“The West Surrey Cyclist” - October - December 2009
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Front cover - same as the January design
Inner front cover - Welcome to Our World - as in previous issue
CTC West Surrey 2009 - very similar to previous issue
Editorial front matter - very similar to previous issue
Riding Around - with Editor Geoff Smith
Two Tales of One City:
- Hesitation, Deviation and Repetition - by Roger Philo
- The Great London Bike Ride - by Paul Gillingham
Riding the Tour Series Route - by Claire Hooper
The Joys of Off-road Riding - by Arthur Twiggs
Organised Cycle Rides October - December 2009 - the Rides List
Welsh Festival of Cycling - by Chris Jeggo
Letters to the Editor
- from Claire Hooper
- from Dane Maslen
- from Roger Philo
The Chivalry of Puncture Mending - by Margaret Le Neve Foster
Transport in Guildford
Summer Reliabilities to be Abandoned - by Rico Signore
There Must Be a Better Way - by Roger Philo
A Pilgrim’s Story - Part 4 - by Derek Tanner
CTC West Surrey Group - Annual General Meeting
Nomination Form for Officers/Committee/Other positions
AS YOU may recall from my article in the Spring issue, Debbie and I had a memorable “cycle-cruise” around the coast of Norway in 2008. Although not particularly cruising “types”, we decided on another cruise on the same ship this summer. This time the itinerary included five stops in the British Isles as well as a similar number around the coast of Iceland. All ports of call provided magnificent cycling opportunities, of which we took full advantage, having again obtained permission to bring our own bikes on board.
Chatting this over with the ship’s captain, as one does, it seemed that we may have hit upon something which might be worth taking further. How does the idea appeal of taking your bike on board MV Spirit of Adventure as part of a small group for a week’s cycle-cruising around Britain? If it rains, there is always the regular shore excursions to fall back on and, no, I do not want to hear any jokes about riding the bike around the deck while at sea, thank you.
Capt Frank Allica usually takes one of the ship’s small number of hybrid bikes out for a spin from picturesque ports when he has the time. He could see the potential of providing spare cabin accommodation for storing, say, a dozen bikes of passengers, with the company also offering suggested riding routes. Needless to add, there would also be back-up provided to ensure riders and their bikes would be safely returned to the ship in the event of any emergency occurring while ashore.
On our cruise, there was a specialist group of 16 or so birdwatchers on board, following their own itinerary. Music enthusiasts and National Trust members also form groups on some suitable cruises.
Various cycling types among the passengers told me they would be keen to sign up for a cycle-cruise holiday around Britain should the operators offer one and if the provisos mentioned above were put in place. So would such a luxury cycle-tour appeal to you? Let me know. Meanwhile, Capt Frank has said he will raise the matter with his head office in Folkestone.
ALLOW ME to be a mite indulgent. With this issue I complete ten years as your editor, for most of which I also served on the committee. As of the next issue, I plan to run a regular short “ten years ago” feature. This, I hope, will not be a nostalgia trip but serve as a reminder of what we were doing back then. It might also perhaps be a pointer to future activities and ambitions for the group. Who knows?
I RECENTLY had a lucky escape while riding after a stray length of curly and sticking-up twig became too familiar for comfort with my front wheel. It was only a second or two but that can be all it takes to lose control and for disaster to occur. It is just so important to keep your eyes peeled for these potentially deadly pieces of debris, particularly so as they increase in number as we move into autumn.
I HAVE been heartened by the many responses to my plea in the July-September issue for contributions from readers, having dried up at the time. Many other readers and leaders have also promised something but have not yet delivered. You know who you are...
At any event, the stockpile is now reasonably healthy again, which enables me to breathe a sigh of relief and keep the drivel in this column down to an acceptable length.
Here’s a thought, how about some rides reports, news, new route ideas, coffee break and pub critiques, and gossip FROM OUR GROUPS? One senior member has suggested we publish riders’ favourite routes from around our region. Let me have yours, starting with suggestions for winter rides for our January-March 2010 issue.
