The winning recipe for the Vélo Club d’Annecy

Posted in11/25/2022to me10:15 a.m

Vélo club d’Annecy, with 303 members, is a leading cycling club. We met its president, Patrick Bernard.

Vélo club d’Annecy was created in 1888 by fans of the “Little Queen”. It still brings together many members today who want to share their favorite sport. With 300 licensees, the club ranks second nationally in terms of licensees. Despite its advanced age, the club remains one of the most dynamic. For example, 45 new members joined the club at the start of the season.

The other remarkable point is its feminization rate. In fact, the club includes 35% women in its factions. For example, it is twice the national average. Another example, the inclusion of Paralympic sports, the division currently has about a dozen tandems that are primarily for the visually impaired.

As you can see, the 134-year-old club is doing like a youngster. But what is her secret? We interviewed her boss in an effort to uncover the secrets to this winning recipe.

VCA in Saint-Jorioz.

Interview with Patrick Bernard, President of Vélo club d’Annecy

What is your recipe for attracting more licensees? do you advertise

Our layoffs were close to 300, with a few units, from 2014 to 2020, then fell sharply with the Covid-related pandemic, i.e. 270 in 2021 before returning to its previous level of 303 in 2022. For this, forty Five new memberships were required and of the 27 new members they did not have a license from the French Cycling Federation.

We do not advertise on commercial carriers but we do have a well documented website and a Facebook page that broadcasts club news. But I think the best publicity is word of mouth and the attentive welcome reserved for new members.

Vélo club d’Annecy offers four days a week five different tours depending on the level groups, allowing everyone to fit into the group that best suits their current form.

Finally, the population of Annecy is growing every year, and we are often approached by young pensioners who are settling in the area and would like to join a cycling club; We allow them to test the club before joining or not.

There are much more women in your place than in all other clubs. How do you explain that?

It has been constant for so many years that it is difficult to explain. The thematic component is that there are many couples within the club. Organizing club outings into five groups of levels is certainly an element that facilitates the integration of women who are furthermore present in all groups. Every year, the club organizes residencies in France or abroad to promote overall cohesion and to develop friendly relations.

VCA women at “All by bike – Toulouse” in 2021.

You proudly declare from the front page of your site that the club’s creation dates back to 1888. Do you have an archive of this creation? Do you think that explains your place as national number 2?

Vélo club d’Annecy is the city’s second and oldest sports club. So it’s known locally but I don’t think that explains our national stance. Our historical archives have been transferred to departmental archives. By way of illustration, I enclose the text of a document we published during the club’s 125th anniversary; It includes a few copies of old documents.

Handicap section is very active with tandem scores ? What does having disabled cyclists mean to you? Have people been specially trained to supervise these persons with disabilities?

This section welcomes the visually impaired and was created in 2008 to allow a member of the club, who had an accident, to continue practicing bicycle tourism; The latter regained his sight but the department was created and every year more and more visually impaired people approach us. They’re eleven licensed in 2022 and we have nine pilots who are all trained in-house by department chief Alain Lescharpentier.

Disabled Division of the VCA.

The department’s activity is very enriching on a human level both for the visually impaired who value the ability to do a sporting activity “like everyone else” and for the pilots who are sometimes the only social link for these disabled people. We strive to fully incorporate them into club activities (outings and weekly stays).

On the other hand, you don’t have a youth cycling school. Is it a choice or a lack of supervisors?

In fact, we didn’t have a cycling school for about twenty years after the superintendent stopped; The demand at that time was mainly for mountain biking, which was never practiced within our club.

Text: Jean-Pierre Giorgi – Photographs: Annecy Bike Club

Leave a Comment