"The West Surrey Cyclist" - Issue 8 - Autumn 1987
|Previous magazine . Next magazine|
As the copy date for this issue approached I had nowhere near enough material to fill the magazine but a few phone calls produced a good response at the last minute. Thanks to all contributors, especially those who managed to rustle something up at short notice. As the evenings draw in perhaps some of you will find time to write about your touring exploits; it would be nice to be able to produce a bumper edition of the West Surrey Cyclist for the Christmas number. To enable me to get the magazine out before the Christmas holiday I've set the copy date a few days earlier at the 10 December.
There seems to be a gentle breeze of change blowing through the club. The Intermediates have a new leader, locally based rides are starting from Weybridge and, we hope, Godalming, and a Family Group plans to get going in the Spring. We also have different jersies and badges for a smart new image. What do you think of these developments? What other changes would you like to see? Do come along to the AGM to voice your opinion; it's your only chance to influence club affairs.
On the social side we have the Photographic Competition, Christmas Tea and Christmas Party coming up, as well as the cycling events of the Hillclimb, Freewheel and Christmas Day Appetiser Run. The Clubroom is available for other Saturday evenings if organisers can be found; any volunteers? We'll have to find a new Social Secretary at the AGM due to Gill Smith's departure to Bristol. Gill will be missed by us all, and a hard act to follow; who can match her dedication and enthusiasm?
A couple of canny "self-cookers" already had the gas-rings roaring as I made my way across the yard to the kitchen at Coniston Copper Mines youth hostel one July morning last year. They had good reason to be about early, too, for the sun had been up some time and was now warming the flanks of the Old Man of Coniston and his attendant ridge of peaks that form so dramatic a backcloth for this little hostel. It's a lonely sort of place, with the scattered building or two among the disused mine-workings and spoil-heaps: Wainwright thinks it an eyesore among so much that is beautiful in the Lake District, yet the mountains retain their majesty and there is a touch of magic in the fall that comes cascading over from Levers Water. A bonus awaits the traveller, too, in the warm welcome at the sign of the green triangle, with a warden who cooks you an imaginative and filling supper - even though it is a "Simple".
Tea made, I was soon joined by Sheila and the two girls for our customary eight o'clock intake of Alpen; then, chores done, it was only a matter of bags-on-the bikes and we were away sharp to re-trace the previous evening's tyre marks down the rough road to Coniston itself. And it is rough, and steep, to deter the "trippers" perhaps, with even a bit of slithery walking until you eventually reach the village tarmac. Still not much chance of a comfortable first few miles in the saddle, though, for we immediately turned up a side-road which stood on its hind-legs and quickly became a 1-in-4. Not a very good way for Dad to establish his popularity at the start of the day; even less so when the first encountered signpost announced "Walna Scar - Unsuitable for Motors". And you know what that might mean!
It was nearly thirty years earlier, on tour with a clubmate, that I had first travelled the Walna Scar Road(!), an old pony-trail route that runs for some miles high up across Little Arrow Moor, right at the feet of the Old Man and providing a useful short-cut from Coniston over into Duddon Dale and on to the Langdales. My recollection of that day was still vivid: we had it almost to ourselves, the pair of us threading our way across the wide slopes without any difficulty on a grassy track, with a picnic and snooze at the summit and a long bumpy ride for much of the descent down the other side. The old memory doesn't play tricks, either, for I have the colour-slides to prove it.
It was perhaps not surprising, therefore, that I had little trouble persuading the girls that this would be a fairly easy bit of rough-stuff across the fells and the quickest route to our next port of call at Elterwater. But I ought to have learned by now that things do have a habit of changing in thirty years, with more and more people invading the hills and devasting the old paths with the tramp-tramp-tramp of a thousand boots.
The long slog up from Coniston ended at last, as also did the tarmac. Ahead of us a wide track stretched out towards the moor, looking deceptively flat and easy to ride. And so it was for a while as we pottered along in the mid-morning sunshine, all 2,500 feet of the Old Man smiling down on us when we stopped for the occasional photograph - just to show how easy it was. The landscape fell away to the south, wild and wide towards Torver High Common and the Dunnerdale Fells, while the long ribbon of Coniston Water shimmered blue in the distance. Wendy and Sally forged ahead, and small knots of climbers began to appear on the higher crags. All was well with the world up there; and then our track began to deteriorate. Not too badly at first, but it was no longer rideable and we were soon to be picking our way over loose stones and sharp rock, twisting and turning - up and down - the loaded bikes increasingly stubborn as we shoved them along. "Funny; it wasn't like this last time", I ventured. But there was only stony silence!
