"The West Surrey Cyclist" - Issue 10 - Spring 1988

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Contents:

Front cover - very similar to Issue 1
Inner front cover - advertisement - F. W. Evans Woking Cycles Limited
Editorial - by Helen Juden
DA Committee 1988 - same as Issue 9
Clunk, Click - Every Trip? - by Chris Jeggo
Runs Attendance (October - March)
"Every Club Should Have One" cartoon - "The Time Trialist"
Wanderings of an Exile - by Hamish Smith
Letter to the Editor - from David Pinkess
Midweek Wayfarers - by George Alesbury
News and Notes
- Ladies Weekend
- Storm Damage to Rights of Way
- Cafe News
My First Ride With the West Surrey CTC - by Claudia Whittle
For Sale
W Surrey CTC Calendar of Events 1988
Midweek Rides
Tuesday Evening Rides
Clubroom Programme
Events Programme (Runs List, April - June)
Events - Home Counties & SE England DAs
Advertisement - E Sussex DA Randonnees
Spring into Summer with W Surrey CTC
More a Mini-Riddle Than a Mini-Saga - by Chris Jeggo
International Biketoon
Easter 1987 - by Robert Shiels
Postal Subscriptions
Advertisement - Sponsored Ride for War on Want
Film 88 - by Robert Shiels (cycling videos)
Advertisement - Elizabeth Matthews B&B
Patterson sketches of Petworth
Inner back cover - advertisement - Pedal Pushers
Outer back cover - advertisement - Get On Your Bike

Selected items transcribed from the original printed copy:


EDITORIAL

Number 10, Spring 1988

Good news!  We celebrate the 10th magazine with an extra four pages due to the proliferation of events for the spring season.  It's our 60th birthday and we're marking the occasion with a Saturday evening birthday party followed by 60km or 60ml rides on Sunday.  We're not particularly old compared to the CTC which is 110 this year, but even so it's an achievement for members to have kept the DA going through thick and thin, especially the lean years before the birth of the 'new cyclist'.

We're not complacent, and have planned a publicity campaign primarily intended to encourage a few more of the CTC members resident in our area to participate in our rides.  Your committee has worked hard to organise a very varied programme for the next few months, details of which will arrive with everyone's April/May Cycletouring.  Now do your bit by supporting the events, encouraging others to join us, and welcoming new riders warmly.

Claudia's article about her first ride with the CTC should remind us that first appearances are no guide to eventual clubworthiness, so forget equipment and clothing snobbery and try to get to know the person who's had the courage to attempt a cycle ride with a group of strangers.  By chance I had a letter this week from a recent new rider to whom I'd sent the New Year runs list.  He commented that he found the reception at the start of his first ride 'decidedly chilly', but added that the atmosphere was 'much warmer' by lunchtime - it's a good job he stayed that long!  Although we've probably all done it, there's really no excuse for not talking to a newcomer at the start of a ride, assuming that they've come with someone else or that the they've been out before when you weren't - if you aren't sure they're new, then ask them!

Enjoy the spring events, enjoy your cycle touring, and write all about it for the next magazine please.

Helen Juden

Next copy date: 10 June

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Clunk, Click  -  Every trip?

Listen to your bike, it might be trying to tell you something.  Many mechanical faults produce characteristic noises, and an alert ear can often detect a problem before it becomes serious.  Not many cycling handbooks cover this subject.  "Richard's Bicycle Book" is probably the best and R. Watson and M. Gray have some interesting remarks in their appendix on maintenance in "The Penguin Book of the Bicycle".  Neither says enough, so I will start with a few general remarks, although the main purpose of this article is to describe some noises which have perplexed me recently, and their causes and consequences.

Noises which occur when pedalling and stop when freewheeling probably come from the transmission, but could come from the saddle area, or from swaying luggage if your pedalling is enthusiastic.  Frequency is a useful guide.  Noises which occur at pedalling frequency probably come from the bottom bracket area.  If they are more frequent, check whether they occur once per wheel revolution and search accordingly.  If they are less frequent, they might come from the chain, which revolves roughly 2.5 times slower.  (Chain length is usually 110 - 120 links, while chainrings have about 40 - 50 teeth.)  Irregular or intermittent noises are the most difficult to diagnose, and you often have to look for other evidence.

