"The West Surrey Cyclist" - Issue 12 - Autumn 1988
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Number 12, Autumn 1988
By this time of year most of our holidays are over and the cycletourists are home for the winter. I've been reading the South West London CTC magazine and was impressed with the long list of their members' foreign tours published in it. Some of these destinations were exotic countries such as the USSR and Nepal, others were more accessible European regions, but the interesting thing was the number and variety of places visited. I wondered how we compared with this neghbouring DA; perhaps I'm out of touch with what our members have been doing, but I could only think of a handful of tours undertaken by our riders this year. Touring articles in this issue of our magazine all extoll the virtues of short, easy rides, with which I wholeheartedly agree, but where's the other end of the spectrum? Aren't our members interested in cycletouring, by which I mean travelling from place to place as an unrivalled way of experiencing new landscapes and cultures? In other parts of Britain the adventurous spirit, always an element of the CTC, is thriving as groups of club members, often young and poor, explore the remoter parts of our own and other countries. Did this wanderlust never exist in Surrey, or did it die out to be replaced by 'leisure cycling', cosy Sunday rides with people you know to places you've been before? The answer to this lack of adventurousness is partly the age structure of our club; many are enjoying a well deserved rest after years of harder riding, and others have to modify their ambitions because of family commitments. But what's the rest of the explanation?
Copy for the winter magazine by, or preferably before, the end of November for publication before Christmas. Thanks.
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TOUR OF THE HILLS '88
A crowd of cyclists gathered at the top of Newlands Corner on the morning of 10 July. They were about to take on the challenge that the Tour of the Hills presented to them. I was one of the ten o'clock starters and with the first group of riders I descended Newlands Corner, onto the dual carriageway and a right turn onto the smaller roads. The first hill, although short and not very steep, was up a right turn just leaving Albury. A few more short ones followed, and then a flat stretch along to the top of St Martha's hill which I descended with great care as it was a very narrow road with plenty of dangerous bends.
This took us into Chilworth which we soon left behind after turning onto a pleasant road which we were to follow for a few miles. About halfway along this road I decided I was a bit far ahead of the group I was supposed to be riding with (Ian, Jonathan and Neil) so I stopped and waited, allowing all the other riders to leave me behind. I waited for a good five minutes and then I gave up.
I chased after the main pack of riders but it took about three miles of flat out riding to catch up. This is what tired me out for the remainder of the ride. I broke off with two other riders and I let them pace me. This was not altogether a very good idea because we eventually found out that we had missed the turning opposite the Bulls Head coming out of Ewhurst and we did a few extra miles. Coming up to Pitch Hill we turned onto a brief rough stuff section on which many tyres came to grief: fortunately that does not include mine. Horseblock hollow came next, which was the steepest hill of the tour with a one-in-four gradient. Much to my surprise I stayed on the bike. The next road into Shere was very pleasant, as was the picturesque little village with its quaint houses and shops. These niceties were soon to be forgotten as we crossed the A25 up onto the climb of Coombe Bottom: I managed to complete the climb and I enjoyed the descent, only to find I had to ride the hill up to Old Cartlodge Tea Rooms - a place which is often spotted on the CTC runs list. Straight on to Dorking where there was a short stretch of dual carriageway. We were soon relieved of heavy traffic by a left turn through Westhumble but on a seemingly never-ending upward slope.
As I plodded on, suffering from extreme fatigue, I suddenly decided I could do no more and I lay in the roadside for a while, wondering if the West Surrey DA was overpopulated and had decided to kill off a few members.
The descent of White Down scared the life out of me: I think I prefer walking up it. There were no more major climbs until Leith Hill where I dismounted and walked to the top: some lovely scenery awaited me at the summit but I was too exhausted to admire it and I knew my time was running out. I descended as quickly as possible, through Friday Street, Abinger Common and Holmbury St Mary. The next stop was just outside Peaslake where I was issued with a drink of squash and a biscuit, which I gratefully accepted.
With raised spirits I set off again. I soon reached Abinger
Hammer where I entered a small confectionary shop and equipped myself with
a bar of chocolate which I ate while walking up White Down. It was
left at the top and past Old Cartlodge Tea Rooms again on the descent that
followed. I very nearly 'came a cropper' when I started slipping
and sliding in the loose gravel on the road. I survived - just.
