“The West Surrey Cyclist” - July - September 2010
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Front cover - Patterson drawing of Witley - same as previous issue
Inner front cover - same as previous issue
Editorial front matter - very similar to previous issue
Riding Around - with Editor Geoff Smith
Letter to the Editor - Just slow down, will you? - from Bob McLeod
Puskas, Cucumbers and Kings in Concrete - complete - by Paul Gillingham
Organised Cycle Rides July - September 2010 - the Rides List
Danish Cyclists' Federation Visit to Woking - by Dane Maslen
My High Five: Five Counties in Five Days - by William Lowries
Volunteers Urgently Needed
Ten Years Ago - from WSC July-September 2000
I Am a Camera - by Anthony Whincup
Summer on Surrey and Hampshire Lanes - a seasonal route from Rico Signore
Dates for Your Diary
Map of Rico's seasonal route out into Hampshire
PARTICIPATION in our own special events has been disturbingly down recently yet our immediate Surrey Hills area is alive with whirring sprockets every Sunday. The reason for our decline in numbers may have been evident on the day of our 50 miles reliability ride. Our small number of entrants was overshadowed and occasionally swamped by fast and focussed others taking part in a nationally promoted sportive over much of our course and beyond.
The showbiz element of these sportives and charity rides has certainly been a factor, if not the major factor, of their rising popularity. Souvenir t-shirts, goodie bags, well-stocked feed stations, mechanical assistance, electronic time-tagging, certificates and medals also play their part in pulling in the punters in increasing numbers. Meanwhile, those signing on for our reliability rides, Stonehenge-Danebury routes, and freewheeling and pace-judging competitions, are declining.
But what about our annual flagship event the Tour of the Hills? Surely every committed local cyclist wants to have a crack at that at least once, if not come back year after year? Yet even this is now the subject of competition. A 100km Spring Onion event from Leatherhead in March attracted 400 riders. The aforementioned Ups and Downs Sportive on April 24th, clashing with our reliability ride, was over 101, 75, or 45 miles from Dorking and was accurately promoted as “showcasing the best of the Surrey Hills and North Downs”. In May there was a May Flyer from Chobham and a King of the Downs starting from Gatwick.
All this, of course, is marvellous, but where does this leave our events? It seems to me that the undoubted success of these well-promoted newcomers has been to the detriment of ours.
WHAT was, in 2001, a randonnée, described by Cycling Weekly as a super tough “main event”, became in 2009 a sportive which has held on to its status “bordering on legendary”.
Back in 2001, the magazine devoted three pages to our Tour of the Hills event with graphic descriptions from journalists such as “the most epic ride I’ve done in the UK”, and with words like “horror”, “treacherous”, “nasty” and “beastly” scattered about the narrative.
This time the climb of Barhatch Lane (Horseblock Hollow), now at the end, merited “sadistic” and that of Combe Bottom at the start “testing”. Nothing new there, then, but the full and favourable coverage had grown significantly to four pages including the colour route map and linked profile of the hills themselves.
Due attention was paid to the changed route - “a little longer...a little hillier” - and writer James Shrubsall was just as complimentary as last time. Having done the 2009 ride myself, my seventh and probably final completion, I have to agree with his reasoning that: “The Surrey Hills are a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and should be admired at a graceful touring pace.”
Absolutely, but this did not stop James finishing in 4hr15, only eight minutes behind his 2001 achievement. My time was my worst ever but I did take wads of time to chat to all of our volunteer marshals and I was, you understand, just checking out the new route...
I HAVE just learned about a two-wheeled cousin of the Slow Food movement, the Slow Bicycling Movement. Founded in 2008 in Copenhagen, that most cycle-friendly of cities, the movement claims more than 3,000 members.
It is written on Facebook: “The time is ripe for Slow Bicycle. We figure the Slow Bicycle Movement is all about the journey, not the destination... The Slow Bicycle Movement is a celebration of the bicycle, not as a speed machine or a tool for tribal membership, but merely as an enjoyable way to get around.”
