“The West Surrey Cyclist” - January - March 2005
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Front cover - a new design for 2005 - see next issue
Inner front cover - West Surrey CTC District Association
Editorial front matter - similar to previous issue
Riding Around - With Editor Geoff Smith
A Capital Day Out - by John Ostrom
Right to Ride - by Peter Clint
Signs Damage - see previous issue
Points From the 76th Annual General Meeting - by Geoff Smith
Trying to Make a Point - by David Williamson
Letter to the Editor - from Chris Jeggo
Runnymede Town Twinning - by Chris Jeggo - later reproduced as a DA history webpage
President’s Page - by Rico Signore
CTC Tri Vets Ride 2004 - by Liz Palethorpe
Looking Good ..... in Our DA Shirts
Dates for Your Diary
PRESIDENT Rico Signore 01483 822240
SECRETARY Jeff Banks, 17 Waldens Park Road, Horsell, Woking GU14
4RN. 01483 772616 firstname.lastname@example.org
TREASURER Tim Bar 01483 825691
RUNS SECRETARY Bob McLeod, 23 Beresford Close, Frimley Green, Camberley GU16 6LB. Phone 01252 835321
COMMITTEE MEMBERS Geoff Smith 01483 769051; Peter Callaghan 01483 770902; Derek Tanner 01276 474553
VICE-PRESIDENTS George Alesbury, Harold Coleman, Chris Jeggo, Clive Richardson, Derek Tanner
MAGAZINE EDITOR Geoff Smith, 2 Julian Close, Woking GU21 3HD. Phone 01483 769051
ARCHIVIST Keith Chesterton 01483 563392
CTC AREA RIGHT TO RIDE OFFICER
Peter Clint 6 Pendennis Close, West Byfleet 01932 340564
SUNDAY RIDERS Clive Richardson 01428 724390
GUILDFORD AND GODALMING WAYFARERS Peter Fennemore 01483 300689
MIDWEEK WAYFARERS Rico Signore 01483 822240; Roy Banks 01344 842676; Sybil Preston 01483 837839
WOKING WAYFARERS Anke Blackburn 01483 765837
WHEN riding in a bunch do you ever feel you are under pressure or at all apprehensive? The question occurs to me following an unfortunate accident when one of our number came down very hard while descending White Down. As befits that particular bit of road we were well strung out and I was behind Dane Maslen as his back wheel went, he walloped on to the ground, and then slid, causing nasty injuries to right shoulder and arm.
As usual, you thank your lucky stars that you were not riding closer but then perhaps it is intuition combined with experience which tells you to leave sufficient gap when riding with a group depending on the road, gradient, and weather conditions.
Certainly we must bear leaving a sufficient gap in mind at all times but how then do we equate this cautious approach with the sheer joy of riding close to someone’s back wheel, being towed along in a slipstream, hopefully with a good wind behind you to add to the pleasure?
On a Sunday ride this Autumn I was in a close-knit bunch of half a dozen, accelerating gently on a slight descent, when to my surprise the rider in front started to slow, then move to turn right.
I had completely missed the leader’s signal to turn right, wriggled and jiggled desperately, and managed to avoid a collision. Had I struck another bike about four of us would have gone down. Phew!
Good luck or what? Or was it intuition or experience which brought me safely out of that situation? I’ll never know.
Later the same day I read an interesting article in a Sunday paper on how time can “slow down” at key moments. The author gave examples of how a champion sprinter can be up and running, as much as 16 or 19 feet into the race, before he is consciously aware that the starting gun has fired. He can be off the blocks in 130 milliseconds.
And in cricket a batsman can find himself in a suddenly enlarged and spacious timescape, where he has all the time he needs to strike the ball even if it is travelling at close to 100mph.
The author then turned to our game: “In a bicycle race, cyclists may be moving at nearly 40 miles per hour, separated only by inches. The slightest error may lead to a multiple crash. But to the cyclists, concentrating intensely, everything seems to be moving in relatively slow motion, with ample room and time to allow improvisation and intricate manoeuvrings.”
His theory is that this expertise is acquired by years of practice and training starting with intense effort and attention. At some point the basic skills become so ingrained in the nervous system as to be almost second nature.
His reasoning is that one part of the brain may be working automatically while another has an elastic perception of time that can be compressed or expanded.
So this may be the explanation of why Dane seemed to hit the ground very slowly as I observed it at his rear - as indeed I felt everything was happening very slowly when I had my cycling accident caused by a reversing car hitting me.
Yes, it seemed to be slow motion but it was also inevitable, damn it.
Some time ago, acting on a whim I suggested to the Wayfarers a Sunday run along the Thames Path going east from Waterloo. It was not an original idea, since ten or more years ago Ken Bolingbroke led a similar ride. The route was poorly signposted in those days, but Ken led with faultless precision, never needing to consult his map - if indeed he had one. The only problem was that it rained all day without cease.