The ascent up Coombe Bottom was very hard for me. By this time I
was saddle sore, exhausted, out of drink and riding in my bottom gear on
flat roads. I wanted to stop but I knew I had to keep going to finish
within the time limit. I was urged on up Newlands Corner as I knew
it was the last ascent.
I eventually finished with 12 minutes to go and I think I was the last person to finish inside the 7 hours. The day was an exciting experience, I felt I had achieved something and I can't wait to do it again next year.
James Shrubsall (13 years)
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TOUR OF THE HILLS
Amazingly, it did not rain all day long for the 1988 edition of this event. 54 entries were received in advance, of whom 15 did not start. Another 52 entered on the line, giving 91 starters. 55 qualified for an Audax UK "Grimpeur" Brevet, 4 riders without mudguards were also successful, and 32 did not finish (or missed controls). 17 West Surrey DA members entered, a huge and very welcome increase on last year, and 13 were successful.
Although I was not present on the day, because I had already booked a holiday before I was asked to run the event, I believe that things ran smoothly. I have not heard of any problems, nor have I received any complaints (except about distance), while several participants have said how much they enjoyed the event, and thanked us for organising it. I am delighted to pass on these thanks, and add my own, to all those DA members who helped in running the event, particularly to Clive Richardson, who as event co-organiser did a great deal of hard work organising the controls and marshals, and taking overall charge on the day.
Several riders using cycle computers independently estimated the course length to be 110 - 111 km. I have since confirmed this by careful map measurement. The declared distance for the present course is now 110 km, and times of up to 7:20 have been accepted, corresponding to the AUK minimum speed of 15 km/h.
In my opinion a number of changes to the event are required, and I have submitted my thoughts to the DA Committee. It would be a great help if anyone who has taken part, whether as rider or helper, would make his/her views on the future of the event known to a Committee member.
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JOURNEY TO AVALON
Greening's Glastonbury Gourmets were late leaving Yeovil Junction for their week-end awheel (14-15th May) because one member of the party, driving down from Bristol, got stuck in a crawling convoy behind what must have been part of the channel tunnel! It was Gill's lucky day however for the chief gourmet's decision to leave after waiting half an hour coincided with her apologetic arrival and the bike was off-loaded amid much banter. A nice day, leafy lanes and lush hedgerows were beckoning, also the prospect of elevenses at the summit of Ham Hill!
Would I survive with minimal fitness? I need not have worried; Chris set an even pace throughout and I often had company walking up the steeper bits. After Ham Hill and a hazy view, our route followed the lanes via Montacute and the oddly named Mudford Sock to Ashington, just short of the Royal Naval Airfield at Yeovilton. Chris had promised us the sight of some big choppers but luckily they were invisible this day!
In the afternoon more quiet lanes soon brought us within sight of Glastonbury with its looming tor capped with a 14th century chapel and it was in this ancient Avalon that we partook of the gourmet bit, first downing a cream tea and subsequently having a meal at one of the noisiest and best Italian restaurants in Somerset and finally staying in some excellent digs. Sunday morning; a hearty breakfast and another good weather forecast. Hamish arrived on schedule from Bristol and, having ridden at least half a mile from his parked car, enquired about elevenses! A fond farewell to our concierge, Mrs. Butler (no relation)! and we set off along the Shepton Mallet road, almost immediately diving into the empty lanes which abound in this part of Somerset.
The tor gradually slipped from view as we skirted Kennard Moor, avoided Ditcheat Hill but toiled up the hill into Castle Cary. Before coffee at the 14th century George Inn we inspected the old town lock-up a mere 7ft in diameter with a single tiny window and saw the high pavements some of which appear to be 2ft above street level! Later we visited the church with its mosaic made by school-children earlier this century. It was at this point that Hamish and I were scheduled to say farewell to the gourmets and cycle back to Glastonbury, whereupon the heavens opened for the first and last time that day.
The rest of the party tell me that the day finished with no mishaps and a tired but happy group arrived safely back in Woking.
Thanks Chris for a lovely week-end.
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR
David and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to our wedding present. It was very much appreciated.
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LETTER TO THE SECRETARY
I wish to write to you as Secretary of the West Surrey DA in appreciation of the Petal Power Ride. The organisation of the route and the attractive route sheet and instructions were excellent. It introduced me to some new lanes for future runs. Thanks for a memorable day.