MY FIRST view of the Danube was from a break in the clouds. The plane was coming into Budapest and there below was the river glinting in the sun, a sliver of silver on brown, not blue. In the distance was the Danube Bend, looking pretty small from the air; this was the route for the first part of a solo cycling tour of Hungary in May.
The reasons for visiting places are many and varied. In my case it was the memory of Puskas and his Hungarians demolishing Billy Wright’s England at Wembley in ’53. Those magical names - Hideguti, Kocsis, Grosics - still trip off the tongue half a century later! Then there were those magical words ‘Magyar kir Posta’ across the stamps in my boyhood stamp collection. Besides, Hungary was distant and foreign, a ‘terra incognita’ behind the Iron Curtain with an exotic language and currency. It had long attracted invaders from the Roman, Ottoman, German and Russian Empires, not to mention Bob McLeod, Geoff Smith, and the Tanners, so it had to be visited.
But the tour nearly didn’t happen! The girl at the Easyjet check-in desk at Gatwick saw my plastic-wrapped bike and said I couldn’t take it. “It’s not in a proper bag or box,” she said! She called the manager. “You’ll have to either find a rigid bike-box or leave it in left-luggage” said the manager. “But it’s in a CTC-approved bag”, I said. “And what’s more the plastic’s thick and the handlers can see it’s not a bomb”. This seemed to do the trick and with boarding imminent I was allowed through, but not before I’d signed a waiver absolving Easyjet from any responsibility.
The ride from Budapest’s Ferihegy airport to the city looked straightforward on the map. But real life is messier. I’d made the mistake of asking directions of a man who must have assumed I was a truck-driver, not a cyclist, in spite of the loaded bike and the lycra. He directed me onto a two-lane highway with not an inch of shoulder and lorries thundering past, their drivers mouthing Magyar obscenities. Cycling was obviously forbidden, but with a four-foot high crash-barrier there was no escape.
It’s amazing what brute strength you can draw on when life is at stake. I grabbed the fully loaded bike and hurled it over the barrier, myself included. The road we landed on was less busy, but full of twists and turns and had no signs. Before long I was in a very run-down area, passing graffiti-covered blocks of Soviet-style flats with rubbish and broken furniture piled outside. The potholed road led past industrial buildings with crumbling masonry and peeling paint. My Budapest map offered no respite. Oh for a GPS!
But clouds have silver linings and mine took the form of a sporty young woman approaching on a racing bike and wearing full lycra. Throwing caution to the wind I flagged her down to find she spoke superb English. She said she was a personal cycle trainer and this was her first day back on a bike after giving birth. She knew exactly the area I was looking for, drew a sketch map and waved me on my way. Hungary was looking up!
Within an hour I was at a friend’s flat, had changed into civvies and was on the metro to downtown Buda to see the sights. Next morning was warm and sunny, so together we crossed the Danube over the famous Chain Bridge and headed along the cycle path to Margrit Island, Budapest’s equivalent of Hyde Park but in the middle of the river. Its 3km leafy meander is historic, with churches, ancient ruins and a kitsch fountain with jets of water dancing to the sounds of a Hungarian Julio Iglesias. A swimming pool complex was designed by the freestyle gold-medal winner in the 1896 Olympics.
The next day I set off solo for the Danube Bend, following the cycle path from Pest, which was like the M25 in rush-hour, jam-packed with 30-something cyclists. After passing factories and more Soviet-era flats I was soon in a forest and approaching the pretty riverside resort town of Szentendre. On a bench overlooking the Danube I had a picnic, but the sylvan peace was shattered when I noticed my front tyre was flat and the casing was split. There was no point in replacing the tube until the tyre was patched or replaced, so I asked a passing cyclist if there was a cycle shop nearby. He spoke English and said they were closed because it was Saturday, but he had passed one open twelve kilometres up the road.
So I pressed on, nervously, stopping every mile to pump up the tube just enough to keep moving but not enough to have it burst through the split tyre. After 12km there was the cycle shop, but alas ... it was closed! The sign said it closed for the weekend at 1 pm, an hour earlier!