The quality of the sound is another useful guide.  Grinding noises usually mean dirt in a bearing or the transmission.  Clanks and clunks often come from bearings, but might come from loose cranks or pedal parts.  The latter faults may also produce clicks.  Rasping noises could be due to heavy breathing.  Rattles usually mean that something is loose.  Get off and shake everything in sight until you find it.  No luck?  Perhaps it was your clothing;  a zip touching the top tube?  Squeaks are a form of rubbing noise, for which frequency is a valuable clue, together with visual inspection.  Creaks could come from the chainset area, or the spokes, and are usually caused by very slight rubbing motion between parts which are pressed firmly together, but not quite firmly enough.  Spokes ping, or crack.  Hisses are sometimes caused by punctures, but sometimes by your humorous clubmates.

Enough of generalities:  it's time for the first case history, which concerns an annoying intermittent squeak.  It seemed to be vaguely connected with pedalling, but I could find nothing wrong with the transmission or saddle.  I checked the wheels, mudguards, brakes and carrier for the possibility of rubbing, but drew a blank.  I was baffled for days, until I noticed that it was caused by slight movement of the saddlebag.  Thinking that the saddlebag was rubbing on the carrier, I sprinkled talcum powder underneath it.  No joy.  I finally found that the leather strap was rubbing on the seat post, and talc silenced it.

That was just irritating, but the next one cost me real money.  My hack bike was making a rapid clicking/pinging noise in bottom gear.  Obviously the gear mechanism was touching the spokes, but when I checked the clearance I found it was a couple of millimetres - adequate, surely?  Foolishly, I put it down to transmission noise, since chain and rings etc. were old, worn and dirty.  A few weeks later the gear mechanism went into the wheel as I was climbing a hill, writing off a good gear mechanism and necessitating a frame repair.  A discussion with Chris Juden followed by a little detective work revealed the cause.  My back wheel was also old, and I had already bought a replacement, but I was waiting for the spring rain to wash the winter salt off the roads before fitting it.  The spokes had lost a lot of tension:  so much, in fact, that they went into compression as they passed under the hub as the wheel turned, and bowed outwards touching the gear.  When I had originally checked the clearance it had seemed adequate only because this slack wheel was not under load.

The next trick my hack bike sprang on me was to develop a creak, or creaks, repeating once per pedal revolution.  I tried the easy things first:  I made sure the cranks and chainring bolts were tight, substituted another pair of pedals, and allowed thin oil to run into the crack between chainring and crank spider.  TA cranks have a small diameter spider, so there is more stress on the joint with the ring, and more possibility for slight movement causing creaking.  I next detached the ring, carefully cleaned all the parts, paying particular attention to the mating surfaces, which I lightly greased before reassembly.  These tests were not all carried out at the same time, but singly, over a period of weeks, in odd spare moments, and the results assessed next morning during the ride to work.  Nothing I did affected the creak, but it did change of its own accord.  It came and went and changed in character.  I looked for cracks in the frame, I pushed this and pulled that, but I could not find the creak, and in the end I gave up.  Then a few weeks ago I took hold of the bike by the saddle, which moved.  The plain alloy seat post was cracked 80% of the way round.  New seat pin, no creak.  I was lucky:  ignoring that creak could have had more serious consequences.

My final mystery noise was a click, on my brand new touring bike.  It only occurred when I was going fast in top gear, and always when the pedals were in a certain position, but not every revolution.  It seemed to happen most when I was pressing hard on the left pedal, some way past the horizontal.  I checked a few things for tightness, as in the last paragraph, but it was only when I cleaned the bike that the cause became apparent.  There were little dents on the end of the right crank, where it had hit the chain, which does whip about a little at speed.  Also, the frame and chainset do bend a bit under pressure.  Once again, a clearance of a couple of millimetres under static conditions had disappeared under dynamic ones.  A slight alteration of the chain line, which had been about right, using a couple of washers, got rid of the click.  I had bought a track chainset in order to use a single ring, and probably it had not been designed with the chain misalignment of derailleur gears in mind.  The corresponding road chainset probably gives greater clearance, although I have not checked this, but that only takes double chainrings, which I did not want.