Secretary, SW London DA
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WAYFARERS IN THE NEW FOREST
As 23-31 July was the New Forest camping week I thought that it would be a good opportunity for us to go and explore parts of the New Forest under the leadership of people who know the Forest well. The Groups were due to set off from the Roundhill Camp Site at 10 a.m. so in order to get there on time we had to meet at Woking Station at 8.45 a.m. Three of us managed to get up early enough. Roger, who had had bad luck with his train to Gatwick, turned around and cycled to Woking; Roy who cycled all the way from Aldershot and me! (I had cycled all the way from Horsell!)
The train was late arriving at Brockenhurst so by the time we arrived at the Camp Site the all-day group had already left, so we joined the only remaining ride which was going to meander along Forest tracks. About thirty of us set off on an assortment of machines, including numerous Tandem conversions carrying toddlers or young riders. Quite an eye-opener to see so many Family Groups obviously enjoying themselves. After about three miles we stopped in the middle of Frame Heath enclosure for a rest. At this point we decided that we would like something a little more ambitious so asked for guidance to get us out of the Forest and made our way to Minstead, stopping in Lyndhurst on the way for a cup of coffee. At Minstead church, where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is buried, we met the all-day group and stayed with them for the rest of the day. We had lunch outside the Pub on the Village Green where there were several Ponies and Traps offering rides. (No, we didn't!) After lunch we visited the Reptiliary near Warwick Slade before continuing down the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive and so back into Brockenhurst for threesis.
We then caught the train back to Woking to arrive home in time to watch the last stages of the Tour de France.
An interesting day with a few lessons learned: if we go again next year I would suggest that we go on a later train and spend the morning on our own and link up with the campers for an afternoon on the Forest Tracks.
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NEWS AND NOTES
Congratulations to David and Helen who were married on Friday 29 July. There was a full moon that night ....! We hope that they will be very happy together and who knows, in a year or two they might even be riding with the Family Group!
Many thanks to Chris Juden who worked immensely hard organising the Stonehenge 200 only three weeks after he'd organised the successful Petal Power Ride. Chris spent over 26 hours drawing the route sheet and was at CTC HQ until 10 p.m. on the day. Thanks also to Helen for organising the food and drink and to Matthew who kept smiling throughout.
AGM St Augustine's Church Hall, Addlestone, Sunday 13 November at 5 p.m. Have you found a new Secretary? If so, please let Marguerite know by Sunday 6 November.
Come to the DA's Christmas Lunch at the Old Cartlodge, Dunley Hill on Sunday 11 December. Tickets £11.50 available from your Group Leader or phone Ann Greening on Brookwood 2193. Bring your own drink and glasses. If you would like to cycle to lunch we shall be having several starting places - see your runs list.
Best wishes to Jenny and Mike Harlow who are expecting a baby at Christmas. Also thanks for the swimming and tea on 17 July.
Congratulations to Roger Philo who successfully completed the End to End.
Don't forget the Club's Christmas Tea at PIRBRIGHT VILLAGE HALL on Sunday 18th December where the presentation of trophies will take place.
Many thanks to Chris Jeggo and Clive Richardson who spent a lot of time and worry organising the Tour of the Hills. Also thanks to everyone else who helped in numerous ways.
Christmas Day Open House - Harry and Marguerite invite you all round for a Christmas drink on Sunday 25 December from 11am to 12.30pm. The address is Springwood, Morton Road, Horsell, Woking (Ref OS 186 995 598 - opposite the school). We haven't much room for 850 members so come early or you might have to stand in the shed!
Committee Nomination forms are available from your Group Leader. Do make sure that you have the person's permission before you make a nomination. Forms should be handed back to your Leader or sent to Marguerite no later than Sunday 6 November.
Thanks to Ian Parker - our new Events coordinator - for organising
the Tourist Trial and 100 mile Reliability Ride. Also thanks to our
hard-worked group leaders Russ, Roger, Bill, George A, Marguerite who have
to turn out every week unless they have delegated a run to someone
else. Delegation, as George has discovered, is the key to success!!!
George won't tell me when he's coming on a Wayfarers ride ....
Happy New Year! The old favourite ride will take place on Sunday 1 January 1989. Start VAW at 9.30 , coffee at the HE on the Hogs Back and lunch at the Ram Cider House, Cattershall Lane, Farncombe. Please let Marguerite know if you intend coming to lunch as we have to let the Landlady have a rough idea of numbers. See your runs list for alternative rides.
Thanks to Keith Parfitt and helpers for manning the club publicity stand at both the Barnes Park Gala, where we also raised funds for the British Heart Foundation, and the Guildford Festival town centre races, where a lot of leaflets were given out.
