“The West Surrey Cyclist” - October - December 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
2001: A Swiss Odyssey - by Bob McLeod
Advertisement - The Cedars, Binsted
Happy Fairies in Normandy - by Mike Sampson
Le Tour Gourmand (Sorry! Normand) - by Jim Cheatham
Advertisement - Ramblers’ Rest, Colekitchen Farm
Eric Does the End-to-End ..... Completely Solo
Dates for Your Diary - DA events
Subscribe to the mag.
New Secretary “In Waiting”
Congratulations - and Congratulations Again - Banks twins safely delivered
Advertisement - Evans Cycles
‘Historic Route Discovered’ - The Solution - by Harold Coleman
Notice - Annual General Meeting & Lunch
Intermediate Group - new leader still required
Committee nomination form
Outer back cover - advertisement - Camberley Discount Cycles
NOT so much “Riding Around with the Editor” this summer as “Draggin’ my heart around” (Thomas “Fats” Waller singing to his hot piano, recorded in New York, March 13th 1931 - just thought you might like to know that).
The reason was that I was knocked off my bike by a motorist reversing from a nose-in parking bay at the shops end of Goldsworth Road, Woking, on my way to the Midweek Wayfarers start on June 13th. I’ve had considerable pain and frustration ever since, which has curtailed my appearances and length of my rides.
I’ve been attempting to take the advice of my dear late mother and trying not to “overdo it”. But I’ll tell you this - getting the balance right between doing nothing and risking my injured shoulder and upper arm freezing up, and doing too much and increasing the pain afterwards, is not easy.
Barely a week after the incident, the 2001 Swiss Odyssey was upon us. I certainly did “overdo it” on at least one day and suffered mightily later. And here’s an interesting observation. I’ve climbed a few mountain passes in my time but not tackled one before from the front courier’s seat of a luxury touring coach.
Going over the Susten Pass in this manner was really scary. I also thought “How can anyone cycle this?” Then I saw two women from our party pedalling happily and immediately felt better. They won’t mind me saying they were plodding along and doing well. The point is they and the bikes were better suited to the pass than me and the coach - at least that’s what I think. It must be something to do with the benign speed and being out there in the open air.
Quite so, but also something to do with not being able to see beyond the next bend and thinking “Oh my gawd!”
I HAVE been checking my travel insurance policy and unearthed something which may not be widely appreciated. Did you know that cycling is categorised as “hazardous”? When my company’s man told me this I responded by asking whether this applied also to walking. Would you believe it, it does!
The reasoning goes that both activities depart from the norm IF - and this is the point - the insured is taking part in an organised cycling or walking holiday.
Apparently it is fine to take a bike out for a spin on a casual, impromptu basis - spur of the moment sort of thing. Similarly with walking. Go for a stroll with your beloved and that’s fine. But sign up for a holiday that involves cycling and/or walking as part of the itinerary and you need extra insurance. You have to declare it in advance to ensure you are covered - and stomp up with an extra premium.
This applies whether you are taking a single trip insurance or an annual policy. As mine was an annual policy for “normal” people, I paid an extra £12.38 for my four weeks touring holiday in France and Spain. Next year I suppose I’ll have to include “hazardous” in my annual premium.
GRAHAM Mellows, a cycling mate from deepest Essex, was among hundreds of cyclists in France on the Dieppe Raid. Quite by chance he found himself at dinner sitting next to a stranger he came to know as West Surrey’s Alan Holbrook. Graham was soon telling “Equitable” Alan how much he was looking forward to his forthcoming cycling trip to Switzerland.
Alan rapidly put two and two together and confirmed it was indeed Geoff Smith and Rico Signore’s excursion and Graham was one of the 28 participants - just another example of cycling being a small world.
