new brand ambassador bruce karsten will

It was almost 3 years ago and I was parallel on the sofa after having a knee operation that was a long time in coming. A few weeks previously I had gathered all my bike gear from around the house and garage and started to value it and sell it off on EBay.

I was done with cycling.

I’d forgotten what it was like to have the wind channelled through my helmet at speed. I’d forgotten what it was like to have my bike surge beneath me as I kicked down on the pedals or the rush of inertia as I flung her through a corner praying the Conti tyres would hold…

The sofa seemed to have flung me into the far reaches of a mental world that removed me from all physical activity. I was in a cycle of pain killers, ice and sleep. I dreaded the next physio appointment. The bore of stretching and a long list of things that I couldn’t or shouldn’t do.

Feel free to swim, bit of front crawl but no breast-stroke. Walk, take it easy though and no running. Runnings not your thing – you’d think – I’m 189cm and 6’2 and weight in at 100kg when I’m training regularly. I was NEVER good at running, it was NEVER my thing, that one’s not rocket science! …but feel free to cycle …what …cycle?!

Cancel EBay listings.

And that’s how it started. My mind begun to roll along a virtual highway after that conversation. It was like I wasn’t even in the physio’s studio. I would train. Every day I would train. And I did, without fail. Firstly, for 3minutes in pain and gradually building up to a gentle 15 minutes with 10 second bursts out of the saddle.

More than the training I was thinking about what I would do. What was my goal? I started searching for local cycling groups near where I lived and it became apparent that there weren’t any. So, I called up British Cycling and asked them if I could start my won club. The answer was, yes. And so, Walton Velo was born. June 2014.

I walked the local neighbourhood on my crutches approaching local businesses asking if they would be interested in funding a new community cycling club. I wrote a club constitution. Designed a club kit and signed a deal with Kalas to provide and make it. I created a Facebook page and Twitter account. I built a club website on WordPress. I managed to raise a little money that I poured straight into the design of the kit as well as my own funds to purchase domain names, email addresses and ‘make your own’ club cards. I designed a club logo… How do you even do that? I searched the internet for logos associated with the Walton area and came up with the swan. I found a logo design website and stuck the swan in a shield with blue for the river Thames and that’s how the legacy started.

I was ready. A club of 1. I had no idea where it would go or what I was doing. I had been a part of many clubs and teams in the past but never done anything myself. Who would want to join Walton Velo? What was Walton Velo anyway…

I stuck a post on the Facebook page and boosted it with an add aimed at the local community for £3. That as Thursday afternoon. Friday evening I had a call. Totally random and out of the blue. Another two-wheeled fan. We talked for about an hour and I chose a meeting place and time out of my head and agreed to meet them there a week Saturday.

Bike? Er… I guess I will be needing my bike. I hauled out my gear and spent the next few days preparing my ride. The one I had listed on EBay. I couldn’t believe it was going to be put back into action.

It had been 4 months now since the operation and I had built up to an hour of riding. My first road ride back was going to be with a group of lads I had never met before at the start of a new club.

We were now up to 5! A core group of lads that would form the base of the club as it is today. 5 lads that embodied the spirit of the club. Individuals from the local area who loved to ride their bikes and wanted to do it with other like-minded people. It worked and we grew. The kit arrived and when we headed out of Weybridge on a Wednesday or Saturday it was a joy to sit on the front of the train, look back at the orange and navy line of kit and usher through a group of mates as we hurtled down 7 Hills Road on a journey to the Surrey Hills.

Today we are 32 members

Almost 3 years ticking over

I still own a bicycle. I still love riding. I have 31 new friends…

…and I never grow tired of the wind rushing through the vents of my helmet… I now just get to share it!

– Bruce Karsten