on and off-road cycling group in sunny devon
History of the BashOH BABY, you've come a long way in 20-years. The pioneer bashers turned up with dilapidated old bikes, wearing an assortment of kit, including walking boots, trainers, and jeans.
Mountain bikes were in their infancy. Many of us went off-road before the term was really invented, pedalling road machines over rough terrain.
Forks didn't last long, but it was no big deal - just pop in to the cycle store for another second-hand pair for a few quid.
Gradually, purpose built off-road steeds began to appear. Mine was a Saracen Sahara Elite with Farmer John tyres that could have come off a mini tractor.
There was no suspension, brakes were standard cantilevers - but hey, what fun they were. Over the years the technology improved - V-brakes, disc brakes, front and rear suspension, more and more gears, computers - and the prices soared. Padded shorts, helmets, specialist shoes and clothing, and click-in pedals also appeared.
The rides went from once a week on a Sunday, to Thursday evenings, all the year around in all weathers. In all those years, a ride has never been cancelled. One night ride coincided with a fierce storm and monsoon like rain. Surely nobody would turn up, but two did. They may have only ridden around the block, but it counted, and meant the unbroken sequence was maintained.
We have ridden through the tail end of hurricanes, snow, thick mud, sleet, ice, floods and fog. And in a memorable Greek tour, about 40 bashers in summer kit, nearly froze on Mount Olympus, when an unseasonal cold snap brought sleet.
But we are a hardy lot, and just get on with it, whatever the weather or mishaps. Early tours involved weekends cycling across the south west, and venturing across the channel with panniers and a back-up van to stay in youth hostels, often eight to a dorm.
The overseas trips became more adventurous with expeditions to Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy and France, for on-off road guided weeks.
Timotei is always busy organising 'headbanging' off-road trips, home and away; Bobbiball puts on a winter youth hostel weekend; Dandy's Dinky tours to Brittany are still going strong, and there is no sign of R.J's autumn Cornish Way jollies finishing, despite every year being 'the last one!'
Paid up members rose to over 100, so we must be doing something right. There is something to suit all tastes and abilities almost every day of the week. All well as the normal Sunday and Thursday outings, there are two offerings on Tuesdays - the FARTS, fancy a ride on Tuesdays, with morning starts for a lunchtime meet up at cafe, plus regular local jaunts in the evening from Cockwood. Wednesday evenings feature the Wednesday Warriors and their all the year around off-road fun, usually on Haldon.
And we now have an updated website, packed full of info and gossip, and regarded as of the best in the business, thanks to webmaster Manky.
How long the bash will survive is anybody's guess. It is impossible to please all the varied sections all the time - from leisurely 'knitting and sewing' rides, to fast and furious off-road downhilling - but any club must evolve, or eventually fade away.
But the easy going, laid back 'no rules' philosophy still seems to work, and although many members are doing their own thing, hopefully we will all stay under the same umbrella.
And for £10 a year, (how much?), it must be the best value in the land.