2017/2018 President's Report

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Postby simon.sharwood » 14 May 2018, 09:53

DHBC President’s report 2018
Simon Sharwood, May 11th, 2018

I’d like to start by thanking everyone who volunteered for the club this year. By my rough count nearly 100 members gave some of their time for the club. Either at our events, or leading rides, or on the committee, or coming here tonight to be returning officer, or delivering a cake to the birthday party.

I’d like to make special mention of James Fowler and Alex Chubb, who have this year elected not to seek committee positions after serving as Road and Track captains respectively for several years.

James and Alex: thanks for taking such long turns at the front. The club has enjoyed sitting on your wheels and will now try to honour your efforts by accelerating hard!

100 volunteers is also very high percentage of our membership which as of Monday May 7th, 2018, stood at 440.

That’s a teensy bit down on the 448 members we had in 2017 according to Cycling New South Wales’ (CNSW’s) annual report.

That report said that in 2017 we were the State’s second-largest club with 448 members, behind Sydney CC on 489.

As of Monday 18 per cent of our members were women, which is one per cent lower than the state average. 86 members have racing licences (21.5%) and 352 have Ride licences.

That’s unusual. We are one of only five clubs to have more members holding ride licences than race licences. Across the state the tally is 5,075 race licences to 3,684 ride licences.

The demographics are also interesting: across the state 45 to 49 year olds are the largest single group of riders. That’s the same for us and we’re pretty typical in having most of our members aged between 40 and 59. We also have about 80 riders aged 55 or older, which is a bit unusual.

We’re down on the 476 members we had in 2016 and overall CNSW membership is up from 8400 to 9000 over that period. But there’s something weird there because CNSW has found a jump of nearly 400 members who picked no club but are just CNSW members.

So anyway, that’s a bit of a status report on the numbers.

In terms of the club’s last year I’ve picked out three themes: brilliant, exceptional and perhaps even pivotal.

The brilliant is the stuff DHBC prides itself on.

To go back to the CNSW annual report, it said “We saw another hugely successful staging of the Sydney Xmas Track Carnivals at various velodromes around the city, with one in particular, headed hosted by DHBC at Tempe, producing an atmosphere haring back to the track carnivals of old.”

50 DHBC volunteers worked on that event. It drew a crowd of over 500, dozens of riders, got through 8 kegs of beer and made the club about $6,000.

And afterwards, at a meeting to assess the carnival, Simon Bolton, who led the organisers, apologised to me for not having put in enough time.

Tonight, let’s put on the record that we don’t accept that apology, shall we?

A really great DHBC story popped up in March, when Alli Prior sent the club an email to let us know she’d qualified for the Australian Triathlon team to compete at the World Triathlon Championships in September

‘DHBC has played no small part in my journey towards that goal”, she wrote

“I’ve grown so much in a really short time and I can honestly say I couldn't have done that without the club's unconditional support of women cyclists and great approach to welcoming and supporting new cyclists.”

Alli also singled out Eleri Morgan-Thomas for her help. Thanks Eleri!

The there was the 110th Birthday Party, at which several members took on the new challenge of riding 110km for the first time, assisted by fellow club-members who took the time to show the them way and stick with them on a hot, hot day.

To all who rode that day and helped club-mates to achieve new things, and especially to those who led rides, thanks for showing off DHBC’s values. Riding 110kms is a big challenge. It says a lot about our club that quite new members recognised that our culture meant their club-mates would get them there and back safely. And also that those newer members wanted to be a part of the celebrations.

Special thanks to Paul Mayson and Jarrad Schwark, who devised the celebratory routes.

I think we also need to celebrate members taking time out to visit Mick Mazza, or Geoff Martin or Ron Webster in hospital. I don’t think any of us showed up for our first ride thinking that it would be an entry point to an organisation that builds friendships so strong that you’d be welcomed into peoples’ lives at times of crisis.

I chose these moments from the year because to me they show the best of DHBC values. Fellowship. Inclusiveness. Expanding your own horizons as an athlete, with your clubmates helping to make that possible.

It’s brilliant stuff.

If that was the brilliant, what was the exceptional?

I think the club owes a debt to all who contributed to our online presence over the years and especially in the early and mid 2000s when just being online was a big point of difference.

This year we’ve reformed our online presence substantially.

Creating a Facebook group to take over from forums as the main hub for interaction was a big change for the club and one that I think has gone quite well. We have more than 240 members in the new Facebook group and traffic and engagement is building nicely. We’re learning that members expect a Facebook feed to have a lot more input than forums. That’s a challenge the new committee gets to tackle.

Another exceptional event has been the reform of the ride leaders program. After a slow re-start (my bad), the club looks like we will soon have more regular ride leaders than ever before and our own process for accrediting them. That’s a huge step for the club given that Cycling NSW’s own efforts to introduce ride leaders’ education did not make it far beyond the starting line.

And of course another exceptional thing about this year is that we’ve had two presidents.

I don’t know all the reasons Doug Kirkham felt he had to resign. But he told me one of them was “the politics is killing me”.

I’m not naïve enough to think that a club with 440 members won’t have disagreements or personality clashes.

But I do want to make one thing clear.

The club should draw distinctions between members based on cycling ability and knowledge so we can understand how to get members home safe or how to help members reach their goals.

Drawing distinctions between members on almost any other criteria risks damaging the club.

I say that because members noticed the unpleasant tone of some conversations around the club in the last few months. And a few comments in the recent members’ survey suggested people are shy of volunteering because they don’t want to be drawn into conflicts.

I believe this year has taught us that the club cannot draw distinctions between members for non-cycling reasons except in the most extraordinary and exceptional circumstances.

Which brings me to pivotal.

DHBC has been blessed to have leaders with vision and talent to execute it. Their efforts are the reason we set out to create a fabulously inclusive club and also the reason we have all-but achieved that goal.

Our template has even been just-about-copied – check out the Parklife cycling club formed in 2016 if you want to see how. They even have a kind of Saturday Slowies.

I think we now have a pivotal moment at which to decide what to do next.

There’s ideas out there. Some worry that our modest racing program can’t satisfy all members’ ambitions and therefore represents a weakness compared to other clubs. We know that our juniors program is too dependent on Colin Williamson’s generosity. We also know that we skew a bit old compared to other clubs. We know that using Facebook more means members expect more information more often. We’ve had a taste of how online communities can sour.

But we’ve also taken action. Our own ride leaders program is important. And I take heart from that action. And from the new faces and energy I see in the folks who have nominated for the 2018 committee, and the fact we have a members’ survey to offer some guidance.

So I hope that 2017/18 proves pivotal and that 2018/19 is a year of growth, of harmony, of members achieving their goals and of the club defining and reaching for its goals. And above all I hope it is a year of friendship within the club.

Because that’s the thing that really matters.

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