There were cycling clubs in Hitchin as long ago as 1875. These included the The Hitchin Cycling Club and the Blue Cross and Hitchin Rovers clubs. But at the start of the Thirties, there was only one active in the area - Letchworth Cycling Club, founded in 1928. It was during the winter of 1930-31 that moves to form a new Hitchin based club began, which eventually led to the foundation meeting being held on 4th June 1931 at 11 Bedford Road, the home of E.C. Tomkins. One of the eleven present at that meeting was Allan Porter, a name familiar from the two club trophies presented annually.
The first time trial was a five mile event, won by Norman Pearce at 24.62mph, and by 10th. April 1932 the club was running its own ten mile event on the Codicote road south of Hitchin. Maurice Sunderland was the winner in 30m 19s. Sunday clubruns started at Butts Close and were extended up to 100 miles to places such as Burnham Beeches and Clavering. By 1935, club membership had stabilised at around 60. In July 1937, Peggy Harding became the club's first and only national record holder when she broke the 25 mile record riding in a Hounslow club event.
Inevitably there was a break for the war, but the club restarted in 1946 with 14 pre-war members present. The membership was strengthened in 1947 when the Letchworth CC was wound up and its members joined the Nomads. One of these was Alan Jarman, who in 1951 became the first club member to get under the hour in a 25. By that time, members were also establishing place-to-place records, e.g. Hitchin to Cambridge, and Hitchin to Yarmouth.
Since that time, like most other clubs it has had its ups and downs. The 50's were the club's great years. Touring was also becoming strong again and a "potterers" section was started - a run to Old Warden attracted 15 riders. However, the fortunes of the club took a nosedive in the early 60's when membership dropped to only 27. By June 1963, club funds were down to a mere £2! At this time road racing was predominent, time trialling being somewhat overshadowed. However, successes were to come in the late 60's in hill climbing, when Max Pendleton (father of Victoria) and Colin Summerfield performed brilliantly to make the Hill Climb trophy their own for 15 out of 16 consecutive years.
1965 saw the start point for the clubrun move from Portmill Lane in Hitchin to the Arena car park in Letchworth, (where it remained until its move back to Hitchin in 1993). The reason for the move to Letchworth was simply that most of the members lived there. In 1975, the club colours were changed from green and gold to blue and yellow. That year also saw several key members of the club leave, and despite one evening 10 attracting no fewer than 51 entries, the club entered into another of its troughs. In 1976 the Nomads found a new and better clubroom at The Settlement in Letchworth and the following year, the club began to pick up again.
Recent years have seen a decline in the numbers of young people joining the club (and not only ours). The introduction of the mountain bike has certainly swelled the ranks of young cyclists generally, but the club has so far failed to capitalise on this and attract many of them into the club. For the moment, as far as racing is concerned, the emphasis in the club is firmly on time trialling. A road racing team was fomed at the end of 1992 but this was disbanded a year later when its members decided their individual aspirations would be better served elsewhere.
Today's Nomads offers a range of events and races plus social and touring rides to cater for all number of abilities and interests. The club organises a packed time trial and sportive calendar and riders compete in open TT events, road races and cyclo-cross and mountain bike races.
|HNCC's current fast man Andrew Herbert riding the 2012 Stevenage CC 2-Up Team Trial with Simon Doyle|
A book describing the history of the club in full detail and with photographs is available: Nomads (Hitchin) Cycling Club - The First 50 Years, by Harold Briercliffe and David Renney. (A4, 22 pages). Sadly, Harold died at the end of 1993. He was actively involved with the club over many years, having joined the Nomads before the war and was latterly the club's president.
President: P Stanbridge
Affiliated to: Cycle Touring Club, Cycling Time Trials, Britsh Cycling, N&DCA