WHAT a trip! Thanks, Geoff and Rico. It seemed like a perfect synthesis of talents; years of experience in the Swiss tourist industry combined with a collection of many of Geoff’s cycling companions and a hand-picked coach driver to escort us through endless sunshine to the picture postcard country of Switzerland. It’s not often that a holiday experience exceeds the hyperbole of the advertising - but this one surely did.
Our three Swiss hotels were truly top class and really friendly. I am not sure that I will ever be able to go cycle camping again. We had an excellent wine-tasting session our first night in Münchenwiler and the company of a few members of the local cycle group that Rico had invited. It was fascinating listening to them and Rico chatting away in the Swiss dialect
Next day was a local holiday to celebrate the victory over the Duke of Burgundy in 1476. Many of us walked into the walled town of Murten that had been beautifully decorated with flowers and flags. We were entertained by a parade of floats from youth organisations and bands; it seemed as though every inhabitant who could walk must be in the procession. It was yet another lovely welcome to Switzerland.
I spent the afternoon on a trip round Lake Murten in the company of Frimley Green’s postie Beryl Cook who, it turns out, is also a friend of Geoff. There was a good climb that offered excellent views of distant snow-capped mountains. A few of these we would be cycling over in the following days.
While most of the group went cycling, some led by the president of the cycle club, I stuck to the agreement that I had with Pauline - not to cycle every day - and with another couple went on a lake cruise to Neuchâtel, a fascinating fortress city. There was also plenty of climbing here, to the mediaeval buildings on the cliff top.
The journey of 71 miles to the hotel at Meiringen, where Conan Doyle stayed, was mostly broad cycle paths through attractive farmland and alongside lakes. It just got better and better and of course steeper as we travelled eastward. We paused briefly at Interlaken where we got our first views of the Jungfrau. Again we had an excellent reception with plenty of wine and a tour of the Sherlock Holmes museum. Our room had a balcony with an excellent floodlit view of the famous Reichenbach Falls were we could sit and soak up the ambience of stars and mountains.
A small group of us made an amazing train journey that involved 4 different railways, took us via the North Face of the Eiger and almost to the top of the Jungfrau. Here we walked through an ice cavern and out on to a snow-covered glacier. It was truly spectacular.
Although our final hotel was only about 40 miles away it involved traversing at least two passes. Rico led a small group over the Grimsel and Furka pass route. Since part of it was closed to heavy traffic due to a land slip we had to follow a torturous diversion that added several miles and lots of climbing but it was beautiful and mostly traffic free. The descent into Gletsch for drinks and applestrudel was fantastic; I reached 68kph but didn’t hold the record. As we finished our meal, the only bad weather of the holiday - a thunderstorm and torrential rain - forced us off the mountain and down the valley to catch a train that ferried cars and our bikes through the mountain to our destination, Andermatt.
It was from here on our last day that five of us completed a fiendish route of Rico’s that included the St. Gotthard and two other passes. We covered almost 100 miles and 10,000 ft. I was compelled to send the others on near the summit of the final pass as I was completely exhausted and just had to rest despite the need to get back and dismantle our bikes to go in the coach. When I got back my bike was whipped away and stowed in its bag while I got ready for dinner.
The entertainment that evening was provided by a local alpenhorn player and our driver, known as Harry Trumpet - truly a man of many talents. I don’t wish to embarrass Rico and Geoff but it was certainly agreed that this was the best trip that Geoff had yet organised and it was acknowledged that it wouldn’t have been possible without Rico’s exceptional abilities.
Many thanks to you both from Bob and Pauline McLeod
On 3rd June 2001, five Fairies began a very enjoyable few days cycling holiday at the Happy Holiday Homes in La Croupte in Normandy. The owner and organiser of the trip was Wally Happy, a former pro rider and track champion. And so it was that on the Sunday evening, I drove with John Roberts and Wendy Simes to Portsmouth, to meet up with Bob Goode and Saturday Captain, David Law. There we met Wally and nine other members of the West Surrey D.A. of the CTC who were to be our new cycling companions.