The next deadline for orders for club jersies, track-tops and badges will be 1 January. Orders and money to Marguerite please.
Apologies to Roy Banks for the brief mention of his resignation as Events Organiser, in the last magazine. We should have explained that Roy only gave up the job after he had had to stop cycling on medical advice. We are pleased to report that after months off the bike, Roy is now riding short distances again. Best wishes for a continuing recovery and thanks for the hard work and enthusiasm which Roy gave to events.
Readers will be sorry to learn that the cafe in Bramley has closed. We hope it might open again in the spring but have no information yet. Watch this space!
Get Well wishes go from us all to Mr Butler of Puttenham who we hear has been unwell.
Congratulations to Marguerite and Ian Parker for completing some of the links in the chain of the Save the Children Fund relay ride around Britain. More donations to the Chain Reaction Appeal would be welcome.
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TRICYCLATHON SUNDAY 16 OCTOBER
|This is what you do
1. Get your entry (form below) and £1 to Dave Whittle before
the day or you'll pay 50p extra.
1. You only get one bite at each cherry - but you don't have to
bite all three cherries if you don't want to.
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COMING SOON TO A CLUBROOM NEAR YOU!
West Surrey CTC clubroom is held every fourth Wednesday at Guildford
Rowing Club, Shalford Road, Guildford (near the Jolly Farmer PH on the
A281). Doors open 7.30 pm, event starts 8.00 pm.
|19 October||'Sun, snow and cycling', a slide show by Chris Juden of late November in the glorious Swiss/Italian lakes.|
|16 November||Cheese and Wine Evening. Bring along a charming cheese and a wonderful wine to share!|
|Photographic Competition Bring your slides and prints (up to 6 of each) to the clubroom for this Saturday night event starting at 8pm. Pictures must have been taken since 1 January 1986 and winners will be decided by the votes of the audience.|
|14 December||Christmas Party. Bring food and games for a festive social evening.|
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Rother Valley CC Charity Rides 6 November
Surrey/West Sussex/Hampshire borders 100km and 50 km populaire.
|Date:||Sunday 6 November 1988|
|Start:||Grayswood Village Hall 9am|
|Fee:||£2 including refreshments at finish
Funds raised to go to Fordwater Special School for handicapped children.
|Details:||Send SAE to Mrs Doreen Lindsey, Hazlebrook, Prestwich Lane, Grayswood, Haslemere GU27 2DU. Tel. Haslemere (0428) 2090.|
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ON HOLIDAY WITHOUT BIKES
Flying off to a Greek island to lie in the sun, our bikes locked up in the shed, it was going to be a real holiday without bikes.
After a glorious afternoon on the beach we were heading back to our pension when strolling by the shops and tavernas we came across a rent-a-bike shop where we stopped to look the bikes over. We told each other we didn't want to go cycling; we had come on a real holiday.
The next morning we paid 500 Drachma (£2) to hire each machine. We had given in to temptation (it must have been all the wine). They were single-speed all-steel bikes made in West Germany and had just been bought for the start of the season.
Our map showed a nice route out of town and along the coast but we only got about a mile out of town before the road became a dirt track and we had to push the bikes up a steep hill. It was clear that the map work was going to be interesting! We soon found the main road; a big red road on the map but it was about the size of an English country lane. The road climbed gently as it weaved a devious course along the coast. We enjoyed views of the ragged rocky shore plunging into the crystal blue sea. In the distance we saw the mountain called Zephodonia rising from the sea.
The road turned inland and began to climb a long valley; the landscape changed from being rocky and barren to become greener and more fertile.
It was midday and getting hotter, with no sign of a village and as it was all uphill we were making slow progress. We had been looking for a minor turning on the right as shown on the map, but so far the map had little in common with the ground. We rested in the shade and I was volunteered to ride on as fast as I could, to see if there was anywhere to get food and drink.
I pedalled off round the hairpin bends into the distance while the others followed at a slower pace. The valley was becoming greener all the time with trees and patches of cultivated land. When it began to level off some buildings appeared and someone shouted beer! One of the houses had a few chairs and tables in the shade of a tree; it was a simple village taverna. Soon we were all sitting in the shade enjoying cool beers followed by simple meal of omelette and Greek salad.
Having found a village we were able to work out where we were on the map and replanned our route. The village was of simple white washed stone houses along narrow streets. After an ice-cream stop we headed off down the road but 2 km later it turned into a rough track.
