"The West Surrey Cyclist" - Winter 1989-90
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Well now that I've got that off my chest I'll conclude this Editorial with a big thankyou to HELEN ( and Chris) for there steadfast work over the last three years in getting this magazine together and out , if it was not for them and a few loyal helpers I doubt if I would be here writing this. Thanks Helen and Chris. Also don't forget this is your magazine any articles , comments , complaints etc that you can supply me with , will be gratefully received .
Finally a Very Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Safe and Prosperous New Year
|President||Mr Bill Inder, 33 High Street, Horsell, Woking Tel. 0483 472074|
|Chairman||Mrs Marguerite Statham, Springwood, Morton Rd., Horsell, Woking GU21 4TN Tel. 0483 763289|
|Secretary||Mr Chris Jeggo, 45 Waverley Drive, Chertsey Tel. 0932 565765|
|Treasurer||Mr Roger Philo, Hunters Moon, Cumberland Avenue, Guildford GU2 6YH Tel. 0483 233381|
|Runs Secretary||Mr Russ Mantle, 68 Haig Road, Aldershot GU12 4PR Tel. Aldershot 28275|
|Events||Mr Ian Parker, 30 Bishops Way, Egham TW20 8EW Tel. 0784 462246|
|Publicity||Mr Colin Harris|
|Hardriders||Mr Russ Mantle (see above)|
|Woking Wayfarers||Mrs Marguerite Statham, Springwood, Morton Rd., Horsell, Woking GU21 4TN Tel. 0483 763289|
|Intermediates||Mr Roger Philo (see above)|
|Guildford Wayfarers||Mr David Whittle, 30 Sycamore Road, Guildford Tel. 0483 576067|
|M.T.B. Section||Mr Ian Parker (see above)|
|Councillor/Librarian||Mr Keith Parfitt, 24 Elmside, Onslow Village, Guildford Tel. 0483 60776|
|Magazine||Mr Ian Parker (see above)|
Congratulations to Helen and Chris Juden who now have a sister for Matthew. Amy Elizabeth was born on 3 November and is now growing fast.
Woking Wayfarers now have 'morning only' rides every week with an additional all day ride on the second Sunday of every month.
The Intermediates have agreed to a temporary slowing down to accommodate any Wayfarers who wish to have an all day ride on the other weeks.
Gill and Ian Draper hope to return, with Christopher on the back, sometime next summer.
Mountain Bike rides on the fourth Sunday of the month. Contact Ian Parker.
Rough weekend on the Isle of Wight on 5-7 May with Marguerite and Harry the new Wayfarer.
On 7 and 8 July try Somerset with Chris and Ann Greening, tel. 04867 2193.
The Church Urban Fund sponsored bike ride raised £257.80. Thanks to all who supported it.
Mountain Bike weeks/weekends based in Catterick, North Yorkshire - Marguerite and Harry are going on 8-10 June. Contact Marguerite for details - how about coming the same weekend?
Home Counties Rally, Overton, Hampshire on 4-7 May - contact Chris Jeggo for details on Chertsey 565765.
International Festival of Cycling in Brighton on 16 and 17 June. London to Brighton ride Sunday 17 June.
Woking Bikeathon in aid of Leukaemia Research, Sunday 29 April.
Ladies Luxury Weekend to the Isle of Wight (details in last magazine) note change of date to 19 and 20 May 1990. Closing date for bookings end of March - only a few places left! Contact Marguerite on 0483 763289.
Jerseys should be ordered by 5 February for the next batch. Long sleeves £14, short sleeves £13, track-top £15, showerproof jackets £17. Embroidery of club name is £3.85 extra. Cloth club badges £2.25. Orders to Marguerite on 0483 763289.
News and Notes is compiled by Marguerite.
|Riders out for some or all of day||23||25|
|Riders out all day||9||10|
|Riders at tea||13||14|
|Total number of riders throughout year||187||158|
The only increase has been in the total number of members riding with the D.A., although only 78 of these managed to achieve double figures in the attendance competition.
The average number of riders with the Midweek Wayfarers increased from 6 in 1987/88 to just under 7 in 1988/89. The average for the Thursday night meeting at a pub remained the same at 6. The Tuesday evening rides have once again taken place from CTC HQ. This year they included our ride organised for Out and About Week which attracted 6 newcomers.
In a reversal of last year's result, the Attendance Competition was won by Roger Philo, 186 points, with Marguerite Statham, 152 points, in second place.