I hope that you won't have these problems, but if you do, I hope that you will find my little case histories easier to remember than generalities, and will solve the puzzles quicker than I did as a result.  But, most importantly, if your bike has something to say to you, it is well worth your while to listen to it.

Chris Jeggo


RUNS ATTENDANCE

Benstead Cup points for the period 1 October to 13 March 1988
 

1 M Statham 91 9 H Gill 58
2 R Philo 90 10 D Pinkess 57
3 P Hampton 79 11 W Inder 55
4 R Mantle 77 12 R Richardson 54
5 B Bartholomew  65 13 C Richardson 52
6 G Clark 61 14 P Holmes 49
7 A Daws 58 15 W Stickley 32
8 B Daws 58

WANDERINGS OF AN EXILE

Warm, wet and windy weather scuds across North Avon, yet another grey Sunday morning.  The post-Christmas hiatus is here again.  What should I do?  More decorating?  Don't be chicken!  Burn off the excess Turkey and Telly, you certainly need the miles.  OK, dress up in the funny clothes and pedal away a few pounds!

Gillian reluctantly accompanies me as far as our favourite 'elevenses' then turns thankfully for home, a pile of ironing is a more acceptable option today.  Swooping down through Olveston towards the Severn Bridge the rain abruptly ceases as a wide band of blue races in from the West.  Wonder if it's raining in far-off Woking?

The solid wall of wind on the Bridge forces a descent to the drops, even over the hump at mid-span I'm still pushing hard, the cycleway is currently on the downstream side so there is no shelter with the wind in this quarter.

Chepstow and sunshine at last!  The empty A466 is protected from the gale by the surrounding cliffs, and I'm soon level with a swollen and muddy Wye at Tintern, it still seems strange to have old holiday haunts so near to home.  The car park at the Abbey is almost empty, no coaches, where is everyone?

The country west of Tintern looks interesting on the map with more arrows than at Custer's Last Stand so I dive into a wet and vegetated lane and lunge skywards for Trelleck.  It's a bottom-gear grind for five miles, but my 'best' bike feels responsive today, the shorter wheelbase and skinny tyres are more suited to this terrain than my Woking-based iron, to ease the gradient I try to ape the tour riders sitting well back, hands clamped on the centre of the bars, but it doesn't work, so I resort to 'Honking', gloves come off, I'm definitely over-dressed for this!

Trelleck comes and goes as the trees thin out, still uphill, but the top must be near because the wind has risen again, even the birds are walking today.

Suddenly there they all are!  Sugar Loaf, Black Mountains, Garway Hill, clear as a bell, all round the horizon, what a view!

I squeak to a halt beside a gate and a surprised flock of sheep stop in mid-munch and then stampede as I struggle with the flapping 0.S.  I'm off the edge, but the standby Barts. indicates the general direction vaguely and I plummet into the scenery.  At the tiny hamlet of Llangoven I encounter the first car I've seen since Tintern, trapped kids and a dog stare gloomily out of the rear window as it squeezes past.

Several miles later I'm being bowled along homewards across the estuary by a friendly following wind with the lights of Clivedon and Avonmouth twinkling in the distance as dusk falls.  What great cycling country this is!  All the same, I wonder how many were out to tea today a hundred miles away?

Hamish Smith

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Editor,

It is with some annoyance that I put pen to paper to complain that Helen and I were dropped on Sunday.  We were both out for the whole day and at lunch-time the rest of the Intermediate group went on their way without so much as a 'by your leave'.  We are quite capable of carrying on on our own but why does the group have to be so thoughtless ?

David Pinkess

9.3.88


MIDWEEK WAYFARERS

By general agreement among the weekday riders it has been decided to change the name of the Wednesday Group to 'Midweek Wayfarers' and, for a trial period, change the day of our weekly run to Tuesday.

