In 1974, cycling in Reading was at a low ebb. Few bikes were to be seen around the town, there was no council cycling policy, no cycle lanes or facilities, and few cycle shops. For keen cyclists there were two clubs: the Reading Wheelers, and the Bon Amis CC. There was no local Cyclists Touring Club (CTC). Reading Wheelers was a long-established club which had some gaps in its lifetime. Membership was small. The Bon Amis was formed early in the war by those members of Reading clubs who remained in Reading. Those pre-war clubs never reformed after 1945.
As an ex-Bon Amis member I saw the 1974 situation from that club’s perspective. We were down to six or seven at the clubroom and riding in the inter-club time trials with the Reading Wheelers. Generally they had even fewer competitors. It was becoming depressing. In the Bon Amis we had already introduced “coffee runs” in addition to the all-day clubruns in a sucessful attempt to boost the number of members taking an active part in the club’s activities. Eventually the idea of combining the two clubs emerged.
On 14 August 1974 the first joint meeting of the clubs took place with Stan Higson, Dave Steel and Robin Jenkins representing the Wheelers, and Ralph Raw, Mike O’Rourke and I from the Bon Amis. Some of us are still club members! There was a second meeting on 4th September at which agreement was reached: the clubs would amalgamate. The racing vests would be the Wheelers’ colours of light blue, dark blue, and yellow. They had just received a substantial amount of clothing! Since then the design rotated through 90°, and reverted to the original with a little modification. Now we have a modern light blue, dark blue and yellow kit design.
The new club, Reading Cycling Club continued to promote two long standing events: the Bon Amis Open 50, and the Reading Wheelers cyclo-cross which are still going strong as the Reading CC Open 50 mile and the Bill Higson Memorial Cyclocross along with a number of other cycling events. This was ratified by the Bon Amis AGM on 30th September and by the Wheelers at their AGM. There was a joint dinner and prize presentation at the Old Mill, Aldermaston, on 14th November. The inaugural meeting of the Reading Cycling Club took place on 9th December. The club existed! The first clubrun was to Henley on Sunday 15th December and many of us still have the group photograph.