“The West Surrey Cyclist” - October - December 2006
|Previous magazine . Next magazine|
Front cover - 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 ..... in the Pyrenees - With Editor Geoff Smith
Have the mag delivered for £3 a year
A Raid on the Pyrenees - by Derek Tanner
Organised Cycle Rides October - December 2006 - the Rides List
Looking Good in Our DA Shirts
The Stonehenge, Danebury & Elstead 100 Rides 2006 - report by Mark Waters
Surrey Hills Saunter ~ 62kms ~ 5 March 2006 - report by Mark Waters
Creaky Knees? Painful Thighs? - Tim Bar may have the answer
Old CTC Gazettes offered
Chain Lubrication - by Phil Hamilton
Showtime for Cycling - Jeff Banks’s reminiscences on last year’s Cycle Show
Photo Competition at AGM - by Bob McLeod
Dates for Your Diary - (just one change (addition) from previous issues)
DA Personalities - Ten - Phil Hamilton
Outer back cover - Committee nomination form
JUST two stories of my July raid into the Pyrenees before I hand over to Derek Tanner later in this special edition to tell you about his and Anne’s slightly more relaxing excursion.
I signed up with a bike tours company to fulfill a pledge I made to myself seven years ago after completing the official 100 hours version of the Raid Pyreneen riding from the Atlantic to the Med. I vowed then to return to Cerbere, turn the bike round and cycle all the way back to Hendaye, this time taking about a fortnight and relishing the hills at an easy pace.
I did not know then there was another official Raid Pyreneen award I could obtain. This one entailed completing the traverse the other way in ten days. Perfect, I thought, two days to cover what I had to do in one in 1999, half the daily distance, half the effort, twice the fun.
Not so, decidedly not so. I did not realise until days before the start that the route was longer and that instead of 18 cols it took in 28. So the cumulative cycling effort was, I reckon, as hard as previously. Added to that I was camping and organising my own evening meals rather than having half board at hotels en route. And I was seven years older.
Anyway, the hills worked their familiar magic. I enjoyed the tour and I am pleased to have gained the additional award. Now I had better get on with my two stories.....
Both concern the Col du Tourmalet. I had settled into a steady rhythm and had just gone through the second of two open-style avalanche tunnels when I decided to stop for a picnic lunch. How lucky we were to have such pleasant warm summer weather as we approached the highest col in the Pyrenees, as I remarked to West Surrey’s Bob McLeod as he passed by. Then, within no more than five minutes, the weather went from sunshine to near dark as thunder clapped and a huge wind got up.
The mountains silhouette simply disappeared. I could just about see a bit of the la Mongie ski complex above me as I dived for the scant cover of the “open” tunnel. The wind got up to a strength which stopped all traffic as I lay my Trek bike down near a pillar at the end and left it to its fate, the wind whipping its wheels round in a frenzy.
I struggled into my waterproof top but that was all I had time for as the deluge of water hit, whipped into a flood down the road and through the tunnel by the wind.
I headed further and further into the tunnel as the water and wind increased and pressed myself against the mountainside as a few maniac lorry drivers resumed their descent. I felt a fool waving frantically at one lorry which I thought was coming at me a bit too close for comfort but he passed well wide.
The storm was a whopper and quite frightening at 1,900 or more metres up. It must have been half an hour before it eased enough for me to retrieve the bike and set to putting on all the cold- and wet-weather gear I had fortunately packed - arm warmers, waterproof cap under the helmet, full-length gloves, long tights over the shorts, then my waterproof trousers and waterproof overshoes. I can assure you I needed the lot.
It was still raining and breezy when I reached the top a good 90 minutes later than I would have done had the storm passed me by - as it more or less had with Bob who had reached la Mongie in time to shelter in a bar. I am relating this simply to remind myself and everyone yet again never to take the mountains for granted weatherwise. Pack all the bad weather gear you can before setting off.
Now to the second story..... Before the long and hairy descent 12 miles or so down to the nice little resort of Luz-St-Sauveur I drained one of my two water bottles, then screwed the cap back on tight. When I checked it in the town I found it was completely crushed - air pressure!
