“The West Surrey Cyclist” - April - June 2000
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THE great weekend, the showcase for all we hold dear about cycling in West Surrey, is almost upon us. A tremendous amount of advance planning and hard work has almost come to fruition. Now it is up to us all to act as hosts and ambassadors to ensure our visitors have a great time and also to ensure that all of us locals muck in, help out, and still have a great time ourselves.
Such was the early attention to detail that booking forms and associated publicity items were printed and ready for despatch in the dark days of February - well ahead of schedule. By that time, the organising committee was able to confirm that all the rides for the rally had been identified, the charges had been worked out, the entertainers booked, a bed and breakfast bureau appointed, and camping arrangements made. Space is available for campervans and touring caravans.
All meals, refreshments, and snacks will be available from the college’s caterers throughout the rally. A pre-booking voucher system will apply for meals.
Entertainment will include Saturday night jazz and special fun and games for children including a treasure hunt.
As well as a varied selection of guided rides of various lengths, Audax events of 100km, 150km, and 200km will be held together with off-road rides and an opportunity to ride the fully waymarked Surrey Cycleway.
For latest details of all aspects of the rally, the web site is the place to be: www.hydroman.f9.co.uk/HomePage.htm
For information pack, booking form, and charges, please send an s.a.e. to Don Jones, Fairfield, Petworth Road, Chiddingfold, Surrey GU8 4SL.
Trevor Strudwick has issued an urgent appeal for volunteers to help in running the rally.
“If you feel you could in any way help, no matter how, please phone me on 01483 272387. Alternatively, contact any committee member and let them know your intentions. We need all the help we can get for a successful rally.”
CAMBERLEY DISCOUNT CYCLES IS DONATING A £400 MOUNTAIN BIKE TO THE RALLY. ALL PARTICIPANTS WILL HAVE A FREE ENTRY TO WIN IT IN A RAFFLE.
SINCE becoming a regular with West Surrey CTC’s Midweek Wayfarers I have come to appreciate the genuine companionship which goes with going on day rides with a group regularly. It seems different somehow from the companionship which goes with cycling holidays.
I have long enjoyed my cycling holidays and personal challenges and am particularly partial to fortnight-long camping trips from one point to another with the organising holiday company carrying the gear.
Bike Events and Bike Tours, based in Bath, have been great at delivering the goods for me in this respect over the years. I have seen the sights, climbed the cols, and made many lasting friendships. I have also organised my own cycling parties and been part of a group which annually takes an eight-day linear trip in Britain in the Spring under the all-embracing banner Side To Side.
Now, as the century changes, I am in the delightful position of being able to join the good folk of the Midweek fraternity. What an eye-opener that has been.
Firstly, I have come to appreciate the flexibility, common to all of our riding groups, whereby we can join in either at the official start or at the coffee stop. Indeed, given a phone call or two beforehand to check the location, there is no bad form attached to just sauntering along to the lunch stop, to join in the chat and companionship with or without your bike.
This simply had not occurred to me before. For those of us who often have other things to fit in to their days, it is really good to know that you can join in with the rides more or less when and where you like. We should make more of it as a way of encouraging others to join us.
Eye-opener number two has been the quirky twists and turns of the routes themselves. We might think we know West Surrey and the surrounding county areas well but it seems to me that every time I go on a ride with the group there is some neat little backway discovered or traffic-dodging masterstroke employed by the leader to make you marvel anew at the diversity of our countryside and its continuing ability to surprise us. Take a bow regulars Clive Richardson, Bill Mann, Hilary Stephenson, David Nightingale, Roger Philo, Harry Statham, Anke Blackburn, Rico Signore, and runs leaders all.
As for continued appreciation of our hobby of all things cycling, another thing I have marvelled at among my new companions here in the CTC, is their enthusiasm and fitness - yes, even among those who designate themselves as just potterers, the B group as far as the Midweekers are concerned.
I should have guessed judging from the pace taken by the A group that this was no bunch of once-a-week casual cyclists but, in their various ways, true enthusiasts who practice what they preach about the joys of cycling.
Look at wiry sixty-something-year-old Bob McLeod, known as American Bob since he not only did the coast to coast of continental USA a couple of years ago but then rode on down the west coast through Oregon and Northern California for another month to make a decent fist of it.
Bryon Alden has been talking about his upcoming Lands End to John O’Groats set for this Spring. Yes, we all either have done “The Journey” or want to do it sometime, and many have sought sponsorship for a favourite charity. But hearken to this, Bryon is aiming to raise no less than £20,000 for Woking Hospice. Good luck to you, Bryon. Let us know how you get on financially as well as your experiences of riding the End to End itself.
