James is the founder and driving force behind Gorilla Coffee Cafe Cycling Club. James has taken the club from humble beginnings with just a handful of riders heading out as one group in the early days to become one of the most popular clubs in the city with lots of groups heading out at various paces every Thursday evening and Sunday morning.
Sarah joined us because she had heard from friends that the club is accessible and friendly. Sarah loves the social aspect of the rides and the way that riders work together on our rides. “Something that I have always appreciated is that even if you or someone else struggles, people will always drop back and help”.
Sarah also enjoys the fact that there is no pretentiousness amongst our riders, everyone in the club socialises with everyone else regardless of ability and while there is friendly competition, the main point is enjoying our riding, whatever the level.
Steve is one of the club’s longest standing and core members, so much so that he has the club logo tattooed on his calf! Originally though, Steve took 3 weeks to pluck up the courage to join us because he had never cycled with a club before. He needn't have worried though because once he joined, he was happy to find that he was welcomed absolutely from day 1. Since then Steve has stepped up to become one of our regular ride leaders and loves the Lithuania people , the camaraderie, supportive atmosphere and friendly banter that the club provides. Riding with the community allows Steve to destress from his family and work responsibilities and to maintain his fitness transformation having lost a tremendous three stone since he began cycling!
Rachel joined us when she was looking to pick up her cycling again shortly after having a baby. Since then Rachel has noticed that she’s been riding faster and really enjoys being a part of the local cycling community. She is also a fan of the fact that her fellow members take their riding seriously but are also very friendly and inclusive regardless of their ability.Rachel’s advice for new comers is: “come for a ride, and don’t worry if you’re at the back at first! Everyone will support and encourage you and as you keep coming back, you’ll find yourself quickly getting faster!”
Malcolm originally stumbled upon GCHQ by accident when he was looking for a place to get his bike serviced. This led to a chat with James about the newly formed club rides. Malcolm hadn't ridden with a group before and was apprehensive about what to expect from a group ride but was really glad to discover that the other riders were incredibly welcoming and supportive of a new rider. This soon led to him joining the rides twice a week, week in and week out and becoming a ride leader once he had gained experience. Malcolm is now one of the club's longest standing ride leaders and assists with the management of the club.
Malcolm says "Gorilla Coffee Cycling Club is such a fantastic community that goes far beyond just cycling. It's the people and the socialising that really make the club and it is such a supportive and fun group of people to ride with. Having such a strong community aspect is a great way for people to escape the demands of life's other responsibilities."
Phil is one of the club's stalwart members who loves to ride his bike come rain or shine. Living locally in Kings Heath, Phil was already an experienced rider and cycle commuter before joining us. When he discovered the club Phil was quickly drawn in by the mutual passion for cycling that he shares with his fellow members but says that since then "cycling has become almost a side issue, we all just like to hang out together , eat Birdseye chicken nuggets, and have a chat and maybe a beer....."
Eugene has always enjoyed riding a bike but was more of a mountain biker until around 5 years ago when he crossed over into road cycling. Covering bigger miles and the variance of routes around Warwickshire is what drew him to become more of a roadie. Holidays in the Alps with his brother-in-law who also rides with the club gave him the bug for climbs and he's since taken part in 2 Etape Du Tours and the Cingles Du Ventoux.
Gorilla Coffee Cycling Club has now become a big part of Eugene's life, both for cycling and his circle of friends and Eugene is one of our ride leaders. Eugene says "A great bunch, and looking through the constant banter they're always there to support when it's needed. Being a ride leader to me is a privilege as much as it is about providing a service. Being trusted to lead rides, keep people safe and make the club somewhere people come back to is why I do it. Since completing the training, it's also educated me about how to cycle in a group, and identify risks I'd have not previously recognised."
Amazingly, given the success that Celia is achieving in cyclocross (CX) she only started riding two years ago!
