Northwest Cycling Club

By: Kelly Clarke  March 30, 2019

Club Feature: Northwest Cycling Club (NWCC) earned 2018 Club for the Year accolades for our Division I category (76+ USA Cycling Licensed Members). Ino Sofjan explains how NWCC is able to cater to their wide breadth of members and bring passion to cycling at all levels.

This is how we ROLL – The NWCC-way

Northwest Cycling Club (NWCC) is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization which promotes the social, competitive, recreational, philanthropic, and health aspects of cycling through education, club rides, and club meetings. It was formed in November of 1986. Since then the club has grown from six members to 552. The club is proud to call Houston its home.

The club is much more than an organization that puts on rides. NWCC is very active in developing well-rounded cyclists. Club members are offered various repair clinics from beginning to advanced, cycling and health-related speakers at monthly club meetings, and various rider skill clinics throughout the year. The club also offers new rider orientation on the Saturday morning rides. This helps beginner riders acquire the necessary skills for riding on the open road as well as the proper techniques for pack riding. It also serves to introduce club members to each other and get them familiar with the county roads.

NWCC is a very busy club...

Oh boy, are we busy! Our calendar is filled with many different activities – weekend and weekdays.

Our monthly club meeting, open to public, is a well-attended, popular event. It is not unusual to find around 70-120 people in attendance milling around and socializing before the meeting. We have members as well as people new to the area who have heard about the club and want to come see what we are about. In fact, each club meeting starts off recognizing and welcoming these folks. During these meetings we update the members on upcoming events and activities as well as guest speakers and instructional clinics offered by experts ranging from how to change a flat tire or information on nutrition, hydration and safety, etc. Food and refreshments are provided by the club.

We are a very social club and we aspire to bring our club members’ families together. We do this at our Spring Picnic, Spring Campout, and Fall Campout. Our Spring and Fall Campouts are always a crowd favorite. Although these are touted in our public forums as “club events”, we always welcome non-members who show up. Some even become New Club Members!

Since volunteerism is the lifeblood and core of this club, we treat our volunteers who have fulfilled the volunteering requirements and their families to a weekend retreat - staying in four luxury cabins in the Texas Hill Country rented by the club. This tradition dates back over 15 years. Weekend activities included cycling, swimming, cooking, visiting, and relaxing. This is something that club members look forward to each year.

Fittingly, our calendar year ends with the ever-so-popular Annual NWCC Christmas Party. This event attracts over 250 people (members and families and guests). This is the time for members to share stories and socialize without any bikes in sight! This event is always the most highly-anticipated event of the year, and serves as a “reunion” for longtime club members.

How do we manage ourselves...

NWCC puts on two public rides to raise money. We pride ourselves on the great reputation that both the Bluebonnet Express (BBX) in the spring and Katy Flatland Century (KFC) in the summer have earned. Our club members, highly experienced ride organizers, really know how to put on a well-run and successful rides. We have gained this vast experience from having put on rides twice a year for more than a quarter century!

How do we develop competitive cyclists?

NWCC offers a number of ways to help all cyclists with their cycling skills and competency. There are formal training and clinics and some informal activities. The club also offers training designed for specific events. For example, we held a number of sessions for the club’s Senior Games participants.

For NWCC Race Team members, generally there are two tracks that the racers go through. For the Juniors, their development predominantly starts at the Alkek Velodrome. We believe this is the safest venue for youngsters to develop and hone their cycling skills. We hold a regular schedule for every Tuesday and Thursday. These sessions are also open to the non-NWCC racers to develop their sprinting and top speed skills. This is a popular session with the public in general. Working with the GHCF (Greater Houston Cycling Federation), these sessions attract people from different clubs and different age-groups.

For the older Juniors and the Masters, NWCC holds open-to-public rides on Saturdays. The rides are structured based on riders’ ability. We encourage riders to "graduate" from a slower group to higher ones. Eventually, the goal for them is to be able to ride with the "A-group" which is the first group leaving the start location. The intent of this is to give the feel of actual races since many of the riders from NWCC and other clubs are also active in competitive cycling.

Putting back to the cycling community

NWCC actively encourages member to participate in USAC Officials training. We offer free classes to members. Out of those who have gone through the training, a number have actively been participating in officiating USA Cycling events including at the national level. You can find NWCC USAC Officials working in all disciplines – from track, road (crits, road races, time trial), cyclocross, gravel, and mountain bike.

We have a good “mentoring programs” that allows new USAC Officials for shadowing duties. Those who have done multiple races and have good experience doing officiating help with the new officials before they do officiating on their own.

The NWCC’s USAC Officials play a major role in NWCC events. This helps reduce the costs for the events which in turn enables NWCC to continue to present the events to the racing communities.

In short, this is how we roll...

For all of our individual uniqueness we are all united by the desire to grow the sport of cycling that we all love so much. Our members can be found volunteering at the smallest cycling event to hosting one of the largest organized cycling rides in the Houston area. We’re also unique because our members aren’t just cycling club members, they also volunteer their time in many other community areas – from Alzheimer’s Association to local pet rescues, our members can be found helping wherever there is a need. As a club, we also focus on being good ambassadors for our sport in the areas that we ride. We host a weekly ride in Waller county that attracts up to 200 cyclists every Saturday. As a “thank you” to the citizens, every month at our club meeting, we collect food and other donations for a group that ministers to the less fortunate of Waller county.

What makes us most unique however, is our Texas sized welcoming spirit and friendliness. You won’t find a nicer and friendlier group of people in the world that at a NWCC event!