CLOSER to home, I read with some alarm a letter in The Daily Telegraph from a rural Surrey shop and tea room operator who complained that at weekends he suffered “a deluge of Lycra-clad cyclists, most of whom display ignorance, arrogance and aggression in equal measure”.
He pointed out that as a business he had costs to cover yet cyclists demanded refills of their water bottles and asked to use his lavatories.
The sad thing is our businessman does have a point IF his visiting cyclists are impolite and don’t make a purchase. But why does he and countless other critics of cycling feel it necessary to make the connection between cyclists and Lycra? What precisely is wrong with Lycra?
While I await the answer (without holding my breath), I will end by saying that I will reveal the location of the said shop and tea room to any interested reader, so that we can in our quiet way avoid it.
Imagine strapping a 56-pound bag of potatoes on the back of your bike and cycling from Shere to Cranleigh and back eight times every day for three weeks. Still looking forward to the next day’s ride? If so, the Raid Pyrénées route could be for you.
The bike bus drops at Perpignan from where 90km will get you to the start at Cebère, close to the French/Spanish Mediterranean border. Soon after leaving the coast at Argelès-sur-Mer, a gentle climb brings the snow-clad peaks into sight. After a brief section tangling with commercial traffic on a dual carriageway, the first climb to Col de Llauro (380m) in the midday heat is where Anne decides that this is a bad idea. After a couple of hours in the shade and eating a large part of the contents of the local shop (luckily the only one on route that day), enthusiasm returned to conquer three more cols (646, 752 and 1036 metres), arriving after dark at the camp site at Prades. The campsite guardian saved the world by selling us a bottle of local wine.
Three days later we set off again, having taken a trip on “Le Train Jaune” to the summit border and sampled (with the aid of the proprietor’s French/English dictionary) a most amazing fish and chip shop in the town. The gradient started at the gates to the campsite and ended 30km later at Col de Jau (1506m), shrouded in fog and mist. Dressing against the weather and stopping briefly to brew up in a garbage shed, another 22km got us to the Gite d’Étape at Escouloubre. Run by the wife of the local pig farmer, we accepted the offer of an evening meal and are now qualified on 101 things to do with a dead pig.
Next day Pailhères was our first 2000m col. Life looked good on finding the pâtisserie at Mijanes but Anne set off again insisting she carried the cakes as an incentive rather than eat them there and then. Meanwhile, chatting to some Americans from Colorado along the climb did much to take the mind off it. The descent into Ax-les-Thermes was so amazing that we stayed there for two days taking the opportunity to bathe as much as we dare in the spa waters of the public bassin.
There are 27km of gentle downhill to Tarascon. From here we took a day trip along the Rue de Corniche overlooking the valley we had cycled the day before, ending at Col du Chioula (1431m). We were just about to enter the restaurant when a huge cloud appears, there’s a flash, a clap of thunder and Anne doesn’t stop until back in the tent just one hour and 35km later, leaving Derek outside digging drainage ditches with a knife and spoon. This is where we first met a group from Tasmania attempting to cycle, fully loaded, the same route as us.
After a day sheltering in the camp café, the next morning promised fine and the scenery on the ride over to Aulus-les-Bains was well worth waiting for. Things were looking up - until we noticed the snow chain sign on the road ahead. Aulus-les-Bains is a centre for cholesterol control, which we thought was a really good idea as we set off straight into the climb for Col de Latrape (1110m) at 7 a.m the next morning. Col de la Core (1395m) then set us up for a brake-bursting descent into Castillon for the night. Nasty rain overnight and no sign of the mountain tops in the mist kept us back for a day before tackling Col de Portet d’Aspet (1039m), past the monument to Fabio Casartelli (Tour de France champion who died here in 1995), then Col de Menté (1349m) for a coffee stop, past the spot where Luis Ocana came to grief, and down into the homely campsite in the picturesque town of St Béat for the night. We nearly gave up here after Anne tripped down a rabbit hole giving her ankle a nasty twist.