I was now in a fix. Do I stagger on further or stay put until Monday opening? But necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Beside the shop was a pile of bald roadster tyres, so out came the penknife and within minutes I had hacked off a piece and fashioned a patch á la Ray Mears. The tube was replaced, the patch jammed into the tyre and I was now on my way. Apart from a bump at every turn of the wheel, the bodge job held for the rest of the tour (and stayed puncture-free for the next year).
The cycle shop was not far from Szentendre Island where I was now headed. Unlike Margrit Island it is completely rural with cultivated fields and not a car in sight. At its southern end, in the village of Kisoroszi, there is ferry that takes passengers across the Danube back to the southern shore. The boatman and his mate manhandled the bike, weighing a ton, on board the tiny boat and I joined the boatman’s wife and baby son and two other passengers for the short trip across. One of the passengers, a local, had just returned home from finishing an Economics degree at University College, London!
He told me to call in at the historic town of Visegrad with its castle overlooking the Danube, but it was getting late and there were still twenty kilometres to go before my destination for the night, Esztergom.
You know you’re nearing Esztergom when you see the dome of its basilica, the tallest building in Hungary and one of the largest churches in the world. Soon I was coasting past it, following signs for ‘Gran Camping’. The entrance faced the Danube, the sunset glinting off the water and lighting up the red roofs of Strovo in Slovakia on the opposite shore. A 100-metre long cargo boat chugged past endlessly. Soon I had the tent up and after a hot shower pedalled into town for a glass of wine and meal in a medieval courtyard restaurant.
The campsite in Esztergom on the banks of the Danube was dominated by the floodlit dome of the great Basilica. Its spiritual presence should have given me a peaceful night, but slumber and rest - of body and soul - were denied by a gang of youths camping in the adjoining field.
Next morning, groggy after a bad night, I decamped and headed for the Basilica. It was a Sunday and the place was packed with worshippers. I escaped to the crypt and came upon an amazing sight. One end was lit up with a hundred candles and coloured streamers. They decorated a tomb, above which was a photo of the incumbent, Cardinal Mindszenty, who became internationally famous for standing up to Soviet communism in the darkest days of the Cold War. I remembered the name well, so it was a point of contact.
Mindszenty had fought hard for freedom and this I enjoyed for the next half-hour with a bunch of middle-aged Hells Angels in an outdoor café serving cappuccino and toasted cheese & salami sandwiches. Mindszenty was pretty peripheral to their lives, but he would have approved of the freedoms they enjoyed. He might have raised an eyebrow at their line of Harley Davidsons, but would surely have liked the idea of a bicycle in the midst of them.
After an hour or so pedalling around the medieval streets, brightened with pastel-coloured buildings, I headed south for the 60-mile ride to Szekesfehervar, the capital of Transdanubia on a route with road signs warning drivers to give wide berths to horse and carts.
This was a reminder of the rural traditions of Hungary, which were emphasised in the village of Bicske. A country fair was in full swing when I arrived, with roundabouts, flying chairs and coconut shies. There were old men in their best Sunday suits, their ladies in smocks, a young, dashingly handsome priest in a long black cassock and a one-legged man hobbling around on wooden crutches. It was a medieval scene from Breughel, updated by blue jeans, candy-floss and loud rock music.
It started to rain, which provided a good excuse to retire to a café for a cold beer. Then the sun came out again and I was on my way. Beyond Biszke I missed a turning and asked directions of two sporty-looking types who’d parked their van by the road. One spoke good English and became excited on the subject of his “cucumbers”. I couldn’t work out why he was talking food when I’d asked him the way, but then realised he was talking about “recumbents”. It turned out that he was Hungary’s leading dealer in recumbent bikes and it was only after promising that I’d consider swapping my touring Claude Butler for a “cucumber” once back in the UK that he let me go.
It was after 8pm when I reached Szekesfehervar and asked a taxi driver, in my best schoolboy German, where the campsite was. It turned out it was in a public park, with no other tents around, which is always slightly worrying. The worry-factor increased after dark when two drunks started rolling towards the tent, shouting, but I climbed deeper into the bag and after a few more ravings they were gone.
