"The West Surrey Cyclist" - April - June 2008
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Front cover - as previous issue
Inner front cover - CTC West Surrey 2008 (officers, committee, rides leaders) - as previous issue
Looking Good in Our Group Shirts
Editorial front matter - very similar to previous issue
Riding Around - with Editor Geoff Smith
From the President - Rico Signore
He Would Have Been a Cyclist
On the Far Side - by Dave Williamson
Ballards Beer Bicycle - by Paul Holmes
An Appendage Operation - by Dennis Clarke
Organised Cycle Rides April - June 2008 - the Rides List
Claire Hooper's Very Fruity Date Cake
Twenty-five Days from Biarritz - by Derek Tanner
Reliability Ride 20 April 2008 - by Phil Hamilton
Letters to the Editor -
... Cycle Route Upset - from Peter Clint
... Bernard Howell Trophy winner - from Bob McLeod
... Amy Juden's CTC Tourist Competition success - from Jeff Banks
Peter & Liz Callaghan have moved
Dates for Your Diary
Group Personalities - Sixteen - Sue Thorne
I LIKE to get my oats regularly, particularly before a bike ride when a bowl of porridge invariably forms the main part of a substantial breakfast usually consisting of other items not considered to be so healthy. Getting plenty of fodder down me first thing is why I rarely need to take in much solid fuel at mid-morning coffee stops. I have to admit though that I am always partial to a finger or four of KitKat.
Other folk cannot stomach stoking up first thing and positively relish their cakes, biscuits, and chocolate concoctions mid-morning.
Whatever our preference, we cyclists should proceed to burn it all off on our bikes, or so I like to think. We positively need our energy food and do not need to feel guilty about it even if it is considered to be “naughty but nice”.
So I was not at all concerned about the recent revelations of the huge calorific content of some speciality coffees served up by our popular coffee shop chains. I have had a few and they are a meal in themselves... almost.
Nor am I fazed by the finding of a Bristol University professor that people’s desire for chocolate is fuelled by its sugar and fat content rather than by any mood-enhancing chemicals the cocoa solids may contain.
As long as we keep riding our bikes, we can enjoy reasonable portions of “naughty” treats with impunity. That’s what I say anyway.
THINKING of good solid fodder remind me of a hugely enjoyable notice board I spotted outside a sandwich bar in a village near Guildford. “HEALTHY SANDWICHES”, it proclaimed, “SALAD FREE”.
Having listened to various suggestions and requests from our club members we now present our new, more compact runs list. Judging by comments received so far, it has generally met with approval.
It was gratifying to see a full house again at the Seale Craft Centre on New Year’s Day - I was amazed when Janice informed me that it was already the 7th such event (and long may it continue).
A plea - would somebody please register the names of participants on rides when I am not present. It only needs a piece of paper and a pen to record the attendances with points awarded towards the Benstead Cup (in the words of Humph Lyttelton: points mean prizes).
Ever heard of ICE Number? A mountain bike friend of mine explains that they all have it and consider it essential. As many people now carry mobile phones, the ICE number is for immediate emergency contact with access to someone who knows the unfortunate casualty intimately, i.e. wife, husband or partner, with blood group and any special medical conditions for paramedics and hospitals (the MTBs often even wear a dog tag with ICE information and blood group). So go for it right now and store the contact number of your nearest and dearest under ICE in your mobile. As my friend explains: it may all seem OTT - but only until something goes wrong!
Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. - John Ruskin (1819-1900), submitted by Claire Hooper.
The sun was beginning to set as two lone cyclists approached the bridge from opposite directions. Beneath the parapet, the frozen canal was littered with debris of all sorts thrown by people trying to prove that the surface really was covered in ice. The rider on the Galaxy slowed as he surveyed the oncoming cyclist. “Hello, Geoff” he shouted as he recognised the rider of the black Brompton. At this point, a party of revellers spilled out of the nearby pub and, also recognising Brompton man, took up the same cheery greeting - he’s a popular man, that Geoff Smith. The Brompton was eased to a stop and the two began to chat. “Don’t forget, David, you were going to write a piece for the magazine about the state of cycling in China”. Ah yes, I had indeed promised to pen such a piece after a CTC tour in the southern province of Guangxi last year. So as a result of our Arthurs Bridge summit, here are some personal reflections about the state of cycling not only in China but other Asian countries as well.