It was then up the valley into Spain and back over Col du Portillon (1320m) into Bagnères-de-Luchon (twinned with Harrogate which says it all). Two nights here did the laundry, bought another set of brake blocks, found some excellent restaurants with local assiette specialities and met some English lads downhilling fully clad in body armour. Starting before 0800 we made Col de Peyresourde (1563m) by midday, coffee and crêpes at the summit, and into the Haute Pyrénées region with a magnificent descent looking down on villages lying like litter on the valley floor, and into the campsite at Arreau to catch up with the Tasmanians again. Next morning we made Col d’Aspin (1489m) by 11am. The Tasmanians were still there when we arrived, worried that they were running out of time - (we were now on Day 23). After coffee and cakes in the first café, we then gave up in the heat at Sainte-Marie-de-Campan at the foot of the 16km climb to Col du Tourmalet (2115m) - the big one. Again we had a night of thunder and lightning to prepare us for the next day.
It was gone midday before we made the summit of the Tourmalet, clapped in by an assorted group of motorists and day riders who had overtaken us sometime in the previous five hours. After passing through the ski village of La Mongie the last 4km at 9.5% is just pure pain. The coffee and cakes at the top were superb. Full of the aura of the col, crêpes, coffee and the sense of achievement, the descent was awesome and we did our bit by scattering sheep from the roadway after they had brought the traffic to a halt. A clap of thunder as we sped down the main street in Barèges caused a hard right into the municipal campsite and we had the tent up in three minutes flat before the heavens opened again for the night.
The clouds were still below us the next morning and by 10 am we had plucked up courage to make a break for Argelès-Gazost, where we planned a few days R&R. It was a good decision and using the cycle path down the old railway, we day-tripped into Lourdes, got restocked and were looking forward to moving on. Next day we tackled Col de Bordères (1156m), Col de Soulor (1474m) and Col d’Aubisque (1709m), through tunnels and along cliff ledges down through the ski village of Gourette and into Laruns for the night. We were flying now. The finish was now in our grasp (we thought).
Up before 6 am, Col de Marie-Blanque (1035m) had a surprise when, halfway, we started going back down into a hidden valley, only to make up gradient big time to recover the average ascent. Anne’s (now regular) cry of “don’t pace the local octogenarians on their Bianchis - someone will get a heart attack” was nearly stifled on a hairpin when a descending cyclist missed her by inches as he (closely followed by his bike) overshot into the ditch. The summit was crowded with a painting group of British with their easels propped up against their 4x4s. This was our first distant sight of flat land for nearly a month and marked the edge of the mountains. On the descent we caught up with one of the locals (repairing a puncture) who had passed us earlier, and we wondered why he seemed unduly concerned about our next few days’ route. Having dropped to 250m, the heat of the afternoon was spent in a café swapping stories with two Dutch motorcyclists travelling the other way. Even so we were out of water before arriving at the campsite at Licq-Athérey and quickly grabbed an ice cream and jumped into the swimming pool.
Anne was very quiet as she studied the next day’s route even though the day promised clear and bright. We were having coffee in the hotel at Laurrau (630m) at 0930 after a 2.5km climb conquered at stalling speed and graded as “steep” on our route sheet, when a local group riding what can only be described as “anti gravity bikes” pulled in, spent ten minutes taking coffee, and ten minutes counting the teeth on our chainsets and shaking their heads, before departing with cries of “bon courage”. It was then that Anne announced the next climb up Col de Bagargui (1327m) was graded as “very steep” and we hadn’t had one of those before. We hit the summit at 1.45pm and by comparison freewheeled the next two cols before descending on hairpins for what seemed like forever through increasing temperature thermoclines on to the valley floor at 40 degrees C. We almost fell through the door of the first bar we saw to order ice creams, drinks and chocolate bars, we had already eaten all the food we were carrying for the day. The campsite at St-Jean-Pied-de-Port was a really friendly dump. The old lady who sat at the gate (and recognised that we were totally shot out) found us a pitch in the shade and brought two chairs for us to sit on before charging us a euro for a shower and turning off the water when she thought we were clean enough. We were now only 163m above sea level.