Should we go on into the unknown or ride back up the hill? We decided to carry on and to turn right when we reached the sea, which seemed like a good idea. We enjoyed the descent on the stony track, grateful for the fat tyres on the bikes. I preferred not to think about the fact that we had no repair kit or tools. After several picture stops we rested under an olive tree surrounded by a poppy field.
On reaching the coast we took a track off to the right and passed a small building where a man shouted to us so we stopped. He spoke a little English and soon told us we were on the wrong path. He pointed to the right one going up a steep hill. He offered us some wine to drink and explained that he was building a taverna so that when the road was completed all the tourists would come in coaches and he would make loads of money! The man showed us where we could go down to the sea and said that it was good for swimming so we thanked him and headed for the water.
It was a rocky cove with a small beach. This area of the island has underwater sulphate springs which give the sea a deep blue colour - but it does pong a bit! We were soon swimming; everything appeared blue in the water which was fun but it didn't taste very nice.
We pushed our bikes off up the track and after a devious route re-emerged half way up the valley. We were glad to be back on the tarmac after the long uphill from the sea and about 2 hours of riding and pushing. Then there was about 5 miles of downhill to enjoy to return to Alykes where we were staying.
It had been a glorious day and I will probably never forget it. It also taught me an important lesson; we had a wonderful day cycling with bikes we would not normally look at and over very few miles. What mattered was that we were having fun.
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A DAY WITH THE MIDWEEK WAYFARERS
"There is a cycle exhibition at Southampton and I think we should go to see it" said Marguerite. A quick look at the map confirmed the need to let the train ease some of the pain and thus on a sunny Tuesday morning in July a group of Midweek Wayfarers met at Woking station en route to Eastleigh. On leaving the destination station with the bikes, advice from a friendly taxi driver soon had us enjoying coffee at a cafe in the town.
Duly fortified we were soon heading east over the railway line and onto the road to Fair Oak for some three miles before taking to the lanes to Lake Farm, Oaklands and over the M27 to Town Hill Park. Some inspired map reading by 'M' got us safely through a new housing estate and development area to Bitterne, with the River Itchen appearing on our right-hand side. The site of the old Supermarine factory, where the Schneider Trophy aircraft and the Spitfire were designed and manufactured (prior to its demolition by the German Airforce in 1940), came into view with the rear side of the Ocean Terminal forming a background across the sparkling water of the estuary. No fine old luxury liners today, just a couple of container ships where once the Queen Elizabeth docked.
On we went through Woolston and Weston to the spectacular ruin at Netley Abbey and the north shore of Southampton Water, to reach the gates of the new Victoria Country Park. This now occupies the site of the former Red Cross Hospital that served the British Forces so well during the 1914-18 war and was allocated to the Americans for the 1939-45 conflict.
"No entry fee for cyclists" said the man at the gate, directing us to the cafeteria. At this point 'M' informed us that no alcoholic beverages were available and we would have to make do with soft drinks! Nevertheless, we enjoyed a good lunch, hardly missing at all the pint of foaming ale which we usually partake of at this time. Sitting in the sunshine, cooled by a light sea breeze coming across to us from the Isle of Wight, we were reluctant to leave the table, but time was pressing and the bikes were remounted and directed to the Cycle Exhibition, housed in the one remaining building from the old hospital, the chapel and bell tower.
Probably one of the best historical presentations of the evolution of the bicycle that has been assembled in recent years at one place. Everything from beautiful replicas of the Hobby Horse and the Macmillan Velocipede, through to genuine examples of almost all of the significant inventions which carried forward the development to the modern lightweight machine, including the Moulton. Of particular interest were those machines designed for commercial use, the Post Office five wheel parcel carrier with its large central driving wheel, the Singer Tricycle Carrier and through to the Walls Icecream 'Stop me and buy one' tricycle. Several machines designed exclusively for pacing, from a Chater Lea single and an Ariel Quint to modern versions of these special-to-type models were very impressive. Best of all were the examples of early gearing systems for Sociable Tricycles, crude and heavy but very ingeneous.
Having finished with the cycles, there was just time to take in the audio and still-photograph presentation of the Hospital's past history, from the laying of the foundation stone by Queen Victoria, through harrowing scenes of the Great War casualties arriving, the treatment of their injuries, particularly those resulting from the use of mustard gas and flame throwers. At this time all 2000 beds were in use and the corridors were packed with stretcher cases end-to-end. Of the Hitler War there was noticeably less information except for the period immediately after 'D' day.
