“The West Surrey Cyclist” - July - September 2002
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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
Cycle Ban for Rail Commuters
Organisers - Please Take Note
Smarten Up, You Lot
Anniversary Time, by Keith Chesterton
Reliability Ride - The Event - by Phil Hamilton
The 50 Mile Reliability Ride, 12/5/02 - by Harold Coleman
Wish Pedlars 2002 Camberley to Portsmouth - by Bill Thompson
The Second Woking Hospice Sponsored Cycle Ride 22 September 2002 - by Bryon Alden
Get the Magazine Delivered for £3 a Year
May Bank Holiday - The Forest of Dean - by Anne Tanner
A Gallic Group - by Marion Thompson
‘Shape of Things to Come’ - a New Hudson advertisement from ‘The Bicycle’, 1947
Group Riding - by Harold Coleman
Old CTC Gazettes offered by Keith Chesterton
Dates for Your Diary - (only the changes from previous issues)
Outer back cover - advertisement - Carradice
WE regular cycling tourists like to think we enjoy our social riding year round, but this is definitely the best time of the year for our pastime simply because it is warmer - even if it is raining. I should be cycling in the Czech Republic when this mag comes out, and intend to be in the Yorkshire Dales for a while before spending a fortnight cycling in Western Scotland and the Western Isles. In these beautiful locations rain is almost a certainty.
So why go there? The answer is simple - there is beauty in the rain when you are away from the hateful pollution which engulfs us so often here in much of West Surrey.
I revel in the smell of the rain in unpolluted parts of our world. Unless it is absolutely chucking it down and the wind is in my face, I will happily pedal on, stopping perhaps to lift the face to the sky, drink in a few drops of rain, and breathe in deeply. Just the smell of it, particularly in remote Scotland with heathers and ferns all around, can intoxicate you.
My pal Chris often tells of how I phoned him once from the roadside of a storm-ridden Isle of Mull. It is good for a laugh when he tells people how happy I sounded in the howling gale but I don’t mind. I love hearing his description because it brings back the joy of it all.
But if you can’t get away yourself this summer, just head for our West Surrey hills. They are wonderful, even in the rain, virtually 365 days of the year.
And when you do cycle up and down the hills, give some thought to the dilemma currently facing our county and borough councillors. We are charged with finding space for thousands of new homes for our young people and key workers if our towns are not to face economic death. Should we add these homes on in bits and pieces of land, putting our already stretched infrastructure under even greater strain, or should we opt for building a new larger community complete with a decent road structure, education, health, work and leisure facilities?
There is a chance of such a community, of perhaps 7,000 homes, being established between Woking and Guildford. The very idea of this may horrify you but to my mind, much Green Belt land there is now ripe for major, and vitally necessary, comparatively low cost housing development.
Whatever happens, we cyclists need to be vigilant to ensure that decent facilities for cycling are included in all development plans - and that, above all, our wonderful Surrey Hills are preserved for ever. It is the hills, not nondescript bits of underused woodland around Woking and Guildford, that are our true countryside glory.
HEAVEN knows I dislike motorists using mobile phones while driving and even spotted an AA patrol man doing so as he turned into a main road near my home.
But we cyclists are also victim to the power of the cellphone, it seems. Like many I was appalled when former Commons Speaker Lady Boothroyd told the House of Lords how she often beeped her car horn to persuade cyclists to drop their phones.
And Lord Filkin, a transport minister, responded by commending her “direct action”, expressing some delight in her taking the law into her own hands.
Needless to say, there were follow-up letters in the papers saying that Boothroyd’s actions were daft, irresponsible, and the use of her car horn illegal. If one of her startled victims fell under the wheels of her (or any other) vehicle and died, she could well find herself charged with manslaughter.
I particularly appreciated the comment of Libby Purves in The Times. The hereditary peers, she said, may have been nutty, but Boothroyd and Filkin were potential killers.
She condemned Boothroyd as a “self-righteous, irresponsible old bat” and added: “I hope some startled cyclist takes Lady Boothroyd’s number, reports her to the police, and sues her till the pips squeak.”