This year's 50 mile Reliability ride was "all change" from previous years: new start time, new start place, new route, and a new rule permitting riders aiming at 4, 4½ or 5 hours to stop for up to an additional 1 hour for lunch at the halfway point. The start was at Pirbright Village Hall at 9-15 am for those aiming at 3½ hours and 10.00 am for those aiming at 4, 4½ or 5 hours. The new route, devised by Roger Philo and checked by Tony Bond, went through North Camp, Aldershot, Church Crookham, Crondall, Well, the Froyles, and the Worldhams to the halfway point at Selborne and then returned via Blackmoor, Headley, Churt, Tilford and Tongham to Pirbright. 18 riders took part, somewhat down from the 23 in 1988 and 24 in 1987, so it appears that some or all of the changes were not popular. Only 4 riders took the full hour allowed for lunch at the halfway point and bought a pub lunch, although another 4 stopped for about 30 minutes at this control. The new format also did not result in the meeting of most of the participants and a considerable number of non-participants at the finish as happened in previous years with the finish at lunch time at The Kings Head in Holmbury St Mary. It did however encourage the Woking Wayfarers to try riding the 50 mile route, although not as entrants in the event, and two of them completed the course. Thanks are due to Keith & Kath Parfitt who marshalled and provided refreshments at the Selborne control, to Bill Stickley and George Porter, who also marshalled at the Selborne control and to Jenny Walker and Chris Jeggo who checked riders in at the finish.
The Stonehenge 200km, again organised by Chris Juden, had an entry of 50 riders of whom only one did not finish. The weather was warm and sunny, with a south-westerly breeze which provided some cooling on the way out to Stonehenge and some welcome assistance on the return journey.
The Tourist Trial, organised and run single-handed by Ian Parker, attracted a disappointing entry of 6 and was won by Peter Bonson of Reading D.A.
The Tour of the Hills was on a new route, devised by Ian Parker, which was navigationally less challenging than the old one but not much less hilly. The event had 40 entrants, of whom 38 started and 26 finished.
The 100 mile Reliability Ride was also on a new route devised by Ian Parker. All riders finished inside the allowed time although the consensus was that the route was in fact 109 miles.
There were 13 participants in this year's Tricyclathon, again organised by Dave and Claudia Whittle, and it was won by Bernard Daws.
Overall placings in the Benstead Cup were: 1st Ann Daws 416 points; 2nd Roger Philo 382 points; 3rd Bernard Daws 364 points. Ann follows last year's success in winning the Ladies Benstead Shield by not only retaining the Shield but also winning the Benstead Cup.
The D.A. again organised a charity ride with the Surrey Wildlife Trust to raise money for the Trust.
Next year is a milestone for the Clubroom since July 1990 will mark its 10th anniversary.
The Christmas tea was held at Pirbright Village Hall, and, as always, was well supported.
|Surrey Heath||-||Chris Jeggo|
Thanks are due to all those who have helped the D.A. over the year - from providing Sunday teas to marshalling at events.
On behalf of the D.A. Committee
We owe thanks to three people who have served us for the last three years: Mike Harlow as Treasurer, Dave Whittle in charge of publicity and Helen Juden as Magazine Editor. We had reluctantly to accept that they were not willing to continue. Maybe they took Tim Hughes' editorial "Wheat, beet and the DA Sec" in the Oct/Nov "CTC DA News" too much to heart. (Nevertheless, much of what he says makes good sense to me.) I hope all of them will consider returning to the Committee at some time in the future.
Ian Parker is now Magazine Editor. Since he is bigger than Helen he should find it easier to twist people's arms. (Stoppit, Ian! Was it 500 or 1000 words? Ouch! OK, 1000!") If you are satisfied with the magazine as it is, that's fine. If you think it could be fatter, or contain more material directly relevant to the DA, or be more interesting, then the answer is in your hands. You all have something interesting to say, worth sharing with your cycling friends, so write it down and send it to Ian.
