it the next day.


Dharmesh Bhatt

Year joined: 2020

The Club

Seemed like a big club, definitely more “organised” than the club I was already a member of (Dorking). Felt very assured on my K4 intro ride with Caroline and Sam, who did everything they could to look after the group, even though I struggled to keep up at times. After joining, I really noticed how friendly and inclusive it was (even though I didn’t even have proper pedals). I was aware that we had Alice racing and it felt like a privilege to be part of that same club.

Club Runs

I joined during covid, so that meant filling out a spreadsheet for each ride (I haven’t known any different). There was no K4 group on my next ride, so I joined a K3 ride. However, it was evident that I couldn’t keep up, so one of the group (Peter Sturton) dropped back and we did our own little loop. That actually spurred me on to train and get faster, but crucially with the reassurance that I won’t be dropped from a ride. I went on a few more rides with Peter, who really encouraged me on. If it wasn’t for this atmosphere, I may have given up on cycling altogether. We met, as we do now, at Laithwates. As it was during Covid, the number of rides were limited. During my first few rides, we’d either stop at Destination Bike or often not at all. After the rules relaxed, I became acquainted with many other stops, including the delights of the Cinnamon Cafe. Also, a special mention about the Wednesday night laps, which both helped with my speed, and showed just how friendly & social the club is.

Club Nights and Club Events

I’ve only been to a few club nights: the unofficial ones that Matt Kumar organised have been great. I’ve been to one official club event (ticketed) which Jo R organised, which was really great (food/venue/etc worked really well). I even bagged a psycleclub t-shirt at a impromptu charity auction on that night.

Jo Reynolds

Year joined: 2021

The Club

I joined the club in 2021 – a total lockdown baby – during a period of rapid expansion for KWCC and was made to feel at home immediately despite being a total cycling novice. I made friends across the club quickly and what struck me initially was how up for being social people were. On every club ride, I would come away with 3 or 4 new friends who I felt I had got to know well. I had never ridden any of the Surrey hills before that summer, so each ride was a new world of the unknown for me. I just remember the kindness and patience of other members, talking me through how to approach the various hills and what to expect. I have a particularly fond memory of Gafyn piloting me up Coldharbour for the first time – “it’ll be dark and it’ll be hard but then it’ll be over…”!!!).

I was also really impressed by the number of active female cyclists. It has been wonderful to be able to draw on their knowledge, being able to ask questions about things only they will know the answer to.

Club Runs

I turned up to my first new joiners ride with fear running through my veins but I had nothing to be worried about. It was the best decision I’ve ever made and I’ve felt nothing but happy vibes since! Our regular coffee stop venues during my first few months were Coffee Active in Ashtead and Destination Bike, Box Hill.

Club Nights and Club Events

I organised last year’s summer social – the first summer event we’d had since COVID. It was great to see so many Wheelers in one place, out of Lycra! The event was held at the Waggon and Horses and over 70 people attended. Wheelers are a hungry breed, so we doubled down on the pasta salad!

In Jan 2022, I was awarded the Best Female Newcomer award at the club’s annual prize giving. I was chuffed to bits to receive it and it has pride of place on my mantelpiece! Our recognition ethos is strong, with so many people doing incredible cycling events. The forum is a great place to find a new challenge!

In 2023 I participated in the Mallorca 312, having spent some time cycling with the Wheelers in Mallorca in 2022 as I trained for The Dragon Ride that year. It’s great to be part of a club whose members look for ways to involve everyone in cycling trips. Cycling in other countries really opened my eyes – I now know what I want to do when I retire! And all this because a few Wheelers extended an invite to their trip in 2022. That’s KWCC for you!