Our Club History
90 years ago a group of local cycling enthusiasts, already active in all aspects of club life, decided to draw up a proper constitution and the High Wycombe Cycling Club came into being. The constitution drawn up in those early days still remains today. Before 1924 cycling was very popular locally and club activity took place in what was then known as “The Wycombe Wheelers”, as early on as 1894. It is reported that during the celebrations held on the Rye for cyclist named George Dole rode his bike around the arena playing the flute!
The First World War put an end to cycling club activities, but post war years saw renewed activity until it became clear that a properly organised and constituted club was warranted. Some active members at that time were Dick Piggott, Ernie Saunders, Cliff Hoing, Mick Fryer, Perce Gantzel (Captain), A.Ing, Ron Dowdy, Sid Busby, Bill Smith and Jim Smith. Frank Thorne was a sign writer who designed the club badge incorporating the swan so closely associated with High Wycombe and Buckinghamshire. In those days the 25-mile Time Trail course started at the bottom of Hammersley lane in High Wycombe and turned on the canal bridge at Uxbridge. In 1925 Les Stone won the event with a time of 1hr 16mins and Mick Fryer won 1st handicap in 1hr 18mins.
But cycling life was not all racing; in fact it was almost incidental to the main ideal of living for cycling in all its aspects. The social life was a much more prominent aspect in those days. Dances were held every Tuesday evening and the Club even provided its own band. Club night was Thursdays when members would ride to the “Prince of Wales” at Wycombe Marsh. Cyclist Touring Club meetings were held at Slough on Wednesdays and Wycombe members would ride over to join in the activities. Club runs at the weekends were very popular and often numbered as many as 50 or 60 riders. The police would often insist that the groups of happy cyclists be split up into groups of 20 to avoid traffic problems. A rendezvous at a distant tea shop would be agreed where the riders would meet to fortify themselves, exchange news, and generally enjoy the bonhomie and comradeship resulting from common interests and enthusiasm.
Cycling was a way of life. Summer camps, club tours to Kent, The Wye Valley, Wales, Devon and Cornwall and all on bikes which when stripped of saddle bag and mudguards would be used for racing on grass track and road alike. Other favourite jaunts were the night ride to Cheddar Gorge, weekends in Cotswold’s and rides to the “Swan” at Burford where bed and breakfast was 4s.6d. Prodigious miles were covered when touring. Typical of this was the tour undertaken by two leading club members, Les Stone and Perce Gantzel who when riding in Lancashire met two lassies from Wigan also a wheel. A friendship was struck and from then on both lads continued courting by riding to Wigan every Friday and returning on the Sunday, arriving home just in time for work. Eventually wedding bells rang when the fittest grooms ever to walk up the aisle married their Lancashire lassies.
In 1927 the club became affiliated to the national cycling organisations and the club flourished. One or two member’s names began to appear in “Cycling” magazine, which in those days was 50 pages thick. Les Chown was one of the country’s top time triallists at the time, Cliff Hoing excelled in grass track events held at fetes which included athletics, flower shows and the like. The 1930’s were significant in the club’s history. Caswell and Pickup broke the national tandem tricycle London to Brighton and back record. Les Chown won the Oxford city 50 in 2hrs 12mins 57secs., Jack Pearson won the National cyclist union (NCU) 5 mile grass track championship at reading at whit Monday meeting.