Next morning was a ‘good to be alive’ one after a full night’s sleep and with the sun shining. Szekesfehervar is a lovely old town, said to be the oldest in Hungary. It is known as the ‘city of kings’, so after de-camping I headed to the baroque St Stephen Cathedral, where 37 of Hungary’s kings were crowned and 15 are buried, including King Stephen. Especially moving was a crooked wooden cross on a wall outside, which was a monument to those who’d died in the Hungarian Uprising of 1956.
Two weeks before the trip I had been staying at a hotel in Polperro, Cornwall, where the receptionist was Hungarian. I told her about the trip and asked if she had any advice. “You’ll love it,” she said, “but watch your change!” In a lovely old café in Szekesfehervar’s main square I ordered a 350-forint cappuccino and handed over a 500-forint note. The waiter forgot to give the change and I hadn’t the heart to ask for it, having just read in my ‘Rough Guide’ that if you say “thank you” the waiter will assume he can keep it!
Szekesfehervar is full of historic buildings, but the most interesting find for me was a five-mile ride out of town. Rising above the neat houses of suburbia is a mock Scottish baronial cum romanesque folly known as Bory Castle. It was built up over 40 years by sculptor/architect Jeno Bory, who used his students from the University of Budapest to construct the battlements and towers topped with statues of Hungary’s kings, all in ferro-concrete. Inside are galleries full of his and his wife’s paintings and a hotch-potch of artefacts including rusting shells and warheads from the Eastern Front and a bust of Joseph Haydn. It really is bizarre and the unexpected setting reminded me of Watts Gallery in the Surrey village of Compton.
After a couple of hours at Bory I headed south for the fifty-mile ride to Lake Balaton, the ‘sea of Hungary’ and one of the largest lakes in Central Europe. It was dark, cold and windy by the time I reached the lakeside resort of Balatonfured, but there was a large campsite open with lots of facilities (but no other tents) and right on the shore. The season hadn’t yet started, but a restaurant in the town served excellent goulash and Hungarian beer.
Cycling the 140 miles round Balaton is a great ride for families and seniors, but time was running out for me as my flight home was the next day. But I did follow the cycle track for a few miles (encouraged by a shapely roller-blader in shorts who stayed just ahead) to the Tihany peninsula. Tihany itself is a lovely old village on a hill overlooking the narrowest point of the lake. It is now very touristy and its Paprikahaz (Paprika house), covered entirely in dried red paprika, is something I never saw in the real countryside.
Back at Balatonfured station I sat for an hour on the bleak, windy platform waiting for the train to Budapest. It was a three-hour journey and the train, like the stations, was Soviet-era ugly and run-down, with plastic seats, graffiti and the loo a hole to the track. In the carriage was a dodgy-looking character in his 20’s reeking of drink, but he helped me load the bike on board and proved to be a real gentleman.
Arriving back in Budapest just before dark it was now rush-hour and I had to find my way to the campsite high in the Buda hills. It was a hard climb up to the Zugligeti campsite, which turned out to be the former terminus of an old tramway which once transported Budapesters to the hills. The offices were in two original trams and I was greeted by the manageress, who provided a ‘welcome drink’ of Hungarian brandy. She suggested I might like to meet the owner of the site and put a call through to Dr Andras Meszleny, a former Chair of Botany at the University of Budapest, who had bought the terminus as a wreck after he was sacked from his job for being ‘too prominent’.
Dr Meszleny was a fascinating man and gave me a guided tour of his Zugligeti museum in the terminus, which celebrated the history of the tramway and the hills with old photographs and paintings, artefacts and ancient wine presses.
He was also interesting on recent Hungarian history. President Janos Kadar (1956-88), he said, was a good man who “made love with the Soviets, but no sex”. He had no time for the present regime, describing the prime minster as “the richest in Europe”. “Most of the present government are relatives of those ousted in ’89. They’ve just swapped communism for property.”
