“The West Surrey Cyclist” - October - December 2005
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Front cover - very similar to previous issue
Inner front cover - West Surrey CTC District Association - same as in previous issue
Editorial front matter - very similar to previous issue
Riding Around - With Editor Geoff Smith
Signs Damage - please advise Surrey County Council - as previously
Tyre/Tube Changing - Personal Views of Phil Hamilton
Through the Looking Glass - by Bob McLeod
Cycle Touring - Have a Go - by Dave Williamson
The Loire Valley - by Derek Tanner
Organised Cycle Rides October - December 2005 - the Rides List
Surrey Scorathon Sunday May 15th 2005 - report by Keith Chesterton
Bernard Newman, Cycling Author - by Wally Happy
President’s Page - by Rico Signore
Right to Ride Report - by Peter Clint
Looking Good ..... in Our DA Shirts
Organisers, please take note
Dates for Your Diary - DA AGM and Lunch
The B Group in 2004 - poem by Anke Blackburn
DA Personalities - Six - Ron Beams, and .....
..... an appeal for more clerihew contributions
Outer back cover - Committee nomination form
THE series of eight Surrey Cycle Guides has been extremely well received by the public at large, perhaps because they are free. I personally share the general delight over their publication by Surrey County Council, although I have occasionally found their large scale - with every road in the county shown - to be awkward while being used out there on the road.
Now, around 17 months after their introduction, I hear they are in very short supply. Indeed, the term “sold out” would apply if they were being sold in the first place.
With that in mind I acquired from the council ten copies of the No.2 guide, that covering the north-west area taking in Woking, Camberley, Chobham and Lightwater.
Contact me if you would like one, and if you can locate spare pristine copies of the others in the series it might be a good idea to snap them up and make them available to any regular riders who may so far have missed out.
As to an updated reprint of the guides, this is always a possibility but as with everything depends on funding and prioritisation of what money is available in the council’s general cycling pot.
TALKING of guides, I also have some spare copies of one giving details of the Breisgau Bike Tours based at the Bierhausle Hotel, Freiburg, Germany, as mentioned by Dennis Clarke in the previous issue. Again, contact me if you are interested.
THE Tour of the Hills, our showcase annual event, was its usual huge success this year with many applicants having to be turned away even though they had applied several days beforehand.
What is to be done about this, or should we leave things well alone? The problem, if it exists, is that much of the route is on narrow and twisting roads that can safely accommodate only a certain number of cyclists careering around it.
Current organiser Tim Bar mentioned to me that perhaps we could think about having two separate and distinct starts, perhaps an hour-and-a-half or two hours apart.
This would create even more demands on the volunteers so a change is not something that can be made lightly. Simply contemplating a change here is just another example of the thought and work that has to go into so many of our activities. Nothing is simple these days - apart from just riding your bike, that is.
IT IS also not all that simple writing a piece for this very magazine. I asked Phil Hamilton to do me something on punctures and how to handle them. Not easy, and I leave it to readers to judge how well Phil has done. As he himself put it: “I have gone bug-eyed checking it for flaws in the logic.”
“You must have a sense of humour when you buy a bike” - Harold Coleman
MANY people worry about the possibility of a puncture whilst cycling, but the hardest part of the repair has to be removing the wheel from the frame. That achieved, ensure that the tube is fully deflated, and release the tyre bead from its seat, by pushing one bead towards the centre of the rim.
At a point about 7cm to the left of the valve, insert one tyre lever between the bead and the rim; insert another about 7cm to the right of the valve. Ensure that both levers are hooked under the tyre bead, then lever the bead over the rim with one lever, and then hold (or lock) that lever whilst operating the second lever to lift the bead over the rim. The bead between the tyre levers will now be outside the rim; and it should be possible to move the right-hand lever clockwise (or the left-hand lever anti-clockwise) round the rim, releasing the tyre bead completely.