Returning to the AGM, the next item was the election of Vice-Presidents, who are not Committee members and take no part in running the DA. Rather, it is an honour bestowed on those who have given exceptional service. The meeting voted nem. con. to re-elect last year's V-Ps. Those of you who have not been riding with us long may be interested to know the principal reasons why they were elected. George Alesbury served us well as DA Treasurer for 26 years: during 15 years on the Committee, Keith Parfitt has played a leading role in founding the Intermediate Group and in setting up and running the clubroom, and has also been a CTC National Councillor for five years: Les Warner is a DA member who was awarded the MBE for his distinguished service to the CTC and cycling in general as CTC National Secretary for many years, and who has recently become CTC President. Finally, Jenny Walker was re-elected as Auditor and Keith Parfitt as Librarian. The DA Library includes some interesting books, and a set of Barts half-inch maps which only need to be kept a few more decades to become valuable antiques. See Keith for further information and loans.
The first motion on the agenda was "that the DA affiliate to the Surrey Wildlife Trust", the main argument being that we are strongly in agreement with the aims of the Trust and should show our support in a concrete fashion. The members present obviously agreed, for the motion was carried overwhelmingly.
The second motion was "that in view of the increasing popularity of mountain bikes the requirement for bicycles ridden in DA events (not run under Audax rules) to have full length mudguards be dropped". Picking out the main arguments from a fair amount of discussion, those in favour said that most complete bicycles sold nowadays had no mudguards, many having no means of fitting them, and that it was unfair to exclude their owners from the Benstead Cup competition. Those against supported the principle that mudguards should be used on all DA runs and events: no-one likes getting sprayed from someone else's back wheel, and it is not good for cycling's image for a group of spattered riders to enter a cafe or pub. The vote was 11 all, leaving the decision to me, as Chairman. I followed custom by voting for the status quo, so next year, full length mudguards are still required. If you turn up to an event without mudguards, the organiser may or may not let you ride, but in any case you are not eligible for any award, you will not be placed in competitive events, and you will receive no points towards the Benstead Cup. I think we should all reflect on this subject over the coming year, and debate it again at the next AGM.
The final motion was "that the Woking Wayfarers change to morning-only rides on most Sundays and that it be accepted that the other groups slow down temporarily as riders change groups". Marguerite was not present to propose her motion, but had distributed a written statement. There was vociferous support for weekly all-day rides: a lunch destination should be stated on the runs list even though a leader was not required. An amendment to this effect was unanimously approved, together with a rider that the runs list should carry a statement that DA runs were not guaranteed to reach their stated lunch destinations. However, in Marguerite's absence, the amendment was not formally accepted, and the matter was referred to the Committee. I will report further in the next "West Surrey Cyclist" if necessary, but maybe the January-March runs list will reflect the outcome of the AGM discussion anyway.
Any Other Business started with a discussion of the arrangements for the 50-mile ride. A suggestion from Harold Coleman that it should finish at a pub at lunchtime was agreed, so that start times would revert to 8 - 9 am. Also, the start and finish should be at the same place, or close together, and centrally located, e.g. Pirbright, for the benefit of those who do not want to ride much more than 50 miles in the day. For the benefit of those who do, the tea place should be a reasonable distance away from the finish.
A number of comments and suggestions on the Tour of the Hills were put forward, concerning the route, a possible cyclosportif event, sponsorship, and publicity. Ian Parker will bear these in mind in planning next year's event.
The meeting approved a suggestion from Chris Juden that we should have a special medal struck for the 200km "Stonehenge and Back" ride.
Phil Stickley praised the "Three Counties" sponsored ride and asked that we publicise it.
The subject of charity rides was raised by the reading out of a letter from Marguerite. She asked the DA to organise a sponsored ride to raise money towards a replacement lightweight wheelchair for her son David who competes in international athletic events for the disabled. There was lengthy discussion on how many charities we could support, on how many sponsored rides we could run in a year, on whether we could raise enough money to cover expenses if we ran an event on our own rather than joining forces with another charity organisation, and on other ways of raising money for David Statham. It was agreed that the DA would raise some money for this cause, but not necessarily by means of a sponsored ride, and details were left to the Committee.
The Chairman announced that the Committee were not aware of anyone having done anything daft enough during the year to merit receiving the Wooden Crank award. No suggestions were forthcoming from the members present, so it is unawarded for 1989.
Road Time Trials Council. Membership had already been renewed for 1990, even though no-one was aware of anyone having entered a time trial in the DA's name. It was agreed that renewal for 1991 would be decided by the next AGM.
Chris Juden asked the DA to consider whether it could offer to host the 1993 A.I.T. Rally. The A.I.T would like it to be in south-east England, reasonably close to London. In the past the DA has organised two Home Counties DAs Rallies single-handed, but would probably have to enlist the help of neighbouring DAs for an international one. I think we could do it if we want to, but we need to think about it carefully, and I would like to hear the views of anyone who has experience of large rallies, whether as participants or organisers.