Next morning, replete with history and paprika salami, bread, jam and coffee I packed the tent for the last time and headed back down to the Danube, for brief photo-stops at the Buda Palace and Fisherman’s Bastion overlooking the river and the Parliament buildings. Then it was over the Margit bridge, dodging the trams, to the Nyugati train station for the half-hour trip to the airport.
It all went like a dream and I was soon checking in the plastic-wrapped bike with no problems. Why oh why, I asked myself, hadn’t I taken the train six days before? The answer was that I didn’t know there was one.
But that’s the great thing about travel: you cobble it together as you go along!
RECENTLY CTC hosted a visit by the board of the DCF to look at cycling development in the UK, during which they visited Woking to see the Cycle Towns concept. In response to a request from HQ Phil Hamilton and I joined them for the morning so that they could talk to some local cyclists if they wished. In practice we weren't called on to engage in much conversation (probably just as well as we are both sceptics), but Phil's presence proved useful as the group suffered two punctures while riding around seeing some of the council's projects! It did, however, give us the opportunity to learn more about Cycle England and Cycle Woking. The following is a summary of what I could still remember when I got home (numbers in italics might be slightly in error!).
Cycle England targets funding on Cycle Towns rather than spreading it thinly. £5 per head per year seems to be the minimum level required to achieve a significant increase in cycling. The first tranche of Cycle Towns took about 12 months to get their projects going and 2 years to start seeing results. The increase has varied from town to town, but generally seems to be following the initial growth curve seen in London when cycling provision was improved there. Surveys have shown a reduction (~3% of population) in 'inactive' people in Cycle Towns. This apparently small figure is a much better result than that achieved by other campaigns to increase activity. It is estimated that each cyclist is worth a saving of ~£1000 to the NHS.
Woking Council already had a 'shopping list' of desired improvements to its cycling infrastructure so used it as part of its submission for Cycle Town status. It's now been a Cycle Town for nearly two years and the funding from Cycle England continues until March 2011. What happens thereafter will depend on the new government.
Woking's cycle routes are designed to get people from where they live to where they want to go, e.g. town centre, shops, stations, schools. In the past they were numbered, but Aylesbury's experience has shown that naming routes makes them more marketable. Because of its H G Wells connection Woking has chosen to name its routes after major and minor planets and their moons (omitting Uranus so as not to provoke an unwelcome modification to the signs!). The Mars route does of course go via the Martian in the town centre. There will be a 'Tube map' of the routes so that riders can plan their journeys. The map and the signs show times (calculated at ~15kph) rather than distances: other Cycle Towns found that this encouraged more riders.
For many cyclists perhaps the most visible impacts of Cycle Woking so far have been the substantial increase in cycle parking in the town centre, the experimental suspension of the ban on cycling in the pedestrianised areas, and the improvements to the canal path. There has been a dramatic increase in its cycle use (up from ~60 to ~400 riders per day). Unfortunately there are a few places where the path crosses from one side of the canal to the other. Phil and I were both stunned to learn that £450,000 is to be spent building a new cycle bridge at one of these.
In cooperation with SWT cycle parking is being improved at stations within the borough: Worplesdon up from 10 to 20 places (almost all already in use, so more might be needed); +70 on north side of West Byfleet; extra soon to be provided at West Byfleet south side (90) and Brookwood; and most impressive of all, March 2011 should see the provision of 1300 (I'll repeat that: 1300) new places at Woking station.
Cycling is being encouraged in Woking's schools. Only one out of 31 has failed to take up Bikeability training.
Unless cycling provision in Denmark is much poorer than I believe it to be, I doubt the DCF were impressed by what they saw in Woking. Apparently, however, Denmark is also seeking to increase cycle usage and, learning from Cycle England's experience, is targeting expenditure.
Finally I must admit to my disappointment that the Danes failed to show any surprise at my name when I was introduced to them.
