“The West Surrey Cyclist” - April - June 2001
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|Inner||front cover - West Surrey CTC District Association Officers - the same as in the previous issue except that Marguerite Statham has replaced Harry Statham as a leader of the Midweek Wayfarers|
I AM disappointed. Like many of us, I have been trying to sort out my summer holidays. And, of course, I am very much looking forward to the tour of Switzerland, 2001 - A Swiss Odyssey (see special panel in this magazine), of which I am originator and an organiser.
But the disappointment comes in my search for something else later in the summer when the only organising I want to face will be ensuring my bike - and me - keep in good order throughout my holiday.
I thought I had it sorted. I am known as a fan of Bike Tours Ltd and their camping-based trips where everything is carried for us, good wholesome food served up, and itineraries and maps are provided to go with routes specially arrowed a day in advance.
What’s wrong with that? It seems near-idyllic for me and I was looking forward to a trip following that formula from Paris to Barcelona via Bordeaux - actually two two-week holidays, one finishing in Bordeaux, the other starting from Bordeaux a day later.
But as I write, the first holiday package is in jeopardy. It appears I am the only person actually intending to sign up for what should be a great jaunt through white grape country and into the red.
I suspect I know the reason why this intended new route from Bike Tours is not taking off - it’s the prospect of camping. The Bordeaux-Barcelona tour and a couple of others in the brochure seem to do well enough but that is because they have become classics over the years. Cyclists want to do the fabled B to B because it has become known as one of the greatest two-week bike rides anyone could wish for. And that, for practical reasons concerning a fairly large group of people moving on in often-remote territory, has to be camping.
The trouble is that, given the choice, most of us prefer hotels. The company did a survey a few years back which seemed to prove the point. And the most popular holidays it now operates have accommodation in hotels. Now, travelling singly, I like my tent. I like the camping for the social possibilities it opens up. I am also comfortable and snug in my sleeping bag on my Themarest mat inflated to just the right amount. I like the reassurance of this combination.
The other thing I have noticed over the years is that group cycling holidays have tended towards fewer daily miles and, for that matter, fewer actual riding days.
What can be done about it? Should I just give up, dig deeper into my pockets, and go for a hotel-based tour? Or should I now cease being a customer of a company which has given me so much pleasure in the past?
I will probably opt for the former but if any reader can recommend a good camping-based tour which meets the rest of the criteria of a Bike Tours holiday in France or Spain - preferably both - I would very much like to have the details.
Incidentally, the Switzerland holiday IS based in hotels. Are you tempted? Do sign up now if you are.
AS FOR a shortish camping trip closer to home, I am toying with the idea of joining in the spirit of National Camping Week (May 25 to June 1) by trying out the Camping and Caravanning Club’s new site in Adgestone, Isle of Wight on Saturday May 26, foot-and-mouth permitting. The aim of the club and other participating organisations is to create a world record for the greatest number of people camping overnight on the 26th.
I highly approve of the Camping and Caravanning Club’s own sites and I am sure this new one is up to its usual high standards. Do call me if you would like to join in. Obviously we will do a couple of bike rides on our lovely “Bicycle Island”.
PERSONALLY, I hope to be over on the Isle of Wight during the previous Bank Holiday weekend for the annual Round the Island Randonnée. It’s on Sunday May 6th. It’s free of charge. You can start from any one of seven check-points, you get a certificate, and details are on the website www.cycleisland.co.uk. Highly recommended.
WHAT is it about New Zealand? For at least a decade it seems to have reigned unchallenged as the cycling Mecca. Surely it has some disadvantages, the distance from the UK being one, with the associated cost of getting there and the deep vein thrombosis risk which just could curtail the pedalling of some of us...... (in-joke that, but not in very good taste).
As I write, three of my friends are enjoying NZ immensely. Our member Alan Holbrook sent a postcard to the Midweek Wayfarers via me in which he says: “Greetings to all Wednesday groups. This is the most fantastic cycling country - few roads but also fewer people and fewer cars.”
