“The West Surrey Cyclist” - July - September 2001
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Front cover - very similar to previous issue
Inner front cover - West Surrey CTC District Association Officers - same as in previous issue
Editorial front matter - as in previous issue
Riding Around - with the Editor
Advertisement - Clockhouse Tea Rooms, Abinger Hammer
Happy’s Holiday Homes - DA trip to Normandy in September
New Secretary Required - Ros Banks expecting twins
Advertisement - The Cedars, Binsted
Dates for Your Diary
Intermediate Group - new leader required
Europe End to End - Across Spain - by Dennis Clarke
Advertisement - Ramblers’ Rest, Colekitchen Farm
Reliability Ride - The Event - by Phil Hamilton
Advertisement - Evans Cycles
Woking Hospice Sponsored Cycle Ride - notice and details
Subscribe to the mag.
Historic Route Discovered - Can You find Your Way Through It? - puzzle by Harold Coleman
Surrey Scorathon 28 May 2001 - report and results by Keith Chesterton
Outer back cover - advertisement - Camberley Discount Cycles
BY ALL accounts, Woking’s annual Bikeathon, a 26 miles jaunt aimed at families and in aid of leukaemia research, was a record-breaker for the number of entrants. Also memorable this year was a serious downpour as most of the riders were way out of town.
What’s wrong with that, I hear you ask? Happens all the time on our DA rides. You just cape up and get on with it (or head for the nearest pub or cafe, if you get the chance).
But times and attitudes have changed over the years of the Bikeathon. A friend who has done them all said this one was noticeable for the swathes of children sporting mobile phones and, of course, using them more or less constantly as the day progressed.
And as soon as the rain came there were anguished cries of “Da..ad, come and get me” as the younger generation packed up and sought solace in their parents’ cars.
What a shame when the whole point of a sponsored ride is to complete the distance. I suppose the temptation offered by mobile phones to call it off and head home comfortably for an early bath is just too strong.
THE weather also played a part on the day of our own 50 miles Reliability Ride out into the North Downs. This event possibly deserves an entry in the Guinness Book of Records - but your help is needed first.
According to Harold Coleman, there have been 30 annual versions of this official sporting event without a drop of rain falling during its duration.
Our vice-president says he can vouch for this, having taken part without a gap since 1972. Can this be so? If true, perhaps our modest event can claim some sort of record for reliability of good weather. Can any other one-day sporting event in Britain match it?
So here is a serious appeal to all of our long-time riders and their pals. Do talk it over and see if Harold’s memory is accurate. Who knows, if we can get sufficient people to verify the good weather we might just get an entry in the Guinness book - or at least a certificate for the DA.
I MUST commend the new Camping and Caravanning Club site at Adgestone, Isle of Wight. I mentioned the club’s National Camping Week plans in the previous issue and I used the site as a base for a few days cycling over the Spring Bank Holiday.
It is a great place with excellent facilities including a heated outdoor swimming pool kept at a constant temperature of 29degC. One very nice touch was typical of the care shown by managers Michael and Carol Aspery.
Michael showed my friend and I to our pitch and then promptly disappeared to return on a tractor mower to give the already neat grass an extra trim. I can’t say I had noticed it was anything other than acceptable but Mike insisted, saying “It’s not quite up to our standards”.
Everything else was spot on too. If you fancy an opportunist spot of camping over there, give Mike and Carol a call on 01983 403432 any day before 8pm. They are already doing good business, and are practically full in the school holiday period. But mention my name and West Surrey DA and they will try to fit you in.
INCIDENTALLY, the Camping and Caravanning Club site at Blackmore, Great Malvern, Worcesershire, is the base for the CTC’s national Birthday Rides, August 3rd to 6th. As with Adgestone, this is one of the club’s own sites rather than a certificated site, and offers high-quality modern facilities. We had a good presence from West Surrey at the Birthday Rides in Canterbury last year, so let us hope we do so again out and about in the Malvern Hills. Details, including alternative accommodation, from CTC HQ.