Push the valve through the rim and remove the tube from the tyre. (If you keep the tube in the same orientation as it was inside the tyre, “inflate” the tube, and find the puncture, you will know where to look in the tyre for the “penetrator”, e.g. flint, thorn etc.) Check the tyre, remove the cause of your problem, and prepare to replace the tube (with a new one or the repaired old one).
Inflate the tube sufficiently to give it some “shape”; insert the valve in the rim and, from the valve, push the tube, without stretch or twist, into the tyre. Now gently push the tyre bead to the wheel rim, so that the tube seats into the rim.
Starting opposite the valve, push the tyre bead over the rim. Work from that point in both directions so that the last piece of bead to be relocated is at the valve. It will become progressively more difficult to relocate the tyre bead the closer to the valve you get, with the last (about) 15cm being, seemingly, impossible! Despair not, and don’t reach for the tyre levers. Deflate the tube, and, starting opposite the valve, work the bead into the centre of the rim until the last bit of the bead can be “popped” over the rim and seated.
Reinflate, check the tyre is properly seated, fit the wheel, adjust the brakes, ensure free rotation and off you go.
Written down, it all looks very complicated. It isn’t, but do get some hands-on experience in the comfort of your own home (or someone else’s) before being forced to learn at the roadside - when it will likely be cold, wet or dark - or all of them!!
If you have any problems - please ask for help (we all had to start somewhere).
I HAVE frequently been asked for details of the little rear mirror I use fitted to my riding spectacles. It is known as the Take A Look Mirror and I first saw it recommended by Chris Juden in Cycle. Both Phil Hamilton and I have found it useful, although Phil prefers the Original with an extension arm of 82mm and weighing 10 grms. I use the Compact model which is smaller and weighs 6 grms.
The Take A Look Mirror can be fitted to helmets. I have had no experience of this although I found my Compact easily adaptable for the other side of my specs for use abroad.
The mirrors have three pivot points allowing for adjustment in three places for a clear view without straining the eyes.
When I last checked, the Original version with optional helmet mounting costs £13.50, the Compact being £13.25, plus post and packing. Club discounts are available.
The mirrors are sold by Paul Budge, Personal Safety Mirror Company, 12 Poplar Close, Christchurch, BH23 8JF, phone 01425 674898. Email is email@example.com.
I did actually manage to get out on a couple of section rides over the Christmas break. On the last one, Geoff Smith asked, “Will we be seeing you on Wednesday, Dave?” “I’m afraid I’ll be back at work”, I replied. At this point he smiled, “Ah work, that’s a four-letter word”. Well I may not have much free time to be able to get out and about as much as I would like, but one thing I can do is go on cycling holidays. The CTC is keen to get more members to go on their tours hence you may have seen various questionnaires and surveys in the magazine, so here is a potted history of my own experiences.
About four or five years ago, after I had split up with a certain person, I bought myself a Dawes Galaxy and some panniers and decided to have a go at cycle touring. Browsing through the CTC Holidays brochure, I decided to start in a small way by signing on for a four-day break in the Isle of Wight led by Roger Nash. This was an excellent introduction and thus inspired, I quickly signed on for Roger’s ‘Wide Ride’. This meant taking the train down to the tip of Wales and cycling across to Lowestoft, a fantastic week’s adventure. This being 2001, the foot and mouth outbreak caused more than a few problems. In the next few years, I tried to do at least one tour a year; Northern Pennines - hilly, The Roses Tour (Yorks and Lancs) - windy, Telford and mid-Wales - loads of punctures, and Belgium and France with the West Surrey D.A.
In 2002, after a rush of blood to the head, I ended up on the ‘Christmas in Nepal’ trip where I found myself in the company of Derek and Anne Tanner. This led on to January this year when I joined the CTC trip to Rajasthan which was an amazingly exotic place for someone born in Woking to find himself.