Then my other friends Mike and Stella Sullivan wrote: “Great country, people just brilliant, cycling not too hard, backpacker hostels great. You will love it.”
Yes, of course, and thanks for the cards, folks. But isn’t anybody prepared to knock the place just a wee bit?
ONLY one mad holidaymaker took himself into the wild Atlantic for a swim in a particular cove in Lanzarote during near-hurricane conditions in March - your humble editor.
For a short time I became the centre of attention for strolling holidaymakers on the prom and that was enough for me to be spotted by our member Ken Travis, taking a quick break on the Canary isle with his wife Beryl.
He knew I was in Lanzarote but the chances of us meeting were too remote to calculate. It was one of those happy coincidences that we met up as I emerged from the ocean.
Member Wally Happy was also on the island with his wife Pat and they showed up at the Travis apartment a couple of days later when my cycling pal Graham Mellows and I popped in to say farewell before flying back home. Great fun.
By the way, the cycling all around Lanzarote was terrific - even into that tremendous wind.
THE new committee must be on to a winner with this special event - a visit to the Hogs Back Brewery, Tongham, complete with demonstration and samples.
“Now it is up to members, spouses and friends, to support us in what should be a fun evening,” says our secretary Ros Banks.
Please get £6.50 per person to Ros, 75 Sandy Lane, Woking GU22 8BG (phone 01483 751236) by the end of April to secure your place. The party is limited to 20. Everyone will get a souvenir glass. The date is Friday May 11th and the fun starts at 6.30pm.
A CYCLING-minded couple who run a camping and B and B facility in Normandy have written to our former President, Harold Coleman, to mention that they now have a set of mobile homes for rental and their swimming pool is now covered. They are buying some bikes for rent and have a number of canoes at their disposal.
Harold and friends visited them in June 1997 while on a cycling tour of the region. The couple wrote to him last year to mention their “holidays with a difference”.
“We are open from Easter to October and would be pleased to supply you with information concerning your own leisure interests. Drop us a line if we can be of any help.”
Contact Christopher and Jane Owen, La Gendrie, 72130 St Georges-le-Gaultier, Normandy, France. Phone or fax: 0033 243 33 87 21. A UK phone number is 01253 882819.
WALLY Happy has firmed up details of his planned five-day excursion for members to his holiday homes in Normandy, starting from Portsmouth in the evening of June 3 and arriving back in Portsmouth on Friday evening June 8. There is one vacancy (for a male) and anyone interested should call Wally and Pat Happy on 01252 621164.
Wally is also hoping to arrange another trip for CTC DA members in the Autumn, again at a price of about £160 per person plus the cost of getting to and from Portsmouth.
Saturday April 28th: Treasure Hunt and route-finding event, starting between 9.30am and 11am from St Catherine’s Village Hall, Chestnut Avenue, Guildford - a mile from Guildford Station.
The event is 20 to 40 miles over quiet roads. Your £2.50 fee includes tea and snacks. Bring OS Landranger map 186 with you.
Sunday April 29th: Woking Bikeathon. CTC group being formed. Contact Peter Banks (01483 751236).
Friday May 4th to Monday May 7th: South Shropshire Tour (see article following).
Sunday May 13th: 50 miles Reliability Ride (see article following by organiser Phil Hamilton).
Saturday May 26th to Monday May 28th: CTC South of England Rally, presented by Reading DA (see details following).
Sunday June 10th: Stonehenge 200km Audax, Danebury 150km Audax, both starting from Elstead Village Hall. Organiser: Mark Waters (phone 01483 417217, office - CTC HQ - or 01483 414307, home).
Sunday June 24th: It is suggested that CTC West Surrey runs link up with Dorking area family rides being organised in connection with National Bike Week. Rendezvous point: Friends Provident grounds, Dorking.