WELL done Secretary Rosalind Banks for organising the visit to Hogs Back Brewery, Tongham. Those of us who got in quickly for the tickets - the event was a sell-out - had a great time learning of the brewers’ art and much enjoyed the samples which started as our tour began and kept on coming for the duration.
WALLY HAPPY is organising a second DA excursion for members to his holiday homes in Normandy, starting from Portsmouth on Sunday night September 9th, returning on Friday 14th. The all-in cost will again be about £160 per person plus the cost of getting to and from the ferry port at Portsmouth.
OUR enthusiastic Secretary Rosalind Banks is expecting twins, so her enthusiasms will understandably have to be diverted in that direction for the foreseeable future.
This means we have to find a new secretary pronto as the DA constitutionally cannot function without one. The new appointment will be made at the annual general meeting on November 25th but in practice we need the new secretary to start in July.
It is a worthwhile job and if you think you can help please make immediate contact with Chairman Chris Jeggo on 01483 870218 or speak to anyone listed on page two of this magazine.
Sunday July 8th: Link-up with South Bucks DA riders at Little Chef, Heckfield. Details from our rides leaders.
Sunday July 15th: Rough Stuff rides, two circular routes of 50km and 60km with controls at Newlands Corner and Baynards. Entries for this DATC and Benstead Cup event to: David Nightingale, 01483 725674.
Saturday July 28th: North Hants DATC 25 miles event, mostly off-road. Start 10am from Abbotstone car park, north of Alresford. Details: Mark Beauchamp, 0118 981 7790.
Sunday August 19th: Tour of the Hills. Details of this ever-popular Audax event from Tom Hargreaves, 01483 851930. There will be a change in the route this year because of a landslip at Landslip Lane, Leith Hill.
Sunday September 9th: Make-A-Wish Wish Pedlars sponsored ride, Camberley to Portsmouth. Starts at 8am. The scenic route has a halfway stop at Greatham and includes a sea crossing on the Hayling Island ferry. Details from route organiser Bill Thompson on 01276 25191.
Sunday September 16th: Woking Hospice Sponsored Cycle Ride, 15 or 30 miles. Details elsewhere in this magazine.
Sunday September 30th: Tricyclathon. Details from Tom Hargreaves (as above).
Sunday November 18th: Annual general meeting and lunch. Manor House Hotel, Newlands Corner. Lunch: £15.
CHRIS JEGGO is no longer willing to lead the Intermediate Group, so a replacement is required with effect from the next runs list (October - December, copy date: 1 September).
His Achilles tendinitis has flared up again, so there is also some uncertainty about how many runs on the current runs list he will be able to lead.
THE first two stages of my trans-European cycling trip from southern Spain to northern Norway would take me end-to-end across both Spain and France. Both countries are more than double the area of Britain but, despite their size, their squarish configuration means that an end-to-end is shorter than the British equivalent. Whereas our version from Land’s End to John o’Groats requires several changes of direction, for both France and Spain you can draw a straight line across the map and get from one end to the other without straying far from it. This was the simple basis of my route planning for the whole trip; draw a line from the starting point of each leg to where I intended to finish and then follow the most scenic route within a narrow corridor along that line.
The first such straight line led from Tarifa, overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar, north across central Spain to Bilbao on the Bay of Biscay.
If you look inland from the coastal resorts of southern Spain you will see a range of barren mountains along the skyline. Beyond these rocky sierras lies the vast stretch of hinterland that is Andalusia. This is where I was headed as I set off up the hill from Tarifa, over two stiffish climbs to Algeciras and then inland on the long, mainly uphill road to the spectacular mountain town of Ronda. The narrow valleys were pleasantly green and fertile for most of the day and I was surprised by the amount of birdsong (the Spanish are passionate hunters) as I slogged my way onward and upward. It was eight in the evening when I cycled across the famous, four hundred feet deep El Tajo river gorge into Ronda.
Seventy-five miles was more than I would normally do on the first day and there had been rather too much climbing. However, I was up on the tableland that is inland Spain (with an average elevation of two thousand feet, Spain is second in Europe only to Switzerland, and Madrid is Europe’s highest capital city) and the next few days should be easier.