A quick climb up the 100 ft Bell Tower to enjoy a fine view of Southampton Water, the Isle of Wight and the surrounding countryside and we were on our way again. A bumpy footpath from the eastern end of the park led us down a fairly steep slope to a coastal lane which brought us through to the outskirts of Hamble. On now past the pub, along by the river crowded with sailing boats at anchor and so to a quay for the ferry to Warsash. Balancing the cycles in the shallow draught flat-bottomed craft we cast off and were away into the stream with the tiny outboard motor straining against the current. At this point the boatman indicated to us the many locations used for the filming of the TV series 'Howards Way', but alas no glamorous actresses were around to lighten the hearts of us well seasoned Wayfarers.
Best efforts now to get back to Eastleigh, so off we pedalled on a course parallel with the Hamble River to Sarisbury, left along the main road and right onto a lane climbing past Hoe Moor House and then to Wilderne and Horton Heath. A quick shuffle through some more lanes to reach Lake Farm again and back from there along our morning route to Eastleigh.
What a joy, a train was due in two minutes after we reached the station platform and we were soon aboard and on our way. Cups of tea all round were provided by Roy who had to leave us at Basingstoke to catch his connection to Farnham, and we were soon back at Woking Station.
Pedalling home from there in our various directions there was time to reflect on a most enjoyable day, thanks to 'M' who researched the event and led the run.
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REPORT ON WOMEN'S WEEKEND
VISIT TO SALISBURY/WARMINSTER
6TH TO 7TH AUGUST
As a very inexperienced cyclist I took some convincing that I would be able to cope with the riding on the ladies weekend. Joy Adams eventually persuaded me that with liberal tea/coffee/3 ses/lunch breaks/no rough stuff/a ladylike pace/25 miles/day maximum that I would, indeed, be able to handle the cycling and might even enjoy myself.
Rather nervously my Lady Galaxy and I arrived at Woking station early on the Saturday morning to meet the group and catch the train to Salisbury. Eventually five of us made the trip - Hazel (leader), Marguerite, Gill (Smith), Joy and I.
The first days ride was westwards mostly along the Wiltshire Cycleway to Warminster. The weather was glorious - hot sunshine and a cloudless blue sky. We managed all of 2 miles before our coffee stop at Wilton. Encouraged I pedalled along the Wylye Valley until lunchtime. Hazel had planned an excellent lunch stop at 'The Dove' Inn. The owners of this excellent pub had taken great pains with the food (served by uniformed waitresses); the decoration (including real live doves) and the ladies loo (with chintzy frills around every thing). We had a relaxed, easy afternoon riding through the Wiltshire countryside, admiring the pretty villages and beautiful gardens and generally revelling in being outdoors on bikes. The revolution began shortly before afternoon tea when Marguerite announced that we had already done 25.2 miles. Clearly Hazel had violated the distance limit and had to be severely punished. Various plans for handling the problem were discussed - walking back 0.2 miles and sitting in the road; deposing Hazel etc - but eventually we agreed to continue. We approached Longleat, our tea stop, via a route closed to cars which gave a magnificent view of the front the house as we approached. After tethering the machines we walked around some of the buildings and paid our 50ps to visit the Victorian kitchen. Not much liking the idea of viewing the lions by bicycle we visited the tea room instead. Marguerite's milometer now showed 26.2 miles. The last leg of the ride, dropping down into Warminster in the warm afternoon sunshine, was very pleasant. As a novice I was rather alarmed by the traffic but I managed not to throw myself at any passing drivers and survived to the bed and breakfast stop. Overall an excellent 31.3 mile ride.
Our initial plans had been to go disco-ing but we reconsidered our strategy for the evening to accommodate our ravenous hunger, pleasant fatigue and total lack of handbags and gladrags. We strolled around the still-warm streets of Warminster, peered in at all the available eating places, visited a flower festival in one of the churches and checked-up on husbands. Eventually we found an excellent, cheap Italian restaurant where we had a delicious meal. The sleeping accommodation was good, generally in shared rooms and the breakfast was substantial.
