Harrogate's Cappuccino Cycling Club celebrates a decade in the saddle

The Cappuccino Cycling Club in Harrogate is celebrating its 10th birthday.
The Cappuccino Cycling Club in Harrogate is celebrating its 10th birthday.

If one image proves how far Harrogate has embraced cycling culture it’s that of a group of riders in Castelli cycling tops or softshell jackets leaning against their bikes outside Prologue shop on Cold Bath Road.

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The scene looks continental but, most of the time if you ask the question, they turn out to be members of The Cappuccino Cycling Club, one of the fastest-developing sporting groups in Harrogate.

The Cappuccino Cycling Club on one of their rides.

The Cappuccino Cycling Club on one of their rides.

Established in 2009 as an almost casual idea by a group of cycling friends living in Harrogate, membership has risen steadily over the last decade for an organisation which prides itself on not being a traditional club.

Now standing at 300, members celebrated the club’s tenth birthday at the weekend the way they like it best - in the saddle and on the road.

But the philosophy of this friendly and sociable club always strives to put the emphasis on enjoyment rather than competitions and time-trials.

Co-founder James Lovell said: “We see it as the Cappo family. It’s a joke but we like to be an accesible club and everyone does look out for one another.

Riders from the Cappuccino Cycling Club enjoy a day out on the roads.

Riders from the Cappuccino Cycling Club enjoy a day out on the roads.

“Members end up going out together socially even outside the club.

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“Great friendships are formed. It’s a real community. Some people have even met and got married.”

Members do tend to appreciate the difference between, say, Chris Froome and Alejandro Valverde.

Commitment to road cyclin is a given, membership requires the ability to ride a minimum of 30 miles over any terrain at an average speed of around 13-14mph.

The glorious Yorkshire countryside acts as a backdrop for the Cappuccino Cycling Club.

The glorious Yorkshire countryside acts as a backdrop for the Cappuccino Cycling Club.

But they also like to do things their own way.

While respectful of other long-standing cycling groups a such as Harrogate Nova, Harrogate’s oldest and most serious cycling club; Harrogate Wheel Easy, which started in 2006;

Knaresborough Cycling Club, which is known as The Spinners, and Ripon Cycling Club, which is a sister club to Wheel Easy, the ‘Cappo family’ do things in their own relaxed fashion.

James Lovell said: “We happened to set the club off when cycling started to take off.

The Cappuccino Cycling Club.

The Cappuccino Cycling Club.

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“We like to enjoy some good cycling in some of the finest countryside in the UK.

“The variety of countryside here is amazing. People join to get fit and then get inspired by the wonderful scenery to cycle more.”

Like many other local groups, The Cappuccino Cycling Club care about the town and want to see it prosper.

Though keen to avoid politics, James is happy to talk about cycling’s role in the future of Harrogate’s town centre.

As well as potentially playing a key part in a ‘sustainable’ transport system, the club is, unsurprisingly, in favour of the recent trend set by the Tour de France in 2014 for Harrogate to host major cycling events.

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Some sectors of the public may be concerned about the temporary disruption this can entail for normal life.

But The Cappuccino Cycling Club,for one, thinks the UCI Road World Championships coming our way for nine days this September is a fantastic opportunity.

James said: “It’s going to be tremendous for the town. We thought the Tour de France might be a one-off but to have the world championships coming to Harrogate is even bigger.

“There are some naysayers and I understand where they are coming from. But there will be long-term benefits for Harrogate, as well as the hotels being full.”

Although the club does enjoy outings abroad, an average week will see members get the chance to take part in four rides, two morning ones on Saturdays and Sundays plus two evening ones on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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Meeting at their regular base at Point Harrogate Squash and Fitness Centre on Hookstone Wood Road, a lot of the rides are tailored to different abilities:

* Steady Group - 14-15mph average.

* Medium Group - 16-17mph average.

* Faster Group - 18-20mph average.

Whatever format the rides take, however, there is one constant - stopping off at a cafe to re-charge their batteries with coffee and cakes.

It’s an approach which was set at the very start.

In fact, without coffee and cakes the club would never have come into being.

James said: “We didn’t set out to set up a cycling club. It happened by accident.

“A friend of mine and me were riding together in 2009 and I said to him ‘do you mind if I start blogging the rides we do?’

“When you put stuff on the web, people find you. Some got in touch and said ‘do you mind if we join you?’ and I said ‘no’.

“So we decided to formalise it.”

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Although in thrall to the Harrogate countryside, the club’s roots have strong continental links, to be precise, Italy.

The club’s name was actually his friend and co-founder Robert Minors’ idea.

James said: “Robert was on holiday at a cycling hotel in Italy with his future wife.

“The hotel used to do “cappuccino rides”. They’d cycle into the hills or the coast and stop at a cafe for coffee and cake.

“After he came back, he entered a sportive and put down as his club membership “Cappuccino Cycling” as a joke.

“We are still basically about riding out to a cafe and then riding back.”

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Like a lot of local groups, The Cappuccino Cycling Club has a chosen charity, Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Last Saturday’s tenth birthday bash included a fundraising raffle. So far, across a decade of cycling and fun, club members have raised more than £20,000.

Living inharmony with the Harrogate district’s other important cycling organisations, The Cappuccino Cycling Club has carved its own course in a friendly way, staying true the whole while to its earliest roots.

James said: “We thought there was a gap in the market in Harrogate for something between a traditional racing club and one that doesn’t do road cycling at all.

“To be a member, you have to ride a drop handle bar road bike but, otherwise, we are all about getting some fitness and having some fun.”