Quite so, Libby. We should all sue away at the aggressive horn-blowers, accepting that we should not use mobiles while riding any more than car drivers should.
But as a final thought, would we really get any justice if we reported such incidents to the police?
SOUTH West Trains has banned Guildford, Woking, and Dorking area commuters from taking bikes on to trains timed to arrive in London between 7.45am and 9.45am.
The cyclists were given one week’s notice of this at the end of May and the ban took effect without any form of consultation.
The CTC is on the case and local councils are due to make representations to SWT. If nothing else, perhaps cycle parking facilities at stations can be improved - and expanded.
ORGANISERS are asked to advise appropriate members of the committee as early as possible of their events so that they can be slotted into the overall West Surrey DA activities plan - and given some publicity in the magazine and runs lists.
The names and numbers are on page two.
COMMITTEE member Peter Clint has resurrected the idea of providing new club shirts for West Surrey CTC, mentioning how envious he was at the stylish team apparel worn by groups of cyclists in Belgium.
So the search is on again for someone to come up with an eye-catching design which will be so impressive that our regular riders will buy them up in droves.
Good luck to Peter and any budding designer. Judging by the pride taken in their tatty appearance by some of our worthies, there is a huge hurdle to climb.
NEXT year will see the 125th anniversary of the founding of the CTC and the 75th anniversary of the formation of the West Surrey DA. We should try to mark this in some way, get some publicity for our DA, and encourage more cycling in our patch.
What ideas do members have - perhaps a 75km ride (46.7 miles) in Surrey? Note that I suggest kilometres rather than miles. That is to attract more participants.
Perhaps we could persuade 75-year-old members to have a photo opportunity.
Should we have a 75th anniversary tea?
THE FORECAST of reasonable weather encouraged 24 riders to embark on the challenge of completing a 50-mile, hilly route within the permitted 5 hours. Regrettably they “enjoyed” almost unbroken cloud, rather than sunshine, with some even getting caught in quite heavy rain; but the gathering at the King’s Head, Holmbury St Mary was a lively affair, where the trials of the morning were discussed, and diluted with some fine ales, and good food replaced the expended energy. (We really should return, before next year, and sample some more of both.)
Lunchtime discussion included debate as to whether Harold Coleman could legitimately claim two records, namely, having completed the event in under 3½ hours at 71 years of age, and having completed 30 Reliability Rides with the DA. Any dissenters?
My thanks to all those who took part, and very special thanks to those who assisted at the Start, Control and Finish - without whom the event could not have been run.
And so to the future. Last year it was suggested that we should have a “circular” route, but lack of input from the membership precluded any further action. This year it has been suggested that we should include a less demanding route to encourage those who consider the present ride beyond their capabilities. Put your thoughts to the Committee or accept that next year’s ride will be the same format - no input means no change.
The following will receive a Certificate:
|R Banks||C Boarer||C Boggon||P Callaghan||H Coleman|
|C Green||T Hargreaves||C Harvey||D Jones||N Kenworthy (Ms)|
|R Lucas (Ms)||I McGregor||R Page||C Richardson||D Smith|
|H Smith||P Slyfield||A Tanner (Mrs)||D Tanner||M Waters|
All participants and helpers will be awarded the relevant Sunday Attendance and Benstead Cup points.
Well, it had to happen some day - yes, it rained during the event. The first time since 1971 to my knowledge. I have ridden it from 1972 to 2001 in the dry (the one year that I did not ride, due to an ‘op’ on a knee, it was also dry) so that was thirty consecutive years without rain. That surely must be a record for any event? Possibly there were more dry days to be added on before 1972? The mind boggles.
For some riders it did not rain anyway; it was just a matter of luck as to whether you had the misfortune to coincide with one of the showers or not. Peter Callaghan rode through some heavy rain; starting half an hour after him, I came upon wet roads but suffered only an unpleasant drizzle - actually it was quite refreshing. My old rugger pal Ian was half an hour after me and had no rain at all.