Response was positive, but, expecting a low turnout I was surprised find ten eager faces on Platform One of Woking Station. But the outlook was not very promising - the gloomy voice of the station announcer was offering coach transport for passengers. We were lucky in finding an old “slam-door”, which took us to Waterloo by a roundabout route.
At Waterloo we were met by that jolly chappie Wally Happy, which made up our numbers to a round dozen. A pleasant surprise this, since Wally does not usually ride with us on Sundays. So, after I had counted everybody in we set off along the path using the map provided free by Mr Livingstone. Our path skirted the Festival Hall and led through a maze of narrow, cobbled alleys flanked by ancient buildings until we reached HMS Belfast, moored downstream from Tate Modern - (What will future art historians make of the contents of that?). From there our path took us to the replica Golden Hind, tucked demurely into a tiny wharf. The sheer solidity of her construction and the massive girth of her masts contrasted strangely with the modest dimensions of the ship. In this robust cockleshell Francis Drake circumnavigated the world between 1577 and 1580 without proper charts or any means to determine longitude, returning in good time for a game of bowls. So intrigued were we by the ship that we forgot to visit that other replica nearby - The Globe Theatre, home of Drake’s contemporary William Shakespeare.
We went on through a labyrinth of narrow streets, that used to be the heart of old Docklands. In 1950 when I started work in the City the river sported a forest of derricks unloading produce from the four corners of the Earth. All gone now, their places taken by hundreds of bijoux residences for well heeled city toilers. Few would have wished to reside there in post-war Britain; the smell of the polluted river would have made for an uncongenial lifestyle. Not for nothing was London known ironically in the provinces as “The Smoke”. Indeed it is said that in the eighteenth century
(Here, something is clearly missing from the original mag. article - CRJ, web-page editor.)
Refreshed and sustained we carried on, turning northward now towards “Tony’s Mosque”, sometimes known as The Dome. Here all charm vanished as we found ourselves in a desolate wasteland. Sadly the regeneration promised by the millennium project has failed so far to materialise. A bit dispirited we continued south and eastwards, past the Thames Barrier and on down to the Woolwich Free Ferry. This must be unique, in that it is the only commodity that has not succumbed to inflation. A hundred years ago it was free and it still is! Admittedly it is a bit spartan and there are no loos - a major problem for Thames Path pilgrims.
Happily the “voyage” took only ten minutes and we soon disembarked on the North Bank. Homeward bound now, we turned west along Albert Road, which flanks London City Airport, into what is known as Silvertown, hard by Royal Victoria Dock. I would like to draw a veil over this leg of our odyssey. Shabby buildings in mean streets and an air of sadness and neglect, accentuated perhaps by the fact that it was Sunday and it seemed deserted. We should perhaps recall that during the lifetimes of the grandparents of today’s inhabitants (apart from the immigrants), this whole area was a sea of flames. (Sorry Anke - talking about the war again!)
I had made one grave miscalculation in supposing that on the Sabbath few cars would be heading for the City. Wrong - there were myriads of them! With no choice we pressed on until we came to the outskirts of the City proper. Here we picked up the signposts of the Thames Path, allowing us to thread our way along canal paths leading to elegant piazzas, flanking docks restyled for yachts rather than freighters. The scene here was more elegant than that on the South Bank with just a hint of Venice. For a while we made our way through a bustle of Sunday strollers until we came to Tower Hill, where by Traitors’ Gate we were commanded to dismount.
By this time - around 4.30 PM, I think most of us were getting weary. We followed the Thames Path until our group began to split up. Some took Blackfriars Bridge, some the Millennium Bridge, others Waterloo and Hungerford Bridges. So we arrived separately at Waterloo. This was just as well, since trains were crowded at that time.
So that was it. A new experience and a nice contrast to our usual bucolic wanderings. . It is good from time to time to remind ourselves what a treasure we have in London. Samuel Johnson, writing in the reign of George the Third, when London was hardly a salubrious place to live, said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”. Maybe - but certainly London has seen more history and created more history than any place on earth. Every cobble stone could tell a story.
If I had it to do again I would cut out the Woolwich Crossing, opting rather to go over (or rather under) the Thames by way of the foot tunnel at Greenwich. That would cut out the least interesting section and shorten the time by at least two hours, leaving more time to devote to the real attractions. In terms of mileage the distance was slight - probably not more that fifteen miles - but it was strenuous, involving many steps and frequent bike portage. We were at it for nine hours in all.
Overall, though, I think it was worth it and I hope the others feel the same.
The last three months have been very busy - during that time I, along with the Woking Cycle Users Group, have completed the audit of thirteen routes into the town centre. Our suggestions are now being costed and some of the signposting is now being implemented.