They were. I dawdled for a couple of days in the warm spring sunshine on long, straight, almost traffic-free roads to Cordoba, where I arrived by mid-afternoon to allow plenty of time to visit the Mezquita, the Great Mosque, built between the eighth and eleventh centuries when Cordoba was the heart of the Western Islamic Empire. It is a building of extraordinary mystical beauty and one I had long nurtured a desire to see. It was everything I had expected and more.
I spent four days cycling across Andalusia. It is the romantic Spain of the brochures:- gypsies, flamenco and handsome men on skittish horses with girls sitting seductively side-saddle behind (I encountered several of them clattering along a street in Puertollano). I would highly recommend the area for a week’s touring in late winter or early spring.
Leaving Andalusia I swooped down to the plains of Castile-La Mancha and continued to Toledo, where, for the first time, I had to hunt around for accommodation before alighting on the youth hostel in the castle across the river from the city. I had chosen to ignore the advice of the guide books to book ahead. Toledo is only an hour by train from Madrid and is a popular tourist destination. It is a fascinating city whose narrow streets have accommodated through the ages Christians, Muslims and Jews cohabiting in harmony with their different cultures and traditions (the Inquisition came later). It is also the home of the Eagle of Toledo, Federico Bahamontes, six times winner of the mountain prize in the Tour de France and the first Spanish overall winner in 1959. There is a cycle shop bearing his name just off one of the squares in the city.
The straight line I had drawn from Tarifa to Bilbao would have taken me through the centre of Madrid, which I wanted to avoid. So I turned northeast from Toledo and for a couple of days followed a scenically uninteresting route through scrubby landscape via Alcala de Henares (home of Miguel Cervantes of Don Quixote fame) and Siguenza to Soria.
As I headed north from Soria, the looming dark clouds carried on the strong, cold, westerly wind which had been blowing for a couple of days finally delivered what they had threatened;- a combination of almost horizontal freezing rain and hail, atrocious cycling conditions which reduced me to walking some stretches. As I dropped off the five and a half thousand feet Puerto de Piqueras pass I got teeth-chatteringly cold until I reached the picturesque Iregua river valley leading to Logroño.
If you like Rioja wine, Logroño is your town. Situated on the Ebro river, it is the very heart of the Rioja wine region and has dozens of little bars which beckon you in to sample the local produce. Well worth a visit. It drove the chill from my bones and I slept well in my £10 room at the Fonda La Bilbaena.
Spain has different names for the various grades of hotel. Fondas are the least expensive. They are pretty basic but you get a clean bed and perhaps a washbasin. Next up the quality scale are pensiones, then hostales and finally hotels. I tried them all and, other than in Toledo, invariably got into the first place I called on.
Spaniards like living together in the towns and cities and, because there are so few pockets of population outside the urban areas, there is no network of minor roads for the cyclist to enjoy. It is the main road to the next town or city or the occasional dirt track to who-knows-where. There is simply no need for minor roads in what can still be extensive areas of uninhabited wilderness. However, cycling is for the most part enjoyable, other than in the more densely populated and industrialised north west, where traffic volume can be unpleasant. In the south, however, the roads (other than on the coast) are surprisingly free of traffic away from the urban areas. Such motorists as one does encounter are generally considerate and give a wide berth when passing.
The hoteliers and restaurateurs are also very cyclist-friendly. When I asked the cheerful young manager of the Hostal Cinco Puertas in Osuna where I could garage my bike for the night, he picked it up, pannier bags and all, and carried it up to my room. A restaurant owner in Bujalance insisted that I bring the bicycle into the restaurant in case anyone made off with it from outside. He then sent his wife off to the supermarket to buy the wherewithal to prepare lunch for me, since it was just after midday, rather early for a Spanish lunch, and she hadn’t yet done the shopping. They eat somewhat later than we northern Europeans do.
