Starley Sportive to shine spotlight on Coventry’s cycling history

Two local organisations are shining a light on Coventry’s cycling past and present as preparations gear up for this year’s edition of a popular charity bike ride.

Coventry author Aaron Ashmore recently published ‘A Starley Story’ and the new book will be on sale at the start line of the Starley Sportive charity bike ride on Sunday, September 24 – with proceeds from the sales being donated to causes supported by the cycle ride.

The book and sportive both highlight the important work of John Kemp Starley and James Starley as the inventors of the Rover Safety Cycle – which included stability and safety features including a chain drive still used in modern day cycles.

‘A Starley Story’ highlights the importance of the Starley’s inventions, their relationship with Coventry and their place in transport history.

The book, which is the eighth in Aaron Ashmore’s series showcasing important people in Coventry’s history, uses an inventive double cover to tell the stories of John Kemp Starley and James Starley from opposite ends of the book.

The Starley Sportive, which also takes its name from the pioneering pair, is organised by Coventry Cycling Road Club and the Deeley Group. It will depart from Deeley Group’s George House headquarters at 8.30am on Sunday, September 24.

This year’s edition is raising money in support of new charity partner Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes, whose bikes transport blood, tissue, and organs to NHS hospitals across Warwickshire.

The event is also supporting local organisations Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, with all money raised going directly to charity. 

Aaron’s business ‘Etch & Pin’ has previously produced special pin badges to commemorate the Starley Sportive.

Aaron Ashmore, said: “It is great to see how the book series and the Starley Sportive highlight the brilliant contributions of John Kemp Starley and James Starley, they are fascinating figures and it has been wonderful to increase people’s awareness of their place in history.

“I am looking forward to this year’s ride.”

The ride’s start line at Deeley Group’s HQ will feature a collusion of two wheels past and present – with a showcase of Starley’s 1880s Rover Safety Cycle and Warwickshire and Solihull Blood Bikes’ motorbike, as well as an opportunity to buy “The Starley Story” book.

Cyclists should preregister to ride routes ranging from 29 miles to 63 miles or 87 miles.

Edward Hudson, Business Development Manager at Deeley Group, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Aaron Ashmore in celebrating the significance of the Starley family in cycling history.

“The event is a great opportunity to get active whilst also raising money for some local causes and their brilliant work across Warwickshire.

“Aaron’s book will be available to buy at the start line, which will also showcase of Coventry’s cycling past and charity present, with the Rover Safety Bike and charity partners Blood Bikes. The book can also be purchased from Coventry Transport Museum which displays a number of bicycles influenced by the Starley’s design.”

Ian Court, general secretary of Coventry Road Club said: “We are excited to continue highlighting Coventry’s place in cycling history and collaborating with Aaron to allow even more people to learn about the Starley family and their contribution to cycling and Coventry.

“The routes for this year’s Sportive are varied but suitable for all abilities, so we are excited to see everyone enjoying cycling and raising money for important local causes.”  

To find out more about the Starley Sportive, visit:

Photo caption: Ian Court (Coventry Road Club), Edward Hudson (Deeley Group), Aaron Ashmore (Etch and Pin) at Coventry Transport Museum