I enjoy cycling with friends and in groups, but sometimes I enjoy cycling on my own. So I decided to organise my own mini tour of the South East, imposing myself on friends and relatives at strategic intervals along the way, travelling through Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Berkshire. I used memory maps to plan the route which gives the height ascended/descended, and is good for printing off the route. It was pleasant to cycle on my own, yet have company with family or friends in the evenings. The only downside was that when you plan a route on this basis you end up with rather uneven days riding. So Tuesday was too easy, whereas Thursday and Friday were a little too long.
Day 1: Guildford to Polegate. A (relatively) easy start, going via Abinger Hammer and Holmbury St Mary, and eventually Cuckfield and Haywards Heath and going steadily south-east across the weald, which is not as flat as I remembered. The weather was cloudy and overcast, but no rain, and there was a slight tail wind to help me. A lovely journey, with quiet roads, and going through pretty villages. I was staying with my brother in Polegate, just outside Eastbourne. Total mileage (including detour to Eastbourne beach for icecream) 76 miles. Total climb 3755ft.
Day 2: Polegate to Worthing. A warm, bright spring morning. A big climb out to Friston via Jevington, but worth it with great views of the downs on my right, and eventually the sea on my left. Crossed the Cuckmere river and into Seaford, then Newhaven, which is not new, and Peacehaven, which is neither peaceful nor a haven in any sense of the word, just bungalows as far as the eye can see. Then into Brighton past the vast fortress of Roedean School which seems to gaze disapprovingly out on the modern Marina below. Icecream in the sunshine on the beach in Brighton and a trip down memory lane for me - The Lanes in fact. But they seem to have been completely hijacked by messrs Starbuck, Costa and co. Everywhere looks the same! Then on via Shoreham along the coast road, past the harbour and endless piles of timber and sand and gravel. I had a sandwich overlooking the estuary of the river Adur, above numerous decrepit looking boats, the inevitable gulls and a couple of swans. A man came by on a surfboard, standing paddling himself downstream, with the outgoing tide. I crossed the river and on my right was the chapel of Lancing College which dominates the valley. Total mileage (including some detours) 50 miles. Total climb 2750 ft.
Day 3: Worthing to Totland (IoW). Another warm sunny day. A flat run to Portsmouth, through Durrington, Chichester, then on the A 259 which was the only option and not too busy, through Emsworth and Havant, along the coastal plain, passing Fishbourne with its Roman villas, and Bosham and Hayling Island on my left. As well as the usual gulls, I saw a buzzard - they seem to be thriving everywhere now. I got the passenger ferry from Portsmouth where I just missed one and had to wait nearly an hour for the next. Ryde pier which is about ½ mile long is hazardous for cyclists. Made of wooden boards running lengthwise, the gaps in them appear designed on purpose to trap bicycle tyres. I had no mishap - perhaps it looks worse than it actually is. The Isle of Wight is very pretty, quite unspoilt, and (the west side particularly) appears to be in a permanent time-warp at about 1975. However, it is hillier than any island of its size has any right to be. Just relentlessly up and down. I went through Newport, Carisbrooke, and Freshwater to Totland where my sister lives. Total (land) mileage 67 miles, climb 2488 ft.
Day 4: Totland to Corsham. I caught the 9.35 ferry from Yarmouth to Lymington, then up the main road as far as Lyndhurst, then north-west towards Minstead and Fritham. This part of the New Forest was new to me and enchanting. More open, and a steady climb on to the higher plateau, with ponies everywhere. Crossed the busy A 31 dual carriageway at Stoney Cross (with some difficulty) and after this the forest became more heath-like, and was mostly heather and gorse. I joined the Avon valley at Downton and worked my way upstream to Salisbury, Old Sarum, Amesbury, where I had lunch, and Upavon, always on the east side of the river. I skirted north of Devizes, with the White Horse on my right, and into Corsham via Lacock. It had been a pretty hard day, much in fine drizzle. Total mileage 83 miles, climb 4697 ft.