This will enable certain members who have conflicting interests on Wednesdays to attend more regularly and makes it possible for us to use the Millstream Cafe at Bramley which is closed on Wednesdays.

In addition to our main weekly run we can now meet the South West London DA Midweek Wayfarers on certain Wednesdays when they come into our area for elevenses and lunch.  Usually this occurs twice in any month.

Attendance at Clubnights should also become less onerous if we do not require to rush back from a day on the cycle and must improve the possibility of getting people to come along.

Finally, on Thursdays we will continue to support the evening runs to local taverns as usual.

This means that we can offer some cycling activity for each of the three midweek days and we hope that this will encourage those members who have the time to spare during the week to come along and give it a try.  Everything is very flexible, with little formal restraint and arrangements can be revised to cater for new ideas should a need arise.

Please phone me on Weybridge 843285, or Marguerite, if you should be interested in joining any of our activities.

George Alesbury

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NEWS AND NOTES

Ladies Weekend
This year's ladies weekend will be 6/7 August based in Wiltshire and starting with a train journey to Salisbury.  Contact Hazel Shiels on Camberley 61770, or Marguerite, for the details.

Storm Damage to Rights of Way
The County Engineer's Department been working to assess and clear the extensive damge to footpaths and bridleways caused by the 'great storm'.  They would appreciate offers of help from volunteers who could assist with surveying or repairs.  To report obstructions or offer to help contact the following:
Waverley Borough and
Guildford Borough
Diane Love or Gillian Davies at
Area Engineer (West)
West House, Merrow Lane, Merrow,
Guildford GU4 7BQ
Tel. Guildford 503151
Mole Valley District
and Tandridge District
Gail Sperrin or Morag Dowswell at
Area Engineer (East)
Intercity House, 1-7 Warren Road,
Reigate RH2 0BE
Tel. Reigate 49224
In all other districts contact the relevant Borough Council.

Cafe News
Leigh Tea Rooms has closed.
Sally Lunn Tea Rooms, Witley, closes soon.
Headley Tea Room will close in September.
Upper Hale Cafe will close in the summer.
Baskets Restaurant, 2 Kings Road, Shalford is now open on Sundays, Tel. Guildford 301003.
Rose Lawn Hotel, Birfield, is open on Sundays.
Dinton Pastures Cafe is now open all day on Sundays.

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MY FIRST RIDE WITH THE WEST SURREY CTC

It was a very wet day in February 1980 as I set off to meet the CTC for elevenses.  Before I left home I put on my heavy Parka and my wellington boots.

As I cycled along the lane from Shalford to Godalming I found that it was flooded and so I had to ride through lots of water.  After the flood the ride to Milford was alright.

I got to the Little Chef a bit too early but after some time some cyclists arrived.  I knew it was the right group because I recognised Keith, whom I had met before.  They were all dressed in cycling clothes and I felt a bit out of place, because I was wearing jeans, wellington boots and a Parka.

When we went outside the cafe I was surprised to see what sort of bikes the CTC members were riding, in comparison to my old three-speed bike.

After elevenses we rode through some lovely lanes.  The people I was riding with were friendly.

We had lunch at a pub in a small village in the middle of the countryside.  At lunch time I had my first game of darts.

After lunch the ride became very hilly and I had to walk many of the hills.  When we were cycling down Leith Hill my back-pedal brake locked up and my bike skidded across the road making a horrible noise which shocked everybody!  In the afternoon we cycled through some very nice countryside and at about 4 o'clock we arrived in the pretty village of Abinger Hammer, where we had tea.

After tea I felt fit enough to ride back to Shalford.  There I arrived tired after an enjoyable day.

