The launch of the Grammar Cycling Club today coincides with the 90th running of the Norm Carter Cup Grass Track Championships, begun at Auckland Grammar School in 1919.
The new club has formed to fill the large gap between competitive cycling at the school level, and cycling for those who have left school, but still love to ride their bikes, whether competitively or not.
"We want to bring together people with an amazing array of talent and interest to encourage racing and riding responsibly, to build bike culture in the city of Auckland," says Dale Johnson, Master In Charge of cycling at Auckland Grammar School , who is one of the driving forces behind the formation of the new club.
"What we do with cycling impacts upon transportation and political awareness as much as it does upon athletic performance and competitive success. Cycling culture represents a huge shift in the early 21st century toward a more human urban environment, a sustainable and healthy activity for young and old, and a way of life that is inclusive while it is demanding."
As car culture agonises about losing dominance on our streets, young cyclists have discovered the joy of defeating traffic jams and getting to school quickly and easily on a bike. In 2009, for instance, the number of students commuting regularly on a bike to Auckland Grammar grew by 33%. At a national level, the number of competitors at the secondary school championships in Levin has grown by over 25% for each of the last three years.
"What these young people do with their love for cycling is where our Club can play a part" says Richard Justice, President of the Grammar Cycling Club.
"We want those riders between 18 and 25 to keep racing, to keep focussed, to stay in contact. We want those Old Boys over 25 to keep riding at whatever level they choose, to enjoy the camaraderie of the cycling community and an association with successful cyclists."
Last weekend Alex Ray, a first year Grammar old boy, won the Auckland Under 23 Road Championship, finishing ahead of all the senior riders in the race. The school has produced New Zealand representative cyclists in the past including Ric Reid and Stu Williams and most recently Sam Webster from Auckland Grammar returned from the World Junior Track Championships with 3 gold medals. In 2009 old boy Alex Meenhorst has been racing for a UCI Continental team in Europe and represented New Zealand at the World Junior Road Championships. In recent years a number of young Grammar Old Boys have gained valuable racing experience in North America with the UCI Team Rubicon – Orbea, Benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation. These riders have included Logan Hunn, Richard Speer and Roman van Uden.
Richard Justice commented "We want to provide a home for our European and North American peloton successes when they return from racing. But in addition to contributing to athletic excellence we also want to encourage healthy alternatives to our car-clogged streets and a means for young cyclists to maintain an association with cycling after leaving school and for many years to come."
For further information: www.grammarcycling.com
Richard Justice Dale Johnson
Club President Master In Charge of Cycling
021 223 4741 021 122 4068
About Grammar Cycling Club:
Grammar Cycling Club membership is open to all cyclists (regardless of age, sex or school affiliation) who desire a focal point for their hours on the streets and roadways of New Zealand, for those who wish to widen their cycling horizons to include new friends, bike advocacy, commuting by bike, recreational riding and club racing. The Club hopes to provide a platform for exchanging ideas, experiences and knowledge of all aspects of cycling. Education and safety are at the core of our activity.'
Auckland Grammar School, with well over 30 national championship titles in senior and junior cycling competition, will remain focussed on training 13-18 year-old boys to reach their athletic potential through its school racing programme.
The club, in conjunction with the school, is in a transition phase away from the historic approach of exclusive dedication to the high school programme. The Club will incorporate that programme but will also enlarge its scope of activity to include recent Old Boys, less recent Old Boys, more senior Old Boys and anyone from the larger cycling community who wish to join a new type of club dedicated to fostering the sport in as many ways as possible.