As our tour bus taking us to Beijing airport crossed over a bridge, I looked down at six lanes of solid, unmoving traffic choking one of the many city ring roads. “I’m glad we’re not in that lot,” I thought, a split second too soon as we then descended the entry ramp and joined the throng. Our driver had obviously cut his teeth on motorbikes and he started to weave around between lanes whenever an opportunity arose. The only bicycles around were ours, boxed up in the hold beneath our seats. I believe a young silver-tonsilled songstress called Katie Melua recently had a hit recording that went ‘There are nine million bicycles in Beijing’. The song carries on with ‘and that’s a fact, that’s a fact’. Whether this is still true, I’m not so sure. Certainly in large towns, bikes are very much in evidence. Two-, three-, four- or more-wheeled, spoked wheeled, solid wheeled, some with plastic wheels, large and small wheeled, you see them all. Some of the ‘bolt-ons’ such as child seats are often made from bamboo.
The real consumer durables though are powered two-wheelers as can be seen in the huge number of shops specialising in these. Young women seem to prefer electric scooters and whizz around, often on the pavements and with the lights off after dark to preserve the battery. Being a pedestrian is hard enough in the first place without having to be constantly on the look out for these totally silent machines. Men of course prefer the throb and rumble of a proper motorbike and the biggest factory in the World making these is now in China. The machines are moderately sized, single-cylinder four-strokes up to 250cc. They are often customised with personalised tank badges (in English) replacing the maker’s moniker - RADAR, FASHION and BETTER are typical examples. As in most other places in this region of the World, motorbikes can often be seen with whole families aboard. But what of the cycling situation in neighbouring countries?
Bicycles, are you mad? Why have one of those when you can have a horse. You can eat horses or use them to make more horses so no contest. Motorbikes are OK and give you sex appeal - we prefer Chinese-made two-strokes - but we judge a man by the size of his herds.
Bicycles, are you mad? They’re for really poor people and bicycle rickshaw drivers. If we can’t afford a motorbike - we like Indian-made Hero machines - then we go by bus. Sometimes we can fit the whole village on the roof.
Bicycles, are you mad? Don’t you know the whole country is above 12,000 feet? Start pedalling here and you can get seriously out of breath. Much easier to amble slowly along or, better still, hitch a lift on a tractor.
Bicycles, are you mad? A motorbike is what you need. I can get my whole family on my 125cc Bajaj - baby on the handlebars, his older brother on the tank, me driving, my daughter behind me and her mother side saddle on the rear.
So what does the future hold? I can only see cycle use declining rapidly in this region as people’s personal wealth improves. They are the same as us, they want to get on in life, and nothing indicates more that you have received a leg-up in the world than getting motorised. My Dad started life after WWII with a tradesman’s bike while he built up his business. We were the second family in our road to get a car, after which he never swung his leg over a crossbar again in the remaining 40-odd years. The bike was parked up for emergencies where it rotted away to dust.
There is, however, a difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Here, the introduction of bicycles led to the formation of groups like the CTC to promote touring and holidaying using the new-fangled invention. You don’t see anything of the sort in the Far East. Using a bike for anything other than eking out a living is just not done. Touring by bicycle is purely the reserve of foreign tourists. At the moment, in places like China, bicycles are used out of necessity. People aspire to owning motorbikes because they can’t quite achieve car-owning status. But on the news today, the World’s cheapest car was revealed in India where it is expected to bring motoring to millions of extra people. So our own recent social history is being repeated now in countries we used to regard as having a peasant economy. Hopefully, they can learn from our mistakes regarding congestion and pollution but somehow I doubt it. Who knows, maybe in a few years’ time, Chinese cycle tourists may start indulging in adventure holidays riding around Britain (after they first rediscover the bicycle, that is).
