Cycling Club Basingstoke History.

CCB International has shared roots with Cycle Club Basingstoke. One of CCB International's members ran into one of the original CC Basingstoke founders - Bryan Clarke - at the 2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen Sportive - and ended up receiving the following history of how both Basingstoke & International came to be. Here's the transcription of that history.
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The club was started by four people. John Ireland, Mike Street, Len Willett and myself in 1973. Three of us had moved to Basingstoke from London and were members of different London cycling clubs, the third Mike Street was a member of a Winchester cycling club.

I guess our differing personalities dictated our own contributions to the club. Mike Street was an architect and was the person responsible for the distinctive CCB logo as well as many other innovations like posters, badges, stickers and getting the town Mayor to agree to become club President. Len Willett was a bit of an extrovert and 'people person'. Drove cars very fast, and was popular with the riders - good guy for DS, also organized the race schedule for the top riders. John Ireland, the man who ended up in Boston, was a character with many stories to tell, some a little exaggerated ! He played a major role in securing good quality riders for the team and encouraged the younger element of the club. That left myself. I was the background guy who dealt with generating sufficient income to support the squad, organize race events, publicity and deal with continental contacts. The generation of funding was crucial to the project, as we wanted to support our top riders in way way that had never been seen in GB before. This took many forms as there was no major sponsor, but rather a whole pelethora of smaller sponsors who supplied everything from complete bikes down to water bottles and race hats. This approach was hard work but ensured that we controlled the club for the riders benefit. At one time we were buying good quality tubular tyres from Eastern Europe and selling them at a profit to help finance the project.

I guess the vision statement would read: 'To be the best race club in the UK, and give our riders every kind of support that they might require'.

We launched the club in central London at an event hosted by the Pernod drinks company. Yearly launches were always a feature.

They say that success breeds success and within two years the club had become so successful that we had to extend our remit a little to cope with an enormous influx of riders who wanted to be associated with the clubs endless string of victories. These riders were not supported in the same way as the senior squads - the best juniors receiving a free jersey was the limit of support. In evening criteriums there were full fields composed almost entirely of CCB riders! The senior squad contained a pool of about 15 riders at any one time - larger than many continental pro teams of the time.

One of the aims of having riders moving onto successful pro careers was never achieved, although many of our riders did become professional and most represented GB. With overseas contacts the club completed in pro/am events i.e. Circuit de la Sarthe on the continent, and many amateur only races in both France and Holland.

All good things come to an end. After seven years John Ireland decided to emigrate to the USA. With a growing family and job in London I moved back to the capital. On a sadder note, Len Willett died in a car crash in the 1990s and Mike Street from an infection picked up whilst on holiday in Africa ten years later. I have heard nothing from John Ireland since he emigrated - maybe some one out there has news?

It was a crazy ride and great fun, with an enormous sense of achievement. We were all proud to be a part of something special. Tyler Hamilton proved to be the big international star we never produced, but thats' another story.

Some of the youngsters who joined the club at the heady heights - and never got a free jersey, continue to run the club to this day. It's good to see the Boston club being so successful. I have been passed by your riders in the Alps and in Belgium on several occasions as my legs feel the effects of time. But a faint knowing smile, coupled with fond memories always passes my face.
My very best wishes to you all. I hope you get as much pleasure (and pain !) from the bike as I have had over the years.

Bryan Clarke