After taking a tumble on the Wivenhoe trail early last summer, Colvelo member Andy Colsell took a break from cycling, much to the disappointment of the remainder of the club who missed his matter-of-fact sense of humour and metronomic pacing on long rides. A fitting character reference for Andy would be that he won the award for Clubman of the Year 2015 having not turned a pedal in five months. I can personally vouch for this, Andy dragged me ‘round my first imperial century kicking and screaming, and just finishing was a huge confidence boost.
Towards the turn of the year there were rumours of a return and Andy resurfaced with a new ride concept known as Coffee and Canvas (named after his second favourite drink, and favourite brand of cycle luggage, Carradice). The purpose of these rides was to provide a manageable pace/distance, friendly ambience and of course a lingering coffee stop. The rides would be primarily aimed at drawing dormant members out of winter hibernation, and boosting the membership with new faces. They also act as a great recovery ride for those who’ve been on a long one the day prior. As I write the rides have been a huge success, with some of the highest attendance numbers we’ve seen at Colvelo. I caught up with Andy and asked him about the rides:
LH: What were the aims and objectives of the Coffee and Canvas (C&C) rides initially?
AC: We wish to offer the members a relaxed social ride, and being of a relaxed social nature, it makes a great introduction to the club, giving people a chance to chat
LH: What have been the successes of the C&C series so far? Is there anything to improve on?
AC: I think the success of C&C is new membership, we have gained some great people into the club. Improvements? I can’t really see anything needed, but we are a Collective and we all have different ideas, so suggestions on a post card are always welcome
LH: How will the C&C rides develop into summer 2016 and beyond?
AC: As the summer rolls on we would like to add some time to the C&C, i.e. an additional 30 mins of riding will give us an additional 7 miles, and allow us to visit some coffee shops that are at the moment out of reach. We will also do a cooked breakfast ride in the summer, and a picnic ride. If you notice, the emphasis is on a little bit of riding, some good coffee, and some great company
It’s evident from speaking to Andy that the cycling is almost secondary to the chit-chat and coffee, ironically acting as a vehicle for the true purpose of the C&C rides. One thing he’s most proud of is gaining new members, who are drawn in by the C&C jaunts and then begin to permeate into the longer club rides. One new member who is the C&C prototype is Michael Land, who having joined the club has grown in ability and confidence. I asked Michael a few questions about his C&C experience and beyond:
LH: Where did you find out about the club and the Coffee and Canvas rides?
ML: I heard about ColVelo when it was Chapeau. A cyclist I bumped into (Paul Foley) mentioned the Strava page, so I followed the page and kept an eye on the rides
LH: Why did you choose a C&C ride as your first Colvelo outing?
ML: I was a bit apprehensive about joining a club ride as I’ve previously had a not great experience of being dropped and no one waiting for me. But when I saw the coffee and canvas ride come up I thought I’d bite the bullet and give it a try. Absolutely loved it, nice relaxed pace, great people and a nice stop half way round for coffee. And also when they say no drop they mean it! If I’m knackered and slow up a hill, I know that they will wait for me. After that I’ve been hooked!
LH: How has your riding (alone and club-based) progressed since the first C&C ride you attended?
ML: Although I’m still not as fit as I’d like, my distance and speed have increased a lot. The club rides are always enjoyable and interesting, and I’m also cycling more on my own too
LH: What are your ride goals for the remainder of 2016?
ML: I have signed up to one of the clubs longer rides later in the summer and hope to do a few 100+ mile rides before the year is over. Then onwards and upwards next year…
Michael is one of a few examples of new members graduating from the C&C rides and looking to progress further, and with Andy’s ambitious plans outlined above this will surely continue. If you are thinking of coming along on a C&C ride hopefully this article has answered any queries or allayed any doubts you might have, if not please get in touch via the web form, Facebook or Twitter!
Words by Liam Hendry