The ship docked next morning at Caen at 6.15am local time. We were soon on our way, with all day to cover the 45 miles to our base in the beautiful countryside near Orbec. The pace was leisurely, with several stops for refreshments. This was just as well, as we were loaded up with panniers for the first day. Throughout the holiday we were to find out that Wally knew all the best places to eat and drink. Lunch was typical of our stops each day, a two-hour affair with Bob, John and Wally’s favourite Ricard as an aperitif, wine and several courses of the local dishes, served with good humour by our waitress, as we sat outside under the umbrellas.
We arrived at the chalets to find that, being a public holiday, the shops were closed. But no worries! Wally was quickly on the phone to the local butcher, explaining he had 15 hungry cyclists, and he opened up just for us. With plenty of wine available from Wally’s stock, we had what was to become the traditional Happy Hour. Mike and David took charge of the two barbecues while everybody worked together to produce a wonderful meal that we all enjoyed as a group, at the picnic tables, outside in the evening sun. Later that evening we were entertained with slide presentations from David, Wally and Jim. By the end of the first day, we were all friends and enjoying each other’s company.
Each day continued in a similar style. In our chalet, as both Wendy and Bob are naturally early risers, they volunteered to do the morning bread run. They crept away each morning, on their bikes, before 7.0am to collect fresh croissants and bread for breakfast from the local village about 3 miles away. On their return, they hoped that the others would have prepared the table and made the coffee, but much to Bob’s disgust, we were all still asleep. On our rides, we enjoyed the traffic-free, picturesque lanes, ably lead by Wally who knew all the roads and the best places for lunch. The best value was probably on the second day in Le Sap where we had a 4-course meal with unlimited bottles of wine and a huge cheeseboard, all for just £6 each.
On the Wednesday, a choice of two rides was available, as four of us had decided to go to Honfleur - a 75-mile round trip. Bob joined the others, while the rest of the SFA contingent set off on what turned out to be quite an adventure. We thought the ride was well worth the effort, as we had “moules et frites” beside the harbour. The price and service were not as good as the other locations we experienced, but we all agreed it was worth it. On the way there, we patched up a defective tyre on Mike’s bike. But just a mile from our destination, an impact blow-out, while descending at speed, finished it off. Of course, we had lunch first and then set about finding a bike shop. After touring the town and visiting the Tourist Centre we began to realise that this town did not have a single bike shop. We eventually stumbled across a motorcycle shop with a couple of bikes outside, and managed to purchase a new tyre and once again we were mobile. On our return, we were joined again by Bob, who not only had shopped for our supper, but also demonstrated his skills on the barbecue. David’s skills were also in evidence on several occasions when he fixed the TV and video, as well as being constantly on hand to help, as Wally’s slide projector had a mind of its own and preferred to run backwards.
Our chalet, shared with Richard and Cliff from Surrey, was notable for its teamwork, where everything got done without any fuss, and without any obvious leader, although some would say that Wendy, goaded and teased by Bob, had a lot to do with the smoothness of the operation. We developed a very good relationship with our friends from Surrey and we intend to keep in touch. Our thanks go to Wally for this well organised trip and also to John, who not only linked everything for us at our end, but also spent a lot of time with Wally, preparing the chalets for our visit. Wally was understandably pleased with the way the trip went and is planning a similar event in September.
Vive la France!
IT was a very unusual time for a meet, 10pm on a Sunday. Fifteen cyclists rendezvoused at the Brittany Ferries Terminal at Portsmouth Docks, ten from West Surrey D.A. including Wally Happy and five from the San Fairy Ann Cycling Club in Kent. It was Happy Holiday Homes’ inaugural and trial cycling holiday, centred on Wally’s chalets at La Croupte in Normandy. We were taking the overnight boat to Caen and returning by the Friday afternoon boat.