Claudia Whittle

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FOR SALE
19½" Falcon ladies 'mixte' frame, metallic gold, chrome fork ends.  Fair condition.  £25 o.n.o.  Contact Bill Inder  Tel.Woking 72074.
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WEST SURREY CTC CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR 1988


APRIL 1/2/3/4 Generals Y.H. weekend - Russ Mantle.  Aldershot 28275
3 Newcomers Ride from New Haw - Roger Philo
* 10 50 mile Reliability Ride - Roy Banks.  Wentworth 2676
17 South Bucks 120km - Roger Philo (as above)
Newcomers Ride from Guildford.  Keith Parfitt.  Guildford 60776
23 (Sat) Social night at Guildford Rowing Club to celebrate the D.A.'s 60th birthday
24
Club 60 mile
Club 60km
)
)
Ride followed by birthday tea
29-2 May Home Counties Rally - Kent.  Helen Gill.  Frensham 2893
MAY 8 Northants/Milton Keynes Tourist Trial - Roger Philo (as above)
14 National AGM, Leicester 2 p.m.
14/15 Ann and Chris Greening weekend.  Woking 62875
22 Charity Ride in aid of Surrey Wildlife Trust.  Chris Juden Gdmg 25794
27-30 London-Paris Charity Ride.  CTC HQ (04868 7217)
29 Eastend-Southend.  David Pinkess, Woking 24093.
JUNE 5 Ride to the South Coast, Roger Philo (as above)
11-19 National Bike Week
* 12 Stonehenge 200km, Chris Juden/Roy Banks (as above).
18 (Sat) Club Night Special
19 London-Brighton
Easy ride for newcomers - Roger Philo (as above)
25-10 July End-to-end Marguerite Statham, Woking 63289
JULY 2-3 York Rally
10 Tour of the Hills, Roy Banks (as above)
17 Swimming and tea at Jenny and Mike Harlow's, Fox Hollow, Sutton Place, nr Peaslake.  Just turn up with the family at 3 p.m.
23/24 National 400km Randonnee, also 100km, Oxford.
23-30 A.I.T. Rally, Telford
CTC New Forest Cycling Week
World of Wheels Festival, Harrogate
30-6 August CTC Birthday Rides, North Yorkshire.
SEPTEMBER 3/4 B.C.T.C. Final, West Kent
* 11 100 Reliability Ride, Roy Banks (as above)
17/18 Possible Autumn Weekend with Ann and Chris Greening (as above)
25 Tourist Competition - Ian Parker
OCTOBER 16 Hill Climb, Freewheel, Speed judging
NOVEMBER 13 AGM
* Benstead Cup Events

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MIDWEEK RIDES


Date Start Elevenses Leader
29 March 9.45 Cricketers,Westfield Bramley  W Stickley
 5 April 9.45 Mayford Green Farnham Mill P Rees
12 April 9.45 Clock House Ripley Gomshall Mill M Statham
19 April 9.45 Chobham War Memorial LC Sunninghill J Ostrom
26 April 9.45 Cricketers, Westfield LC Milford G Alesbury

Notes  These rides take place on a Tuesday
Lunch venues will be agreed on day of run
Meetings with SWLDA 'Midweek Wayfarers' are arranged for Wednesdays:
30 March at York Cafe, Weybridge Green, 10.45
 6 April at Cobham Church Hall, Copse Road, 10.30
27 April at Pampas Country Shop, Send, 11.00

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TUESDAY EVENING RIDES

Informal evening rides will be held every Tuesday from the beginning of April.  Start at CTC HQ, Godalming, 7.30 pm, for an easy ride of about 15 miles along quiet country lanes and track to finish at a pub back near Godalming.  On 5 April the destination will be the Ram Cider House, Catteshall Lane.  Contact Chris Juden for other details.

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CLUBROOM PROGRAMME

West Surrey CTC clubroom is held every fourth Wednesday, 7.30 pm, at Guildford Rowing Club, Shalford Road, Guildford (near the Jolly Farmer PH on the A28l).
 
6 April Bring your own slides night - come along with a few slides of recent rides.
4 May Films from the CTC Archives - period pieces such as 'Cyclists' Special','How a Bicycle is Made' etc.
1 June Cycling from Guildford to Freiburg
Slide show by Dave Whittle
29 June Outdoor Event - celebrate summer !

