Over the years the Isle of Man cycling club structure has driven a very healthy competitive environment which has generated much success on both national and international levels. Indeed Thornton sponsors a number of up and coming potential future stars!
However, there comes a time in life when the desire (let alone ability) to compete as a cyclist recedes somewhat, just like average speed! This does not mean we are ready to hang up our wheels.
Many academically researched peer-reviewed articles have shown that recreational sport and community play an important part in well-being, hence our decision to sponsor the design and production of the Alternative Fast Group (AFG) kit.
Both Jools and I love the AFG because it is inclusive. No matter what club you are from, you are welcome. If a particular club is short of volunteers in the race calendar we will volunteer to marshall if we can, regardless of which club it is. Aside from keeping cycling, at the heart of the AFG is a wish for the continued success of Isle of Man cyclists, so a number of the members wanted a way to identify belonging to it. We enjoy playing a small part in helping this community to achieve that goal.
Background on the AFG from the AFG!
The AFG stands for Alternative Fast Group and is primarily for the more mature rider that cycles on roads to keep fit rather than for competition. Having said that a few of our members are still quite competitive and regularly compete in time trial events, in fact, one of our more senior members is a keen time trialist even in his mid 70’s. Our youngest member is 50 years of age and the oldest is 84 with approximately seven members over 70.
The group normally rides on Wednesday and weekend mornings and there are varied routes between 30 and 50 miles typically, depending on the weather conditions. Recently there has been a decisive shift towards ebikes as these allow all members to maintain the same pace on all-terrain regardless of age and some of the hillier routes that would be a struggle on non-ebikes suddenly become much more achievable. We also find that the ebikes allow cycling in all weathers as the wearing of warmer and waterproof clothing is more easily tolerated with lower exertion levels.
A key feature of all rides though is a coffee stop and the vast majority of the time we visit The Neb café at Tynwald Mills for both quality and value for money. This is also an ideal opportunity to socialise and catch up on the local skeet…sometimes the coffee stop is longer than the 1st half of the ride itself. There are a number of social events organised during the year that usually involve a meal and beer at a local pub or restaurant. The group also travels to Majorca to cycle over a week to 10 days at least once a year and there are a couple of rides from Liverpool to Llandudno each year with the bikes fitted with panniers carrying clothing and bike spares for a 2 night’s hotel stay.