Refreshed we set out on Sunday morning to head back to Salisbury. Again the weather was faultless (the entire 1988 summer coincided with our weekend). The return route took us further south and over rather more hilly countryside than Saturday's ride along the valley. Two black-arrow hills were on our route (Hazel having changed her mind about taking us up a double). We covered an impressive 9 miles until coffee at Chicklade. As we continued towards Tisbury for lunch we cruised easily along between the fields of grazing cows and ripe cereals, and disturbed a small flock of quail which had been feeding in a wheat field. Unluckily Gill had a slow, front-wheel puncture which Marguerite, helped/handicapped by the rest of us, dealt with extremely efficiently in 16 minutes - and not a man in sight! Having watched these professionals in action I resolved to buy and carry a suitable spanner with me at all times. Lunch was good and I even managed struggle up the afternoon black arrow, although I probably looked fit to drop by the time I reached the top. By perfect timing we cruised into Salisbury after a total ride of 32.6 miles, in time to have tea and a rest at the station before the train arrived. After an uneventful ride to Woking we set off to our various homes, still glowing with the pleasure of the weekend.
From my point of view the weekend was excellent. The group were very sociable and easy going and unobtrusively adapted to my rather slow pace. Marguerite in particular was very kind about dropping back to keep me company. The weekend cost £25 to £30 including food etc which is not a small sum, but was excellent value for the good time I had. I can certainly recommend the ladies' weekend to all new female cyclists and am looking forward to going on the next one.
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A THAMESIDE ODYSSEY
"Sweet Thames run softly till I end my song"
Tuesday morning on a fine, cool day in early September, a light breeze and high thin cloud giving promise of better things to come. Our small group met at Chobham War Memorial where Master Cullen purveys his goodies to the Chobham carriage trade. Under the gentle guidance of the firm of Marguerite and Son we crossed the desolate heath where Victoria once reviewed her troops and safely traversed the A30 at Sunningdale coming at length to Sunninghill, derided in 1826 by William Cobbett as a " spot all made into grounds . . . by taxeaters. The inhabitants have beggared twenty villages and hamlets".
Undeterred by this sobering thought we took the routine break at the Little Chef. (I sometimes think we should rename the club as the CCTTTC - the Cup of Coffee & Toasted Teacake Touring Club). Thus fortified (except for Gerry, who is a traditional English Breakfast man and George, who mortifies the flesh) we skirted Virginia Water and came by some miracle of navigation, by many a secluded lane to Monkey Island. Here a footpath runs beside the M4, crossing the Thames just North of the Island. No greater contrast could be imagined than that between the placid old river and the howling turbo-driven chariot race above, each driver pursuing wealth at 80MPH, or perhaps merely the means to pay the mortgage usurers at twelve and one half percent.
With deep relief we turned down into Dorney for a lunch at a Pub whose name I am happy to forget. I alone unwisely chose the home made potage and barely lived to tell this tale. Then on in glowing sunshine across the watermeadows, full of grazing cattle to Eton, where elegantly clad young gentlemen were emerging from their Latin and Greek, no doubt headed for the playing fields, there to prepare for some future Waterloo.
At Windsor the neatly furled standard above the Castle indicated that Her Husband and She were away North, slaughtering the Hibernian pheasant. On the quayside, where we awaited our boat the merry throng of blue-rinsed matrons and young folk made an animated and colourful scene in the bright sunshine. At 2.30 we warped out into the stream and headed slowly East to Romney Lock and thence by a series of convoluted loops towards our destination down river. On the North bank elegant mansions adorned with wistaria and virginia creeper and cedar crowned gardens gave place to little weekend cottages, built before the war for the price of a TV set and now no doubt worth a Yuppie's ransome. On the South bank no houses exist before Old Windsor, but everywhere the stately, weeping Willow giving brooding shelter to Rat and Mole.
From the bank a pair of herons, disturbed by our passage rose in the air and flew lazily away across the fields. Seated in the bow, soothed by the drowsy warmth and the lapping of the water it seemed to me a recreation of one of those halcyon, pre-war days (that some of us can remember) when the sun shone from May to October and life seemed simpler, safer and nicer. All that was wanting was a consort of lutes and viols to sing us on our way.
But nothing is forever and soon we were arriving back in the real world once more. Ashore at Runnymede, memorable for the deal made by Bad John and his Barons (the TUC of 1215) at the expense of us ordinary folk and under that strange monument to JFK, memorable for very little of note, we crossed the fields to Egham - said by friend Cobbett to be "a more ugly country . . . would with great difficulty be found in England". Here we parted company with George who broke away to make his solitary way to far Weybridge.
