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Like all good ideas, Pollards Hill Cyclists started out as a scribble on the back of a postcard. Fed up with pedalling 13 miles to Greenwich for rides with London Cycling Campaign or jumping trains out of town for CTC outings, Mark Dawson had devised the perfect cycling club for those more interested in their surroundings and their riding companions rather than how far or fast they could travel. That idea stayed on the back of a postcard until the Commonside Trust based at the Pollards Hill Community Centre advertised a bike ride using the same start pinpointed on Mark's masterplan. Suzanne West had originally intended her ride around Mitcham to be part of a series of local events focusing on cycling but the combined forces ended up with a fully formed cycling club that announced itself to the world at a Dr Bike event on the estate in July 2005, with the inaugural ride taking place on 26th July.

Five weeks later, the runaway success of the club led to a top three shortlisting for London Cycling Campaign's annual awards and the following year we were awarded the Best Community Cycling Initiative of 2006 for a combination of the rides and our innovative Love Yr Bike cycling event. Since then, we've offered a weekly Sunday all-day ride which has now settled into the current format of being roughly 30 miles. Our speciality is the quality of the routes. We seek out the quietest backstreets, cycleways and river paths, old railway lines and bridleways all combined with interesting views of rolling countryside, city sightseeing or secret scenes. Our morning stops for elevenses and afternoon stops for cake or ice cream take in cycle-friendly cafes in parks and stately homes. We lunch at value for money pubs with beer gardens, often in great locations such as on the riverside or nestled in the Surrey hills.
In the summer of 2014, it was announced that regular weekly rides would be replaced with a more relaxed regime of a ride whenever a leader wishes to do one. The website no longer carries details of the next ride as this is announced solely through the Yahoo! email list. The reduced admin will enable the rides to continue for the foreseeable future without the pressure of trying to fill a weekly slot. Do sign up if you wish to come with us.

When we started, nobody knew we were following in illustrious tyre tracks. Back in the 1949, an intrepid group of cyclists formed a club based around the local pub. The Pollards Oak Wheelers were enthusiastic adventurers, pedalling enormous distances that put our 30 mile rides to shame. We'd heard about their existence from a rider with the Clarencourt club but it wasn't until Keith Broomfield, now living in Australia, found us on the internet that we were finally able to piece together the history of our predecessors.

Keith had sent a photo of his father, Doug (above, in the white jumper), posing outside the shops on South Lodge Avenue, exactly at the spot where PHC now meets outside the library. The Wheelers were members of NCU, the National Union of Cyclists. They had a lovely cloth badge that you can see some of the riders sporting in the photos. A local newspaper report of their 15 day holiday to Cape Wrath explains how one fellow rides home overnight from Warrington to Balham after running out of money, a distance of 200 miles! We don't know what happened to the club but it is likely that it fizzled out in the mid 1950s. If anybody has any further information, we'd love to hear it!
See more photos of the Wheelers here
Browse our press clippings and old promotional material here

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