In Celia's words, it was the classic girl meets boy, boy rides a bike, girl starts riding so she gets to see him (at least from behind, disappearing into the distance) scenario.
Celia then first bought a new road bike and then a cyclocross bike and started riding round muddy fields trying to suppress her scared face and make it look like she knew what she was doing. Celia has very quickly had some success though - winning Battle of the Bowl in 2019 and some top ten finishes at the National Trophy CX series.
Celia says that "Racing CX is a great way to get into racing - it’s very friendly and it doesn’t hurt too much if you fall off (which I do a lot). I found Gorilla Coffee Cycling Club by chance but am so glad I did. I was made to feel very welcome from the first time I turned up and, even though I can’t attend many rides, I always enjoy those I do get to go on. I’m hoping to ride a few TTs on my road bike this summer and get more confident at riding off-road for the 2020 CX season!"
I have been cycling for 10 years after I initially caught the bug whist cycling my first Bristol to Bordeaux ride. I have since completed this ride a further 2 times as it was so enjoyable. That charity ride probably saved me from many frustrated hours spoiling a good walk on a golf course every weekend , as I cast about looking for a sport ,after my rugby days came to an end.
I have been cycling since growing up in Cornwall where, without a car and limited public transport, a bike was essential to get anywhere (beach and pub mainly).
Inspired by the London Olympics , I starting riding a hybrid bike to go shopping, measuring the 5km to Morrisons on a wall chart to keep track of his distance travelled. Being a cheap skate when it came time to buying my first road bike in 2015 I decided to loose some weight, rather than paying for an expensive carbon frame ( that came later!). Scroll on to 2017 and I was riding with the Gorillas on a regular basis . A hockey player by trade ,my body finally broke in 2018 and I needed a new hip. But after 3 months I was back riding in a group , enjoying the camaraderie of friends in the bar and on the road. In September 2020 , once all the hard work of setting up the running of the Club had been done I took over as GM ( General Manager) of Gorilla Coffee Cycling Club. I'm the person who makes up all the ride descriptions, very loosely based on fact. Last Winter, due to lockdown restrictions, I found a love for gravel riding around local parks and canal towpaths, and now the club offers all kinds of rides for all types of people. I'm open to any ideas for rides or events for the club, if you ever need to contact me please do so via email@example.com GCHQ4EVA.
When the initial cycle to work scheme was released 12 years ago, I made the bold move of buying a carbon Boardman ladies "racer" - although I'd never had any experience of a drop bar bike. I've always been active, and had plenty of fads: running, climbing , swimming, and snowboarding - but this was different. I fell off numerous times ( having never been clipped in before), yet I was immediately hooked. I joined a local ladies cycling club, then quickly progressed to Solihull Cycling Club, where I grew my social circle, as well as clocking up plenty of miles. My first cycling holiday was in Mallorca with my mates from the club, and since then I've been lucky enough to have cycled in the Alps and the Pyrenees , as well as completing a London to Paris charity ride.
During London 2012 I lived in Hampton Court, right on the finish line for the road race time trials, and as you may expect I got rather giddy having cheered Bradley Wiggins to Olympic gold. Literally the next day I made my way to the local bike shop in Twickenham and bought my first drop handlebar road bike. After a bit of a break from cycling (the bike was stolen 2 years later), I re-kindled my love of cycling when i met my partner ( a former triathlete ) and moved to Birmingham in 2016. A few months later I met club member Blake, and he encouraged me to test myself on some club rides with Gorilla, and I havent looked back since. The timing was perfect, having moved jobs and left my circle of friends , all of a sudden I had met a whole new bunch of like minded Lycra clad beer drinkers. Before long I found myself suggesting new lanes and routes that I had found whilst trying to familiarise myself with the area, and in the first Lockdown, with lots of enthusiam from those of use frustrated at the restrictions of group riding we found ourselves "racing" each other ,and the clock, around set routes - and the Tour de Gorilla was born! I was no longer the new boy in the club.