Sunday July 15th: Rough Stuff rides, 50km and 60km.
Sunday August 19th: Tour of the Hills. Details from Tom Hargreaves, 01483 851930, and in the next issue of this magazine.
Sunday September 30th: Tricyclathon. Details from Tom Hargreaves (as above) and in the next issue.
YOU will probably have already noted the above date in your diary, and hopefully will enjoy this early-season 50-mile ride into the undulations of the North Downs, which traditionally concludes with a sociable lunch at the King’s Head PH, Holmbury St Mary. A detailed route sheet is supplied, but participants preferring a map will need to have OS Landranger 186 & 187 to hand.
Starting locations are Pyrford Common car park (OS 186 028592) and CTC HQ, Godalming (OS 186 979446), and the following start times are recommended: 0800 for a 5 hour ride; 0830 for a 4.5 or 4 hour ride; and 0900 for a 3.5 hour ride. These times are flexible but do ensure you finish in reasonable time for lunch. There is a Control at Kirdford, about 34 miles into the ride, at which a cold drink and biscuits will be supplied, as part of the £1 entry fee.
Lastly, and of great importance, no event can be run without volunteers to man the start(s), control(s) and finish. Please call me (Phil Hamilton 01483 772008) to discuss how you can assist me with the successful running of this event. (NB No helpers = No event.)
SINCE taking office I have been called upon to pay various bills, but have received very little income - a situation which prompted me to review the accounts and assess the DA’s cash flow.
Our prime income derives from the events we run, its value being dependent on the entry fee, participant numbers and the expenses incurred, with the input timing governed by when each event occurs. Popular events subsidise those which run at a loss, but the net result is income. Next we receive a grant, from HQ, proportional to the DA membership and payable early in the year.
‘Expenses’ comprise running the AGM, and subsidising the Annual Dinner and the production of our quarterly magazine; with the net result that we show a small “profit” each year.
At the last AGM it was suggested that we should make surplus funds available for the supply of better facilities at some events. Your committee agree this view, and I look to event organisers to present a ‘case’ which I can put to the committee for approval, well before the event. (I am quite happy to assist those who feel unable to generate the necessary ‘case’.)
Whilst it is accepted that the magazine is an ‘Expense’, sales do not appear to be generating returns commensurate with the number printed, and investigation suggests that distributors are holding the monies received. Please would you pass the income to me for banking, or render an account showing details of where the money has been used. In either event, a regular return will allow me to keep the accounts up to date.
Magazine distribution is a problem; not only is the cash flow intermittent, but it also requires that a few people carry quantities of paper on their rides so that the active membership can make a purchase at one of the stops. A few members subscribe and discussion concludes that we would be better able to gauge demand, and cash flow, if all members took the magazine by subscription. The present method is unwieldy, and we propose to offer subscriptions at a flat rate which will include P&P. At £3 per annum, it will be a little more expensive than the old system, but easier to administer, guarantee you are kept informed (even if you miss a ride or two), make accounting easier and still represent good value for money. Please see Editor’s pages for enrolment details and act today!
THE Internet has become an ubiquitous part of modern life and has pervaded many aspects of our life including cycling. You may have not been on-line, but when you do get there you will find that all aspects of cycling are well represented. Like many other DAs we have our own web site where we promote our runs, events and information about the DA and riding in our patch of Surrey. In the past month the web site has been redesigned and now contains more to interest you - so it is worth visiting or re-visiting.