The cycling was fairly undemanding, La Croupte being on a plateau, and was mostly notable for the lack of traffic, with well surfaced lanes through pleasant countryside, scattered with typical brown-beamed Norman houses.
The rides focussed on lunch places, generally arriving early to have an aperitif, before enjoying excellent inexpensive lunches, most notable being that on Thursday at the Auberge de la Truite at Montreuil l’Argille. The owner collects old mechanical music-making machines, of which several were in the very attractive dining room and entertained us at times during lunch. Lunches were long followed by a gentle ride back to La Croupte, which included a tour of a small interesting chateau on the Wednesday.
The rides were not without their incidents. After visiting the chateau, Richard touched the wheel in front and came off and brought off Heidi, who fortunately seemed unscathed. His leg was patched up in the pharmacy while the rest of us had tea. On the same day, four of the San Fairy Ann riders had gone to Honfleur. Mike had a puncture and blow-out which necessitated a tour of Honfleur to find a new tyre, a fall damaged Wendy’s knees, and David suffered a buckled wheel and spoke pulled out of the hub.
Our San Fairy Ann friends improved the sartorial appearance of the group since they were all in club clothing. It did make one wonder how they attracted new members to the club these days, to wear a jersey with the word FAIRY in big letters on it!
Wally’s plans for a barbecue were nearly frustrated on our first day which turned out to be a Bank Holiday. However, the local butcher did agree to open and rescue the situation. Other evenings didn’t prove as warm and we were driven indoors. Evening entertainment was provided by Wally with slides relating to his cycling career and cycling videos, slides of a tour of SW Ireland, 40-plus years ago, and of a non-cycling tour of Vietnam last year by me and more recent slides of Ireland by David of SFA.
The group in the one chalet dominated by SFA apparently worked well together, while in ours Heidi continuously demonstrated what a good air-hostess she must be, whilst two of our senior members seemed to be trying an imitation of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in The Odd Couple! You can guess who.
Thanks, Wally, for an enjoyable few days. We wish you well with your latest business venture.
CONGRATULATIONS to veteran member Eric Parr on completing the end-to-end from Land’s End to John O’Groats this summer as a solo venture - a feat not to be dismissed lightly even if it is in our friendly and enlightened homeland.
Eric was asked to prepare some notes for the magazine and, modestly, has confined these to a listing of his daily rides, saying little of his own trials and tribulations, of which there surely must have been some.
So Eric’s clubmates and others will have to read between the lines of what follows to gauge for themselves the extent of Eric’s achievement...
He started on June 16th, taking the northern route to Bude, continuing to Wadebridge and Taunton in sunny and warm weather. Then it was on to the Somerset levels and up the Cheddar Gorge and over the Severn Bridge to Chepstow. B and B that night was actually just B - i.e. no breakfast! Not very good, Eric notes.
Onward through the Wye Valley, Monmouth, and then Hereford for a more comforting night with Eric’s brother as host. The journey continued through Leominster and Ludlow, Much Wenlock, and Market Drayton.
Greater Manchester was traversed via Leigh before Eric headed for the hills around Slaidburn, Settle, and Ingleton, continuing north along the A6 via Shap and entering Scotland at Gretna.
He punctured on a cycle path (typical!) going through to Glasgow and copped a thunder storm shortly afterwards. Light rain continued on and off through Loch Lomond and Crianlarich. Eric then crossed Rannoch Moor, and went through Glencoe to reach Fort William.
Then it was up the Great Glen to Fort Augustus, continuing to Muir of Ord, Dingwall, Lairg and along “wonderfully wild and lonely roads” to Bettyhill and along the northern coast of the British mainland to Thurso, Dunnet Head, and then John O’Groats.
So how did Eric celebrate? - “I finished a day early after 21 days of cycling so I had a tour of the Orkney Islands by coach.”
DEREK Tanner has agreed to look after the secretary’s job in the DA while Ros is otherwise occupied and is planning to catch up with things over the next few weeks in much the same way as he endeavours to “catch up” during his club runs.