The crossing of the beck that comes tumbling down from Goat's Water afforded a welcome excuse to stop. It boasts a substantial little bridge now, providing an attractive backdrop as we rested on the rocks, feet in the water, and made short work of elevenses, wondering what lay ahead. Quite a large gaggle of walkers had assembled on the bridge, looking at us a little oddly when we set off again with the bikes. But their passing interest was as nothing compared with the stares of near-disbelief from a group who appeared from above as we crossed the stream and struck into the rough once more. We were soon to discover why. Life began to get just a little difficult now.
With the gradient viciously against us, forward progress became something of a struggle. The erosion of the old "road" was little short of unbelievable, and sad to see: all turf and top-soil worn away, resulting in many places in narrow gullies of exposed rock and boulder, over which there was no alternative but to scramble and lift. Even that presented a problem at times, and I eventually resorted to taking the bags off the girls' bikes and carrying them up (the bikes, not the girls!); then going back for the luggage, while Sheila battled womanfully on and the rest of the team manhandled my own bike to bring up the rear. What a carry on! It engendered a sort of mutual exhilaration, though, and we at last broke through on to slightly less formidable terrain and decided that we had earned ourselves some lunch. All but hidden in the rock and heather, we were amused at the surprised exclamation of a couple of climbers who happened-upon our bikes at the edge of the path as they passed by to scale the final few hundred feet to the summit of Brown Pike. We didn't envy them, however, for the Pike was soon to disappear as gathering clouds swept over the tops to turn bright morning into grey afternoon. The Old Man no longer smiled. How treacherously fickle the weather can be on those heights; and how easy to get caught-out. It turned suddenly cold, so we cut the picnic short and bent our backs for what we hoped would be the final fling to the "col". There was still some way to go, though: it seemed endless, steeper than ever on the edge of the slope, and eerie in the swirling cloud. As far as Sally was concerned, it was almost too much: she seemed somehow rooted to the path and unable to get going. There was certainly not much resemblance to the little lass of whom the Lakeland poet Wordsworth wrote ...
"O'er rough and smooth she trips along,Not that Sally particularly wanted to emulate Lucy Gray: she died out on the moor!
And never looks behind."
We survived; to break out above lonely Duddon Dale, with the great bulk of Harter Fell looming darkly beyond. But what price my assurances that we would be able to ride at least part of the way down to the valley floor? Thirty years ago, remember? Some joke! Now, there was no relief. The path swung steeply down across rough turf and tussock to follow the course of Long House Gill, not alongside it but in the dried-up stream bed itself. From boulder to boulder we hopped, hauled and humped, now almost cursing each extra yard as pedals punished shins and spokes twanged. Long House appeared at last; we were down, and soon revelling along the road from Seathwaite to follow the Duddon swift and sure to Cockley Beck. I thought we might find refreshment at the Hardknott junction, but there was only hard luck.
Although the rough was now well and truly behind us, our day was by no means over yet. Ahead lay one of the Lake District's most notorious passes - Wrynose, a long drag up this western side with the narrow road hugging the river and Ulpha Fell and Grey Friar scowling down from either side under the lowering sky. Drizzle accompanied our walk up the last short pitch to Three Shire Stone at the summit, from where the road plummets away in long steep stretches and 1-in-3 bends, down, down, down. The corners were greasy, too in the light rain: we hung on to the brakes for "grim death", discretion overcoming valour as we took to our feet on the worst bits. The road from Blea Tarn came in on the left, Elterwater on the signpost at last.
As our downward lane rose temporarily again and twisted towards Little Langdale, thunder boomed over Longmoor Fell and the big spots spattered down. Hurry, hurry. But what was this - a hotel? It sported an "Inn of the Year" Certificate, too. Walna Scar forgotten, and Dad forgiven, we lounged in travel-weary comfort as all the paraphernalia of cream-teas was borne unto us. Outside, the rain fell - and moved on. We moved not. After all, the YH was only round the corner; the tea was like nectar, and that strawberry jam and cream was so smooth .... real smooth!