A SUSSEX microbrewery, Ballards, organises a beer walk every year for charity, and suggested we took part, but on bikes. This seemed an excellent idea, combining two of the finest things in life, cycling and good beer. Geoff Smith Jr needed no persuading to put it on the Runs List, so on it went, the first Sunday in December, as every year.
The weather on the day turned out to be dreadful, with high winds and driving rain. At one point, descending into Midhurst, my cape was threatening to blow me backwards. Anyway, four connoisseurs of the hop turned out in these conditions, myself, John Cordery, Chris Jeggo and Clive. Geoff, unfortunately, had to drive his train.
After a convivial pint at the brewery at Nyewood, near South Harting, we wended our way along flooded lanes to the Elsted Inn, who were serving the full range of Ballards beers. While there we got talking to a group from the Sussex branch of CAMRA, who happened also to be vintage cycle enthusiasts. So a happy, if increasingly slurred, discussion took place on such topics as Paragon frames, 26tpi threads and the boring nature of carbon fibre.
We reluctantly left about mid-afternoon, pedalling our way with heavy legs towards Haslemere, and the train at Liphook. Before saying our good-byes we decided to definitely do this again next December, if not before. So look out for it on the Runs Lists, all you beer-loving cyclists.
Not as far as you may think.
Only six hours flying time from London and five hours return.
Very relaxed and friendly people - into alternative lifestyles.
Area greater than England with fewer than a million people.
Surrounded almost entirely by sea - never far from coast.
Cycling positively encouraged.
One of the best coastal rides in the world on Cape Breton Island.
Tides in Bay of Fundy the highest in the world.
Interesting historical sites from French and British occupation.
Accommodation no problem outside July/August.
IT LOOKS like a small appendage hanging off the eastern seaboard of Canada and indeed it forms only half of one percent of the Canadian land-mass but it is still larger in area than England and has a population of fewer than one million. It is Nova Scotia (New Scotland) and I spent twelve days cycling there in September 2007.
I flew on an afternoon flight direct to Halifax with Air Canada, and after a day’s sightseeing took a bus out to Cape Breton Island to do the spectacular Cabot Trail. Bikes on buses are no problem; you pay $5, plus $6 for a cardboard box if you don’t have your bike bag. In Chéticamp, an Arcadian town where they still speak French, I encountered a CTC group doing a similar trip. I can see why; it is a spectacular if somewhat hilly road with breathtaking views and no traffic problems, at least, not in September. However, traffic can be heavy in July and August, the North American holiday months, and there is more pressure on accommodation, which is more expensive in the high season. September is the recommended month; I always got in at the first place I tried, usually a motel. And the weather is still good in September.
The Scottish heritage is still strong - lots of McLeods and McDonalds. There is a strong tradition of Celtic music and there are fiddle and guitar players everywhere. I spent an enjoyable evening singing along in a café/restaurant in Truro where it seemed that half of the clientele got up and did a turn.
My last night on the Cabot Trail was in a cabin in the woods near a place called Wreck Cove where the owner spent three hours telling me his life story and explaining the rules of ice hockey; - there aren’t many. The Halifax team are called the Mooseheads!
From the Cabot Trail I made my way down to Louisbourg, a fortress that was built to protect the French interests in the region during the first half of the eighteenth century. Cod fishing was important, the cod being salted and sent back to France.
Cycling is popular. On the Sunday when I rode from Truro back to Halifax I saw several groups of cyclists - probably fifty or sixty in all. There are regular signs along the roads showing the outlines of a car and a cyclist with an exhortation to share the road and, indeed, the car drivers are generally very considerate.
Nova Scotia is surrounded by sea except for a twelve-mile-wide strip that joins it to New Brunswick, and if you like seafood there is plenty of it, lobsters especially. But no cod since there is a moratorium on cod fishing.
Since I did only the eastern end of the province, I may well return and strike out west from Halifax next time to see the other end and maybe take in Prince Edward Island.