Along with a number of other West Surrey riders and many more from elsewhere, I took part in Bill Carnaby’s 100 km Audax “The London Sightseer” on Wednesday July 1st. It starts from Hampton Hill, goes through central London down to Greenwich and back through central London to Hampton Hill, so it’s impossible to avoid heavy traffic altogether especially as it’s also designed to take in London’s famous sights. However, Bill’s route does the best that can be done to avoid traffic, but this does need a complex route; there are about 250 route instructions for the 100 km.
It’s a fairly flat route so I’d normally expect to take less than 6 hours. This took over 9 hours. The instructions probably couldn’t be clearer without turning the route sheet into a book, but I was confused about where I was supposed to be going a lot of the time, hence a lot of hesitation. Despite my confusion, I was on route almost all the time, I just didn’t know it.
In fact, I had only one major deviation, in Rotherhithe, where on a shared footway/cycleway crowded with a lot of children coming out of school, I missed a right turn. The big repetition was on Wapping High Street, where I thought I’d missed a right turn on to the Thames Path and retraced to find it. I hadn’t, it was just further along than I thought, so back along that section again.
The route uses mainly side roads, cycle lanes and paths by the Thames and through Syon Park to get to Kensington and then goes through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, along Constitution Hill and The Mall to Trafalgar Square. Then it’s along the Strand, Fleet Street and through the City to arrive at Tower Bridge, which the route doesn’t cross. Instead it sticks to the north bank, past St Katherine’s Dock, through Wapping and Limehouse and past Canary Wharf to arrive at the northern end of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. Here Bill awaits you to stamp your brevet card and you can buy lunch at the cafe if you think you have time.
The first of six crossings of the Thames involves carrying the bike down the stairs of the tunnel, walking through the tunnel and carrying the bike up the other side; apparently the lifts only operate at rush hour. Now comes a big loop up into Greenwich Park and the Old Royal Observatory and down to the Thames opposite Silvertown, all the way round the Dome and back past Cutty Sark. The route then remains fairly close to the Thames, heading upstream to cross again on Westminster Bridge.
Then it’s switching banks on Chelsea Bridge, Battersea Bridge and Putney Bridge, a ride through Richmond Park and the last crossing at Teddington Lock. A final stretch on the Thames Path to Hampton Court Palace, through Bushy Park and in to the finish.
Bill is running the ride again on Sunday September 6th, so it’s quite possible that by the time you read this, I’ll have tried the event again to see what it’s like without weekday traffic and if I’m any faster when I have some idea where I’m going, and so I can actually look at some of the sights instead of concentrating on the route sheet the whole time.
Bill may organise the event again next year. If so, give it a try, highly recommended. Just be aware that the 10 hours maximum time isn’t nearly as generous as it sounds and, unless you’re a London cabbie, take an ‘A to Z’.
Finally, a question for Brompton owners. As the ride started at 9:30 on a Wednesday and I travelled to the start by train, I needed to use a folding bike to evade the SWT peak hours bike ban. I considered using the Brompton because it’s so easy to fold, but I’ve never ridden it further than 15 miles at any one time and wasn’t sure how comfortable it would be on a 100k, so I used the Airnimal instead.
So, the question to Brompton owners; what’s the longest ride you’ve done on a Brompton, and would you use it for a ride like the London Sightseer? It would probably be easier to carry up and down the stairs of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, in fact you wouldn’t need to, you could use the DLR, a possibility suggested by Bill to all of us at the start until one rider pointed out that the bike ban on the DLR was, as he put it, “aggressively enforced”. On the other hand, those small wheels might not be so good on stretches of cobbles, of which there are quite a few on the route. Actually, there was one rider on a Brompton at the start, but I didn’t see him again, so I don’t know how he got on.
An abridged version was published here in the magazine. Paul’s complete article can be read on a stand-alone page - CRJ.
FOR those of us who were not professionals, school children or members of a team, there was only one way to sample the thrills of the Woking Tour circuit - ride in the Free Wheel race (although it wasn’t officially a race). A motley bunch of us assembled outside the Fire Station in hot sunshine, on mountain bikes, road bikes, tourers, hybrids, full suspension and no suspension; whole families, lone riders, racers, commuters and one dad with his son on a tag-along.
After waiting long enough to acquire sunburn and strike up friendships, we were off, up towards the Police Station bend, avoiding the antique his-and-hers tandem still trundling round from the last event. I settled down on the drops of my Dawes Shadow and hoped that its brakes would be up to the job.
