Otley Cycle Club was founded on 27th January 1927. Otley has a very proud tradition and is celebrated as being one of Yorkshire’s biggest and oldest cycle clubs.
Cycling, as a pastime and sport, began to really evolve in the late 1800’s. Otley has always had a very close association with the bicycle. With Otley’s geographical location being 10 – 12 miles from the large conurbations of Leeds and Bradford and on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales it is naturally located to be a cycling town. The first cycle club in Otley dates back to 1890 with the formation of Otley Road Club.
Like all early cycling clubs, the basis of this first Otley cycling club was the social side. At this time organised sport was very limited. However, Otley Road Club staged the first ever running of Otley Cycle Club’s now summer weekly time trial (known as the Triangle) way back in 1892. The 12.5 miles was won by Harry Fieldhouse riding the first pneumatic tyred machine.
Perhaps due to the lack of competition or even the development of other clubs by 1909 Otley Road Club had evolved into a purely social institution and disbanded as a cycle club.
In 1924 another cycle club evolved in Otley called Otley Cycling Club with Mr Tom Edmunson elected as president. This club lasted only a few years and due to a financial setback, it had to disbanded. From this club the current club evolved and was renamed Otley Cycle Club.
An early photograph of cyclists in Otley:
Otley Cycle Club has always had a dual focus with competitive cycling and social cycling developing at the same rates.
Otley Cycle Club timeline
In September 1928, first 12-hour time trial won by T Mawson with a ride of 191.5 miles.
In November 1929, the Hill Climb on Norwood Hill was won by H Stokes 5.26, 2nd H. Austin 7.52, 3rd N Webb 7.55 and the first club dinner was held.
In 1930 we saw the first 25 TT on the Triangle (twice around the 12.5 mile circuit) won by K. Hudson 1h 14mins 16s.
1933 G Spencer of Hemsworth Wheelers wins the Open 25 mile handicap event.
1934/6 Norman Webb of OCC won the Barras Scratch 50 mile trophy promoted for the 12 best riders in Northern England.
1945 Otley’s top roadmen pictured on 8 April 1945 – Dennis Wilson, Philip Whitehurst & Stanley Thorpe.
1950 The club rented its first clubroom on the top floor of the Old Model Lodging House on Bondgate.
1952 Silver Jubilee of club. Club dinner at Red Lion on Kirkgate
Post war Philip Whitehead broke most of club records including in 1956 the 12 hour with a ride of 251.5 miles.
1960 Clubroom subjected to demolition order.
1962 Club purchased plot of land on Leacroft, off Station Road. Erected the old Baildon cricket pavilion with a later extension made from the former kitchen & café of Bingley Cattle Market.
Club members pictured outside Otley Station in November 1963.
In the 1960’s Colin Nelson and Danny Horton (pictured below) dominated the racing scene. Nelson was the first Otley Cycle Club rider to break the hour for a 25 mile time trial.
1971 Former Otley Cycle Club member Danny Horton won the British National Professional Road Race Championship with the Falcon Racing Team.
1973 Otley Cycle Club promoted the first professional Road Race in & around the town. John Churchman won the British Cycle Touring competition.
1977 50th year club dinner at The Parkway hotel.
1980 Club presented C A Rhodes trophy for contribution to Yorkshire Cycling.
1983 Club purchased the former British Legion premises on Wellcroft with the help of a Sports Council grant. These clubrooms were completely refurbished with the dedication of its members into the building we currently know and love as “Wellcroft House”.
1985 Otley Cycle Club staged the very first Otley Town Centre Cycle race on a testing 1.5 mile circuit won by Dave Mann. This is now an annual event and has twice been the National Circuit Championships Otley Cycle Races
1987 60 years Diamond Jubilee dinner dance at The Craiglands Hotel, Ilkley, with guest speaker Phil Liggett.
1993 Otley Cycle Club Racing Section pictured (how many current members can you identify?)
2005 Otley Town Centre Cycle race attracts a legendary field of future Tour de France winners, Olympic Champions and Sports Personalities of the Year. Read more about the evening at 2005 Otley Town Centre Cycle Race .
2014, massive crowds welcomed stage 1 of the 2014 Tour de France to Otley, people came out to support the historical day in huge numbers. At 9 am the streets were absolutely jam-packed with people and their families, waiting with enthusiasm and anticipation to cheer on the cyclists going by.
Women & Otley Cycle Club
In 1896 Susan B. Anthony said that “the bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world.” Otley Cycle Club has always promoted female cycling:
1930, Club promotes first 12 hour in country that was open to women – Miss E Paley rode 156.25 miles to win and in 2nd place was Mrs M Austin riding 152 miles.
1935, Club promoted first open 25 mile for women in Northern England.
1967, Otley Cycle Club staged the now infamous 12 hour competition where Beryl Burton broke the 12 hour men’s record setting 277.25 miles. Reportedly Beryl caught and passed the then male record holder Mike McNamara and offered him a liquorice allsort. In her book, Burton recalled the sympathy she felt as she approached him: “Poor Mac… his glory, richly deserved, was going to be overshadowed by a woman.”
Club Captain Ian Walsh pushes Beryl off at the 1967 Otley Cycle Club 12-hour. Beryl rode through the entire field and broke the competition and course record including the men’s record with a distance of 277 miles which stood unbroken for over 40 years.
2016, Club member Iain Findlay broke George Baxter’s 47-year old club 24-hour record of 427.9 miles with a ride of 441.686 miles in the National 24-hour Championship
2016, club members Christine Bell and Rachel Crowther rode their tandem to a distance of just over 187 miles in the Team Swift 12-hour to become holders of the Veteran Time Trials Association (VTTA) Best on Record for Women’s 12-hour Tandem. If you’re not familiar with their adventure you can read about it in their engaging article Blame it on the Bluebells – our 12 hour challenge .
2018, OCC was named Club of the Year at Cycling Weekly’s inaugural awards night in London.