The modern cycling club known as Whitby Wheelers was founded by the Greaves family, of Sleights, in 1975. Chris and Jonnie Greaves had ridden and raced with Scarborough Paragon prior to this. Father Cliff felt it would be more satisfactory, and convenient, to have a cycling club based in Whitby, and the rest is history. There was a Whitby Wheelers cycling club in the town earlier in the 20th century, but details have been lost. As far back as 1888, Whitby boasted a cycling club, and an edition of the ‘Whitby Gazette’ during that year, reported that the Whitby Cycling Club held a Dinner and Dance at Elizabeth Botham’s Cafe in Skinner Street. It was held annually to recognise the valuable services of the road menders. This club boasted many lady members.
The club quickly gained support from a number of riders, mainly young ones. The team of Chris & Jonnie Greaves, together with Richard Young, won many open time trials, including finishing first club team in an international event at the Isle of Man Cycling Festival.
The first Whitby Wheelers Regatta Road Race was run as an Australian Pursuit in 1979, organised by Cliff Greaves. This race was for 1st, 2nd and 3rd category riders, plus ladies and juniors. The winner was presented with the Cliff Greaves Trophy. The following year member Richard Wood took over the organisation of the race. It was upgraded to two laps of a tough course over the moors from Whitby, and included the coast road via Boulby Bank, returning via the A171, and finishing in front of large crowds on the cliff top near the Spa. Included were teams such as Falcon, Coventry Eagle, Peugeot, Raleigh, Great Britain, Scotland and Ireland, and top pro riders, including Sid Barrass, Keith Lambert, Steve Joughin, Malcolm Elliott, Bill Nickson, Shane Sutton, Dudley Hayton, Phil Bayton, Pete Longbottom and Joey McLoughlin. Richard had obtained sponsorship from a number of local businesses, and for a few years the race was a great success. Unfortunately, Richard Wood got rather carried away with the success, and took it away from the Club, without any prior consultation. Many members, led by chairman Mike Fielding, resigned, and formed a new club under the name Whitby Endeavour. The remainder formed another club, based on Staithes, which became known as Roxby Wheelers. Whitby Endeavour continued successfully until 1993, when the opportunity was taken to restore the traditional name of Whitby Wheelers. Roxby Wheelers eventually folded, and there is now no cycling club based on Staithes.
For many years the Greaves brothers were the mainstay of the Whitby Wheelers racing team. Both have raced in France, in fact Chris was chosen to represent Great Britain in two races in that country. He liked the style of racing in France, and in 1983 moved there and rode for a French club. He was promised a professional contract, but unfortunately contracted glandular fever, and he was never able to reach the same standard again.
In recent years the club has attracted many young riders. Will Brown has been the most successful as a junior, winning the TLI North East Junior Cyclo Cross League, and the TLI North East Cyclo Cross League. However, the Club’s most successful rider in recent years has been Catherine Williamson, formerly Catherine Hare, who has been selected for Great Britain on a number of occasions, including the World Championships. She has won races in South Africa, and is successful in mountain bike racing, as well as road racing, and fell running.
Thanks to Mike Fielding for this History of the Club.
“For my birthday, today, Wendy gave me a book, ‘Every Now Then’, published by The Sutcliffe Gallery, Whitby.
In it is a photograph of Colin Doran, former member of Whitby Wheelers. He raced regularly in both club events, and open time-trials, and was capable of a best time for a ‘25’, of 1hour 3minutes plus. He would either cadge a lift off another member, who happened to have entered the same event, or would ride over to somewhere like Crathorne, and sleep in a ditch, under a polythene sheet. He would amaze other competitors, by crawling out of the ditch just prior to the start of the event.
On the opposite page of the book is a photograph of seaman Terry Wilson, and the similarity is remarkable. See below.