Because of the brakes the first lap was a bit tentative, as I tackled familiar roads from surprising angles - sweep right and past Blockbusters, swing left into Goldsworth Road - pick up speed - slow for the tight right at the Coign church, sweep left into Victoria Way, a gorgeous wide arc round the end of the central reservation then jump on the pedals to burn up Victoria Way without stopping for red lights.
The next lap was faster - surging uphill, nearly overcooking it by Blockbusters, having to dodge and brake for pootlers, spread-out families and the dad with the tag-along. I was getting carried away by the third lap, well down on the drops, seeing how many I could overtake, how fast I could accelerate up the home straight... and that was it. Barriers appeared across the road and we were ushered into the market place. For us, the race was over.
Excellent stuff, Claire. The whole event was memorable - Geoff, Ed
It was a wet, windy May Sunday morning when I opened the curtains and I would normally have gone back to bed, but it was my turn to lead the CTC off-road group according to the published runs list, and three riders had phoned earlier in the week to say that they would be coming. Still, as it was my ride I got to choose the starting point so I had chosen the Stockbridge pond car park just outside Tilford that I can ride to without using the car.
The rain was so persistent that only my Gore jacket was going to do much good so I set off in shorts through the fields and bridleways to Tilford to wait in the car park. Sure enough Dave arrived but said that he would wait until the allotted start time to see whether the rain was going to ease up before deciding whether to come with us or not. Just before 10 am Andrew arrived and was also swithering whether to come or not, and I was secretly hoping that it would be a nay.
On an impulse Andrew said “let’s go for it”, so we checked the other car park on Tilford Green to see if anyone else was waiting and then the two of us set off along the track to Frensham Little Pond. Normally this is a great ride with full suspension because the undulations in the track can be taken at full speed, but today we had to stop quite often to clear the rain from my glasses - Andrew not needing glasses did not have this problem! The ramp up to the stream crossing was missing but I knew that the bottom was firm so we surged through the water beside the little wooden bridge. By the time we got to the next car park the rain was easing and we set off on the byway over the common towards Rushmoor. Normally trying to ride this track is like trying to ride uphill through treacle but because the rain had compacted the sand to a certain extent we were able to ride the whole way through to the tarmac past the little ford into Rushmoor. A quick right onto the bridleway through the Devils Jumps, which was again well compacted by the rain, brought us on to the road past the Pride of the Valley and on to Pitch Place.
A quick intake of refreshment and removal of jackets as the rain had now nearly stopped and we set off up the byway/bridleway towards Hindhead and the A3. This track varies enormously - sometimes it is so eroded by rainwater run-off and scramble bikers that it is impossible to ride - but today we were able to ride all the way to the top, only stopping for the gate into the National Trust area. After a perilous dash across the A3 we reached the top of Gibbet Hill where I always stop for a bit to take in the view of the hills and scenery to the east.
A quick, fast, bumpy, technical descent followed, past the viewpoint over the entrance to the A3 tunnel and on to the tarmac again and through the construction site over the A3 and on to the Greensand Way down into Thursley. The advantages of hydraulic disc brakes came into their own when I encountered a tractor and wide trailer coming slowly up the narrow track on one of the bends. We crossed the A3 on the “relatively” new bridge and into the woods again to re-cross the A3 at Warren Mere. By now the rain had stopped and the tracks were muddy and difficult but from here to the lunch stop were well-defined, and we got to the Stag on the River at Eashing via the Milford off-road “suburbs” in time for lunch.
We thought it prudent to sit in the garden although it was fairly cold and windy and this was confirmed when we went in to order - the staff stared at us in mild amusement, but to their credit welcomed us and took our orders. I went to the wash room to clean up and understood their reaction because I was mud-splattered from head to toe - although I had cleaned my glasses the rest of me was a mess.
Suitably refreshed, we set off along one of my favourite off-road routes from Eashing over the A3 again, through the woods to the Shackleford road and back down through the sand to Gatwick. There was a Scout/Guide jamboree in the next field to Fulbrook Farm so we made an easy crossing - often this field is occupied by bulls and/or bullocks that become extremely inquisitive toward cyclists! Then a good straight fast run through to the Donkey pub and the bridleway by the river back to Tilford. Normally this is the muddiest, rutty track around and today was no exception, but we got back to Tilford with no punctures or other problems and we both agreed that we made the right decision in “going for it”.