This applies not only to lunch but even more so to dinner. The lateness of the evening meal took me by surprise, having previously visited only the coastal resorts where they cater for a tourist timetable. After a day’s cycling I would be settled into a hotel, usually by six o’clock, showered, changed and out for a drink by seven and ravenous for my dinner by eight. However the restaurants would not be open until ten o’clock and not start filling up until about eleven. I would have finished my late (by my body clock) meal in a deserted restaurant and be leaving as groups of locals including small children would be drifting in to start theirs. This probably explains why you don’t get a decent breakfast in Spain; they haven’t long finished their dinner! Breakfast Spanish style is usually taken hurriedly in a bar and consists of coffee or chocolate and churros, a doughy, deep fried, sickly sweet confection that gives you a sugar rush that would get you up Alpe d’Huez.
To accommodate the different eating customs, I got into the routine after a few days of having a mid-morning snack and then completing most of the day’s mileage before stopping for lunch mid-afternoon. Then I would do another hour or two before stopping for the night. By doing this I’d had my main meal for the day and could make do in the evening with tapas, the little snacks which are available in any Spanish bar.
From Logroño there were two days left to reach Bilbao via Vitoria and if the weather had been bad on the road into Logroño it was even worse on the road out. My notes for the day summed it up;
Probably one of the least enjoyable day’s cycling I’ve ever had - very strong winds from the west - gusting and making control of the bike very difficult - exacerbated by constant stream of passing trucks pushing me aside with a cushion of displaced air then sucking me into the slipstream - then another truck right behind - too dangerous to cycle - walked for miles uphill and down - then the rain and hail started again.
I discovered later that part of the route linked two motorways. So, if you are in the area on a bike, avoid the N102, even if the sun is shining.
However, as any cycle tourist knows, such days intensify the pleasure of a hot bath and centrally heated hotel room, which £15 bought me in the one-star Hotel Achuri in Vitoria. Not only that;- I was greeted for the first time on the trip by an English-speaking receptionist, a very pleasant young lady who allowed me to wheel the dripping bike through reception to the room at the back. The television news that evening showed the wind damage in the region and forecast more rain for the following day.
They got it wrong; next morning it was bright but cold, four degrees centigrade, as I set off on the final leg to Bilbao. And the rain held off all day. In the old town of Bilbao I checked into the Hotel Arriaga for my last night and for the first time I got less than a friendly welcome from a rather nervous young receptionist and an older woman of rather stern and forbidding countenance whom I took to be her mother, and who insisted that I pay 1000 Pesetas (£4) to garage my bike for the night. However this isolated incident only served as a contrast to the warmth and friendliness I’d encountered everywhere else in Spain.
All in all it had been a most enjoyable first leg of my trans-European trip and after a celebratory meal and drink in the old town of Bilbao, I flew back to London the next day with a rather different view of Spain than that gleaned from earlier visits to the coastal resorts. I was already planning the return to Bilbao to start the second leg across France.
DESPITE forebodings that the change of date for this event would put the mockers on the weather, 32 riders set out, from the two start points, to enjoy the challenge of a 50-mile ride against the clock, in fine weather which just got better. Long sleeves were soon discarded, legs bared (within the limits of propriety), and I even saw sun-block being applied! Dehydration was fought off at the Control, where most of the riders enjoyed a few moments respite from their exertions, whilst consuming squash and biscuits - although others barely had time to get their card stamped (such was their desire to hit a self-imposed time limit).
The gathering at the King’s Head, Holmbury St Mary, enjoyed a warm welcome, and was understandably reluctant to return to the saddle, ending the reminiscences of a 100% successful ride (i.e. every rider completed the distance within the permitted 5 hours - many within 3½!). Thank you for making the organising worthwhile, and a very special “thank you” to those who assisted me ‘on the day’ as Start, Control and Finish marshals.
And so to the future. It has been suggested that we should have a “circular” route. Should it be as well as or replace the two “linear” routes? Let the committee have your thoughts as to venue, route, likely riders etc. Without your input to the contrary we can only presume you are satisfied - no input means no change. Over to you.
