What happened to Zappi’s CC?

Since I often still wear Zappi/Zappi’s CC  kit when out on the bike, a number of other cyclists have asked me what happened to Zappi’s. I give them a brief answer, but think enough time has now passed to give my view.

These are my opinions and views alone, you may disagree or have a different memory of events, and you can comment, write your own version, or contact me directly. Of course, many others were involved and they can speak for themselves, I will not be naming names here.

Also, none of this relates to any of the racing teams and the successful youth racing setup that continues to thrive under Tony, David, Martin, Jake and others.

Zappi’s CC closed to new members towards the end of 2016. A few members of the club had already moved to Cowley Road Condors, and others had already quit to form a new club: Oxford Cycling Club. However, there were still 80-100 ‘active’ cycling adult members at the time of closure, with many more non-cycling: though the paying membership had shrunk by 60-70 over the final year.

We the ‘ride leaders’ (though I’d not actually led a ride for some time myself I was still very involved e.g. with the Gran Fondo, the website, membership etc) shifted as one to ‘outside the Sheldonian’ (actually the Bodleian), without a name – well maybe Xappi’s. Thankfully the vast majority of active riders moved immediately with us, and we were able to continue riding and start building a new ‘lite’ club. That new club became VC Jericho, and continues to thrive as a very loose / light-touch club (groups of riders that like riding together, essentially: no committee, just a couple of appointed posts and the ride leaders) run with the spirit of the original club.

Those who like more structure/organisation in a club have several choices in Oxford today – I myself although a ‘founder member’ of VCJ, joined OCC, not for ‘structure’ but basically because most of the people I cycled with often, at my speeds, moved there. I am currently a member of both clubs and have good friends in both.

But how did this all come about?

A common comment regarding the end of Zappi’s CC I hear is that ‘I heard it was acrimonious’. Well, not true. It was upsetting, painful, vastly disappointing and very personally stressful. But there were no ‘arguments’ because when a club is run by one person who owns it outright (for profit), argument gets you nowhere. An example of that occurred on the very last evening, when a new ‘home’ for the club was proposed. Almost directly opposite the home of Cowley Road Condors. For many reasons that could not have worked but the mere proposal drove home even at that late hour, just how disconnected Flavio had become.

I still believe that had Flavio remained living near Oxford, the club would still exist because he was the club, and problems got solved to his face – until he formed the under 23 squad and followed his dream – it then became the members’ club, and it changed, something that Flavio himself did not admit, nor maybe understand or even want.

Others will have their own points of inflection. For me there were a couple of fore-warnings – firstly, Summer ’15 when no one was looking after membership. Club ride attendance was high, but only 30% or so were wearing any kind of kit (not that any was available to buy for about 18 months) and under 50% were actually paying members (from shows of hands). The website was also broken – not sending subscription emails, shop not working properly etc  – no-one knew who was a member and who not! None of this was good for Flavio business-wise or the club in general. Several of us spent considerable time trying to ‘right’ all this. Secondly, the new kit: for most of us this simply appeared from nowhere. While good quality it was not ‘club kit’ – very much ‘brand kit’ and not being cheap uptake was low, which contributed to the lack of club members wearing kit. These and other ‘little issues’ started to build up…

As a group of ‘ride guides’ we tried to come to a position of balance, where we would organise the club on behalf of the members, influence kit design etc, while contributing to the Zappi cause. We attempted to communicate and discuss this over 7 or so hours of either group call or face to face (this after another 7 or so hours of my own efforts). But this was not what was wanted nor welcomed. Essentially what was wanted (and still is) were paying brand ambassadors, and that is exactly what Flavio set up immediately in Friends of Zappi Racing Team, which is open for donations. The ‘my way or the highway’ approach ended in us hitting the highway, well, Broad Street anyway.

Several including Flavio have said, ‘why could it not just have continued as it was’. Well, it could have had anyone wanted to try. All the ride leaders at the time were involved with (or invited to) discussions, understood the positions, and all eventually left together, en mass.

Time to move on, preferably in smartly kitted, well disciplined groups of considerate peletons!

#zappi

Zappi’s Gran Fondo 2015

We’re ready to roll with a new website this year and online entry with British Cycling.

The event is on October 18th this year – an Autumn sportive.

See you there?

http://granfondo.zappis.cc/

#gran-fondo, #sportive, #zappi

Ahh, winter riding, how I have missed thee.

or, not.