On the road by 0730 we misnavigated towards Pamplona and probably wasted a good hour retracing for a restart. We were now in the Basque region and were passing many disused border posts. It was a grey day but the riding was easy, if a bit busy, on the larger roads. One steep col of a mere 176m and lunch in the tourist village of Espelette and we were on the outskirts of St Pée by mid afternoon. From there we cycled around the surrounding hills for about three hours before (totally dispirited) finding a pitch on a very expensive campsite. A swim in the pool, a cup of tea and we could face the bikes again for a trip to the supermarket. The next day we slumped in the local bar.
It was only another 40km to the finish at Hendaye on the Atlantic coast. Stopping briefly at the “La Rhune” train that takes tourists to the local Pyrenean peaks (at 1000m) we got there by lunch on Day 33. Back in the campsite by early evening we concentrated heavily on catching up on food and alcohol deficiency acquired during the previous five weeks. We surprised ourselves next morning by being on the road by 0930, making a touristy visit of Biarritz easily by lunch where we settled into a very nice restaurant in the old port area. After eating and drinking enough to keep the heat of the day at bay, courage enough returned to discuss how to get back to the UK.
It had taken us 34 days to get to where we were and it was another 25 days before we pulled up at our front door (just about 2500 km exactly) after simple navigation by keeping the sea on our left till we found a ferry to Portsmouth at St Malo - just in time to run the Rough Stuff event this year.
These three rides took place on Sunday 21st May, together with a selection of shorter rides (the Candover Caper [87km], Farnham-Alton-Selborne [75km], the Selborne Saunter [55km], the Two Cafés Ride [26kms] and the One Café Ride [23kms]).
Sadly it was a bad year weather-wise. It rained most of the day and it wasn’t particularly warm. It was lucky that the rain didn’t really start until after the start of the first two rides, or the number of ‘did not starts’ might have been even higher. As it is, DNSs outnumbered figures for previous years. 19 DNS riders for the Stonehenge is a staggering number.
Had it not been for the introduction of a 100km event, entries would have been well down. 100km rides are very popular and, since the hall could handle the numbers, it seemed like a good idea to introduce one this year. Judging by numbers, it was a good decision and we ended up with more entries overall than over recent years. As for the shorter leisure rides, riders were in very short supply - there were a total of 5 - very disappointing but not wholly unexpected considering the weather.
The usual helpers were around to make it all happen and profuse thanks must once again go to Phil Hamilton and our President for looking after the Whitchurch control; to Secretary Jeff and Bob McLeod for their help in the morning at the hall, and Pauline McLeod and Becky Lucas for help with the food at the hall both in the morning and later on in the day. Anne and Derek Tanner also lent a hand after they completed their rides. It was all very much appreciated.
Congratulations to the following DA members for completing the courses:
Stonehenge: Jeff Ellingham, Roland Masset, Richard Phipps, Norris Riley
Danebury: Chris Boggon, Paul Holmes, Chris Jeggo, Amy Juden, Chris Juden, Bob McLeod, Tim Bar
Elstead 100: Paul Gillingham, David Kirkham, Carol Moore, Roberta Shore, Geoff Smith (jnr), Anne Tanner, Derek Tanner, Jane Gillbe, John Gillbe, Colin Brim
The Saunter enjoyed a day of weather similar to last year, but without the ice. It was just plain cold, but sunny for some of the time. Many of last year’s riders came again and we had a few new faces. The line-up of riders is shown below.
As for time, all but one rider arrived back in one of three groups, the first getting in at 13.50 - five minutes later than last year. So it looks like there’s a record to beat now - three hours fifteen minutes.
Finishers were Rico Signore, Tim Bar, Phil Hamilton, Geoff Smith (snr), Chris Jeggo, Bob McLeod, Cyril Tuffs, Doug Johnson, Matt Carolan, Alan Holbrook, John Murdoch, Roberta Shore, Amy Juden and two guests, Trefor Parfitt from South Bucks DA and Geoff Ericson from West Sussex. Byron Bogawski finished without the info answers and Chris Juden completed the course but was only there for the photography.