What have I learned from all this? Well, certain important truths such as, the weather is worse but the roads are in better condition in Wales compared to England, you shouldn’t hang your washing out in a field near a goat, and curry three times a day isn’t quite as bad as it might seem. My advice therefore to anyone thinking of having a go but who is a bit unsure is to try it and see, you might be pleasantly surprised. I am far from being an athlete - I’m always nearer the back than the front - but have always managed to make it somehow. I have also room-shared with all sorts of interesting people from a university professor of thermodynamics to a factory labourer and have been to some amazing places that I would never have seen otherwise. CTC trips are also usually fantastic value for money and cycling is a great way to experience a country - better than two weeks stuck in a coach. So what’s next? Well, in September, Mongolia beckons - again with Derek and Anne - so look out, the West Surrey sweatshirt may yet be seen in Ulan Bator.
It was August Bank Holiday and the Bike Express dropped us in Orange, southern France, at 6.30 am. We were quickly in the swing of things and working through a local restaurant’s menu for breakfast. Using Avignon as a base we then spent a week touring the Romanesque sites of Provence. Moving on we camped at the base of Mont Ventoux and had an amazing day ride to the summit (20km) at 1996m followed by an almost unbroken 60km descent through the Gorges de la Nesque, after which a small 500m col got us back to the campsite. We soon installed ourselves in the restaurant next door and entered a competition with the chef to see if we could eat our way through his menu faster than he could cook it. We were not sure if the filler courses of loaves of bread were fair play but we paid up anyway.
In temperatures approaching 30 degrees, it took six days to cross the Rhône, follow the Ardèche Gorge and climb to Le Gerbier de Jonc, where at 1600m we found the source of the River Loire. As we came round the corner the clouds dropped and the weather closed in. Not wishing a treacherous descent, we sought out the local Gîte d’Étape, bagged space in the 20-bedded room and set upon the menu in the adjacent restaurant. Unfortunately the challenge was too much and Anne suddenly collapsed asleep sending the cruet set crashing to the floor.
From our guidebook, it seemed that it was all downhill from here. It turned out that this was only true if we ignored any “minor climb” of less than 200m on the way. We quickly lost count of these “minor undulations” and drifted into a gibberish praise of Frimley Cycles for finding that extra-low granny ring. It was much colder on the north side of the mountain and this was especially true the day after we found we had stopped overnight in a village with no restaurant or shops to buy food.
A thunderstorm as we entered Le Puy resulted in a three-day stay while we waited for our shoes to dry out. Fortunately the stay coincided with an annual medieval festival (plenty of food here). After four more days of hard riding we got to the last ridge of the Central Massif and gazed down on the gloriously flat Loire Valley flood plain stretching as far as the eye could see.
The cold, fresh weather of the mountains now gave way to a damp head wind, warming as it got wetter and cooling as the scudding clouds passed by. We passed through Nevers, La Charité, the famous wine village of Sancerre (on top of a hill), Orléans and crossed the longest viaduct in Europe. Eventually we entered the Chateau Region. By now it was the end of September and the popularity of the area was keeping a useful number of campsites open. (We had only spent three nights in youth hostels so far). The next week was spent zig-zagging across the valley and into neighbouring valleys to visit the chateaux and get the pictures for the film show, the objective of the trip.
By now the weather was getting noticeably more autumnal and we spent a week running just ahead of the rain through Amboise, Tours, Chinon, Saumur and Angers. It was in Nantes that it caught up with us. After three days we decided that we could sit it out no longer and with only 90km to go to St. Nazaire we would abandon the tent and take a lightly loaded ride to finish.
Next morning, from the tent, we saw blue sky with big white fluffy clouds. We got on the road and soon realized that the wind had changed direction and we were going to be into it for the day. We sheltered for the two big downpours of the day and were just knocking on the door of a hotel in St. Nazaire as the third started around 1830 in the evening.
