11:30am Tuesday 18th February 2014
By Gina Bebbington
A CYCLING legend gave mid Cheshire’s riders something to think about on Saturday.
John Herety, former Olympian and national road race champion and now directeur sportif of pro cycling team Rapha Condor JLT, spoke at Weaver Valley Cycling Club’s annual dinner on Saturday.
The dinner also celebrated the achievements of the club as John presented prizes to top performing riders.
The Guardian’s Pedal Power campaign celebrates all levels of cycling as we try to inspire our readers to take to embrace the joy of two wheels.
This week we focus on Middlewich man John and his remarkable life in the world of professional cycling.
A GLOBAL cycling journey started with a boyhood bike ride from Cheadle to Jodrell Bank for team manager extraordinaire John Herety.
The Middlewich man has an impressive cycling CV as a former Olympian and national road race champion who has also managed the Great Britain national team during two Olympic Games, three Commonwealth Games and a number of track and road World Championships.
He now manages pro cycling team Rapha Condor JLT and continues to travel the world with his career – joking to Weaver Valley Cycling Club (WVCC) that he had returned from winter training in Australia just to speak at the dinner.
This is all a far cry from that fateful trip to the observatory, which itself prompted a meteoric rise.
“My first ever bike ride was from Cheadle to Jodrell Bank, 10 miles there and 10 miles back, I must have been 11,” he said.
“It was that era when you were trying to distance yourself from your parents so me and another lad went out on a Saturday.
“Another cyclist from a club befriended us because we kept stopping and asked if we were interested in racing.
“That was on the Saturday and on the Wednesday night I was racing in a club 10 [a 10-mile time trial].”
This start gave him a great appreciation of the role of cycling clubs and the skills and techniques they can teach.
“I’m a big big believer in club cycling,” he said.
“Far too many times I’m coming across riders who are physically extremely fit but they have no ability in actually riding their bikes, it’s a big problem for a number of managers.
“A club run is an integral part of cycling, so much is learned by youngsters in going out on club runs.”
John is keen to encourage young talent and Rapha Condor JLT is run as a development team, nurturing young riders aged under 23 with some ‘elder statesmen’ to lead the way.
But he said that despite the nation’s cycling success he fears for the future.
“Because of the success we’ve had everyone thinks we have a massive depth of talent in the UK,” he said.
“The top is very very good but they fall off very quickly after that.
“For the riders that don’t make it into the World Class Performance Programme they don’t seem to have the ambition to put two fingers up and still try.
“We may try to tap into BMX riders or that guy in the playground that goes off on his bike like I did, going on road, off road, one-handed, just enjoying it.”
The Guardian asked him what advice he would give young cyclists, and he explained that the motivation behind getting into a sport was surprisingly simple.
“It’s taking the plunge, everyone’s always nervous on that first session, whether it’s cycling, football or cricket,” he said.
“I would say ‘don’t be scared, there’s lots of friendly people in cycling so get out there’.
“Studies have been done as to why children stay in a club and it’s all to do with friendship, it’s nothing to do with how good you are.
“On the world class side it’s about the elite side of sport but to encourage people we have an atmosphere that encourages friendship.”
As a man that runs a pro cycling team from a mid Cheshire town, John added that Cheshire was a good training ground.
“It’s an excellent place to start,” he said.
For more information about Weaver Valley Cycling Club visit weavervalleycc.org.uk and for more information about Rapha Condor JLT visit raphacondor.cc/home.
A NEW award was presented at the Weaver Valley Cycling Club dinner in memory of former member Alan Short, who passed away in May last year.
Alan, who emigrated to Canada as a 21-year-old in 1965, was the man who encouraged current club chairman Graham Gregory to start cycling in the pair’s youth.
He continued cycling throughout his life overseas and his family, who also attended the dinner, wanted to provide a fitting memorial for him in the UK.
This award, the Alan Short Prize for Club Rider of the Year, was given to the club runs captain Alan Silver as a ‘phenomenal member of the club’.
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