Being mid-May some of the spring flowers that we have seen so many times whilst on the ride had already gone, but the bluebells were in glorious profusion; especially on the top of Clandon Down which made the climb well worth while. Besides several regulars who, like me, have ridden the event many times, there were some new riders who all had to work hard but seemed pleased to have taken part. I will just mention three: - 1st, my old rugby pal Ian who appeared rather shattered but happy. 2nd, Chris Harvey, who had phoned me the previous evening enquiring about CTC rides - I suggested that he might come out the next morning and tackle the ‘50’ - he did and he enjoyed it. 3rd, Jean, who I think will not mind when I say that she is not an athletic rider and who has a rather heavy bike but managed to get round in only just over 5hrs - a noble effort.
The present course is basically the same as I worked out in 1973 and, amazingly, the vast majority of the roads and lanes which it uses are still quiet and unspoilt. Over that period of time we have seen a few different landlords at the Queens Head at Holmbury St Mary: they have all made us most welcome, which rounds the ride off very nicely.
I still try to get round in under 3½hrs as a personal challenge, which I have managed to do on all but three occasions: - my very first ride and twice on a 1906 Dursley Pedersen - I did manage 3hrs 38mins on it (I was 25 years younger then). The important thing is to enjoy it, of course - sit up and look over the hedgerows - stop for coffee - walk up a hill - have a bit of a go - ride on your own - ride with friends - ENJOY IT - I always do. My thanks to Phil Hamilton and his band of helpers.
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 Tuscam Way in Camberley at 8am on Sunday 15th September, through Cove and Fleet and then 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 cyclist-friendly cafes.
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.
Bill Thompson, Route Organiser
Last year’s Hospice Cycle Ride was a real success story. A big ‘thank you’ to all who helped and/or rode, on the day. One hundred and twenty people, and £7,500 was raised in sponsorship. A tremendous effort.
This year, the format will be much the same but with a significant improvement in road signing. Rico, Phil Hamilton and I will again be the backbone of the organising committee and we will seek to double both the number who ride and the sponsorship money raised for the Woking Hospice.
District Association members are invited to ride on the day, with or without sponsors, or to help in the admin. Your presence in either capacity would be enormously valued.
The Hospice must raise £1,000,000 each year and needs a constant drip feed ‘money-wise’. We continue to plan and hope that the venture will secure increasing funds as the years go by.
Please contact one of us if you can help.
ARRIVING at St. Briavels Castle Youth Hostel we were welcomed by the Warden with a cheery ‘men’s accommodation at the top of the West Tower - women’s accommodation at the top of the East Tower’.
That was our first climb and so set the trend for the weekend. Next morning following a hearty breakfast we split into 2 groups, Tom and Jeff, and the rest of us (5). First manoeuvre was to traverse across the contours to the Forest of Dean Cycle Centre for a comfort stop, whereupon we discovered we had lost Anne (serious business, and major grief for being denied her comfort break).
Heading north we eventually ran out of forest and on to the minor roads with Symonds Yat as our goal. Still looking to get even, Anne led the charge down a seemingly endless downhill with alpine-like bends. Having run out of incline we engaged granny gears all the way back to the top to get back on to our route. The RSPB were present at Symonds Yat and we got a most informative brief on the nesting peregrines.
Then back down again to the river, whereupon, with some determination (some say, for fear of the climb back to the top), we found the cycle track to Monmouth. A challenge was set to get to Clearwater before tea. Whereupon Anne disappeared again, this time into the village hall where the WI were holding a craft fair. It didn’t take us long to realize it was the toilet with tea and cakes she was after.
Back at the hostel the girls were seen smuggling pots of jam, marmalade and various other crafts up to their room.
A deputation was out the next morning to demand a hill-free day, and so we set off with a huge descent to the river to meet Hilary. Hopefully nobody realized the next 1.5 hours of climbing to get to superb views over the hills beyond Monmouth, by which time everyone had a full set of working gears.