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SPRING INTO SUMMER WITH WEST SURREY CTC

To coincide with the 60th birthday of West Surrey DA we're making a special effort to involve a few more of the 800 or so CTC members resident in our area.  As a first step we've put on a particularly varied series of events and runs from April through to June, and produced a special list, free from offputting DA jargon we hope, which everyone will get with their April Cycletouring.

The second step is up to those members out there, with any luck a few might even turn up!  And the third is up to us, so if you see someone new, go up to them and help them find out what friendly, interesting and helpful people we are ... aren't we ?

Here are reminders and extra details of a few events which are unique to this special programme.

60th BIRTHDAY SOCIAL: Saturday 23 April, 8pm at the Clubroom.
Don't miss this, bring a few eats if you can.

PETAL POWER RIDE:  Sunday 22 May, 9am from Shalford Meadows Park (near the Clubroom).  Surrey Wildlife Trust will be out in force to help us make this sponsored ride a big success, and I hope that as many of us as can turn a pedal will get a few sponsors and act as mobile marshals, to assist other riders as necessary.  We will also need help with marshalling at some junctions, signing the route etc.  Volunteers and enquiries to Chris Juden Tel. Godalming 25794.

The route is as follows, with checks at nature reserves.
Via back lanes and level crossing to Chilworth, B2128 to Shamley Green, via Woodhill to Stroud Common (RESERVE: 041430), Smithwood Common to bypass Cranleigh, B2127 to Ewhurst Green, Walliswood (RESERVE: 121388), via Standon to Ockley, A29 and B2121 to Ockley Court, Weare Street (RESERVE: Vann Lake, 157394) to Paynes Green and Oakwoodhill, Ellen's Green, around Baynards Park to Alfold Crossways, Dunsfold, Loxhill, Burgates Farm track to Vann, Hambledon, Witley Station, footpath to Sandhills, Brook, Bowlhead Green, Thursley (RESERVE: 900398), Elstead (RESERVE: opposite Thundry Farm, 901439), Seale (RESERVE at chalk pit: 899481), Puttenham, Hurtmore, Farncombe, Peasmarsh, Shalford, FINISH.

THE STONEHENGE 200:  Sunday 12 June, 8am prompt, CTC HQ, Godalming. This revival of a popular Audax event uses a new route as follows:
 
0 km Farncombe, Hurtmore, R and L @ A30 to B3000, L to Puttenham, Seale, Sandy cross, L on A31 to Farnham town centre where R to Dippenhall, Well, Long Sutton, X A32, Upton Grey, Weston, X A339 @ Herriard, X B3046 @ Axford, X A30, North Waltham,
57 km OVERTON.  L on B3400, Whitchurch, Hurstborne Priors, Andover, Charlton, Penton, X A342 @ Weyhill, Fyfield, to A338, where L, R on A303, L to Amesbury village centre, X A345, L on A303 to
102 km STONEHENGE.  Return on A303 Amesbury bypass, R to Cholderton where X A338, R on B3084, L @ Palestine to X A343 to Stockbridge where L on A30 then A272, L to Crawley, X B3420 to Headbourne Worthy, L on A333 under A34 to X A33 onto B3407 to Itchen Abbas, Itchen Stoke,
154 km NEW ALRESFORD town centre, Bishops Sutton, L on A31, R to Kitwood, X A32 @ Lower Farringdon, X B3006 to West and East Worldham where R on B3004 Kingsley, X A325 @ Sleaford, via Hearn to X A287 @ Churt, Elstead where R on B3001 to X A3 @ Milford, A3100 to
203 km GODALMING

As you can see this route is nearly all pleasant and direct lanes without too many fiddly bits - I hope lots of you enjoy it and that a few others will volunteer to help.  Refreshments will be available at the finish and it is hoped to hold an informal leisurely ride while the randonneurs are away to Wiltshire.

Chris Juden

DOCTOR BIKE:  Saturday 18 June from 2.30pm at the Clubroom.  This is a National Bike Week special where people bring their bikes, we tell them what's wrong with them and make any minor adjustments, and they go away to the local bikeshop.  Apparently these sessions are very popular so bring your tools, your stethoscope! , and/or your bike.


