Harrogate Nova Cycling Club was formed in 1971 as an amalgamation of Harrogate C.C. and Harrogate St. Christophers CC. For the first 15 years the driving force of the Club was Warren Considine, who during that time took on all the official positions of the Club – some years two together.
The mainstay of any cycling club is the Sunday club run, which was always well attended. Older member’s will tell you of Summer runs into Teesdale and the Howgills, and winter runs in deep snow over the tracks of Pockstones Moor/ Deadman’s and Dallowgill.
On the racing side we promoted an open 50 mile TT, known as the last chance 50, because it was the last qualifying BAR event of the season. In 1997 Kevin Dawson set a National Record of 1.37.26. Between 1975 and 1985 the Club was also heavily involved in the Harrogate Festival of Cycling, which brought cyclists from all over the world to compete at Harrogate.
During the 70’s and 80’s Bob Johnson organised a number of Road Races, using the Follifoot, Markington, and Hilly 19 Circuits. In the 1970’s we had 2 Roadmen who were amongst the best in Yorkshire, both rode the tour of Britain, they were Keith McArthur and Roy Taylor. Roy also competed in Warsaw-Prague-Berlin (Peace Race) 14 day stage race. Possibly the most gruelling amateur race in the world. Keith can still be seen riding in the lanes on his mountain bike wearing his white Carrera jersey.
It was in the late 70’s that the Evening League was started by Keith Thompson (Knaresborough CC) and sponsored by Ackrill Newspapers, with Nova and North Yorkshire Couriers taking part. Keith sadly died in 2000 and Vaughan & Margaret Caswell took over the running of the League. Shortly afterwards Ackrill’s stopped their sponsorship, but thanks to the efforts of Chris Mawer we obtained generous sponsorship from John and Richard Schumacher of Fulford Cycles of York. Since 2013 the league has been sponsored by Beech House Dental Practice thanks to Roger Bromiley. In 2010, an average of over 30 members took part on Wednesday evenings.
In 1980’s membership started to decline – Vaughan & Margaret Caswell joined the Nova as first claim members and took over the running of the Club. Membership slowly increased and then in the early millennium an upsurge in cycling took place, mainly through the running of Sportives and Charity Events.
We have always been more of a social club, trying to encourage more Women to be involved, and this is borne out that we have always had a good attendance at our Annual Dinner & Prize Presentation, held in 2022 in The Yorkshire Hotel.
In the last 10 years, Harrogate has been blessed with world class bike racing. The Tour de France stage one finish (2014), Tour de Yorkshire stage two finish (2017) and UCI World Road Cycling Championships (2019).
The cycling enthusiasm that swept Harrogate was a catalyst for Harrogate Nova Junior coaching to meet demand! Now youngsters can start with youth coaching in Harrogate on a Tuesday, and as they get older and gain experience, go to the Brownlee Circuit in Leeds on a Monday (with three other local clubs), and then a Thursday. A talent ladder supported by Nova coaches, that has produced national champions.
Today, the club has strong Saturday club rides with different ability groups starting and finishing at Prologue Café on the Cold Bath Road. We runs a February Reliability Ride as part of the Yorkshire reli series, promotes a road race, open TT, and a Summer Cyclo-Cross race, and most years a NovaCross Winter Cyclo-Cross. The Evening League TT series remains a favourite amongst members, and as a racing club, we are seeking to support all riders perform at their best.
Vaughan Caswell (Secretary), May 2011
Updated by Tom Denwood (Co-Chair), Jan 2023