At Raglan we discovered that the castle doesn’t serve refreshments. At Usk we spent far too long at lunch, and the highlight of the weekend was the view from Pen-y-cae Mawr (GR 412950). No-one is talking about how we got there.
Then down and down and down into Tintern and straight into the village hall (yup, you guessed it - tea and cakes). Nobody was sure whether they stuffed too much cake which is what made the climb back to the Hostel so demoralizing or not.
On Monday we returned to the forest, hired a tandem and generally got lost while marvelling at the bluebells glades.
Just one question - where are we going next year, Tom?
IN FLANDERS fields the poppies blow ......................, and so in May nine wandering wayfarers ventured forth to explore these fields still further. A mini-bus with trailer provided a challenge for expert stowage of precious bicycles for anxious owners, and after a brief Sea-Cat ferry crossing the tour had begun.
For those of you who are familiar with Flanders, you will be aware of the region's attractiveness for cyclists. However, this awareness must be the privileged secret of only a limited number of people. Here must be the corner of the world to beat all corners. Unsung heroes lie at rest there indeed, but this is one of the most under rated low profile regions in all the travel brochures. To actually pinpoint the boundaries of Flanders on a map of Europe is a good basic Geography test for a start. Right?
The rich agricultural emerald and russet landscape, with its limitless ridges and gentle inclines, is refreshingly special. Endless twisting country lanes linking each village, with glorious open vistas. Exquisitely tended cemeteries springing up in the middle of nowhere lend a touch of poignant sadness to the atmosphere. And every where the skylarks trilling. The towpaths along canals, and smooth surfaced cycleways mean that you could pedal away here forever. But, for me personally, the greatest dining-out talking point is the outstanding courtesy of the drivers. Or is it that in this county of Surrey, and indeed in this country, England, we are conditioned to the idea that the cyclist's place is in the wrong? To meet drivers who wave you across the road as you hesitantly wait to cross a busy line of traffic with your two wheels is worth a trip across the Channel.
The hotels, carefully vetted by Rico's expertise, gave us excellent personal attention and the dining was cordon bleu de luxe.
Amongst the special places visited were the cobbled Grot Markt of Ypres with its impressive Cloth Market and Cathedral. It was almost incomprehensible that this quaint, very distinctive town, had been re-built in all its former glory after being flattened in World War 1. Our eyes were moist at the Menin Gate, as we heard the citation and listened to the Last Post at sunset. Sanctuary Wood, Tyne Cot, Essex Farm cemeteries and Vimy Ridge, surely the most breathtaking and humbling monument in the world? A German cemetery, and the awesome Notre Dame de Lorette French memorial with its oceans of crosses reminded us that other nations also mourned their lost ones.
One highlight was unique. Our intrepid organiser led us on our first morning along the uninterrupted cycleways to Essex Farm cemetery just outside Ypres. Trevor Strudwick knew that a past relative was laid to rest there and wished to pay his respects. A local guide pointed Trevor to the most visited grave in the cemetery. Rifleman Valentine 'Jo' Strudwick was just 15 years old when he died fighting for his country in February 1915. In front of his headstone were many poppies and a wreath laid by visitors moved by the tragedy of this particular youthful casualty of a horrific conflict.
Humour seems to follow West Surrey cyclists around. Who would believe that after assembling the beloved bicycles in the hotel garage on day one, poor Bill Thompson found himself without a wheel for his dear, nay darling, Geoffrey Butler? Anguished minutes later, after much distress and lamenting it turned up...........oh dear, was it really on Geoff Banks' smart crimson custom built Mayo? Geoff's wheel still languished in his luxurious wheel bag........Silly Billy, or silly Banksy? Poor Alan Holbrook stopped regularly to remove his longs from over his shorts (rehearsing for the Full Monty, Alan?) and alas, lost his longs from his cycle rack. If anyone is passing between Ypres and Ostend, please keep an eye open for them, large and navy.
Perhaps I should not reveal the fact that certain members of the group, after visiting the fleshpots... hmmm .. bars of Gavrelle were locked out of the hotel and had to resort to rather desperate measures to gain re-entry.