MORE A MINI-RIDDLE THAN A MINI-SAGA

Monday morning.
Back to the daily round.
Round and round, never escaping my orbit.
Chained to my work, and although not a cog in the great machine, I'm the next thing to it.
Would that my eye could see the way to a better life.
What am I?
A crank.

Chris Jeggo

(Mini-sagas are the subject of a competition run by the "Telegraph Sunday Magazine" and also featured on BBC Radio 4's "Today" programme.  A mini-saga is a story of exactly fifty words with a title of up to fifteen words.  How about a few in "The West surrey Cyclist"?)

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EASTER 1987

We decided to take a short holiday with the bikes and have a look at the island of Malta.  Cheapest way was a fixed centre package holiday, this didn't matter as Malta is only 15 miles long and 9 miles wide and the whole island could be covered in a week.

An unusual problem occurred at Luton Airport when we were asked by the newly trained check-in girl if we had a puncture repair kit with us.  I naturally said we had, at which point she informed us that she'd have to confiscate our puncture solution since it was inflamable and a danger on board aircraft!  I immediately said the offending 10 ml tube would be left in our car opposite the terminal and quickly slipped the tube into my back pocket.  Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.

A satisfactory flight to Luqua airport saw us arrive in the dark at about 9 o'clock.  Most package companies now transport luggage to their hotel in a separate van or lorry whilst passengers jump on the coach provided.  This proved the case on Malta and our bikes were loaded into a transit van and we saw them later at our hotel in St. Pauls bay.

Next day saw the sun rise into a clear fine day.  Our cycles were quickly assembled; pedals refitted and front wheels inserted.  The hotel gave us a key to a small store opening onto the road which became our temporary bike shed.  The weather was warm enough for shorts and we decided our first ride would be into Valetta along the coast road.

Signposting in Malta is either poor or non existant but following a coastal route proves fairly easy and in this case flat.  The road surfaces in Malta are absolutely apalling but we managed to bump and crash our way into St. Julian for an excellent lunch and then wound our way through Sliema into the old stone city of Valetta.  Valetta is an ancient fortress town fully enclosed by walls and laid out in a grid pattern.  The grid, however, has been superimposed over the hump backed Sciberras Hill so is anything but boring.  A pleasent place to wonder round with little traffic and great views of the grand harbour which is still Malta's chief centre of industry.

Our return route saw us trying to find our way inland not difficult since nearly all the locals speak English as a second language; Malti the local tongue is a mixture of Spanish, Arabic and Italian!  The biggest problem was attempting to pronounce the names of towns we wished to head for.  For example Nexxar we found is pronounced Gnasher and as for names like Ghaxaq well your guess is as good as ours.

The return to our hotel revealed two amazing things, we were both saddle sore after a ride of only 20 miles, this due to the dreadful road surfaces and Malta seems to be populated exclusively with ancient motor cars and buses.  Split screen Morris Minors are common as are '48 Hillman Minxes, Vauxhall Veloxes etc.  Many of the highly decorated buses date from the mid thirties are quite a sight chugging up the islands many steep short hills.

The rest of our week saw many interesting rides into the islands countryside and we just about got used to the road surfaces.  Good places to visit are the ancient town of Mdina and a boat trip into the famous Blue Grotto at the bottom of cliffs near Zurneq.  A climb across the island to the top of the Dingli cliffs was well worthwhile, the cliffs are spectacular with a height of 850 feet sheer from the sea.  On this particular ride the friendly nature of the Maltesers was revealed in full when my chain de-railed on a particularly bad stretch of road.  Whilst I was pondering how to get it back without greasing up my hands a local ran across the road and did the job for me!  His smiling explanation was that all Malta's inhab1tants liked to make sure visitors had a good holiday and it was no trouble anyway since he could clean his hands at his house just down the road.

In the middle of our weeks visit we took the ferry from Marfa to Gozo, the neighbouring island to Malta.  Gozo is a much greener quieter place with equally friendly people and town dominated by magnificent churches.  The Gozo wine has a reputation for making visitors excitable but we found it very pleasent although the steepness of some of the 1 in 3s afterwards were less so.

