Simon, good to catch up again and thanks for helping out with a few novice sessions this year. For starters, over what period were you engaged with the club and in what capacity?
I was involved from 2004 until 2010. A group of us put the Masters ACT Cycling Team together, now known as VMACT which included team members Neil Skipper and Tony O’Connor. Those guys convinced all the Masters cyclists to join VCC so we could race as teams at road and track events. I ended up being Club President from 2007 until 2010
What are your recollections of the formation of the club…or your earliest years?
I remember riding with the club before we had a novice program. Member numbers were very limited, maybe only 30 members. Part of Neil and Tony’s reason to align Masters with Vikings was to help the club survive. Nearly all the Masters only raced with the Vets club, but were also members of an ACF affiliated club so they could also ride in the various country handicap events.
What were some of the high points of those early years?
Racing some of the point to point races that used to dominate the calendar such as the Canberra-to-Cooma, the Canberra-to-Goulburn, and one that is still going, the Grafton-to-Inverell.
The high point at VCC for me was securing the ACF Masters Australian Road Titles in 2009. This was a massive coup helped by Steve Hoskins who was President of the ACTCF at the time (and also Chloe Hosking’s dad). We put in a proposal to host the titles and to our amazement it was accepted.
What were some of the low points?
The novice programs that Simon Dwyer initiated had increased membership. However, this benefit also drew the attention our rival club. Incessant politics between the two clubs over such things as running the ACT Championships, the format of the Wednesday and Thursday Crits and offering inducements to poach members away from the VCC rather than attracting new riders to the sport of cycling. We wanted to split the Crits over 2 nights to try to have longer races for all the grades.
In the end we had to settle on having Super-Crits on Thursdays – and remember not to fall into the trap of having grade races that lasted less that 15 minutes due to time pressures that came with running the many grades required to give everyone a fun, realistic, & competitive race.
How did the club change over your period as a member?
The club grew in member numbers and in capability. We really did have the ‘many hands’ adage. So many members pitched in to help with the Aussie Masters Road Championships, it was humbling & great to witness. After a shaky start the Super-Crits took off. Also the idea of having a Christmas racing carnival & party was a ripper & I hope it is still going.
What was your greatest achievement with the club?
I convinced the committee to not pay prize money for the Aussie Titles races and set all the members off scrounging anywhere & everywhere for suitable prizes, from really nice bottles of wine to tubs of butt cream. The Championships when off well and with the funds retained from organising the event with 500+ entrants we were able to buy the bespoke club trailer still in use today, and the 40ft container at SFP.
I was also extremely proud to come away with the M50 Australian Road title at the event, tough conditions, wind & rain, knocked the stuffing out of the spindly climbers, and some local knowledge helped me pull a move on the 3 Sisters decent, to form a 2 man breakaway with a Bathurst rider already solo up the road. I finally ditched my breakaway partner on the crit track to solo in – very sweet victory that day.
Who were the memorable personalities in the club during your tenure and for what reason?
Lots of people, anyone passionate enough to get involved. People before I joined the club. Then Simon Dwyer – the innovation of the novice program to introduce new riders to the sport of cycling.
The Aisbitt family, Derek, Gary, & Michael, I see the 3rd generation of the family is track cycling now.
Robert McLaughlin was also a powerhouse cyclist, phenomenal to watch, on the SFP crit course (clockwise) he would start winding up for the sprint from just after Collarbone Corner riding around the outside of the pack around the bottom corner.
What was/were some of the lighter hearted moments of your time with the club?
Trying to master the Aussie Butt Cream product name when announcing prizes at the champs in 2009 – somehow it was stuck in my mind as “Aussie Butthole Cream”. I’m glad to see the cream is still on the market and risen in popularity. It was released just prior to the 2009 championships and the owner was seeking some promotion. I think we put that product on the map!
What can us current generation of club members learn from you old folk!
- Racing is the best form of training.
- Half the battle is getting to the start line.
- You never know when your last good performance or race will be, so focus on the here & now, but have a training plan and aim for the particular races that you enjoy.
- Practice your the weakest areas of your cycling, do not neglect them because you’re ‘no good at them’.
- It can be funny how slow a sprint is at the end of a hard race (although it doesn’t feel funny or slow at the time).
- It is OK to look dishevelled at the end of the race, not so much at the start
- Matching helmet, sunglasses, gloves and socks can give you a mental advantage only if you ride aggressively, if you’re hanging off the back it just looks stupid.
- It’s better to finish on an old bike than to DNS/DNF on a new one
- Don’t be afraid of failing, be afraid of not trying
How would you describe your own cycling back then, compared to now?
Always a multi-day tour rider as I seemed to be good at backing up. I could TT well, could climb well, couldn’t sprint to save myself, although I won my last race – The 2010 NSW M50 Road Title in a sprint much to the amazement of some fellow VCC members watching at the finish. Unfortunately the only photograph taken was out of focus – although that could have just been Simon Niemeyer being nice to me when I asked the question.
Is there anything else that you want to share?
I still love riding bikes, they are such great machines, they build self-esteem, fitness, social connections, benefit the environment, save us money, allow competition in all sorts of different ways, allow us to experience things at a natural pace, give us thinking time in a jam-packed world.
Great memories and great achievements Simon and as a regular user of the trailer, the container, and a competitor at the Supercrits , thanks for making that happen….and see you at the Dinner next Thursday!