FOR this four-day event at the end of July the “regulars” travelled to Rhayader for this year’s feast of Cambrian scenery. This was the event’s second year here, following two years at Llandovery, and we are all eagerly waiting to find out the next venue. The Jupes and the Tanners were under canvas, and Mary Clarke and Carol Moore in motorhomes, at the football ground, where the showers were designed for strapping male footballers and our least lanky lady was too short to turn one on! All the men offered to help. Sue Thorne and the Jeggoes opted for the comfort of B&B.
There were A (long), B (W Surreys’ usual choice), C (family) and off-road rides each day. Friday’s B ride led from the grandeur of the Elan Valley reservoirs to the wilder upper valley and over the watershed to the upper Ystwyth valley, eventually returning down the Wye via the delightful, almost traffic-free lanes from Llangurig. Carol, training for her End-to-End ride, asked for and got extra hills. We did Sunday’s ride, a 60-mile round trip to Presteigne, on Saturday because of Sunday’s weather forecast, allowing a few of us to do a short, ‘true CTC’ ride (Café To Café!) on the one bad day of the weekend. On Monday the Tanners, on MTBs, did the off-road ride following a track through the Cambrian Mountains between the Teifi and Elan valleys. Another popular destination was the extensive and interesting collection of the National Cycle Museum at Llandrindod Wells.
Being a market town, Rhayader is well supplied with pubs, where we were well fed and watered most evenings. On the Saturday, however, we took fish and chips back to the football club in order to watch ITV4’s highlights of the Tour de France stage up le Mont Ventoux. Now that was tiring!
Reading your column about “we”, i.e. your bike and you, going into town, I see I am not the only one for whom the bike is a living thing. I said as much to my husband and he just looked as if he despaired.
I don’t think I have ever referred to “we” or “us” in conversation, but I do always thank my bikes after a good ride and say nice things to them - e.g. “you gorgeous creature”.
Having been a marshal on the Tour of the Hills for the last two years, I’ve noticed how riders lose precious time at the checkpoints while fumbling for their brevet cards. If these were dispensed with and all marshals issused with whips, then riders could collect weals on various parts of their anatomy instead. Not only would this speed up the checkpoints, it would undoubtedly increase the appeal of the event to the sort of masochists who choose to ride it.
I have indeed fixed a lot of punctures at once in the manner described by our Editor in the last issue, but that had nothing to do with being well organised. I tend to buy inner tubes in bulk at places like cycle jumbles and the Mildenhall rally. So when I get home after having had a puncture a new inner tube goes in the bag on the bike and the tube with the hole gets added to the collection that I’ll get round to fixing someday. When “someday” finally arrived last year, I fixed 23 tubes at the same time, which I think was about 10 years’ worth of punctures.
I was interested to read Geoff’s observations on lady cyclists and puncture mending in the last issue, as it ties in with my limited observations that if women cycle alone, they mend their own punctures, but if they cycle with their man, they don’t, at least I haven’t noticed one who does.
Last year on holiday I met Barbara, of Barbara and Norman. Both were life-long CTC cyclists. If anyone could buck the trend, it would be Barbara. But no, she said that whilst she knew how to mend a puncture, she had never ever done one. This echoed my attitude to puncture mending. And it is rather enjoyable, this arrangement. I get a puncture, I say “Help, Help!” and a knight on a white charger appears. His fingers are stronger than mine and he deftly and expertly deals with the puncture. And of course my hands remain nice and clean.
Being a damsel, though, is not my vision of myself. I like to think I am a capable and independent minded woman. So today I thought I would change and become a puncture mender. As a first step, I decided to pump up my own tyres before setting off. I got out the big pump and then a strange reluctance came over me. I wasn’t ready to start my new life today. Pumping up my own tyres was not as much fun as having them done for me. So I compromised and asked Nigel to supervise me with instructions all the way, so that it didn’t feel I was doing it on my own. I think I will still become a puncture mender, but not today. Tomorrow will do.