The site is divided into four main areas, “DA Events”, “Runs Lists”, “Local Info” and “Contacts”. The main attraction on our site is probably the runs lists. These are updated as soon as the group leaders submit the information, so will be available before the printed version. All runs lists produced since our DA site was launched in 1999 can be accessed should you need to look up what happened last June. Those new to the DA can easily find a map of our DA with all the normal run start points; to get more detail of their locations a link is provided to a detailed map of each. All our club run events for the year are promoted, together with more information on the events. For the Tour of the Hills the route sheet and a diagrammatic representation riding profile can be examined by anyone, be they in Woking or Wyoming. The “Local” section provides us with an opportunity to provide all kinds of information that may be useful to cyclists in the locality or those who may be touring. There is plenty of scope for expansion of this area; so far we have only scratched the surface. Maps and listings of teashops, cycle shops with details of those that offer CTC members discounts, the Surrey Cycleway, off-road cycling maps of the area. A gallery of photos of club runs and our events could be added ... If you have any suitable images please send them. Any suggestions as to what might be of use, entertainment and of interest to cyclists in West Surrey would be most welcome.
GETTING to our annual general meeting and dining rooms at the University of Surrey campus, Guildford, was no problem for our intrepid lot. The university provided a standard map with details of how to get there by car, train, or bus.
But - you’ve guessed it - the university’s print-out gave no advice whatsoever for cyclists, despite the fact that there is a system of designated cycleways around and through the campus, avoiding the dreaded A3.
I DID enjoy reading the January-March 2001 edition of the West Surrey Cyclist - the best 50p-worth this year so far (also for 2000). Cycling Weekly December 23/30 headlined an item “Cyclists to share £8.4 billion” and referred to a cash package for local transport initiatives. I doubt if our type of cycling will notice a benefit. It seems to me more likely we will face restrictions in future years. Meanwhile, here’s to the hazards in the nearside lane. What a difference if the road surface was smooth and regularly swept.
Regards, Brian “fixed wheel” Stokes (Cobham)
Centre-based long weekend of cycling based at Leominster in the quiet rolling country of Shropshire. The weekend starts on Friday 4th May, with runs on the next three days, returning on the afternoon of Monday 7th May.
The runs will explore the delights of the Welsh Marches.
Accommodation is booked for the Youth Hotel, housed in an old priory monastic complex in the centre of the attractive market town. You do not need to be a member of the YHA, since we are using the hostel as a group. Costs will be moderate and car-sharing will be arranged.
To book your place and for further details contact Rob Simpson on 01420 22094.
This year’s ride is using the same route as last year and a very scenic, interesting ride is on offer.
The start is from MAKE - A - WISH headquarters in Camberley at 8am on Sunday 9th September, through Cove and Fleet and the into the pretty Hampshire countryside. The route continues through Crookham Village, Crondall, Bentley, Binsted, Oakhanger and Blackmoor to the halfway stop at Greatham (The Silver Birch Inn).
The very young, old, unfit and infirm can call it a day here and watch the others go by and similarly the less ambitious from the Portsmouth area can start here if they wish.
Blue Cycleway signs will now direct the riders through Liss then on to the cycleway alongside the A3 continuing through Sheet towards Buriton, up up up the hills (walk if you wish) but rest assured this is the easiest route to Hayling Island via Havant.
The old Hayling Billy Railway track is the principal route to the Hayling Island Ferry; yes, there is a sea crossing!!! with no ticket to buy as this has been arranged within the entry fee thanks to a generous discount offered by the Ferry owners. Riders on super lightweight machines could, if they wished, take the on-road option to the ferry but missing out on the views.
The ride terminates at Southsea where a festive event is being arranged by the Southsea District Scouts (68th Portsmouth.)
There are ample refreshment facilities en route all of which are listed on the route guide, so it will be possible to wine and dine in style, take a quick snack, or perhaps the odd “Pint” in addition to Tea or Coffee and cakes at a cyclist-friendly cafe.
Some magnificent and very old churches can be seen on the ride, one from the eleventh century and another from the thirteenth century; they are listed in the guide, do look out for them.
The organisers are encouraging riders to pedal safely, courteously, to treat the countryside with respect, to leave absolutely no litter and to set an example to other road users.
Happy Cycling, Best wishes.
W. L. Thompson, Route Organiser
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 30 September 2009.