Updated 17 January, 2016
Mildenhall Cycling Club was formed in 1953, but there was a Mildenhall & District Wheelers that existed between 1933 and 1937 when it folded due to the second World War. There is also evidence of a Cycling Club in the late 1800's, with a picture in the local museum showing cyclists on 'Ordinary Cycles' in front of the historic Market Cross, which forms part of the modern-day Club's logo.
The current Club originates from very humble beginnings with a group of young men who used cycles as transport to the swimming pool in nearby Newmarket. This intrepid group, which included brothers Alan and David Thompson, Ted Cocksedge, Olly Snushall, Ron Morley and Bob Bragg, eventually got tired of cycling to Newmarket. They wanted more adventurous areas and distances to cycle in, even though the machines they owned weren't specialist bikes. They did however serve the purpose and Mildenhall & District Cycling Club was born in 1953, with the administrative help from local butcher and Alan Thompson's employer, Bill Butcher.
However, being the first few years after the War, the new Club lost many members to National Service and by 1956 was on the verge of going out of existence. It struggled on until 1959 with just five members, when one of the founder members Alan Thompson returned from the RAF determined to keep the Club going. It was at this point that 'Thomo' as he was affectionately known, joined with Dave Bowers to set about increasing the membership.
Alan remained loyal to the Suffolk Club and was President, until he died aged 73, in August 2012.
During those early years it used, as a meeting place, many varied establishments. These include an old fish & chip shop, a garage at the Ship Inn Public House (now dismantled and moved away from the Lark Road as a house) and the saloon bar at the Half-Moon Public House.
Purpose built Clubroom
As membership grew during the sixties, it met in a room of the now demolished Town Hall until 1977 when the Club made the bold move to build their own club-room. (Even today there aren't many cycling clubs that can boast their own club-room and the Wamil Way building has since twice been extended.)
The year earlier a local family run company, Bridge Farm Dairies, began what was to become one the longest sponsorship agreements in English cycling. This enabled the Club to continue attracting cyclists from across the eastern region and membership peaked at about 90. They also incorporated the companies trade name into their annual grass-track promotion and it became known as the Dairytime Gala.
Members in action
There was a special presentation at the 1984 Gala to 'Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis' and Professor Heyhoe's Leukemia Research Fund'. Earlier that year three members took up the challenge by experienced member John Freiyer, to ride the 'End-to-End' for charity. They raised £5,000 by riding the 880 miles between Lands End and John O'Groats; and for good measure did so in just five and a half days!
The Club have raised money for charity on other occasions too. In 1973 they held a 24 hour sponsored Roller-Racing ride to provide help and support to club member Roger Carradus, who had been badly injured in 1972. They used their set of Rollers again in 1994 to raise money for the Oncology Clinic at Addenbrookes after Club Member Keith Carrington lost his life early to cancer. In 1999 they promoted an Off-Road event in memory of Rachel Glaister who had tragically been killed while taking part in a Club time-trial
The Club also built up a reputation for promoting a very competitive road-race, but in recent years has been dropped as safety, quite rightly, became an issue. Mildenhall CC continue to promote open 10 & 25 mile time-trials, cyclo-cross and in keeping with the fashion for safer off-road events mountain bike races.
Since 1987 that one-day grass track meeting has grown into a three day cycling rally. The 'Mildenhall Cycling Rally' attracts thousands of cyclists, of all disciplines, and is second only in size to the Cyclists' Touring Club York Rally.
In 2003 members celebrated the Club's 50th year, with many events held to mark the occasion. The Club also produced a book entitled 'Anything Cycling' - Mildenhall CC the first 50 years, which gives a much more detailed history of the Club's 50 years.
The Club's Golden Jubilee coincided with the meteoric rise of Victoria Pendleton, who became the darling of the track until her retirement in 2012. From when she won her first National Championship medal in 1997- a Bronze in the Ladies 800m Grass-Track Championship contested at the Mildenhall Cycling Rally - to when she won Gold in the Women's Keirin and Silver in the Women's Sprint at the London Olympics in 2012, Victoria's outstanding career saw her win two Gold and one Silver Olympic medals and 16 World Championship medals. She has left a remarkable legacy for British Cycling and especially women in cycling.
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