I got up early this morning to slog up Pipehill to await the arrival of the Boldmere Bullets phenomenon on the latest leg of Le Tour de Boldmere. They were on stage 7 round Cannock Chase and I could see from their route on Strava they would be swinging by the roundabout on Pipehill some time after 7:30. As I approached the roundabout I just missed the first group as they whizzed through but five minutes later the next group arrived.
I first came across the Boldmere Bullets in an article a couple of weeks ago. I’m not a roadie, though I do ride a road bike. In Lichfield there are loads who go out socially and competitively with Lichfield City Cycle Club or from the Freedom Cycles and Run & Ride shops. You can’t have failed to see the Zipvit kits around the lanes north of the city or the groups of mainly young men pushing each other on. I’ve heard stories from those who go on the rides about how they try to drop each other and about the hierarchies within some of the groups. I enjoy riding with others but in a way that supports the whole group. Dick swinging antics just don’t appeal at all to me.
So hearing about the Bullets and their description of themselves as a collective intrigued me. One of their stated aims is that they don’t drop riders on a ride, encouraging new riders to join and not feel they are letting people down. Instead they have designated riders who will ‘taxi’ any riders home who can’t meet the pace of the different bunches. With confidence and a few rides newbies would soon improve their pace and find their place in one of the groups. In a less supportive environment they may not return after one bad experience. They describe themselves as a totally free, resource based collective. Not sure what that means but it seems they are able to build relationships with local companies and sponsors to bring benefits to cyclists in the collective. Their aim to build a stronger cycling culture is one I share and it looks like they may be able to be outward looking and inclusive in the sometimes narrow world of fast road riding.
They claim to be the Midlands biggest Strava group. I don’t use Strava, I have a thick phone not a smart phone, but as well as Le Tour and an impressive collective amount of miles rode each month, they are having fun with the format too. I’ve been thinking about some fun short rides for Strava round Lichfield including one on the cobbles round the Market Square and down Bird Street. Maybe it would work if I stuck a tablet in a bag over my shoulder. The volunteers in the collective seem to be paying close attention to nurturing a wider cycling community with women only rides and ones for families planned. They’ve got themselves some natty looking kit and even their own beer to buy at one of their regular social do’s. I’ve been invited over to meet them and hope to get down to Boldmere sometime in the next few weeks to talk to some of them in person and report back on what they are like. So much to ask them about, i’m really looking forward to being able to do it.