Keith's Story

In the beginning many decades ago (the 1970s) I started to play 5-a-side football for Mutley Rangers. One of my new team mates was a certain Colin West. When I was in my mid-thirties Westy started to urge me to buy a mountain bike and join him for some rides. He kept on at me and when I decided my body had taken enough punishment from those callous defenders, I hung up my trainers and got myself a Specialized Hard Rock thinking now was the time to start taking life easier and reduce the injuries!

Being a complete novice Westy took me under his wing and taught me everything he knew. On my second ride I was ready to go solo!! In the early days I rode generally on my own during the day with my irregular working hours dictating. Soon though Westy and I started to make Tuesday evening our regular slot. Tuesday because it was my only day off and 7:30pm because it was after Colin had got his twins to bed.

There were a few others that occasionally joined us but not permanently. On one evening we were joined by Greg then in 2008 Westy introduced his next door neighbour Paddy. The story went that there was a ride/pub crawl to celebrate the conclusion of that years Tour de France that Greg had organized and Paddy wanted to get some miles in. From what I've gleaned, on the pub crawl were the six Willowby residents Colin, Greg, Julian, Stephen, Paddy and Simon. I believe they visited The Royal Oak, The Burrator Inn and The Walkhampton Inn before settling in at the Rock for the night.

The Tuesday after the pub crawl I turned up as usual at Willowby Park at 7:30pm (2nd September) and Colin said there were five others all from the street coming out. Of course I didn't believe him, but there they all were!

I think we did a circuit that took us on the old railway, up to the rescue car park then we stopped at the Burrator Inn because they had their beer festival on and lots of cheap Jail Ale was consumed! We didn't go far but apart from Greg and Colin I think we were all knackered, some of the bikes were not up to it and as we left the Burrator in the dark there were only two lights that worked as the race was on to get home!

As the summer turned to autumn and the weather turned colder, wetter and darker, the enthusiasm just grew, new bikes and winter gear was bought and someone came up with the name GOWCC! Stephen made himself the Routemeister-in-chief and someone kept calling me President and suggesting we have a dinner with our wives!

I started the web site, reports were written, numbers started to grow, competitions were raced and the defining moment was the arrival of the jerseys that gave us identity and were worn proudly with chests out and stomachs in! The rest, I think is history, which shows no sign of ending.

Hopefully there will be more history to come from the viewpoint of the six Founder Willowby residents!