Bad luck... Last issue we reported Lynette Jeggo's accident and it seems that her road to recovery is going to be long and slow. Her fractured ankle has healed but the badly damaged joint still prevents her becoming fully mobile again. Now Chris Jeggo is off the bike with an achilles tendon problem! We wish them both a swift return to fitness. In spite of these difficulties we hear that the family recently had a good time on holiday in northern England, when Michael and William dredged a duck pond and got covered in mud - sounds like fun!
Another member presently unable to ride is Roy Banks; we send our commiserations and best wishes for recovery.
...and bouncing back. Riders of the club 100 report that Bert Bartholomew was sighted making swift progress towards the finish with a posse of much younger men struggling to hang-on. We conclude that Bert's now over his accident - well done!
Club colours The new DA jersey has been spotted, in fact it's hard to miss being mostly bright yellow with green and white side panels and striped ribbing. Optional lettering on the back adds a finishing touch to the smart new image. The West Surrey CTC 'Oak Leaf' cloth badge is also now available to sew on jersies etc and costs £2.25. Orders for both to Marguerite, by 5 October for the next batch of jersies.
Family rides It is hoped to start family rides in the spring, probably monthly at first. The rides will start at or near railway stations and may finish at members homes for an early tea. If you would like to join us contact Dave Whittle.
Waverley wanderers Some regular supporters of the Wednesday evening rides from Godalming can't bear the thought of stopping cycling for the winter and plan to start very easy Sunday rides. We hope to have more information in the next issue of the magazine; meanwhile contact Chris Juden if you want to know the latest plans.
This Sunday Claudia and myself went on our tandem from Freiburg to Basle on the Swiss Border. We left at 7.30 am with the sun already shining down on us. Our route took us over the Schönberg with some nice descents on which, for some unknown reason, Claudia started screaming. Claudia is the only cyclist who comes back from a ride with a sore throat in the middle of summer!
After passing Staufen we cycled for 9 km along the main road. It was not our planned route but Claudia had been too lazy to read the map. After we reached Müllheim we stopped for an ice-cream before setting off into the hills. We had glorious views as we cycled along the hilly edge of the Black Forest.
The trees were not pine as one would expect but heavily laden cherry trees. It did not take long to decide that a rest was needed to sample the juicy black cherries. After filling ourselves up with cherries until we could eat no more we headed off slowly. We passed Kandern and then had an enjoyable ride down to Basle.
We lunched on the promenade looking across the Rhine to the cathedral with its colourful tiled roof. We watched the boatman manoeuvring the small ferry across the fast flowing Rhine. After lunch we walked down the promenade stopping to enjoy a drink outside a café under the lime trees.
We headed off painfully, back up the hills in the heat of the midday sun. After 20 km the tandem suddenly felt funny and on inspection I was at first baffled but soon realised what the problem was. We were soon on our way and made good progress until we reached the cherry trees where we could not resist the fruit and we were soon lying down enjoying sunshine, scenery and cherries.
We reluctantly started for home but were soon enjoying
the descent into Müllheim. The last 30 km were a slog until
we finally arrived back at Freiburg. We were tired and worn out but
it had been an unforgettable day.
|3 July 1983||Dave Whittle|
Hill Climb and Freewheel 11 0ctober. This popular event will take place on the same hills as usual. The hill climb is on Oakhanger Hill at 12 noon followed by lunch at the pub in Oakhanger village. The freewheeling descent of Wheatley Hill starts at 2.30 pm. This is the last Benstead Cup event for this year. Rules: no saddlebags, toolkits etc; crank to be strapped to the frame for the freewheel.
Annual General Meeting 8 November. The meeting will be held at St Augustine's Church Hall, Albert Road, Addlestone at 5pm after tea. This is your one chance to have your say about club rides, events etc so come along and let everyone know what you'd like the club to do next year. Nominations for officers and committee members should be sent to the secretary by seven days before the meeting; nomination forms should be used and these are available from group leaders or the secretary. If you'd like to propose a motion or topic for discussion talk to the secretary or chairman as soon as possible.
