I thinned down my collection of cycling jerseys when we came home to Kuala Lumpur. Among the jerseys that I kept were my local club jerseys. The camaraderie that those jerseys represent makes them near and dear to me.
“Club” sounds a bit formal. “Group” is a better word. My first cycling group was West End. So named because our rides started outside the West End Bicycles shop on Blossom Street in Houston, Texas. The shop owner, Daniel Murphy, told me about the group and the rides that they do. There are Tuesday and Thursday evening rides that start at 6.30 pm, and Ted’s Taco Ride on Sunday mornings.
I met Daniel not long after I started cycling. In my days of riding my Trek 7.5FX hybrid bike in my baggy shorts, t-shirt and tennis shoes. My first ride with the West End group was spectacularly unsuccessful. I got dropped within the first few kilometers. Dropped so badly that I lost sight of everyone’s tail lights. I didn’t know the route so I had to go home.
The next ride went much better. Largely due to a few riders hanging back to make sure I didn’t get lost again. I can’t thank them enough for that.
The West End group introduced me to riding further than 16km / 10mi in one go, how to change a flat tube, what to bring with me on a ride, and the culinary delights of Jax Grill and Doña Maria.
West End Bicycles sold these jerseys. I know about Frank, the dearly-loved and sadly-departed shop cat. I don’t know anything about the dog in the shop logo though. I can tell you that the West End group lives up to the motto on the collar. Fast and Friendly.
There have also been a series of 6.30 jerseys. Including this one, which I no longer have. I donated this jersey, along with others, to an aid organization in Den Haag. Perhaps someone is still sporting this jersey somewhere in South Holland.
It took a while to find a group to ride with in Den Haag. All the Dutch cycling clubs that I encountered were very serious. In the typically Dutch way they were very well-organised and had excellent facilities. They were also geared toward the competitive rather than the recreational cyclist. Some even required that you met a qualifying time for membership. Ride 40km / 25mi in an hour for instance.
So a year had gone by before I heard of the Not Possibles. A group made up largely of expatriates living in the Den Haag area. Weather permitting, the Not Possibles meet outside the DAKA sports store in the Leidsenhage shopping center on Saturday mornings. The route for the day often depends upon the prevailing wind, and is usually about 40 to 60km / 25 to 37mi long.
Th group was described to me as one that rode at a pace between 20 to 25kph / 12.5 to 15.5mph. I learned on my first ride with them that this was not strictly true. They averaged about 25kph / 15.5mph for the entire ride. Including the slow rolling start from Leidsenhage, the stops at traffic lights and the slow rolling through built-up areas. I spent most of my first ride with the Not Possibles frantically trying not to lose sight of the tail end of the group as it sped through the trees in the dunes. This struggling on the first ride was becoming a bad habit.
A few months after I hooked up with the Not Possibles we decided that we needed group jerseys. This is what we came up with.
The Not Possibles introduced me to routes north, east and south of Den Haag (west was not possible because the North Sea gets in the way), riding in the rain, harnessing a tail wind for 60km / 37mi and taking the train to get home, and the delights of apple pie and coffee at the Coffee Club.
I hooked up with a group of cyclists within a few days of arriving in Kuala Lumpur. As soon as my bikes arrived I was off on a ride with the Racun group. “Racun” is the Bahasa Malaysia word for “poison.” In this case the name refers to how people are poisoned by the cycling bug. One bike becomes two bikes becomes three bikes. Every bright and shiny new accessory becomes a must-have.
The name is especially appropriate because the Racun group are linked to Van’s Urban Cycling Co. Where new temptations are constantly presented. Like the new Knog Blinder Road light. I am not the only one in the group who is sorely tempted by this light.
The Racun group has introduced me to the world of folding bicycles, urban night rides, breakfast at Sharif Roti Canai, and orange + green apple + lychee juice.
Van’s was sold out of the original yellow and black Racun jerseys. Fortunately for the new joiners a second batch of jerseys was made up.
The jerseys may be different, but they represent the same things. A love of cycling, fun and friendship. I fly these colors with pride.