HUDDERSFIELD Cycle Club’s Andy Whitworth is a well-known and popular character of the cycling community in Huddersfield and indeed in West Yorkshire.

He owns and manages TryCycling in Kirkburton where he and his staff sell, repair and maintain the full range of bikes for all ages and disciplines.

He started cycling when he was 10 years old with his friend Paul Biddulph, whose mother and father, Eric and Mary, invited them to ride with the Huddersfield Star Wheelers on their Sunday club rides.

“Those rides were just fantastic,” said Andy.

“We would cycle all over West Yorkshire, be out on the bike for 4 or 5 hours at a time, and there was always a café stop.

“Paul and I would sit and listen in awe at all the cycling stories from these experienced club riders.

“I learned so much from these moments, not just about riding safely and conserving energy, but also about how to look after your bike and keep it in tip top condition – invaluable!

“These guys were serious about their sport and new how to get the best out of it.”

Andy started competing in cycling in 1983 by entering criteriums and time trials. In 1985 he won the Cyclo-Cross National Student Championships.

He has been a key figure in the organisation of cyclo-cross events in our region for the last 20 years, including Inter-Area Championships, North of England Championships and the increasingly popular Yorkshire Series.

In his 37 years in cycling he has seen some major changes in the sport, not just how it is engaged and enjoyed by club riders, but also how it is organised.

“Sunday club rides are now very different and you don’t see so many youngsters out on the roads,” he added.

“Traffic is now a major problem for club riding. In the 1970s the roads were quiet on Sundays and incidents were very rare, but it means that fewer youngsters will get on their bike for the long rides that characterise club riding.”

Nonetheless Andy remains philosophical and optimistic about this decline and said: “Thankfully there are more purpose built facilities where young riders can get on their bike and enjoy riding in safety.

“This often means they have to compete from an early age, but hey, look at the talent that is coming through the ranks in cyclo-cross, road and track through better organisation.

“Thirty years ago most top British riders were competing abroad for the experience. Now they are going abroad with expectations of winning – this can’t be bad.”