Late news: Bryon is being joined throughout the route by Phil Hamilton. Both will ensure the other rides every inch - or should that be centimetre?.
Elsewhere in this issue is a story from Wally Happy about the British League of Racing Cyclists and its battles with the NRU. Not one of the quietest of individuals when it comes regaling all and sundry with chats from the saddle, the chunky Wally’s tale of his experiences as a slimline “amateur” racer as a teenager is thrilling stuff. And his enthusiasm - “Once a clubman, always a clubman” - remains just as strong today, even if he is fractionally slower awheel.
Many readers have spoken to me about the figure of 70,000 used in the January-March issue, and again this time, in connection with the CTC’s membership and affiliates. Before writing the paragraph I had checked with CTC HQ to ensure I had the correct “corporate” message to put in the magazine. The 70,000 was, I was assured at a high level, absolutely correct, the operative phrase being “members and affiliates”.
Since then, I have checked again and once more have been told the figure is correct. As readers of the national CTC mag will know from the Phil Liggett column, the actual straightforward membership as of early December 1999 was 50,020, a commendable increase of 7.8 per cent over the previous year and leaping at more than 12 per cent during the previous few months.
Finally, I have been puzzling for some time about just precisely what it is that is so familiar about our benign president Harold Coleman. I am usually puffing away trying to keep up with him and with no chance of a scientific evaluation of his distinguished features. But at a coffee stop I sat opposite him and unobtrusively (I hope) studied his countenance.
What was it? I did not like to ask but it was after a session of the ITN Nightly News that the answer came. Our Harold is a TV icon. You don’t believe me? Just look closely at the introductory sequence to the ITV national weather forecast, the one with an icy and frosty theme. Now, is that bearded demon Harold Coleman? The devil it is to be sure!
While I am spilling the beans about Harold’s glamourous other life, I might as well pass on a piece of info from a cycling pal of mine who does not currently ride with the CTC but used to do so. No names, no pack drills, you understand.
Anyway, back in the mid-1980s, Harold apparently had the nickname among the younger set of Mad Dog - something to do with his competitive streak, I gather.
Whatever, here’s a coincidence concerning the canine nickname. My anonymous informant was cycling through Bedfordshire when he came across a village called Harold, which had a pub called.... The Mad Dog.
TWO of our members are doing the End To End in May in aid of Woking Hospice.
Bryon Alden, whose intention to do the End to End is mentioned in the Riding Around column, can be contacted on 01483 763297 or at 10 Russell Road, Woking GU21 4UU, for details of the planned 1,017 miles route, to pass on any titbits of advice, or more importantly to pledge an amount towards the sponsorship target of £20,000.
He will be joined by fellow West Surrey DA rider Phil Hamilton and the pair aim to complete the ride in a sedate (for them) 14 days, staying at bed and breakfast establishments en route.
It is known that many CTC members in our DA, whether or not they are active in the runs, admire the work done by the Woking Hospice and may welcome the chance of helping this charity, which serves central Surrey. Its ten beds now cost an average of £16,500 a week to run and Bryon and Phil’s hoped-for £20,000 will go towards running its new day centre.
All money raised will go to the hospice as Bryon and Phil are meeting their own costs in full. Local Peugeot dealer Ian Allan are providing a 406 TD estate car as a back-up facility for the entire ride.
RICO Signore won the Benstead Cup for obtaining for best overall all-round performance at the DA’s various competitive events in 1999, the Bernard Howell Trophy for highest-placed veteran, the Bert Bartholomew 100 mile Memorial Trophy, and the George Alesbury Tankard, for best midweek attendance record.
IF there is one day you should fix as a certainty for riding with a West Surrey CTC group please make it SUNDAY APRIL 2, when rides for all groups will start and end at Merrist Wood College, Worplesdon, venue for the Millennium Rally to be held on May 26 to May 29.
The idea is for our DA riders and local friends to check out the many routes to be offered during the rally, noting landscape features which will help everyone, particularly our visitors, get around at the time. You will also be able to check out the site itself.
Please do your best to attend at 10.30am at the main entrance to Merrist Wood College in Holly Lane, link road between A322 and A323. Also please attend on Sunday April 16, again at Merrist Wood, if you cannot make the earlier date.
Millennium Rally committee member Trevor Strudwick, site and labour organiser for the rally, says: “This is the best way to help us all to ensure that we have the very best possible routes available for the rally itself.”