Does anyone else feel like me?
Keith Chesterton will represent cyclists and walkers on this new working group set up by Surrey County Council and Guildford Council to produce plans to improve transport systems. Send your ideas to Keith at Firle, Chestnut Avenue, Guildford GU2 4HD or email@example.com
SOME years ago, the once very popular 100 miles Reliability Ride was discontinued due to lack of support. Happily, the active membership of the West Surrey group has since increased. We therefore decided to revive this event, probably some five years ago, but have had only limited success. In order to increase interest we trebled the rides by adding shorter distances (75, 50, and 30 miles). Even after moving the event this year from September to June, we had a grand total of 14 entrants on the day.
We have therefore decided to drop this event from the calendar - a bit disheartening as all the participants claim to have enjoyed the rides on the mainly quiet lanes with pleasant scenery. Club events just don’t seem to attract interest any longer except for those who ride for Benstead Cup points. The Rough Stuff Ride and Treasure Hunt have already been scrapped, and the Tricyclathon is struggling to survive.
Should anyone wish to carry on with these reliability rides, all the details are available from me (01483 822240).Reliability Rides Sunday 28th June 2009
One of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels contains these lines: “He’d had a look at Cut-me-own-Throat Dibbler’s dragon detectors, which consisted solely of a piece of wood on a metal stick. When the stick was burned through, you’d found your dragon. Like a lot of Cut-me-own-Throat’s devices, it was completely efficient in its own special way while at the same time being totally useless.”
I’d already come across one Roundworld example of this in anti-virus software which when installed prevented the computer from booting up at all. Complete protection, totally useless. Then, about three years ago, I bought some tyres with a puncture-resistant belt for use on my commuting bike. Shortly afterwards, as I was about to set off for work one day, I spotted that I had a flat tyre. I thought that while I was changing the inner tube I might as well fit one of the new tyres. I gave up on that after about 20 minutes and put the old tyre back on. It wasn’t that I couldn’t fit the last 20-25%, which is usually the problem and for which I have a tyre pulling-on tool. I couldn’t get the first 20% to stay on.
The problem seems to be that the puncture-resistant belt is so stiff that it makes it very difficult to get any of the tyre seated in the first place, yet it’s springy enough to force out any of the tyre that is seated unless all of it is. Well, I suppose you can’t get a puncture in a tyre that’s impossible to fit in the first place. In fact, it’s not quite impossible, I did fit a pair last weekend. It took about 5 hours, a dozen cable ties and 5 small G cramps. The method I finally adopted was: fit one bead of the tyre and insert the inner tube in the normal way. Attempt to insert the other bead at one point and hold it down with a cable tie. Because this tends to flatten the tyre, which is not what’s wanted, squeeze it at right angles to the plane of the wheel using a small G cramp. Move round about 6 or 7 spokes and apply another cable tie loosely. Fit the section of the tyre between the two cable ties, then tighten the second cable tie and apply another G cramp. That sounds a lot easier than it is. Continue round the tyre in this manner, applying cable ties and G cramps every 6 or 7 spokes. For the last section, the tyre pulling on tool wasn’t quite up to the job, so I resorted to careful use of a plastic coated steel-cored tyre lever. There must be an easier way and if any reader knows of one, I’d like to hear it.
The popular tea shop and café operated by Tim and Jeanette at the Watts Gallery site, Compton, is due to close shortly, but remains open at present. Relocation somewhere in our area is a distinct possibility. Phone 01483 811030.
A new coffee lounge and shop is now open in Redford, near Milland and below Older Hill, at what was a post office. Phone 01428 741312, closed Mondays.
Derek concludes his account of his pilgrimage journey to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, having arrived at the mountain top village of O Cebreiro. For a quirky book on cycling the pilgrims&rsquo route, I recommend ‘Spanish Steps, Travels With My Donkey’ by Tim Moore (Vintage paperback, published 2005) - Ed
Exhausted and elated we had reached the high point (1300m) of the route, and it was still mid-afternoon. The scenery and the ambience were too good to pass on, and we were lucky when we found that the lady who ran the village shop had one room free for the night. She was sorry it was only a double but we didn’t care, there was soap, hot water, fluffy towels and bounce in the bed, more than any praying pilgrim could dream of in these parts. Washed and smelling most un-pilgrim-like we spent several hours walking the hills around the village before destroying the menu in the restaurant next door. The bikes spent the night safe in the village shop.