The total cost of our holiday week for two came to approx. £400.  The weather was good and the friendliness of the people terrific.  Malta is a very interesting place to visit, it lacks the grand scenery available on other mediterranean islands but compensates for this by the wealth of history.  If you decide to take a trip make sure you carry a bicycle with you but fit the biggest, fattest tyres you can manage; the roads in Malta really demand mountain cycle tyres.

The best time to visit is probably Easter or early spring when the rocky island is covered in bloom and temperatures pleasent for cycling.  One week will suffice to visit most of the island and take in a trip to Gozo.  Food standards are reasonable with moderate prices the place to eat seafood is the Gillieriu Restaurant in St. Pauls bay.  The food here is worth the trip.

Robert Shiels

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FILM 88

For those West Surrey Cyclists who are keener to watch others riding their cycles on wet days here are a few films which could prove of interest when slotted into the video machine.

BREAKINGAWAY. This is the film that started a cycling boom in the USA and incidentally received several Oscar nominations.  The basic plot concerns one member of a group of young men who have decided to drop out of the education scene (the 'Cutters') and generally spend the last years of their teens lazing in the sunshine and chasing girls; and whats bad about that you may ask!  Our hero is a cycling fanatic who literally goes to extreme lengths to emulate his Italian Professional heroes e.g. learning to speak Italian and playing Verdi while he shaves his legs.

The fun in this film starts when our cyclist falls for a rich college girl who is already subject to a suite by an equally rich and dislikeable college senior.  This latter character is also captain of the college cycling team.  Matters come to a head at the Annual College Cycle Race which although an Open Event is traditionally competed for by the different college fraternity houses.  Needless to say this year to prove our hero's love the Cutters enter a somewhat rag tag team.

I won't spoil your enjoyment by revealing the ending but all is not as one would expect.  The film is still great viewing even after some 6 years.  The racing sequences were shot by the same camera/director team who made the Steve McQueen car chase sequence in 'Bullit' needless to say the excitement is guaranteed.

Note. I have a somewhat scrappy copy of this film on Beta for loan to club members suitably equipped.  I understand it is also available with perserverance from video shops.

AMERICAN FLYERS.  Starring Kevin Costner, latest US heartthrob actor now famous for the film NO WAY OUT on current release.  American Flyers was made in 1986 and is now readily available in video hire shops.

Our story line concerns two brothers, one a US National Team member, the other just an interested leisure cyclist.  Stress in the family is high since the boys' father died in tragic circumstances from an un-named but inherited disease which may appear at any moment in either of the sons.

I will not spoil the splot by revealing more but this film has something for everybody., love, humour and high drama.  The cycling shots are merged into some beautiful camera work on the Coars Classic road race even Eddy Merckx puts in a cameo appearance.  The funniest moment concerns sprint training with 'Hank' but I shall say no more. Get it, watch it have a handkerchief at the ready!

TETE DE LA COURSE.  I noticed in Cycling magazine that this classic film is now available on video.

The film is basically a homage to one E. Merckx and is very watchable.  Sadly most of the racing action concerns our Eddie winning the Giro so none of his best work in the Tour de France appears.  The film does however contain some extremely evocative archive material from the T de F taken around the early 1920s.  The state of the roads (tracks?) in the high Alps in those days was truely amazing and it is easy to understand why strong men (in goggles, fixed gears with tyres round their necks) wept.

Since this is a specialist film I don't think you'll find it in your local video shop but a phone call to Cycling on 01-661-4351 should reveal stockists in the trade.

QUICKSILVER.  Spotted in our local video shop but not watched.  This film concerns a fallen YUPPIE who starts at the bottom as cycling courier in New York.  His new line of work leads to involvement with the Mafia and a fight against the organisation engaged in a nasty drugs plot.

I must say having read the 'sleeve' notes it did sound a complete load of old rubbish and if one of our readers could bring himself/herself to hire it perhaps a review could be submitted in due course.  As for me sounds like one I can well miss.

Happy viewing,

Robert Shiels


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Web page by Chris Jeggo.  Last revised:  20 December 2005.