Like-minded Enthusiasts

Great Excitement in Wonderland 

The Early Years | Wally Hertler

The White Clay Bicycle Club began in December 1972 by Joel Tabor and John David Lambert, owner of Dependence Bicycle Shop. Joel put together the first issue of the club newsletter, Tailwind, in March 1973. Also instrumental in organizing the new club was Ron Harayda. 

When Joel moved out of the area in 1974, Rod Brice became the driving force of the club as well as editor of Tailwind. Rod was quite remarkable. He was a U.S. Army captain who served in Vietnam. Upon his discharge in California, he bought a bicycle and rode it across America to Newark, Delaware where his parents resided. Rod’s zest for taking on challenges inspired club members who were fortunate enough to have known him to do the same. 

During the first couple of years, all WCBC rides started in a small parking lot on New London Road across the street from Dependence Bicycle Shop, which was near a record shop called Wonderland. Hence, the starting place for rides was identified as “Wonderland”. 

Ken Poole was instrumental in obtaining a facility for the club to hold its monthly meetings—an unheated building belonging to the Newark Department of Parks & Recreation located on New London Road across from the University of Delaware North Campus. Later, club meetings were moved to Maclary Elementary School in Chapel Hill.

The first years of WCBC’s existence were a time of great excitement for the new club´s members. The group began to develop ideals and activities—some of which remain today. In 1973, Rod introduced a series of rides called Spinning Sprockets that was designed as preparation to ride a double-century by the end of the season. A Spinning Sprockets ride was held on alternate weekends with each route increasing by about 25 miles. The first ride was 55 miles in length and rather hilly. As the distances climbed above 100 miles, the routes were mostly led south of the C & D Canal where it was flatter. The grand finale of the Spinning Sprockets Series was a 200+ mile round trip ride to Rehoboth Beach in October 1973.

As early as 1973, Bob Wheeler organized two WCBC overnight weekend rides. The first was a ride to the Robert Morris Inn in Oxford, Maryland. The second was a twin-century to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

In the fall of 1975, WCBC held the first Savage Century, which displaced the Great 100 as the “toughest century in the east”. The original route had most of the present day route´s climbs, but in the reverse direction so that some of the worst climbs came later in the ride.

One kind of event that became popular by the 1970s was the bike rally. For the rally, a host organization arranged for participants to stay multiple nights—usually in a college dormitory with a schedule of rides, workshops and other activities. Beginning in the 1960s,  the League of American Wheelmen (LAW, now renamed the League of American Bicyclists or LAB) held rallies in the northeast U.S. called Great Eastern Rallies or GEAR. 

The WCBC held its first rally titled Spokes & Sparks at the University of Delaware North Campus over the July Fourth weekend 1975. The event was repeated in 1976 and again in 1977. There was a 150-mile ride, Sesquicentury, and a hilly time trial route called the Whiskey Hill Time Trial.

In 1978, WCBC co-hosted a GEAR Rally at Millersville University with five other bike clubs. White Clay’s Dick Shea and Dick Daugherty were chosen to be General Co-Chairmen of the Event. The attendance at GEAR ’78, at 2400, was the highest attendance for any LAW rally up to that time. In 1988, WCBC again co-hosted a GEAR at Millersville University along with Lancaster Bicycle Club and Brandywine Bicycle Club.


Early Race Teams | Wally Hertler

Bike racing in WCBC began almost as soon as the first club rides. In 1973 , Ken Poole, working for the Newark Department Parks & Recreation, organized road races in Newark neighborhoods. Individuals with a particular competitive interest organized a racing club named First State Wheelmen (later changed to First State Velo Sport), which became a division of White Clay Bicycle Club. Road races and time trials were held near the C & D Canal using Frazier Road. Other courses used for road races were Barksdale/Casho Mill and North Star/Crossan/Doe Run.

In October 1974,  the first Amateur Bicycle League of America (ABL) A-sanctioned bike race in Delaware, Tour of Rockford, in Wilmington’s Rockford Park was conducted as part of a Delaware Bicycle Festival. The Delaware Bicycle Festival was sponsored and promoted by the City of Wilmington, Delaware Friends of Bikecology and First State Wheelmen. The event featured an entire week of bicycling events (including the popular Great Commuter Race to downtown Wilmington), culminating in the Rockford Park races. The Festival was repeated through 1978. Kite-flying became a part of the festivities, and the 1977 Delaware Bicycle Festival was dubbed “Bikes, Kites & Bluegrass:  A Day in Rockford Park.” 

Who Volunteered to be Big Wheels

Previous Executive Committee members |WCBC Archives

* Chris Appleby * Bob Adleman * Dave Anderson * Kristie Augenblick * Ron Baldwin * Mike Barker * Carol Bassett * Mark Belmont * Joe Bockrath *  John Boddie * Carlton Bostic * Bill Boyd * Kathy Brice * Rod Brice * Dave Bundas * Jeff Butcher * Sally Butner * Deanna Cain * Don Carbaugh * Bob Carter * Aaron Chen * Emily Ciancio * Tom Compton * Jaymi Cooke * Nancy Cooke * Mary Cressman * Kerri Cummins * Dick Daughtery * John DeGood * Brian Donovan * Dan Durishan *  Bill Ebbott * Jim Elliott * Nancy Estilow * Henry Farkas * Steve Farrell * Steve Fast * Dennis Flint * Jean Foulkes * John Foulkes * Rawls Frazier * Barb Gallagher * Gary Grenz * Jean Gilmore * Dave Green * Ed Grozalis * Craig Hall * Brian Hanson * Jeanne Hanson * Kenda Hanson * Chuck Harris * Fred Hartman * Doc Harvey * JW Haupt * Al Hayman * Kay Hayman * Wally Hertzler * Paul Hess * Rob Highley * Keith Hoke * Ed Holler * Carol Ireland * Donna Johnson * Jan Johnson * Jo Johnson * Charlie Johnston * Amy Kates * Mike Katz * Mike Kealey * Herman Kline * John David Lambert * Dianne Leipold * Marty Lessner * Rita Law * Holly Maddams * Virginia Maier * Cindy Mannis * Tom Mannis * Joe Masterson * Bob McBride * Jim McDonald * Ceci McCormick * John McCormick * Cindy Mannis * Brenda Mehta * Dinesh Mistry * Mario Napa * Glenn Nichols * Sam Phillips * Gail Rolliard * Harry Russell * Ted Ryser * Adil Shafi * Ken Schroeder * Steve Schmidt * Bob Seigwarth * David Shackelford * Dick Shea * Rob Siers * Susan Smith * Pete Snipes * Wes Stanford * Paul Stevenson * Dave Siers * Toby Tamblyn * Chick Tayford * Kevin Tumey * Ray Villec * Nancy Waddell * Bob Wheeler * Adeline Wilcox * Allison Wong *  Joe Wujcik * Linda Young *