The next day we left the bikes at the railway station, donned our newly acquired plastic tourist capes and went for a wet and windy walk around town. After sheltering in the supermarket for a couple of hours, and not wishing a tour of the submarine and shipyards, we caught the late afternoon train back to Nantes. Next morning (still raining) we packed a tent that now resembled a very wet dishcloth (albeit still water-tight) for the train ride to the ferry at St. Malo. The following evening we cycled into Lightwater village just before the chippie shut, just 7 weeks, 600 photos and 2000km of cycling since the day we left.
My sixth Surrey Scorathon, this time an outdoor start at Puttenham Tarn, used some little-used narrow lanes and only 600m of A-road but was an undulating course.
Not many knew that “the headless horseman rides” in Sleepy Hollow at Great Enton or that Carlisle United were successful the day before in getting back to the Football League, but apart from these, almost all the clues were straightforward. I did go out after the event to recheck some answers, but they were all there!
Not all participants were competitive, but the time lost dealing with a bike fault decided the final positions. It was a beautiful day, with some pleasant lanes and tracks and it was a bit disappointing that neither of the two Wayfarers groups put it in their programmes - it is intended to appeal to these riders! But I was pleased that the attendance made organising the event worth while.
|Mark Beauchamp||N Hants||4.36||900||72||828||2|
|Geoff Smith jun||W Sy||<4hrs||770||-||770||3=|
|Tim Bar||W Sy||<4hrs||770||-||770||3=|
|Mike Batchelor||W London||4.45||840||90||750||5=|
|Arthur Twiggs||W Sy||4.05||760||10||750||5=|
|Clive Richardson||W Sy||<4hrs||770||50||720||7|
|Chris Jeggo||W Sy||4.36||780||72||708||8|
|Mark (J) Carolan||W Sy||4.15||540||30||510||9|
|Matt & Daniel (J) Carolan||W Sy||<4hrs||500||-||500||10=|
|Bob & Pauline McLeod||W Sy||5.10||500||140||360||12=|
|Jenny Keyte||W Sy||5.10||500||140||360||12=|
|Ann Gardner||W Sy||5.10||500||140||360||12=|
|Anne & Derek Tanner||W Sy||4.27||390||54||336||16=|
|Sue Thorne||W Sy||4.29||390||58||332||18|
|Liz Palethorpe||W Sy||4.32||390||64||326||19|
|Barbara Cheetham||W Sy||4.29||350||58||292||20|
|Don Jones||W Sy||<4hrs||190||-||190||21|
|Claire Hooper||W Sy||<4hrs||160||-||160||22|
Note - 2 points were lost for every minute back over the 4 hours allowed, and points were deducted for a guessed answer.
I recommend that members read the works of cycling author Bernard Newman, if they can get a copy of any of his books. For in my opinion he is as important a part of our rich cycling history as artist Frank Patterson or multi-World Sprint Champion Reg Harris.
He rode a ‘sit-up-and-beg’ roadster bike with rod brakes that he called ‘George’ on Continental tours before and after WW2. In fact he had served in WW1, being involved in counter-intelligence at one time with a French girl as his colleague. He rode ‘George’ over mountain passes and across frontiers and was deeply interested in everything he saw and visited. Back in the U.K. he would write a travel book about his latest ‘holiday’. Some notes directed at particular countries’ Tourist Departments would always be included about his treatment there as a tourist. His criticisms, though often direct, were always constructive and polite. Adapting to the practices of the countries you were in was his advice to would-be visitors. A smile will always bring one in response, he used to say.
In his ‘Ride to Rome’, that he did with his daughter on a machine called ‘Bessie’ in 1952, he describes their route ex the ‘Silver Cities Airways’ Bristol Freighter link from Lydd to Le Touquet. They cycled via Amiens, Reims, Lyon, Avignon (I rode for them in the 1st Tour du Var Veterans Stage Race in 1970), Nimes, The Camargue, Arles, Aix-en-Provence, Nice, Genoa and Pisa to Rome, well over 1000 miles. They always started before breakfast and decided where to stay on the day, never attempting to book in advance.