All in all, it was a good AGM, with plenty of useful discussion, and with a number of constructive suggestions put forward.
|Mar||17-20||CYCLEX, Olympia. Possible DA ride to visit the show.|
|24-25||Cheltenham. DAs Conference. CTC National Dinner.|
|Apr||14-16||Easter. St.Lo Cider Meet (Normandy). (DA Tour?)|
|21-22||Dorset Coast 200km Randonnee.|
|29||50-mile standard ride (3½, 4,4½ or 5 hours)||(B)|
|May||4-7||Home Counties Rally, Overton, Hants.|
|5-7||Rough Stuff weekend, Isle of Wight|
|12||CTC AGM, 2 pm, London|
|13||Sponsored ride in aid of David Statham's wheelchair|
|19-20||Ladies weekend, Isle of Wight|
|27-3 Jun||KM 150, 150th anniversary of Kirkpatrick Macmillan's bicycle, Dumfries & Galloway|
|Jun||8-10||Rough Stuff weekend, Yorkshire|
|16-18||International Festival of Cycling, Brighton|
|17||London - Brighton ride|
|17||"Stonehenge & Back" 200km Randonnee||(B)|
|Jul||7-8||Weekend with Chris & Ann Greening (?Somerset)|
|13-20||AIT Rally, Eindhoven, Netherlands|
|14-15||CTC National 400km Randonnee, Essex|
|21-29||CTC New Forest Cycling Week|
|end-Jul - early Aug||Rough stuff tour, Lakes & Yorkshire Dales|
|Aug||4-11||CTC Birthday Rides, Northamptonshire|
|19||"Tour of the Hills" 100km Grimpeur Randonnee||(B)|
|Sep||16||100-mile standard ride (7, 8, 9 or 10 hours)||(B)|
|Oct||6-7||Weekend with Ann & Chris Greening|
|21||Tricyclathon (Hill-climb, freewheeling, pace judging)||(B)|
|(B)||denotes Benstead Cup events.|
Not all events and weekend and longer tours get planned at the right time for their details to be printed in the quarterly magazine, so from time to time during the year a supplementary sheet of information will be handed out. Please will organisers let me know any information, even if very vague with clarification to follow, as soon as they possibly can. Also, I will be pleased to answer telephone queries from people wanting to know what's coming up.
To the mountain bike purists , it is the out-and-out assaualt of rider and machine against all the extremes that nature can provide. The more extreme the terrain the more there obvious delight , the rougher the nature of the terrain the greater the challenge .
Another esoteric breed of user can be observed in traffic congested cities . Using moutain bikes to solve the age old problem of traffic congestion , they use these new mounts to weave in and out the non-moving vehicles , jumping granite kerbs and surviving potholes as though they don't exist. So successful are they , that in places like London they are becoming more ubiquitous than there motorcycle predecessors - an encouraging example of low tech evolution.
To the kids progressing up from BMX's, which so perfectly matches the exuberance of youth with a pair of wheels , the mountain-bike is a natural transistion - streetwise , macho but traffic safe and high performance.
Another growing band of enthusiasts are the roughstuff enthusiasts ( and tourers ) who are finding this new type of bike more suited to there needs. A bike they can take off-road without the fears normally associated with usintg touring bikes off-road.
But more than this , examine any colourful sprawl of machines outside a favourite cyclists haunt, and the chunky, fat tryed, straight handlebarred beasties will be well in evidence . No cycling shop nowadays would be without a selection of prominentley displayed bright liveried mountain bikes . The mount is the message - and it has been the renaissance of cycling and the cycling industry. So much so that in less than ten years , the mountain-bike has gone from freakish West Coast US phenomenan to become the biggest selling bycycle type in the U.K. , U.S.A. and Canada. It has not merely superseaded sales of more conventional machines , it has brought cycling to the attention of a whole new range of consumers who have never before included the sport or pastime in there lives. So therein lies its secret to its huge sucess , the bright eye catching liveries , the big chunky tyres , the ease of using so many gears and the fact that it is so adaptable to a great deal of uses.
So if cycling organisations and bodies wish to survive , they and others must welcome these new cyclists , whoever they may be , with open arms and begin to open there minds against the prejudice's they seem to hold against these upstarts .