The following will receive a Certificate:
|R Banks||M Beauchamp||R Benson||C Boarer||C Boggon|
|P Callaghan||J Cheatham||H Coleman||B Cook||J Cook (Mrs)|
|G Davies||J Gillbe (Mrs)||J Gillbe||C Green||T Hargreaves|
|D Johnson||D Jones||A Juden (Miss)||C Juden||T Natolie|
|R Page||E Parr||C Richardson||C Shales||R Signore|
|W Simpson||G Smith||H Smith||T Strudwick||A Tanner (Mrs)|
|D Tanner||W Thompson|
It is about 1500, I am not sure of the exact date as the State Education scheme hasn’t got under way yet and my parents can’t afford a private tutor for me. Nevertheless I have been blessed with a natural flare for anything mechanical. My most recent invention is a sort of two-wheeled carriage upon which, much to my surprise, I have found that I can stay upright for most of the time once it is moving along - though stopping it does seem difficult. The moment has now come for me to prove if it is a practical means of transport or not. I have, accordingly, devised a route which should do just that. If it succeeds I shall attempt to market it; if it fails I shall dismantle it and use the components for some other project - I believe that it should be possible to make a machine which will wash one’s clothes!
My intended route is as follows:-
I found the above document inside a wood chest in the attic of an old house - who will be the first to ring me (01252-546635) and tell me his route in present day language?
My second Surrey scorathon had 30 clues if the longer 37-mile course was attempted and 21 if the shorter 22-mile course was tried. No clue was meant to be cryptic, but most got the answer wrong for the date on Shackleford Post Office. It was visible outside, but people took the word of the relief postmistress inside, who didn’t know! I accepted the answer she gave as well. The Cornish March to London was in 1497, and it is commemorated on a stone, just inside the field by the kissing gate on the top of Guildown. Those who didn’t try the long course did not see the inscription on the seat round the tree at Elstead green. Next time you are there, read it and follow the injunction - “while the world on wheels goes by, rest awhile and wonder why”.
I had fun searching out the clues and I’m told you all enjoyed trying to find them, and cycling on some pleasant lanes and two hard tracks. Thank you all for coming along.
The first time I organised a scorathon, there were some complaints that the start was too far away and that the clues were too hard. So this time, I had the start only one mile from Guildford station and also made the clues easier. The result was a drop in entries from 16 to 11! This was partly accounted for by my being too late to make it a DATC event, so there were no entries from outside West Surrey (4 last time), but it was still disappointing that there were so few “regulars” who took part. I would welcome feedback on why people did not take part, and what I could do to get more participants. (Yes Marguerite, I know you work Saturdays.)
However, on the good side, there were a number of new faces, and this must be about the only DA event that had more women taking part than men!
Can I thank Phil Hamilton, who came along to help with refreshments and entries, and who made it a less lonely day. The financial result was a loss of £4.11.
I had intended to have 2 separate sets of results for the longer and shorter courses, but with only 10 finishers, I have combined them. But it is worth noting that Amy and Helen Juden did the 22 mile route and got every clue correct.
|Jane Gillbe||L||West Sy||615||51||564||1=|
|John Gillbe||West Sy||615||51||564||1=|
|*Amy Juden||LJ||West Sy||500||500||3=|
|*Helen Juden||L||West Sy||500||500||3=|
|Barbara Cheatham||L||West Sy||380||380||5=|
|Jim Cheatham||West Sy||380||380||5=|
|Anne Tanner||L||West Sy||340||114||226||7=|
|Derek Tanner||West Sy||340||114||226||7=|
|*Charles Green||West Sy||220||220||9|
|*Mary Clarke||L||West Sy||255||75||180||10|
|John Ostrom||West Sy||0 (did not return)||11|
|* means tried short course.|
Note - the score for a clue was deducted if an obvious guess was made and 3 points were lost for every minute back over the 4 hours allowed. So, for example, Jane and John Gillbe lost 51 points for taking 4 hours 17 minutes. Although there were a number of wrong answers, I did not think anyone guessed an answer, so there were no deductions for guesses.
Keith Chesterton organiser, for West Surrey DA, 7 May 2001
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 1 October 2009.