The start of a new century - I don’t think that we need to bother ourselves with a new millennium, after all we won’t see much of it, no matter how long we live! What does the new century promise us? At a guess faster cars and more cars, less consideration from our fellow human beings, increased volume from smaller sound systems; more hyper- and super-markets, fewer local shops; more ‘Little Chefs’, fewer little cafes; more ‘Theme’ pubs, fewer country pubs; more houses, less countryside; more busy roads, fewer quiet lanes; more things that cannot be repaired, only replaced at great cost; and, peculiar to this country - higher prices than anywhere else.
As lovers of cycling (and walking), good food and drink in pleasant surroundings, peaceful countryside and country lanes, the future is not looking too good for us. The very things which we value and make life interesting, entertaining and worth living are disappearing at an alarming rate.
At the moment, after braving heavily trafficked roads, we can still enjoy some country lanes, find (often with difficulty) a cafe for tea, and a country pub for lunch and a pint of good beer. But I fear that all these amenities are becoming rarer. So what of those who will fill our shoes, should we be worrying about them? Well, for a start they probably will not have any shoes as they won’t walk anywhere, and what they have never known they will never miss! We are the ones in trouble, for we have known these delights of living and mourn at their passing, only too aware of the unpleasantness of what takes their place. So what should we do? Well, you can do what you like - me, I’m off on me favourite bike through the lanes of Surrey and Sussex to a certain pub for a good lunch and, at the very least, one pint of good beer. You are welcome to join me - I’ll buy the first round - let us enjoy it while we can.
I have written the above with a certain amount of ‘tongue in cheek’, I only wish that there were no truth in it. Thank goodness for the friendship of all my pals in the cycling world, otherwise I might be getting depressed!
Back in 1956, young Wally Happy earned £440 as a professional dental technician and £330 as an “amateur” racing cyclist - thanks to his training, riding skills, tenacity, and, not least, to his management by skilled club operators.
I invited Wally to tell me about this when he proudly showed me a cheque he had just received from Pedal Publishing, which produced the successfal book Ride and Be Damned, the history of the BLRC, published last year - Editor
I WAS overjoyed to receive that cheque for £300, writes Wally Happy. Pedal Publishing are a group of enthusiasts within the Pedal Club who decided to sponsor Chas Messenger to write a “sort of” history of the league. That cheque represented a full return of my financial contribution, confirming that sales of the book had more than covered the costs of production.
The Pedal Club meets for a monthly lunch in London “to provide an opportunity for cycling officials and journalists to meet informally to discuss cycling topics and for prominent public people to address the club”.
The year of formation was 1941, which was significant bearing in mind that it was in 1942 that the first Massed Start Race was run on open roads from Llangollen to Wolverhampton by “rebel” Percy Stallard. Within months the British League of Racing Cyclists was formed and was immediately disowned by the official organisations, the National Cyclists Union and the Road Time Trials Council.
But I was a BLRC sympathiser and had my own agenda. I was on the scene in 1951. National Service loomed for me in 1954 and my big aim was to find a way of avoiding being sent to a nasty war zone which might damage both my cycling and my general health.
Champion sportsmen were more use to the armed forces alive than dead so I had to become a champion racing cyclist as soon as possible. The problem was my club knew very little about racing. Track and massed-start racing on closed circuits literally was not getting me anywhere. I envied the BLRC boys but when I tried to join them they turned me away because I was in an NCU club. Eventually I was accepted by the Norwood Paragon, then the most feared club south of the Thames. They rode in all branches of the sport and their riders were expected to finish in the first three. I liked their style.
I did whatever they said even if it seemed a bit strange, like when they told me to go for a club pursuit record on the track - and me an aspiring roadman. I joined the pursuit team and rode grass track races, where I earned lots of money to help pay for the road racing.
So I stayed within the NCU and the boundaries of the wise men because the politicking going on between the two racing organisations was nasty and vicious. I simply needed a result.
With Paragon advice, my ability improved all the time and success after success came my way as a team member and individual. I concentrated on my racing and the father figures in the Paragon kept me on the paths of righteousness for my own sake. The jackpot year was 1953 and not a moment too soon. It meant I was able to report to the RAF in February 1954 as a Commonwealth Games possible.
I was given a Hercules Maestro 10-speed Cyclo Benelux-geared bike by club president Frank Southall and sent to ride in the 1954 Tour of Ireland eight-day stage race. A good placing here would make the 1955 Tour de France a possibility.
In the event, I was forced to retire in a below zero storm on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, but I did not mind as I had discovered that I did not have what it takes to be a professional stage race rider anyway. The good thing was almost by default I had become a national cycling figure - a lot more enjoyable than being a dental technician. This meant that in my first year after national service I earned £440 as a dental technician and a very handsome £330 as an amateur racing cyclist - such is life!