This recipe makes a big cake which keeps for up to 3 weeks in an airtight tin. It freezes well, so use half now and keep the rest for later.
|14 oz dried mixed fruit (may include glace cherries, chopped apple, etc.)|
|5 oz margarine||8 oz chopped stoned dates|
|4 oz dark brown sugar||5 oz wholemeal flour|
|10 fl oz water||5 oz plain flour|
|pinch of salt||¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda|
|5 oz natural yogurt||1 large tablespoon of marmalade|
Turn oven on to heat at 325F, 170C. Grease and line a deep 7" square tin.
Put the dried fruit, sugar, margarine and water into a pan and bring to the boil, then turn it down and simmer for about 3 minutes. Leave the mixture to cool for about half an hour. Meanwhile, sift the flours and baking powder into a mixing bowl.
Add the fruit mixture and the remaining ingredients, and mix everything well.
Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, and cover loosely with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper to stop the top of the cake burning during cooking.
Cook for about 2½ hours in the centre of the oven, then test with a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes after cooking.
[Dear Mr. Editor - This article is written as a result of comments received from an article previously published in your magazine]
Sat in a restaurant in the old Fishermen’s Quarter of Biarritz, life felt good. Maybe it was the food, maybe the wine, or perhaps because we had arrived on the Atlantic coast, having just completed the ride from the Mediterranean through the Pyrenees.
Conversation eventually turned to returning home. Options included ferry from Santander, Bike Bus from Bordeaux and French Railways, but, cycling fit as we were, a second bottle of wine sealed the deal to defer the decision for now.
Next morning the tent was packed, the bikes loaded and we headed back into the foothills of the Pyrenees to avoid the main north-south roads. Coffee in La Bastide, and immediately over steep hills and across small river valleys to spend the night on a small farm at Seignosse.
We’ve covered 79km, it’s 38degC, the farmer says it’s going to rain big-time and it’s still too hot to cook at 8pm. The rain never came, we might as well have slept in a sauna, but we were away by 0730 next morning. Soon we found a cycle path that follows the old railway to Léon. Avoiding falling pinecones being the biggest challenge, the path led us northwards to the dismal municipal campsite (with adjacent chemical works) at Mimizan, where the rain caught up with us.
By 0900 next morning we had covered another 25km and were taking coffee in Parentis where vines grow over canopies of the restaurants in the main street. Choosing one of the many cycle paths we continued to head north for a couple more hours before waiting in a bar for the sun to go down and then heading for a shady pitch on the campsite at Arcachon.
It was Sunday and for a lazy day trip, after an unnervingly heavy storm overnight, we took the train into Bordeaux - very hot and very grand. A suitable restaurant retreat was soon selected in the old part of town.
Next day the bikes came out again for a short ride to Dune du Pilat - the largest sand dune in Europe. The most amazing storm was seen scudding in off the Atlantic which drove us into a convenient and most excellent Italian restaurant until well after dark.
Deciding to use one of the little ferries that criss-cross the lagoon, the bikes were embarked to Andernos and then followed the boringly flat cycle track to Lacanau before crash-landing for lunch after drifting into the sand at the edge of the path.
From here the path deteriorated to a succession of 18-inch square paving slabs laid ?? to mark the route through the littoral forest. OK for a mountain bike challenge, but fear of the 6-inch drop off the side made it an endurance test on the fully loaded tourers. Fortunately we only met two pairs of cyclists going the other way.
Overnight at Carcans, the municipal campsite had space for 440 tents, a beach stretching as far as the eye could see, but out of season with only a dozen campers we felt a bit lost. Next day the path improved to a full 2m wide track still following the coastal strip, but after 11km in the middle of nowhere we were pushing for 1km through deep sand (the first time since leaving the Mediterranean). A mere 73km that day however got us to Verdon.
We were now at the northern tip of the Gironde. After an early morning ferry to Royan, and a visit to the concrete cathedral (built by the British to replace the one they knocked down in WW2), we then headed north into a strengthening headwind through urban roads towards Île d’Oléron for our overnight stop. Crossing the bridge to the island was a 45 minute nightmare but when we found there were no onward ferries to La Rochelle for another five days, a management planning meeting was held in the nearest café - where a local, taking pity on us, offered his house for a meal and a refuge for the night. But the weather was worsening and with the bridge being the only way off the island we decided we should tackle it sooner rather than later. With a strong tail wind, the ride was almost pleasant and we had the tent firmly pitched before dark under a large hedge in the first campsite we found.