He throws in the relevant history, pre and recent, the social, political and economic situations as well as the architectural, horticultural and gastronomic peculiarities of all the places of interest he went to. What I like about him most is his innate common sense; perhaps he was a member of the CTC? For example, in this first of two quotations he says exactly what I believe, that if you fall off your bike, 95% of the time it is your own fault. He says always!
“Les Baux can be thrilling or terrifying - especially by night. Every stone has its story, mostly grim: every house its legend, some romantic, but, more often, tragic. For in its day Les Baux was a capital of the land of the troubadours, who were not always concerned only with their rhymes: too often they won the graces of the ladies to whom they sang of romance. This could arouse trouble. Consider the case of the troubadour Guillaume de Cabestaing. He meant no harm, but was too romantic. He took the current lady of Baux as his favourite subject, until it seemed to the lord that the romanticist was getting a little too serious: however, the minstrel escaped just in time. His next adventure ended less happily: the jealous baron killed the troubadour, plucked out his heart and served it to his wife for dinner. She, when learning of the horrible nature of the succulent dish she had enjoyed, threw herself out of the castle window. The incident provoked a civil war: mediaeval empires fell for less. So late at night Les Baux is weird in its dark shadows: there are too many ghosts lurking in the ruins, and it is easy to be afraid.”
They left early the next morning and he continues:
“We rode down the Valley of Hell: evidently it was too early for the Devil to be about. But I was to discover that he never slumbers. I must admit that it was my own fault. It always is, if anything untoward happens when one does not think about what he is doing. As the road was about to swerve, I turned for a last glimpse of Les Baux, now high above us. What a wonderful background for a thriller, I pondered - then promptly began to plot one. At that moment ‘George’ turned abruptly to the right - on to a layer of loose stones - and skidded violently.
“Had my mind been on its proper task, I would have put out my foot and made a safe, if ungraceful, descent. As it was, I went over the handlebars. Hilary said I did two somersaults but I only remember the first.”
The following happened as they neared the border with Italy.
“‘That must be an English car,’ said Hilary as one passed. ‘It didn’t hoot at us.’ Manners differ, even in klaxons. In England it is rude to hoot unnecessarily: in France a pedestrian or a cyclist would feel slighted if a motorist did NOT hoot at him. Apparently the more raucous the klaxon, the more adventure in defying its summons until the last possible moment. Lack of skill in choosing this, of course, arouses comment at the inquest.”
This is real reading for touring cyclists, beautifully written by a real cyclo-tourist.
Ethel Brambleby is retiring and has an extensive library of cycling books but I’ve already bought most of those by Bernard Newman, so you will have to be quick if you want some. A stamped envelope to her at 19 Grove Road, Church Crookham, GU13 0DX will doubtless produce her list for you.
Phew - happy to relate that nobody asked for a refund (some hope) for our loosely cycling-related twinning holiday. In fact, most claim to have enjoyed the experience. Things ran so smoothly that finally our contingency fund showed a healthy surplus. The wisdom of the two organisers prevailing, we (Geoff Smith and myself) decided to donate unused funds to four different charities - Woking Hospice, Link Leisure, CTC’s Charitable Trust and Sustrans.
Grateful thanks go to many participants for their help in various ways:
Last, but by no means least, we have to give thanks to the absolutely incredible hospitality and help from our German counterparts. Should they ever visit our shores again we shall be hard put to match their effort and generosity.
An aside: I hugely enjoyed the ditties in the last few issues of the magazine, written by an anonymous contributor. Of course I had to consult Oxford’s Best to fathom this to me totally unknown expression “clerihew”: “A short comic or nonsensical verse, typically in two rhyming couplets with lines of unequal length and referring to a famous person - Origin 1920’s: named after Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956) the English writer who invented it.” Whoever our anonymous contributor is, please let us have some more “clerihews”.