Now perhaps you can realise why I was only too willing to sponsor the writing of the BLRC side of this fascinating era, even though officially I was on the other side. I did not expect to get my money back but my free copy of Ride And Be Damned, signed by author Chas Messenger, Pedal Club member and perhaps the most successful British team manager of all, is something I will treasure forever. UP THE LEAGUE!
CYCLISTS gathered together talk a lot - that’s a well-known fact. Usually the chat is of some interest, but occasionally the subject is so dull as to become truly unforgettable.
One nomination for the Most Boring Subject Of All to be discussed from the saddle or at the coffee stop: - Whether or not one should remove central heating radiators while indulging in interior decorating, so as the better to paint or wallpaper behind.
Incredible as it may seem, that matter was actually the subject of heated debate at a breakfast session of the Shamley Sunrisers, a group of young(ish) husbands, fathers, and even single men, normally engaged in talking about domestiques rather than domesticity.
Can you better this? Do please give the full lurid details of your nomination for the Most Boring Subject Of All that you have actually heard discussed, preferably giving the time and place so the guilty will know who they are. Contact the Editor, mentioning The Things They Say and we will fearlessly expose the perpetrators in print.
SOME misguided folk believe that cyclists are obsessed with riding their bikes. That might be true of some, but for others the obsession centres around talking about their bikes, closely fallowed by talking about other people’s bikes....
But the true obsession of most cyclists is surely centred on tea rooms and cafes encountered at home or overseas.
Thanks to Russ Mantle and helpers, riders in West Surrey have no excuse for not knowing the whereabouts of just about every cafe worthy of the name in the region.
The latest list has now grown to more than 200 premises and is reproduced on the following six pages. Any corrections, recommended additions and subtractions, would be greatly welcomed and should be sent to Rico Signore, 10 Norfolk Farm Road, Pyrford, Woking GU22 8LF, phone/fax 01483 822240.
As well as being keen on cafes, Russ Mantle, 63, is happily obsessive about riding his bike. He is a member of the 300,000 Miles Club, open to cyclists who have logged that amazing figure.
His recorded tally in 1999 was 21,912 miles, a personal best and fifth among the membership. Overall, he had logged 643,995 miles in 47 years awheel. Shame he could not quite manage the final five to round it up to 644,000, but he insists he is not that obsessive.
WELL, we reached the 50,000 membership target with one month to go, gaining 4,400 members in 1999, an increase of 10 per cent. The more numbers we have the more influence we have with Government and local authorities - and more facilities for cyclists. So here’s to 100,000 members.
Regionalisation is the next big thing for the CTC. We have set up CTC Scotland and CTC Wales. Now it is the turn of the English regions and the inaugural meeting for the South-east will be in Reading on Saturday March 18. If you see this in time please do your best to attend at the RISK Centre, London Street, Reading, at 10.30am. Refreshments and a buffet lunch will be provided and details can be obtained from Barbara Collins at CTC headquarters Cotterell House, 01483 417217.
The aim is to set up a regional organisation which will get better co-operation between cyclists, organise regional events, and work with the Government’s regional office in Guildford to make sure cyclists are taken account of in road plans etc.
If we do not represent cyclists’ interests, no-one else will.
Towards the end of next year new elections will be held to replace the whole national CTC Council with representatives elected regionally. It is an exciting time for the CTC. Let us all do our utmost to help cycling and help others enjoy what we have done.
HOW would you like to see your visionary artistic work on the cover of The West Surrey Cyclist no less?
After many years of running an evocative and delightfully idyllic cover drawing by the CTC’s famous engineering expert Chris Juden, we may just go for something new.
So here is an invitation to all of you with artistic inclinations to produce a new cover for us all to enjoy - a pen and ink line drawing at this stage please.
Meanwhile, the current cover is the work of a cycling friend of the Editor, Pete Warland of Southampton, who always takes a sketch pad with him on his touring holidays at home and abroad.
While most of us put our feet up and settle for a coffee or a beer on rest stops, there is a fair chance that Pete will pull out his pens and paper to capture some architectural or scenic delight.
Well, it takes all types.....
BEFORE he died, Colin Francksen wrote the following note to the Midweek Wayfarers from his hospital bed:
To The Mid-week Wayfarers
Many thanks for sharing all the fun ... punctures, drenchings, unserved pub lunches, train failures, etc...
Who would have missed it?
Long may your wheels spin ...
See you soon ...
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 30 March 2009.