Oh the joys:

Cold feet again today. When I remember to wear thermal socks and overshoes I’m fine, but just grabbed everyday socks this morning and regretted it. Only 6 turned up for the Sunday club run. Not sure why as the forecast was OK, but there was a lot of flooding on the roads. After climbing Watlington hill a couple of us decided to take it a bit easy – so the group split amicably. We had a good run, pushed ourselves somewhat but the other 4 are all amateur racers (one of whom won a Cat 3 the previous day) and we didn’t want to hold them back.

Sunday Steady Run on Strava.

And when I got home and checked the bike, the Chiltern Hills had left a little of themselves with me:

bar steward

So, check them tyres!

My bike is now complete. I finally managed to ebay some Ultegra STIs and a derailleur so those went on along with a new KMC gold chain a week or so ago. 10 gears now (was 8 speed RX100), 12-27 and a whopping 160 grams lost (!). Of course I’m now thinking on the next bike, when and how I could possibly afford it. Cervelo S3 is the current favourite. But, I am going to have to earn it. If I can make 72Kg and stay with the Club fast group by summer, I will be looking for this frame! Some (rather consumerist I’d agree) goals at last…

Having got back in to regular training (though a bit of a blip this week, so today was hard) I  find that my legs, as previously posted, hurt. Most of the time. This is Good, as Pain is Gain. However, things can be done about it, so I have invested in a ‘foam roller’. These mimic the effect of a leg massage to help loosen the muscles and reduce tight spots. They also help with core training. So we’ll see how and if this works soon. Also thinking of a proper bike fit. A lot of people recommend these, and I still have trouble getting comfortable sometimes, so I might just try it.

Next up though, sorting out riding goals for next year. The overall goal is above – get the weight down, get fast enough to deserve a classy frame. But to get there I need objectives. Given that I don’t have the time/dedication for race training, sportives are the goal. So time to set up next year’s plan. As with 2011 and 2012, this will start with the Cheiveley Sportive in Jan. May be see you there, dear reader?

#bike, #humour, #oxfordshire, #sportive, #strava, #winter-training, #zappi

Zappi’s Gran Fondo, Sept. 16th 2012

Fantastic day. No cycling for me – apart from to and from the event.
Being starter marshal I got to shout at folks to line up and give the the ‘health and safety’ speech. 302 riders sent off on the club’s first Sportive safely and mostly smiling. Great success so we will be doing this next year.

#zappi

Circuit of the Cotswolds 2012

I’d set my sights on the Wiggle Magnificat (at 128 miles the longest ride I’d have done). I paid and made it to the car park, and with drizzle falling decided to wait for 20 mins to see if it cleared. Woke up an hour later. Obviously my body not too keen on that then!

COTC was a month  later on June 10. I’d already done the route on an extra-long club ride – though on that we stopped for a cafe break in Winchcombe. About 8 of us from Zappis signed up and set off as the Zappi Train. It would have been quite an impressive ride for me… if I’d not punctured (pinch flat) 10 miles in. The Train left this carrage behind. I carried on and enjoyed the ride but riding in a group can add about 1.5 mph to average speed, and so it panned out. Still, I’d planned to get my 128 miles in a day record and I got it by also cycling to and from home to the event (in Witney).

Zappi Train

Great event – might well do it next year.

#winchcombe, #zappi

Chieveley sportive

First major challenge for this year tomorrow – so long as the weather holds – the Evans sponsored Chieveley Sportive. 60 miles so not a hardcore start to the year, and no big climbs. Maybe I’ll see some of you there? Look for the sparkly red bike with the spinacis. 16 mph southerly expected so I think my PB at 60 miles is safe.

Went out on my first ever ‘club run’ last weekend, with the Zappi’s slow group. Begun to learn the strange (but crucial) ettiquette and hand signals of the chain gang!

Very friendly bunch – pretty informal. More on this later, but its very different from solo riding. One thing about Zappi’s – they have the coolest kit I’ve ever seen.

UPDATE

Whoo. That was hard. They lied about the ‘not many hills’ and the ’60’ miles too. It was a hilly 69 miles, so for the last 10 I was running on fumes – having not read the map closely. Most people decided to cut back to the 45 miler, only a few fools like me carried on into the incessent headwind.
Anyway, I’m reasonably happy – only 1 person overtook me and he had legs like treetrunks and a totally stripped bike – Tony Bailey, whoever you are, respect. Got dropped by another guy I caught up to, but he was doing the 45 and was an active racer so dignity intact I think.

Computer says:
Dist: 69
Time: 4:20
Ave: 16 (PB 16.9 in the summer)

Bike says:
Hose Me Down!

Evans say:
I came 14th, though one group of 4 in front of me looked like they chainganged the whole way at 0.4 mph faster, so I’ll take 10th for that! Feh.

#hand-signals, #zappi