I suffered several bad knee injuries playing rugby when young and then sprung another injury playing badminton in my 20’s, followed by runner’s knee in my early 30’s (although I did not know about runner’s knee until recently). Not really having much faith in medicine men or even knowing about alternative therapies I just soldiered on.
If you play a sport to any level of reasonable intensity the impact will be that those muscles and tendons used by that sport will tend to shorten and tighten up and suffer inflammation - muscle fibres can become “knotted”. This can cause joint pains, knee-cap pain, hip pain etc. Cyclists tend to have tight hamstrings and short hip flexors because of the riding position. Runners are known to have tight quads and ilio-tibial bands (ITB) (these are the muscles on the front outside part of the thigh) - and cyclists can suffer this effect too. Tight calf muscles can also contribute to knee pain. If the condition has become serious then you will need to see a doctor/physio/surgeon. This is what happened to me and I went all the way to surgery - the operation tried to loosen the ITB in my left leg and polished the underside of the knee-cap because it had been rubbing on the end of the thigh bone as a result of a tight ITB. But there was one aspect that might have prevented me from going all the way to surgery - sports massage.
So what is it? It is a deep manipulation and massage of the muscles. By deep I mean deep. The first experience of sports massage nearly sent me through the roof it was so painful. The pain was because my ITB was so tight, my hamstrings were like taut pieces of wire and my calves were badly knotted. In short all my main muscles that affect the stability and smooth operation of the knee joint were very tight, twisted and knotted. After four sessions and lots of stretching exercises the experience is now tolerable because the muscles and tendons are becoming looser and relaxed.
I started going once a week for four weeks and now I am down to once every two weeks, and soon it will be once a month. In addition my therapist gave me some excellent stretching exercises to do in between sessions that have really helped loosen my tendons and straighten out the muscle fibres. Usefully, he gave me a piece of paper that demonstrated it as well so I would not forget. One very useful exercise he introduced later was rolling your thighs and calves on a hard foam log. This involves lying across a 20 cm diameter foam log and letting all your weight rest on the muscle area you want to massage and then rolling up and down the log several times at least. I can recommend it as one of the most excellent self-massage routines I have ever done. With this new regime my knees have never felt so good for years.
Given my experience to date, my belief is that I might have avoided the operation if I had tried deep sports massage first - even better had I known about this 15 years ago. In general we all do too little stretching after physical activity. Some are lucky and can get away with it. Some (like me) just are not fortunate enough and need to do stretching and self-massage every day to keep those joints smooth, supple and pain-free. If you are experiencing regular pain I suggest one step is to see a sports therapist. It could be your pathway to a long riding career.
I am disposing of ‘DA Archives’ which are not specific to the DA. The following items are available to anyone interested. (For a donation to charity?) Bound CTC Gazettes: 1949-1953; Wire-bound Gazettes: 1968-71,79-80. Ward Lock Red Guides: Bournemouth, Malvern, South Wales (all ca 1920). Newnes’ Pocket Tourist Atlas of the British Isles: ‘Homeland’ Handbook: Tintagel, Boscastle - both probably of similar date.
CYCLE chains are made of four components, namely outer plates, inner plates, rollers and pins. Friction occurs between any of these parts which move in relation to its neighbour, as chain is bent whilst engaging, and then straightened as it leaves, a chain wheel or sprocket. Lubrication of the surfaces which move in relation to each other is very important, to reduce wear and pedalling effort, and every new chain is supplied with grease on the necessary internal surfaces (plus an external surface coating to prevent rusting in transit). This lubricant is squeezed out of the chain under pedal pressure and washed out by the water we encounter whilst riding and requires regular replenishment.