Appeal: We are delighted to welcome a great number of “new” riders who join our outings; participant numbers are now such that it is often necessary to split into smaller groups for the rides. This is particularly important when riding on busy roads. It makes a lot of sense to give motorists gaps to slot into, so they don’t have to overtake a long snake of cyclists, often endangering us and oncoming traffic. So please stay in the second or even third group, as the group leaders know the route and will get you to the destination. Sprinting across the gaps simply defeats the object of the exercise. Thank you!
Ed’s note, reference Rico’s penultimate paragraph “An aside”: Our anonymous clerihew contributor is preparing to bow out. His final offering (probably) is towards the back of the mag. Please note the President’s plea, Mr Anonymous. And to other readers, why not try your hand at some clerihews yourself? I will be “delighted” to help with some background on some of our so-far “unsung” personalities should you require it.
This can be a sometimes frustrating job. For in the blink of an eye, progress which appears to have been achieved is blown away by the actions of some bureaucratic body or other, effectively negating all the hours of work lavished upon that small jewel which was, until that moment, the focus of attention.
Much of the background resulting in lack of progress relates to shortage of funds, or rather the lack of willingness by those who control our money to give cycling the priority it deserves and indeed requires, if we are to have any chance of rolling back the relentless tide of the motor car.
A campaigner like me, or a body such as the CTC, can only exert minimal influence upon government and local councils. Real power lies in your hands and with anyone who has a vote. Campaigners can only bring matters to the attention of those in power, the voter can influence just how those in power should act.
Letters to local councillors, MPs, and government bodies such as the Ministry of Transport have far greater effect than an individual vote. Asking your local M.P. or local councillor their views on matters relating to cycling, and making it clear to them that a negative stance may well influence how you vote in the future, can often produce the shock treatment those in power require to concentrate their minds.
Do you know how your MP views cycling? Are you aware of the thinking of your local councillor? If the answer is no, and I suspect it is, do so now and then keep up the pressure. Together we can improve facilities available to cyclists. Campaigners alone will only suffer a long hard frustrating fight, with only a very small chance of success. If progress fails to materialise, it is probably your fault.
To emphasise what frustration I have encountered, read on ....
Firstly, the eleven routes into Woking town centre from surrounding areas audited by me and Woking Cycle Users Group, have after one year been signposted, but almost none of the improvements have been actioned, despite our having been promised that these would be fast-tracked. The reason, we have been told, is that the allocated monies were redirected by central government to improve facilities for motor traffic, prior to the last election.
Secondly, we are awaiting the result of the submission to Woking and Surrey councils of the proposal to provide a safe cycleway around the whole of the one-way system covering Heathside Crescent and Oriental Road, referred to in the last issue of this magazine. We are aware however that we have many obstacles to climb before work can begin, the greatest of all being the reluctance of certain councillors to support anything to do with cycling.
Letters from you to your local councillor, MP and central government could make all the difference. United, cyclists can improve their facilities; to do nothing is to be ignored.
To finish a truly successful run
Paul Harris likes tea, cake or a bun
In a little café
At the end of the day.
John Ostrom as leader of the day
Worries about losing the way
Yet in spite of a little dithering
We always come home in the evening!
Little Jean Tedder as fast as the post
Races ahead and then gets lost.
When questioned, she will say to you:
‘There were trees everywhere, I couldn’t get through!’
Blackburn lifts rabbits and pheasants
Most of us think that’s unpleasant,
But she doesn’t mind
And says ‘you be kind
To animals past and present’.
Mr Ronald Beams,
So it seems,
Is doing fine -
Is there anyone out there of a poetic bent who might like to take over the clerihew role? Our original (anonymous) contributor says he has run out of “personalities” to feature as he is not riding in the groups very often these days. So have a go and send in your offerings to me. - Thanks, Geoff
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 28 October 2009.