In July I had started from home before 6 am on the Saturday and cycled to meet the rest of the party at lunch. For the September tour I rode from Guildford to Alderminster on the Friday, and, stopping only at the Little Chefs in Heckfield and Dorchester on Thames, arrived about 7.30 pm. Marguerite was already there when I arrived, having taken the train to Banbury and then cycled a 45 mile scenic route to Alderminster. (Very scenic, the shortest route is just over 20 miles). After a delicious meal which I was unfortunately too tired to eat more than half of, we discussed Marguerite's idea for a partial reorganisation of the Woking Wayfarers and Intermediate groups. As we talked about how to describe this so as to encourage people living in Guildford to ride with the Intermediate group to a joint coffee stop with the Woking Wayfarers, Marguerite said I should try to attract Joy. I was unable to resist the temptation to misinterpret this comment, which left Marguerite hiding her face behind her hands.
Jean Smith, who had cycled up on Friday and stayed at a youth hostel, joined us after breakfast. Then our tour organisers, Chris and Ann Greening, arrived, took the tandem off the roof rack, and we set off west from Alderminster towards Chipping Campden. The weather was overcast, cool, and breezy but not actually raining and remained so for the rest of the weekend. After a few miles we climbed a hill which Hamish Smith might consider as constituting an "interesting" route. Jean and I arrived at the top sufficiently ahead of the others for me to have time to get my camera out and take a picture of Marguerite and the Greenings cycling past the 14% gradient sign at the top of the hill.
Coffee was again taken at the Badger in Chipping Campden and followed by a photo opportunity with Marguerite outside a shop called Marguerite's which we had noticed in July. We then rode through more "gently undulating" country to Snowshill and lunch in a very crowded pub where Roy Richardson joined us.
After lunch we looked round Snowshill Manor and Charles Wade's amazing collection of... well I don't have space to list all the things Charles Wade collected. The collection includes quite a number of 18th and 19th century hobbyhorses, bicycles and tricycles. Amongst these is a tricycle driven by two pivoted pieces of wood attached by cords to spiral channels on the rear wheel shaft arranged so that the mechanical advantage of the system varies with the rider's leg position. In fact it is an l8th century semi-recumbent tricycle with the l8th century equivalent of a Biopace chainset.
After this visit was the shortest ride I have ever made between lunch and tea, about 2 miles, and that downhill. Riding through more quiet but hilly lanes brought us back to Alderminster. Time for a shower, and a sherry before another excellent evening meal, followed by character assassination of some absent members of the D.A. and then to bed.
On Sunday morning we waited some 20 minutes after the agreed time for Gillian and Hamish before leaving a map for them at the B&B and setting off. I commented that on last year's form, when we were due to meet them at Yeovil Junction, we would probably see them half a mile up the road. I was wrong, it was a third of a mile. We headed for Warwick by an indirect route which did not include a coffee stop, although it did take us past the deer park at Charlecote. We had lunch at a pub a few hundred yards from Warwick Castle and then went for a brief look at the Castle, from the outside. The price of admission and a tea booked for 4 pm at Alderminster deterred us from making any closer inspection. On the return journey we stopped to look at the church in Loxley, parts of which date from the 9th century.
After an afternoon tea fully equal to that described by Joy the tour party split up. Chris and Ann drove back to Woking with Marguerite, Jean cycled off to the station at Leamington Spa and Roy and I stayed for another night. In the morning the rain which had been threatening all weekend finally arrived as Roy set off for the youth hostel at Wrexham and I headed slowly for home. Shipston-on-Stour was being particularly favoured by the rain gods that morning but the Goretex jacket, trousers and socks did their job and I got only slightly damp round the edges, although wearing that lot I found 8 mph to be a comfortable speed.
Thank you, Chris and Ann, for another excellent tour. The B&B, should anyone reading this wish to try it, is Ann and Neil Brown, Bridge House, Alderminster. Highly recommended.
This time I would take my mountain bike. I hadn't been out on it on my own for more than half a day before, so I loaded my panniers and set off a little nervously wondering what I would do if my 'new design' brakes failed or my wonderful indexed gears broke down.
As I can't travel until after 10 am with my Network South East card, I decided to go half a day earlier than planned and so set off early on Thursday afternoon. On the train I 'chatted up' a young man who was on his way to CTC HQ, and later the guard - another young man - came and chatted while he checked my ticket. (I hope Harry the new Wayfarer doesn't hear about this !)