There were a lot of people looking for taxis the next morning, and as we were organizing to leave, the tandem with the two-wheel trailer turned up (American), as did a Dutch pair on sit-up-and-beg bikes (who we nicknamed “the beggars”). Not surprisingly, once we had cleared the undulations of the mountain tops (we noticed that the beggars were walking up the inclines) the day was spent in a glorious descent (the beggars had weight and stability to their advantage on the downhill). We had stopped for coffee, been shopping and covered 32km when we stopped for a look around the monastery and collect a very nice passport stamp at Samos at 1130am. A surprise 15km climb popped up from nowhere followed by 9km of descent and we were in Portomarin. Here the town was rebuilt and the church moved after a dam was built and the old village flooded. They were celebrating the “Fiesta of San Pedro”. The local folk group was OK but the rock concert in the back of a 40-ton lorry was not to our liking.
It was a misty morning over the reservoir and the exit sliproad from the campsite had a gradient nearing the impossible. Cornwall could have boasted some of the narrow lanes and sudden inclines on the morning’s ride, as we leapfrogged several other cyclists, but all too soon we were dumped back on the newly upgraded main road where we spent the next 40km graded 7% up or 7% down with the lorries back on our elbow (we almost missed the roadside cross that marked the geographical centre of Galicia) until we got to Arzua - a traditional last night’s stop for pilgrims. Thinking “the land of the umbrella” was about to live up to its name, we checked into a roadside hostel to find that we were sharing a room with “the beggars” and two girls, one from Texas, the other from California. We all gravitated to the same restaurant for dinner.
Another 25km of 7% gradient on a dismally damp morning got us to the airport on the outskirts of Santiago, where we found coffee in a café bursting with pilgrims. We passed the village of Lavacolla (where guards would stand to ensure pilgrims washed in the river as they passed by - the bridge is now sadly overgrown), and broaching the summit of Monte do Gozo - traditionally where pilgrims get their first sight of the cathedral at Santiago (someone has now let trees obscure the view) - we decided “enough” for the day and checked into the campsite there.
It was a good move, since next morning the warden directed us towards the traditional trail to complete our pilgrimage. So it was, conspicuously, the 1st of July 2007, Day 50 of the tour and just on 2200km cycled, that we set out on the last 7 km, full of eager expectation of riding triumphantly up to the gates of the cathedral. But the traffic was heavy, the signage was poor, one-way streets ran against us, it was pouring with rain and disillusionment had set in by the time we had arrived. We reported, dripping, to the pilgrims office, felt - as we were - just another pilgrim to be processed by the staff for the day, and retreated, with our certificates in hand, to a not too carefully selected restaurant for a somewhat overpriced and mediocre celebration meal.
Two more nights in Santiago enabled us to do some sightseeing, take a day trip by bus to Lugo (much less overrun by tourists) and, having had enough of cycling on Spanish roads, arranged to bus the bikes and ourselves to Santander for the ferry home. As the bus sped away we spotted the recumbent (with his girlfriend alongside) still handcranking the last few kilometers into town.
Our AGM will be at 10.30am on Saturday 31st October at The Bird in Hand, Mayford Green, Woking. There will be free tea and coffee before the meeting. We hope that as many members as possible will come to the AGM and then stay for a pub lunch, choosing from the pub’s standard menu, afterwards.
Motions for consideration at the AGM must be submitted to the secretary at least two weeks in advance, as should nominations - using the form on the back page of this magazine - for chairman, secretary, treasurer and rides’ secretary (all ex-officio members of the committee), other committee members, auditor and the honorary posts of president and vice-presidents.
The current treasurer is stepping down and the current secretary considers it would be best to do so as he is moving out of the area. New nominations for these posts are therefore particularly important.
In addition to the election of officials and the consideration of formal motions the AGM will give members the opportunity to make and discuss suggestions, e.g. about our publications, our social, rides’ and events’ programmes, and how to attract younger participants. Bring along some good ideas!
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 6 December 2013.