Avoiding the busy main roads was going to be a navigational challenge but it turned to our advantage when we stumbled across the 15th-century citadel of Brouage. Now some miles inland, it was from here that the French departed to discover Canada. Several hours sightseeing and the brightening weather improved our spirits and we could cope with tackling the old transporter bridge as the only route for cycles into Rochefort. Onwards through fields of sunflowers and a canal-side cycle track we made Marans our next overnight stop.
It was the weekend, the town was a bottleneck on the route to the coast and a Tour de France stage was due to be held nearby, so we took the bus for a day trip to La Rochelle.
Overnight thunderstorms kept us there for four days and Anne had to be coaxed from the tent with croissants and pastries from the baker’s van that visited each morning. The canal-side path offered a traffic-free route to clear town and we headed off across the Marais. Children clapped us through the village, still decorated from the Tour de France event, and we covered 115km to get the tent up just as it started raining again.
We decided to cross the Loire at Ancenis, having used the campsite here before. The day’s ride of 76km through vineyards was most pleasant if slightly hilly. From there we headed north against the wind through a Dorset-like terrain with big churches, arriving at Martigné by 4pm. A really helpful man in the TI and an excellent coffee stop persuaded us to stay the night and to use up a few days with a mini-tour of Brittany.
Moving on to Vitré for three days the guardian at the campsite warned us of a music festival next door. Thinking it would be safe to return to the tent after midnight, we had not reckoned on the roadies dismantling everything immediately they finished and the drunk/drug-induced revellers who started to scale the fence towards the bikes in the moonlight.
A visit to the Chateau de Savigny and Fougères (said to be the best medieval castle town in Europe) and numerous cafés and restaurants in local villages passed the weekend. It was only 38km to Châteaugiron but lured by the girl in the TI, the offer of free internet, the heat of the day and the quality of the coffee next door we stopped for two nights and took the opportunity to visit Rennes on a non-cycling day. It is a big town and needed a lot of walking around. Local cider was needed frequently to ease the weariness.
Another 79km then got us via a quiet if circuitous route to Dol de Bretagne. Next day was Bastille Day and we took advantage of the festivities and fireworks organised in the town. It also provided a base for visiting Mont St Michel and a lazy day in the Marais making it difficult to depart for the final 60km to St Malo.
The French holiday season was beginning; the camp sites were filling up, so we savoured a last two days around the sights and cafés of the old town before boarding the ferry to Portsmouth.
After attempting to cycle merrily up the wrong side of the road as we left the ferry terminal, we found a train to Woking and were home in time for tea.
SEEMS like only yesterday that I was stuffing envelopes with the Jan-Mar 08 magazine, yet now the time has come to think about the DA’s spring 50-mile Reliability Ride. As in previous years the routes will start at Pyrford Common Car Park and the Meadrow Car Park, Godalming (SU979447), where parking is free and toilets are adjacent. Nominal start times of 0800, 0830 and 0900 allow for ride times of 5, 4 to 4.5, and 3.5 hours respectively. All participants and helpers should therefore be gathered at the King’s Head, Holmbury St Mary, finish by 1pm to enjoy a social luncheon, and a leisurely ride home.
Hopefully all our active members will wish to support this event and it would be appreciated if those not wishing to ride could assist with the marshalling duties. To volunteer, please call me, Phil Hamilton, on 01483 772008, and I will give you details.
Without entrants it isn’t worth organising an event, but without helpers I cannot run the event.
The following was sent by our group’s Right to Ride Officer in response to a residents’ association magazine article claiming victory in halting a cycle route proposal. The proposed route partly goes through a housing estate and would involve resurfacing slightly more than a mile of an existing bridleway. - Editor
It is unfortunate that Mark Hanington’s article appearing in Issue 127 displays a regrettable lack of understanding of the wider picture, as he pats himself on the back for having successfully derailed a first class proposal to create Cycle Route 6 - Byfleet to Woking. This represents a sad reflection on a nation whose bigoted opinions are largely wedded to the motor car to the exclusion of all other forms of transport.