The rest of us rode on together in a dream of contentment to Ottershaw where I left the company to find my own way home. It had been only a very small odyssey, but to us a rare and perfect experience in the best of company. Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new.
And so - as Mr Pepys would say - to bed.
John Ostrom September 12th, 1988.
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THE BRIGHTEST THING ON THE STREETS THIS WINTER?
Chris Juden remarked about 18 months ago that my habit of changing from using dynamo lights in summer to battery lights in winter was the reverse of the practice adopted by most people who use different systems in summer and winter. There is a reason for this.
I first became dissatisfied with Every Ready battery lamps about 14 years ago, mainly because they were not very reliable or very bright. The Miller dynamo system I replaced them with had two disadvantages. The absence of lights when stationary made turning right off busy roads in the evening even more difficult. Also, I was mostly riding in towns at that time and in towns you need lights so that you can be seen by other road users and not so you can see where you are going. The usual dynamo set up of 3W front bulb 0.5W rear bulb didn't seem very sensible from this point of view.
Then I saw an advertisement in an electronics magazine for nickel cadmium rechargeable batteries. (In those days, children, you couldn't just walk into Boots or Smiths and buy NiCads.) These batteries were nominally 1.2V 4Ah so I bought 5 to give 6 volts to run the dynamo lights. I carried the batteries in a pannier bag and used a small circular 3 pin plug and socket combination to connect the batteries to the lights. This arrangement has the advantage that it is impossible to leave the lights on accidentally if the pannier isn't left on the bike. Also, when the bike was stolen, I didn't lose the batteries. This is more useful than might now appear as the batteries then cost £20, much as they do now, and the bicycle £50.
This is basically the system I have continued to use in winter although I have changed the lamps and the bulbs. First to an Every Ready Frontguard and Pifco rear lamp fitted with Every Ready 5.4V 0.54A krypton bulbs and two years ago to Ever Ready Nightriders with 6V 2.4W halogen bulbs front and rear.
It is not recommended to discharge multicell NiCad packs below about 1V per cell and on this basis a 4Ah pack will run the lights for about 4 hours between charges. This is more than sufficient for my 40 minute ride home from work or the hour or so ride home from Addlestone or Rowledge on a Sunday so I usually only charge the batteries 3 times a week. One problem with the system is connecting the batteries in the pannier bag to the lamps, especially as I prefer not to leave the lamps on the bike. At the moment I'm using 3.5mm jack plugs and line sockets as connectors but these do need occasional attention and sometimes replacement to keep them working properly.
I consider the main disadvantage of the system to be the weight of the batteries, which is slightly over 2lbs. And that is why I change to using a dynamo system in the summer. I feel the extra weight of the batteries justified in winter when I use the lights every night but not in summer when I may only use them once a week or less. I tried the Byka rechargeable front lamp with the dynamo system in the summer of 1987 but this year I went back to using my modified Nightrider front lamp because it is considerably brighter and cannot be switched on accidentally when being carried in a pannier or pocket. The modifications consist of replacing the standard bulb with a 6V 2.4W halogen and fitting, where the batteries should be, 5 AA NiCads, a switch, a fuse and the circuit board from a Pifco battery backup unit for dynamo systems. The front lamp is connected with a 3.5 mm stereo jack plug and line socket to the dynamo and the rear lamp. Having the electrical connections separate from the physical mounting does not look as elegant as the combination of the two used on the Byka front lamp but I find it easier to use. The batteries are not charged by the dynamo, as they are in the latest Byka system, so I have to remember to charge them occasionally using a mains charger. This is not a serious disadvantage, after all, it's not a disaster if the battery backup system does stop working. Indeed, some people would question whether a battery backup system was necessary at all. My view is that much depends on when and where you are riding at night. I would feel distinctly insecure using lights that went out when I stopped for riding home from work in winter. In summer I have done the same journey after dark and not noticed that I hadn't switched the battery backup on until I stopped outside my house because with much less traffic about I hadn't stopped anywhere else.
I have also tried the Sanyo roller type dynamo designed to mount under the bottom bracket. This worked fine when mounted above the front wheel on a Blackburn low rider front carrier but slipped a lot in the wet when actually mounted under the bottom bracket. I am now using a Union bottle type dynamo which does not slip when wet and gives more light at low speed than the Sanyo.
And finally, if you were wondering about the title, Every Ready Ultrabeam lamps were not, contrary to what the ad claimed, the brightest thing on the streets last winter.
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 10 January 2006.