Wax lubricants are self-cleaning, but can only be applied to a clinically clean surface, necessitating complete removal of all the manufacturer’s applied lubricant. Not an easy task and one which is best performed before the chain is first fitted to the cycle. Thereafter following the lubricant manufacturer’s directions should give good protection and long life to the chain; which, in theory, will not require any cleaning, but may need the occasional wipe to remove external dirt/grease.
The so-called ‘Dry’ lubricants are actually a (solid) lubricant suspended in a volatile liquid carrier, which evaporates after application leaving the lubricant coating the wetted surfaces. They do not attract dust and grit which are a major contributor to chain wear, but they are easily washed out by water. Best used in dry weather, they require regular replenishment.
‘Wet’ lubricants adhere to the wetted surfaces and are not easily dislodged by water, but do attract dust and grit with which they combine to form a grinding paste which accelerates chain wear. They are best used in wet, non-dusty circumstances, eg winter.
Chain life will be much extended by regular lubrication, especially if it is preceded by a thorough cleaning procedure, using a proprietary cleaning ‘machine’ and/or cleaning fluid to remove all the residual grease and accumulated dirt. If no ‘machine’ is available it is best to remove the chain and clean it in a ‘bath’ containing the cleaning fluid, agitating with an old toothbrush. It may be necessary to change the fluid in order to ensure the chain is properly clean. (Pour the dirty fluid into a container and reuse it once the solids have settled.) Dry the chain; apply the new lubricant (one drop per roller) and leave it to penetrate to the ‘rubbing’ surfaces of the chain (two hours?). Remove any lubricant from the external surfaces of the chain - it won’t lubricate anything, but it will collect dirt, accelerating chain wear!
WHAT an entrance (300 steps)! What an exhibition! Acres of manufacturers’ show stands, lots of refreshment bars, and conveniences that would not shame a London hotel.
After a few minutes gathering a bagful of brochures I ran into Phil Hamilton, who had taken everything in after a quick circumnavigation of the hall. He’s a real sage on bike matters. My personal wisdom is that if you have your wild heart set on something for no good reason but simply to render yourself impecunious then don’t ask Phil first. He will only imbue you with a bit of common sense.
There’s Alan Holbrook. Folders are mentioned. Alan had his stolen from under his very nose on a canal towpath.... I think that was Martin Hine I just saw over there. I carry on and see more DA members. Rico should have organised a ride.
As I circulate the stands my imaginary budget is quickly exhausted. What is it that Ian McGregor said about “it’s the engine that matters” and all that? Hmm. But there are some beautiful all-carbon frame bicycles which are must-haves.
I move on to lesser things. Wait, what’s this? Well, it’s the dinkiest pump, six inches long and done in a very stylish all-carbon body. But I already have a “big one” on the bike, so why do I need this? The salesman admits he has no idea. End of sale. But there are memories stored away and I am reassured that the cycling world is as dynamic and exciting as ever it has been. I’ll be there this year, happily dreaming away.
It was suggested earlier in the year, through this magazine, that you should have been busy taking photographs when out cycling, both with the club or if doing your own thing. I have noticed that some members have been doing this so am hopeful that there will be a good selection of prints from which to pick a winner.
It is proposed that we keep the rules simple this year. All pictures should have some connection with cycling and must have been taken since the last AGM. There will be just two categories:-
Only 6 pictures may be submitted for each category giving a maximum of 12 for each individual. They may be mounted or not and of any size. The owner’s name should be on the reverse. We have a green baize notice board that makes it very easy to display pictures provided they have those little Velcro patches on the back. There will be some of these available at the AGM venue if required. If you are unable to attend please ensure that your pictures are sent in via any committee member or rides leader; they will all be returned.
PS. In addition to the above, if you have photos of club events please bring them along for display; only space will limit the numbers shown.
As in previous issues plus:-
JANUARY 1st: New Year’s Day Rendezvous for all riders and rides groups, Seale Craft Centre (all morning)
|Mr Hamilton, Phil,
Shows such consummate skill
In puncture repairs
We don’t need to take spares.
. Previous magazine . . Index to magazines . . Next magazine . . W. Surrey DA History & Archives home page .
Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 5 November 2009.