Photographic Competition 28 November. Bring your slides and prints (up to six of each) to the clubroom for this Saturday night event starting at 7 pm. Pictures must have been taken since l January 1985 and winners will be decided by the votes of the audience.
Christmas Tea 13 December. This ever-popular bun-fight is usually the most numerous gathering of club members and friends of the year. Families are especially welcome to the feast at St. Augustine's Church Hall, Albert Road, Addlestone and the first cup will be poured at 4.15 pm.
Christmas Party 16 December. The last clubroom meeting of the year will be a festive season social evening; please bring edible contributions, games etc. A chance to exchange seasonal greetings with your clubmates and resolve to come to the clubroom more often next year!
West Surrey CTC clubroom programme for Autumn 1987, every fourth
Wednesday, 7.30 pm, at Guildford Rowing Club, Shalford Road, Guildford
(near Jolly Farmer PH on the A281).
An impromptu general knowledge slidequiz was held at the clubroom on 3 June in place of the planned talk. About 20 people had a go at juggling the cathedrals, identifying the wild flowers and naming the famous and not-quite-so-famous landmarks. Martin Taplin was the clear winner by half a wheel from Alan Leng.
On 23 September everyone will have a chance to exercise their local
knowledge on scenes within easy cycling distance. There will be no
advantage in having been present on a particular clubrun and we hear that
Martin Taplin has another engagement!
The following is intended as a guide to the complex terminology which can sometimes be misunderstood by the less knowledgable customer not versed in the perplexing intricacies of the cycle trade. In future, don't just stand there dumbly and nod - consult this handy guide and leave the shop confident that you have understood what they really mean.
I hasten to add that this glossary is compiled from many years wide experience as a customer of varied businesses up and down the country; however, I am confident that our local retailers, and especially those who are wise enough to advertise in this excellent journal, are so clear in their explanations of these matters as to make further elucidation quite unnecessary.
Without further ado, here a few of the most perplexing phrases of
cycle shopspeak and their explanations.
Nobody makes those anymore: My wholesaler doesn't stock those anymore.
Nobody uses those anymore: I sold out last week, never knew what people bought them for and so daren't order any more.
They went out with the ark: I havn't even heard of those but they sound a bit old-fashioned.
Everyone uses these instead: Most people put up with these.
Most people prefer these: Some people put up with these quite happily.
We find these are much better: You'll find these are much more expensive.
We find most people get along very well with these: We find most people don't know what they're missing.
This is just as good/virtually identical: It looks the same to me.
All the top riders use these: If it's good enough for Bernard van Zoetemerckx you should be grateful I'm even prepared to let you touch it.
This will suit you very well:(After all you're not a real cyclist).
We sell alot of these: We've just bought alot of these.
Everyone buys these: Everyone had better buy these.
There's no demand: If daft b*****s like you wouldn't demand weird things like that my life would be a whole lot simpler!
By Winged Wheelnut (They certainly don't make those anymore - Ed)
On 11 July eight ladies belonging to the West Surrey CTC met at Woking ready to embark on the Ladies Weekend. A train was taken from Woking to Winchester, from where we cycled towards Salisbury. The lunch stop on this outward journey was at Boadlands, home of the Mountbatten family. After our lunch we took part in a guided tour of the family home followed by a visit to the Mountbatten exhibition.
Our journey for the day ended in Salisbury where we had an enjoyable and somewhat lively dinner at our bed and breakfast lodgings, followed by a walk down to the cathedral.
The next morning our return journey took us through yet more pleasant countryside including an MOD area where one of the ladies managed to command a standing salute from several policemen (yes, of course it had to be Gillian Smith!).
After a pub lunch at the Peasant in Broughton we continued our ride back to Winchester Station to complete a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. Thank you to all of the ladies for being such good company and special thanks to Hazel Shiels our leader for a job well done.
For a number of years now Les has organised Whitsun trips to Normandy, France, each of them memorable. The problem is, after several years they all fade into one. This is partly due to the march of time, and partly the alcohol level on the trips. Street barbecues, mad dashes across the beach, hours spent sunning ourselves outside cafes, all immediately come to mind: but the year, does it really matter?