Had this proposal been raised anywhere else in Europe, it would have been adopted with enthusiasm.
Sadly, cyclists in this country are constantly being opposed by a vociferous anti-cycle lobby. These people are unable to appreciate that unless we adopt means other than the motor car for moving from A to B, our roads will soon reach gridlock; our children will become ever more obese, and we will continue to pump ever more pollution into our fragile atmosphere, as well as depleting our scarce resources.
Route 6 would have been used not so much by accomplished cyclists but rather by those seeking a safe alternative route to work or to the shops and parents with their children, but definitely not by regular cyclists, of which I am one. They generally prefer a good road surface and are sufficiently competent to cope with modern traffic conditions.
According to Government statistics, over a third of our journeys by car are for a distance of less than two miles. Therefore any improvement in cycling infrastructure to encourage motorists or future motorists to adopt what is a friendly, healthy and environmental alternative is to be applauded, not crushed by the uncaring. We can only get youngsters and hopefully their parents to recognise the delights and benefits of cycling if we provide them with the basic necessary facilities, which Cycle Route 6 would most definitely have created.
Mark Hanington correctly pointed out that not all the route is perfect. This is undoubtedly true, and unfortunately this is seldom possible; however he clearly feels we should bow to the wishes of the motorist, who under U.K. law is substantially protected from mowing down a cyclist. On the continent laws are made to protect the weak against the excesses of the strong. Sadly in this country a cyclist involved in an accident is presumed guilty unless proven otherwise. It is the reverse on the continent, and if it were the same here perhaps cyclists would be shown the same degree of respect as they are there. Only by increasing cycling will that parity be achieved. What we should recognise is that roads are for the use of all, and yes, I am a motorist.
As for cost; £46,000 or £65,000, this is a small price to pay. A minor improvement to our road system costs many times more. In any case it is likely central government will have supplied and ring-fenced these funds, in order to achieve their stated aim of getting more of us to benefit from cycling.
Mark also mentions the narrowness of the paths, and the fact they are predominantly used by pedestrians. Hardly surprising, since for a large part of the year they are full of mud, and additionally the National Trust fails miserably to maintain that section of the proposed path along the canal, which would have formed part of Route 6. With proper planning and execution, common practice in other developed countries, both users would have benefited.
Then Mark informs us he has majority support for rejection of this project. Of course he does, most people don’t cycle - but of course they would surely benefit if they were to do so. One meets so many who say they would love to cycle, if only safe cycle paths existed!
It is clear that some consider they should always adopt a negative attitude to anything new concerning cycling.
Let’s think again. How can we live successfully together and engage in some positive thinking?
I would like to compliment you on the content of the January-March 2008 magazine and have only a tiny fault to mention.
I imagine it was only out of consideration for Chris Jeggo still being a comparative youngster that you did not include him on the list of trophy winners but he did win the Bernard Howell Trophy for being the highest placed veteran in the Benstead competition.
Special congratulations are due to Amy Juden, who has finished as the top junior girl and was overall in 20th place out of 416 entrants (seniors and juniors) country-wide in CTC’s annual tourist competition. Only 11 points separated Amy from the country’s top placed senior rider.
CTC West Surrey cannot claim any credit for Amy’s performance but it is good to know that we have such a talented rider in our area group.
DEREK Tanner’s audio-visual presentation “Underwater and Adventure Travel” at Lightwater Hall on February 22nd, with donations to CTC Cyclists’ Defence Fund and RNLI, raised £77.05 for the former.
The capacity audience included a large contingent from West Surrey CTC.
to ... (fine details omitted in web version), Portishead, North Somerset, BS20 8..., phone 01275 ......, and would be pleased to see any West Surrey CTC cyclists who find themselves in that neck of the woods.
Peter says: “Thank you all very much for your friendship over the years and the fun that we have had on the many cycling trips etc. We will stay in touch and as already promised we will be helping out at the Tour of the Hills.
“I hope to continue cycling and if all goes well I will try and ride one or two of the events in future.”
Uphill on her Thorn
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 18 November 2009.