We have featured a number of stories on our blog written by our Members, sharing their cycling experiences and journeys in their own words. We do this because we firmly because it’s important to celebrate success – be it winning a race, overcoming certain barriers, beating a challenge, growing as a young person, sharing a fun encounter… You just have to navigate these pages to see how special cycling is in empowering and providing our members with opportunities for growth. And we are very proud to be part of their journey – a stepping stone towards them achieving their goals, ambitions, dreams…
Josh Copley, former member and 2015’s U16 Boys Club Champion, tells us his story.
My Pursuit of Cycling by Josh Copley, U16 Slipstreamer
“It all started standing in a very long line of kids queuing to join Hillingdon Slipstreamers. It was September 15th 2012. The London Olympics had just finished and I had watched Hoy and Wiggins bring in the golds… Wow!! I gave in my form, my money and became a member. So did the kid behind me but not the kid behind him… Slipstreamers’ membership was full.
I was 12 years old. I didn’t know a lot about cycling at all and didn’t have a racing bike, only a mountain bike; but I borrowed one from the mechanics shed for £2. I soon persuaded my dad to give me his bike and borrowed a few bits from the mechanics including a smelly pair of cleats. No stopping me then. Rain or shine, snow and wind, I came down to Minet Park every Saturday morning.
I felt I had joined the Slipstreamers family. John Gunn and Alison Grant offered me great support and encouragement in those early days when I felt pretty nervous coming down to the club and learning the technical side of racing and then socializing! Dave George, my mentor, really showed me the ropes and gave me an understanding of what was needed to become a racer. He even lent me his bike for the time trials while I worked on my parents. His confidence in me and his sharing of knowledge has been brilliant. Tony Savage (in 2013) and Mark Devlin (2015), who led the Hillingdon team to great performances in the London Youth Games have all made so much difference to me. Shame about my lovely new bike getting smashed up at the Crystal Palace event but every rider has to have at least one bad day I suppose. I’m finally back on it again after a lot of rebuilding.
Whilst these are the obvious names to shout out, I have had so much support from the club that it is difficult to name everyone. Slipstreamers has given me a whole bunch of friends too who also like to speak this funny language of light weight components and gears! Hugh, Daryl, Alex, Nelly, Carl, Sam… thank you all so much.
My cycling career took a while to get going. With a lot of hard graft I got there with a few race wins and many top 10s. I’m hunting down some more successes in the future. My personal way of keeping track of how far I’ve come is my 10 mile time trial time. The first one I did took me 33 mins (averaging 18.2 mph). After 3 years of cycling I’ve got it down to a 21:46 mins (27.5 mph). Over the years I think I’ve done nearly 5,000 laps round Minet Park, in training, in races, on my own at night with my headlight on. I have come off once (which my parents now know about).
Cycling has brought many other things to who I am and what I am. This was noticed more by others initially but now I ‘get it’ as a young adult. I am organized, I am motivated and I am far more at ease socially and can actually chat to people now!… and even better I can eat as much as I want (especially banana and peanut butter concoctions!). Cycling has made me a better, fitter person and Slipstreamers has been a major part of this journey.
Slipstreamers wins many awards as a club and I can see why. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to others, whatever their stage in cycling.
What I am now planning to do over the next few years is to concentrate on breaking 21 minutes for my time trial and then onto a sub 20 minutes. To get there I’m training hard, eating better and sweating a lot more! I’ll let you know how I get on.
Thank you Slipstreamers and everyone that makes it what it is, as I now move on in my cycling pursuit.”