Day 5: Corsham to Guildford. I didn’t want to simply retrace my steps of the previous day, so decided to start going south-eastwards, through Melksham, this time skirting south of Devizes, and into the vale of Pewsey, making my coffee stop in Pewsey itself where I had about the best coffee of the trip. Then to Shalbourne, Ham and Inkpen, which I had never heard of before, let alone visited. They are worth a visit however, unspoilt villages, thatched cottages and above all, quiet. This part of the route was a couple of miles to the south of the Kennet and Avon canal. Then through Newbury to Greenham where I rejoiced to see two red kites circling above the common. Then through the beautiful village of Aldermaston, and a steep climb up past the research establishment, and on to Mortimer, (dodgy lunch in a pub - but it did provide shelter from a brief but heavy shower), through the Wellington country park, Eversley, Yateley, Mytchett, Pirbright and so back to Guildford. Total days mileage 100 exactly, climb 3784ft.
Overall, 376 miles of varied, beautiful riding, mostly along quiet roads. We are blessed to live in a wonderful part of the world!
WEST SURREY CTC GROUP CYCLING SHIRTS are available from Peter Clint, phone 01932 340564. Short sleeve, short zip, three pockets at back, sizes 7, 8, 10, 11, 13
CONSEQUENT on the work retirement of our President Chris Jeggo and his plan to move away from Surrey next year, he is looking for volunteers to replace him at the AGM at the end of October in the three jobs he does for the group - committee chairman, archivist, and group leader of the Sunday All-day Intermediates. He will be delighted to hear from people willing to volunteer themselves (or their friends).
IN an article for the magazine on behalf of the committee, Don Jones, the then secretary, wrote: “It is understood that all of the present members of the committee intend to take a break from service and not seek re-election at the AGM in November...
“It seems pretty evident that the vast bulk of the active members of the DA are content to limit their contribution to the club to the regular weekly rides which they take part in with the groups of their choice.
“There has been little interest shown in helping to organise and staff club events and the turnout at the Christmas dinner and prize-giving has been disappointingly low. Although we share a common interest, it has not produced much cohesion across the DA.”
WHILE trawling through the CTC online forum one evening I cam across a “What camera?” posting linking to video sites which contained some pretty amazing footage of cyclists and their rides using helmet-fixed cameras.
One was of a cyclist being cut up by a bus. The cyclist then followed the bus and caught up with the driver at the bus station. He tapped on the window and the driver immediately and genuinely apologised to the cyclist for nearly knocking him off.
Another clip was of a cyclist entering a mini-roundabout and being hit by a car from the left, which knocked him clean off. On the floor the camera catches the commotion of ambulances being called, witnesses coming forward, and the blood coming from the cyclist’s nose.
I decided to buy a Veho Muvi camera with sports accessory kit (£70 from the Evans website), strapped it to my helmet, and was away. Using the supplied memory card of two gig, the camera allows about one hour of recording. When I arrived at work and played back my ride to staff in the office I had them crowding round. How interesting the Old Woking Road must have seemed to them, especially when I pointed out the four-by-four vehicle that actually hit me outside the Harvester and then drove off without stopping.
I have now created a file on my computer for the police to view in due course, hopefully providing enough evidence to prove a failure to stop offence.
Alas, I left my new camera on a train. But having made a few “films” I have now got the bug and in due course will be purchasing a high-definition helmet camera to replace my lost friend - for around £240.
Does anyone else have helmet camera tales? Will helmet cameras take over from satnavs as top must-have cycling accessories? - Editor
JUNE 30th and SEPTEMBER 5th: London Sightseer (Roger Philo 01483 233381 will co-ordinate a West Surrey presence)
JULY 18th : 100 mile and 75 mile rides (option of a led ride or use route sheets). Pirbright Hall car park, 8.30am start. £2 Mark Waters 01483 414307 or 07732 520819)
AUGUST 15th : Tour of the Hills 115 km, Start 10.00am, Tour of the Greensand Hills 52km, Start 10.30am, Shere Village Hall (Don Gray 01483 810028)
SEPTEMBER 19th : Freewheeling and pace judging competitions, Seale Craft Centre, 10.45am (finish by 12.30pm) (Dane Maslen 01483 721856)
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 28 March 2014.