Whilst the money currently available will not allow the routes to be as complete as we would wish, it is hoped over the next few years you will see a significant improvement, particularly as central government is doubling its pathetically small but nevertheless much needed contribution next year.
By next spring it is hoped the signposting of all the routes into Woking will have been completed, maps will be available as well as large map displays at suitable spots along the routes including the town square. It is also intended that there will be increased cycle parking facilities in areas where it is felt this would be useful.
I have also been meeting regularly with Elmbridge and Runnymede Councils as well as Woking in an attempt to develop cross-county cycle routes. These meetings are frequent and on-going and Runnymede have been particularly proactive in this. Hopefully these efforts will pay dividends for cyclists in the future.
I have also been making representation on your behalf concerning the transport of cycles on trains by speaking and writing to South West Trains, The Strategic Rail Authority and The Minister of Transport voicing our concerns relating to restrictions currently being proposed.
Did anybody support the CTC’s campaign against compulsory helmet wearing? As I was worried about the outcome of this proposed legislation, I decided to do my bit to try and sway the argument. As I saw it, compulsion today for under 16s would inevitably lead to compulsion for all before too long.
Rather than mail off to Parliament the pre-written statement prepared by Headquarters, I decided to argue my own case, which was that any such law would be unenforceable. This was based on my observations of the youngsters who share the close where I live. On any day they can be seen riding up and down repeatedly, helmets on, helmets off, sometimes on backwards, but with the straps hardly ever done up. It is hard to think of them as potential criminals.
The hard part of the exercise was ensuring that I spelled the name of Woking’s M.P. Humfrey Malins correctly. In that week’s free paper, it had appeared twice written differently both times. The correct answer turned out to be Humfrey (with an f) and Malins (one l). Almost by return of post, I received a reply from Mr. Malins stating that he was basically against unnecessary legislation but that the bill was unlikely to succeed in any case. Although I felt this was encouraging, I am sure that we haven’t heard the last of this one.
This is not the first time I have written to Parliament about the uncertainties of cycling in this country. The previous time, a few years back, followed the problems I had met trying to take bikes on trains. Again I received a rapid reply from Mr. Malins - unfortunately I’d forgotten how to spell his name in the meantime. However, I never did get a reply from John Prescott, who was in charge of the country’s train set at the time, or from The Strategic Rail Authority either.
Editor’s Note: Sue Doughty, MP for Guildford, was also approached on the subject of cycle helmets. Her reply to Charlottevitte CC was passed to me for possible inclusion in the mag.
She said that although the Liberal Democrats strongly support the wearing of helmets by all cyclists, they felt the bill was unenforceable and had the potential to cause a significant fall in the number of people cycling, as had happened in Australia and New Zealand.
In reporting on my “round robin” email you have put words into my mouth. Nowhere did I accuse the Intermediates of “often avoiding the designated coffee stop”. As you should know, the Intermediates have not designated a coffee stop for a long time now, apart from Charles Green’s rides which the email explicitly excluded from my observations. - Chris Jeggo.
Ed’s note: The email concerned a Sunday ride situation where “the group never arrived at coffee”. I took it that a coffee stop had been designated on that occasion but readily confess my use of “often” was a presumption on my part that this was normal practice. I have to say that on the occasions I have ridden with the Intermediates I have been told of the coffee stop at the start of the ride, if only because I have asked.
As newly-elected president, the first words I hear are: “Your Editor Expects” - a page for every issue of the Club magazine! Pardon? Here we go, having been assured that this post is definitely honorary only, without entailing any duties whatsoever! Fooled again.
What a brilliant chance to blow my own trumpet with my first effort (nobody else will):
“Everything you did not wish to know about your new President”
My name is Rico Signore (no, neither Enrico nor Riccardo), quite simply Rico, with one “c” only please, as “ricco” in Italian means rich, i.e. patently not true! I was born and dragged up in Zurich (Gnome town) in Switzerland - no fault of mine, I did not have much say in the matter. Thus, I am a citizen of that town but the family name is of course of Italian origin. However, I am of Swiss/Italian/German parentage and, on marrying my wife Christine, the mixture became even more complicated as she also has, apart from her English ancestry, German and Italian forebears. It needs a mathematical genius to work out the proportion of nationalities our three children have inherited - perhaps we are the original European Union (eat your heart out Grand Charles!).
Following Commercial College I worked first in insurance (Zurich Financial Services), then with Kuoni Travel (HQ Zurich) before joining the Swiss National Tourist Office (HQ - you guessed it, Zurich). As I considered maths, law, book-keeping and sciences boring (i.e. way beyond me), I decided to expand my knowledge of languages. To perfect my school knowledge of French and Italian, I was very keen to relocate to one of these countries - English came bottom of my language list (what do you expect, with a background like mine?). But those in authority decided otherwise and in 1960 sent me sailing across the Channel which, my dear friends, was your bad luck as I am still here (what? surely not another unwelcome immigrant?).