I thought the planks along Ryde pier would be a doddle on my chunky tyres but not so, as they have a raised piece of rubber along the middle which slotted nicely into the gap between the planks and as you all know it's impossible to ride a bike in a completely straight line!
As I headed straight for my open air cafe my ATB started making a terrible noise. Panic! Fortunately it was only the mudguard flap which had twisted itself up under the mudguard, so I pulled the whole thing off and threw it away. Then I discovered that the cafe was closed as it was out of season. I continued to negotiate Ryde and suddenly found that I couldn't freewheel. Extreem panic! Thoughts like 'it must be the new gears' and 'where on earth is the nearest bike shop' and 'why didn't Harry come with me?' sped through my mind. After some lengthy, close, inspection I discovered that the elastic strap which holds the rear panniers had snapped and wrapped itself around the sprockets. Fortunately the clip had hooked itself onto the spoke guard so I was able to release it with a screwdriver. I wrapped my bungee strap around the whole pannier, thinking that that was a much more secure fixing especially for rough stuff. It did cross my mind that the other pannier strap might do the same but I didn't do anything about it. I continued on my way out of Ryde, feeling very proud that I had managed to 'fix it', what would the third thing be?
I cycled through Binstead and stopped on a railway bridge to look at the extension being made to the Havenstreet Railway. A voice behind me said 'are you lost?' and I spun round to see a well seasoned cyclist who now lives near Newport and used to live in Virginia Water. He told me about some of the best rides and the best cafes. I continued on lovely pretty quiet roads and reached my posh hotel in Shanklin. You should have seen the lady's face when I asked where to put my bike! On recovering she suggested the garage, which was perfect. My room had TV, tea making equipment and a private bathroom. I opened all the windows and put the kettle on. Suddenly there was a man outside my window - you can imagine my horror as I was on the first floor. Panic over, I saw a flat roof outside and he was travelling between rooms - I never found out why.
On Friday I had arranged to have lunch with the Vicar of Bembridge. I set off in good time and was cycling along the footpath on the top of the cliffs when I almost collided with a policeman. He assured me that I wasn't breaking the law and that I could follow the path to Sandown, which is what I did, stopping at an isolated cafe on the way. At Sandown I picked up the coastal footpath which took me to Culver Down. It was superb. The wind was blowing and the views were magnificent. I stayed on this path all the way to Bembridge and had to negotiate a few stiles, steps and rough stretches but it was well worth the effort. I didn't meet a soul the whole way; it was so peaceful.
After lunch I returned to Shanklin via Brading, Alverstone, Newchurch and Godshill using minor roads and bridleways.
On Saturday morning I went to the Tourist Exhibition at the Cliff Tops Hotel in Shanklin and picked up alot of information about the island. Then I went to the lunch and I have never seen so much food. It was a buffet with about six meats and twenty salads, you could have as much as you wanted with a cold jacket potato. I sat alone at first and was joined by a lady who lives in the Yafford Mill.
The afternoon coach tour was cancelled because bad weather had delayed the arrival of day visitors. That left me with some time to tour Shanklin on foot looking for a hotel suitable for a wheelchair. The only one with access to the swimming pool and gym was the Cliff Tops costing approx. £36 for B&B, and there were even a few steps there.
On Sunday the weather was still very windy, but dry. I packed my panniers and set off for the Craft Village at Arreton. I was bombing down the High Street in Shanklin and suddenly found that I couldn't freewheel. Youv'e guessed it! My other pannier strap had broken so out with the screwdriver again and on with the new bungee I had bought on Friday in case.
After lunch at Arreton I went to the top of the Downs and followed a track to Havenstreet. After about ¾ mile I came across an isolated farmhouse with a large B&B painted on the gate. I knocked on the door and a very pleasant lady showed me round. I have now booked the entire place for a rough stuff weekend in May.
I arrived in Ryde only to be told that due to strong winds the catermaran had been cancelled and I would have to go on the car ferry from Fishbourne. No problem. I arrived home at about 7pm having had some more eventful and enjoyable days on the IOW.
If you would like to come on the easy rough stuff weekend on 5-7 May, please phone me on 0483 763289. Only 12 places available.
In the event there was no snow last winter and I didn't get to any of the Tuesday evening rides, which I hear didn't include much roughstuff anyway. So by the time of Ian's ride I had owned the bike for 9 months and ridden it back from the shop and on one Sunday when I had an injured hand and wanted a more upright riding position, a total of 50 miles all on tarmac roads.