He was due to appear at the committee meeting on August 28th when he was hoping to be fully briefed on current matters concerning the DA.
And as part of this search after knowledge, he is happy for any member to contact him on 01276 474553 (24 hours answering service).
ALL who know her and husband Peter are at present over the moon in sharing the delight at the arrival of twin boys safely delivered to our Secretary Rosalind Banks.
The Editor has it on good assurance (father-in-law and DA vice-president Roy Banks) that the newcomers are grand lads and in good nick - Richard entering the world at 5lb 15oz on August 8th shortly before midnight, and William entering at 6lb 4oz a few minutes later on August 9th, shortly after midnight.
Welcome to the boys and congratulations to Mum and Dad.
“I couldn’t make head nor tail of it”, somebody said to me. I replied that in the middle of the clues there were five fairly easily identified places.
6. ‘The lake by which the peas grow’ - Peaslake.
7. ‘The yew tree wooded hill’ - Ewhurst.
8. ‘The woodland clearing frequented by cranes’ - Cranleigh.
9. ‘The Old Enclosure’ - Alfold.
10. ‘The small enclosure of Master Dunt’ - Dunsfold.
I hoped that once some, or better still all, of the above were arrived at, a voice in one’s head would say, “Surely, this is the same as the middle part of the 50-mile Reliability Ride”, and the rest, with a little working out or guess-work, would fall in into place. So the route was: -
|1. Pyrford.||9. Alfold.|
|2. Ripley.||10. Dunsfold.|
|3. Send.||11. Plaistow.|
|4. Clandon.||12. Kirdford.|
|5. Shere.||13. Wisborough Green.|
|6. Peaslake.||14. Bucks Green.|
|7. Ewhurst.||15. Ewhurst Green.|
|8. Cranleigh.||16. Holmbury.|
So did anyone phone me with the correct route? Yes! I had already guessed who it would be and, sure enough, it was Chris Jeggo. He left the solution on my answer-phone saying ‘ I enjoyed your little brain-teaser; it was the route of the 50 Reliability’ and then reeled off all the names in order. Well done, Chris.
Of course far more important than the above was the success of this year’s ‘50 Reliability’. The weather was perfect (congratulations to the Committee on changing the date; it rained on our usual date!), the wild flowers were breathtakingly beautiful, everyone got round and, I believe, thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
THE AGM will be held at the Manor Hotel, Newlands Corner, on Sunday 18 Nov 01, commencing at 11 am. Tea/coffee and light refreshments, at a cost of £1, will be available from 10:30.
Nominations for Committee membership (all positions are open to election) on the pro-forma opposite, and any motions for discussion at the AGM, should be passed to the Secretary, Derek Tanner (or a Committee member) by 4 Nov 01.
Luncheon, at a cost of £15, will be served at 1pm. The menu is:-
Cream of Broccoli & Stilton Soup
Topside of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding
(Vegetable Stir-fry in a Hoi-sin Sauce with Rice)
Reserve your place(s), by passing/sending a cheque, payable to “West Surrey DA of CTC”, to Phil Hamilton, 165 York Road, Woking, Surrey, GU22 7XS, by 4 Nov 01. Don’t forget to state if you require the vegetarian option.
As we intend to present the annual awards at the lunch, would all holders of DA trophies please return them to Tom Hargreaves as soon as possible.
NO-ONE has volunteered to take over the Intermediate Group, so I have put a list of starts and coffee places in the Runs List. It is important that the DA have a group intermediate between the Wayfarers and Hardriders.
Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that I will be on any of these runs, since my Achilles tendinitis is no better. The specialist is talking about surgery. Also, my broken arm is taking a while to mend. At the moment, cycling more than a couple of miles makes it ache.
If no-one volunteers to take over this quarter, you’ll get pretty much the same list next quarter. After that, who knows?
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 5 October 2009.