Working for Switzerland Tourism my main task was to sell my country as a holiday and business destination to the British community, which sounds like carrying coals to Newcastle as it was the Brits who discovered my country as a holiday destination. Famous names like Byron, Shelley and Conan Doyle praised the beauty of our landscape and mountains, at the same time using it as background in their literary output.
With the exception of one gap year in Paris I have lived around the Surrey area ever since, loving the countryside, the villages, the pubs, the people (the current President of Charlotteville excepted), and I particularly enjoy my cycling and the company of the pedalling fraternity (except - see above).
I am very proud (gebauchpinselt = tummy tickled) to have been made President and I shall certainly endeavour to be worthy of this honour and try to fulfil my (honorary only) duties to the best of my abilities (yes, I can hear you: “What abilities?”!). Well, I have been known to find my way around the Surrey lanes, SO THERE!
2004 is the Triennial Year for the Veterans’ 100-mile ride.
What’s the definition of a Veteran?
Answer - over 50 years of age.
And the ride is 100 miles in under 12 hours.
We decided to enter the Oxfordshire DA event. Arriving at Kidlington, north of Oxford, we assembled in the village hall at 8.00am for coffee and a chat. About 50 people were divided into groups of ten and we set off at 10-minute intervals. Being rather cocky we decided on the fastest group and then as we watched the other groups set off we wondered whether we had rather over-estimated our ability.
We quickly got out of the urban sprawl and cycled through wonderful undulating farmland and little villages. Our leader kept a steady pace and we soon settled into a friendly little group. Coffee was at a farm centre at Weston on the Green, then on via Sandford St Martin and the River Cherwell for lunch at North Leigh village hall. What a delicious lunch - provided by the local WI. With fifty-odd miles now well under our belts it was on to the Windrush Valley, Buckland and the Vale of the White Horse and tea at Steventon - again provided by the WI. The final section through Cumnor and Eynsham took us back to Kidlington.
Wow - We couldn’t believe we had done 100 miles. The combination of pace-setting and accurate map-reading by our leader meant that we had achieved an average of 12.6mph.
At the finish over a few drinks we received our certificates - what a successful event.
How about entering in 2007? A great cycling day! Well recommended!
Thank you, Oxfordshire DA, especially Ellen Lee, the organiser.
Be proud of your DA - wear our colourful club tops. You can choose your size and combination of sleeve and zip lengths. There is even a bespoke service should you require it. All come with the traditional three elasticated rear pockets, and that eye-catching design.
Aertex, Isolon, and winter-wear materials are available.
Place your orders with Peter Clint, 6 Pendennis Close, West Byfleet. Call first on 01932 340564 to arrange an appointment to select fabrics from samples and for fitting.
“Picture the verdant greens of lush pasture, the golden hues of ripening wheat in the summer sun, interwoven with the tarmac-black stripe of a road running through it. Yes, I’m talking about the new DA jersey” - Dennis Clarke
JANUARY 1st 2005: Runs groups rendezvous, Seale Craft Centre (morning)
MARCH 6th: Surrey Hills Saunter from CTC HQ, Godalming (similar route to Tour of the Greensand Hills) (Mark Waters 01483 414307)
MAY 1st: Isle of Wight round-the-island randonnee
APRIL 24th: Reliability Ride 50 miles (Phil Hamilton 01483 772008)
APRIL 30th - MAY 2nd (May Day bank holiday): Rides from Stow-on-the-Wold Youth Hostel (Derek Tanner 01276 474553)
MAY 22nd: Stonehenge 200km/Danebury 150km Audax events (Mark Waters 01483 414307)
JULY 24th Rough Stuff 60km (Derek Tanner 01276 474553)
AUGUST 21st: Tour of the Hills 110km /Tour of the Greensand Hills 53km (Tim Bar 01483 825691)
A few places remain for the 12 days (11 nights) cycling, walking, and sightseeing holiday inclusive of all travel and half-board accommodation from Woking and Guildford to visit our Black Forest twin towns of Rastatt (Woking) and Freiburg (Guildford), taking in a stay in Bouillon, Province of Luxembourg, Belgium.
The estimated cost is £750. We will be travelling in our own hired European Bike Express luxury coach, which will be at our disposal throughout.
Booking forms are available from our DA President Rico Signore (01483 822240) and your mag editor Geoff Smith (01483 769051).
In aid of Cyclists’ Defence Fund & RNLI
Numbers restricted - To reserve tickets phone Derek Tanner - 01276 474553
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 26 October 2009.