There should always be a low on every trip. It is difficult to think of one on this occasion. Perhaps the wind, which really did blow on one day, or the slip of the mind that made everyone forget that in France everyone eats at midi. So we were sometimes carried away pedalling hungrily for miles in search of the equivalent of a Surrey pub, open at one p.m. But how quickly we recover after a plat du jour.
Many, many thanks must go to Trevor for his careful administration and the time spent on organising this lovely holiday. Also thanks for the trouble he took to get us to our destination and safely home to our doorsteps with bicycles intact. His driving under tricky conditions was exemplary. Also thanks to Rico for booking such comfortable abodes, and for leading our rides all over the place, especially with an out of date Michelin map. We all had a super time. Courage! les cyclistes du troisième age, when is the follow up trip to Flanders?
When I went out on my first rides with the West Surrey D.A. the thing which impressed me most was the way in which the riders looked after each other by drawing attention to any dangers. Riding in close company is very different to riding on one’s own. When you are part of a close group, you can only see more than a foot or two of the road ahead if you are at the front. Therefore it is just a matter of common sense that those at the front warn those following of any dangers and that this warning is then passed down the line. Likewise, of course, riders at the rear can warn those ahead of overtaking vehicles. If this simple code of practice is not adhered to, riders within a group are placed at unnecessary risk and there is not only the enhanced chance of an individual being injured but of two or three, or more, being involved.
Of late, I have been very sorry to see that several experienced riders do not bother to make the small effort required to care for the safety of their friends and thereby set an example to new riders. At times I have asked that potholes should be pointed out and there have been those who have thought fit to attempt to mock me. Such a reaction to a sensible request does them no credit and, I can assure them, will not deter me from trying to persuade them that they should be concerned for the safety of their fellow riders. To avoid this, I can, of course, stay up front all the time or hang off the back by twenty or more feet, but I trust that such measures will not be needed and that, whilst being perfectly willing to do my bit at the front, I and others can also have peace of mind when riding in the middle of the bunch.
Accordingly I recommend the following:-
As with all the warnings, they must be passed along the group and riders must be prepared to act upon them. Usually this will mean that the outside riders should drop back and pull in close to the side of the road. The inside riders therefore, have also to drop back to allow this to happen.
It might be thought that at times the outside rider should go forward but if there is no fixed rule, confusion results with possibly disastrous results.
To ignore a ‘Car up’ call on a busy or narrow road, and to just go on chatting to your neighbour, is putting yourself and your fellow riders at risk.
I am not trying to advocate military style riding or regulations - I enjoy the fun of cycling too much for that. I wish only for common sense to prevail when riding in a close group for the sake of all those within it - the requirements are very simple and have been used by club cyclists for more than 100 years, so I think that they have proved their worth.
DA Archivist Keith Chesterton has acquired a large number of old CTC Gazettes which are of no local interest. Anyone who would like them is invited to contact Keith on 01483 563392.
Those he has are: (following list not reproduced here)
As in previous issues except:-
AUGUST 18th - Tour of the Hills. 110km Brevet Populaire grimpeur with 2,091m total climb (1 AAA Point). Organiser: Tom Hargreaves, phone 01483 851930
AUGUST 18th - Tour of the Greensand Hills, 54km. A shorter, complementary ride to the Tour of the Hills. Organiser: Tom Hargreaves, as above
SEPTEMBER 15th - Wish Pedlars 2002 ride, Camberley to Portsmouth, in aid of Make-A-Wish Foundation for children with life-threatening illnesses. Phone 01276 24127
SEPTEMBER 22nd - Woking Hospice Sponsored Cycle Ride, 15 miles or 30 miles, starting from Ripley. Contact fund-raising manager John Quinn, phone 01483 881750
NOVEMBER 17th - Annual general meeting and annual lunch, Litten Tree, Woking. More details in next issue but BOOK THIS DATE IN YOUR DIARY NOW
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 8 October 2009.