Ian had originally proposed to travel to Shoreham by train from Woking, changing at Havant. I pointed out that the connection at Havant was decidedly fragile and that the journey would be about 30 minutes shorter if we went via Clapham Junction. This was my only contribution to speeding the day's proceedings, the rest of the time I held the others up by riding very slowly. This was partly because the mountain bike was heavier than my touring bike and the wide, low pressure tyres have a higher rolling resistance but mainly because I still wasn't very confident riding on uneven surfaces.
Apart from Ian and myself our party that day consisted of Marguerite, Colin Harris and Chris Jenner. We got off the train at Shoreham about 10.30 and after a mile or so Ian led us onto a track which went up around the south side of Lancing Hill and east of Steep Down. We came past an area where many model aeroplanes were being flown and turned right on to a bridleway across Annington Hill. Here we were riding at an angle up an uneven grassy slope, which I managed only very slowly, losing sight of the rest of the party before I got to the top. Descending the track on the other side we passed another group of mountain bikers who had stopped to fix a mechanical problem, then, briefly back on road, we headed into Steyning for a combined coffee and lunch stop.
After lunch we left Steyning and made our way on to the Downslink path. Travelling on long distance cycle paths affects me a bit like cruising in narrowboats on canals. They both seem to involve going through places one would not otherwise get to but because very little navigation is required, mostly one just keeps going, I find I have no precise idea where these places are. I think the pub we stopped at just before 3 pm was about half a mile south of Southwater, but I'm not sure.
Except at one point, the path has no features that a mountain bike enthusiast would consider remotely challenging, after all, it is largely along a disused railway and so mostly very flat. Nonetheless, I was still very glad I was riding on a mountain bike and not a tourer and I was riding fairly slowly. In fact, after we left the pub, Ian and Marguerite kept their speed down to mine whilst Colin and Chris sped off ahead and we did not see them again that day.
The section of the path between Southwater and Cranleigh passes through wooded countryside and this was the most pleasant part of the day's ride. It was here we stopped to eat our sandwiches, under a bridge in a cutting west of Slinfold. A little further on we came to the only real test of bikes and riders. The path comes to a point where the old railway went through a tunnel which is not now usable. Instead the path heads steeply up the hill the tunnel went under. The steepness of the slope and the nature of the surface make it difficult to keep riding and in fact the three of us failed this test, we all walked up the hill.
A few miles later we came to the disused station at Baynards and briefly I knew where we were. At this point I discovered that on the mountain bike I could ride over, almost without noticing it, a stone of a size I would definitely want to steer round on a tourer. Somewhere on this section is a curious double deck bridge across a river. I think Ian said the original bridge was considered to require the railway to drop too much so it had been made higher simply by building on top of the original. I believe we were a little south of Cranleigh when Ian tested Marguerite's bike handling skills by stopping suddenly in front of her to point out a heron by some water to our right.
We skirted Cranleigh and continued on the path towards Bramley. I remarked that this route provided a pleasant alternative, for getting from Cranleigh to Guildford, to either the road through Shamley Green or that through Bramley. At least it did on that day when the path was fairly dry. The path finally ends on the A281 just south of Shalford and from there we rode into Guildford where Marguerite and Ian caught the train and I went home.
I think Ian had chosen a good route for someone like me who had never ridden a mountain bike off road before. The Downslink path takes one through some very pleasant countryside and allows one to ride for most of the day without having to worry about other traffic apart from some walkers and the occasional horse. Possibly, for the serious mountain biker, the ride would have been rather boring ,but I enjoyed it.
As overnight temperatures have dropped below freezing in the last few weeks I have used the mountain bike to ride to work, being more confident about riding it on possibly icy surfaces than I would the tourer. This confidence may be misplaced, perhaps I shall know by the end of winter. The only disadvantages I have found in using a mountain bike for commuting are that I am a bit slower and the wide bars sometimes cramp my usual style for getting through traffic jams. I don't think I shall be joining many of Ian's mountain bike rides from Guildford Station, which, bearing in mind the speed, or rather lack of it, with which I ride a mountain bike, he may be pleased to hear. On the other hand, if the Tuesday evening rides from Godalming next year are partly off-road again I will probably use the mountain bike for them.
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 7 February 2006.