Images abound. Of George Upton imitating a giant canary on Utah beach, wearing a yellow cap and swooping on loaves of bread. Of using George's cape as a table cloth for every lunch. Of Les chatting up grotesque Matrons D'Hotel, and one of them insisting on a ride around the village on his tandem. Of Linda producing new evening wear each day from a tiny pannier, all of it looking as if just washed and ironed. Older memories of Bob, George and myself like school boys on a field trip contrast with those of Bob and myself with other-halves in tow, literally, on the back of tandems. George meanwhile still running amuck, buttering his head because he had forgotten sun-cream etc.
Not just images but whole episodes come to mind. What of George's vivid dreams that took all day to recount, and had sequels running right through several trips, they could constitute another whole article. And of spending hours riding beside Mike wondering when the pigeons were going to be released, when all he had done was buy a huge cat-basket for his wife and strapped it to his bike. What of the saga of Bob putting fresh oil on a dry link chain on his tandem every evening, only to find after several days that it was being deposited on Linda's trousers.
Every lunch-time on these trips is an al-fresco meal of pate de campagne, camembert, brie, various salads, tomatoes, ham, roullade, and french bread, and typically 'cycling' in volume. Peppered steaks, frogs legs, chicken provencal, squid, pork in mustard sauce, hake, halibut, monk fish, plaice, soups, pates, crudites, chips and vegatables, and desserts. The talk is of the day's events and of previous trips, and the initiated always start with the bread and mustard routine, at least one joke must issue from each person's mouth during the meal, and all empty wine bottles must be laid down.
Normandy - burp ! a good year that !
All this happened before most of you were born but it still strikes me as funny. In June 1932, Gladys and I were married at Horsell church and, after the local reception, we went on to a theatre in London and stayed in a Bloomsbury hotel. It was to be a cycling holiday in the Lake District and I had previously lodged the tandem at Euston. So, the next day, we collected it and, in cycling garb, boarded a train for Lancaster. It was a very hot day and we stowed our bike bags, pump and surplus clothing on the rack. All went well until we walked the length of the train for a meal in the buffet car. It was then that the train pulled into Preston and our troubles began. Enjoying our meal at leisure we laughed at the strange and incomprehensible northern voice of the station announcer but our mood changed a few moments later when the train started going backwards. We asked the steward what was going on and were stunned when he told us that this part of the train was being shunted on to another platform as it was destined for Blackpool.
If only we had been able to understand the announcements! By the time we arrived on another platform, the first half of the train had left for Lancaster. In consternation we found a sympathetic booking clerk and explained our predicament so he 'phoned through to Lancaster for the tandem and luggage to be off-loaded there. To help, we were able to give coach and seat reservation numbers. By slow train we reached Lancaster and spotted the tandem right away but there was no sign of the baggage and we were informed that no unclaimed articles had been found. No doubt a porter had checked the compartment and been told by the other occupants that we would be back. So there we were - almost in our underclothes because of the heat - in a strange city on a quiet Sunday evening. We found a young policeman and asked him if he could recommend a hotel. He turned out to be a C.T.C. member himself but had only just come to the town and knew very little about it. However, he directed us to a temperance hotel where we had the difficult job of explaining our strange predicament to the landlady. Fortunately she was sympathetic and agreed to take us in and provide sleeping attire.
The pyjamas I got were a reasonable fit but my wife's outfit was hilarious. A flannel nightshirt that hardly covered her knees and a high lace-trimmed collar with draw strings. I think we laughed ourselves to sleep that night. Next morning at the station we were told that our things would probably stay on the train until its final destination - Barrow-in-Furness - and more 'phone calls were made but it seemed unlikely that they could be returned that day. The weather was still warm and sunny so we took the tandem and rode the few miles to Morecambe where we spent the day then back for another night at our digs. Next morning all but the pump was back at the station so we settled our bill and started on a wonderful two weeks in the Lake District. As we unpacked for our first night in Ambleside I discovered that I had left my pyjamas in the London hotel and had to dash out for more before the shops closed. All was well after that and we had two glorious weeks of sunshine and not a drop of rain - something of a miracle in Lakeland. Needless to say our folks at home didn't let us forget our stupidity for a long time. Oh, and after I returned to work I got my pyjamas back from the London hotel.
. Previous magazine . . Index to magazines . . Next magazine . . W. Surrey DA History & Archives home page .
Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 28 February 2005.