"The West Surrey Cyclist" - July - September 1995

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Contents:

Front cover - very similar to Issue 1
Inner front cover - advertisement - Wykes Bikes
Editorial - by David Nightingale
West Surrey District Association Officers  1994-95
A Weekend in the Cotswolds - by Heidi Powell
Wales 2 - West Surrey 0 - by Roger Philo
Guidance on Safe Cycling on Club Runs - by Roy Banks and Harold Coleman
A Coach Tour of the Isles of Scilly - by Marguerite Statham
List of tea rooms, cafés etc. - compiled by Marguerite Statham and Russ Mantle
Events July - September 1995 - the Runs List
For Sale
Notice of sponsored ride - Tour de Kent 95
Notice - Downslink 60 km Roughstuff
From One of the Grey Panthers
Half a Cream Tea
Appeal for wool - by Marguerite Statham
Information on St. Sprockett from John Ostrom - (revised in 2004)
The Friends of the Earth Bike to the Future - by David Nightingale
A Ride to Oxfordshire using part of the Oxfordshire Cycle Way - by David Nightingale
Cycle Ways List - by David Nightingale
Information for contributors to "The West Surrey Cyclist" - by Chris Jeggo
Outer back cover - advertisement - Acorn Cycles

Selected items transcribed from the original printed copy:


EDITORIAL

Well here we are again, with various articles, some very inventive, by some of our cycling scribes.  The print is in some cases larger, where Ed has typed in the details.  This is obviously unfair to magnifying glass manufacturers but easy on your eyes.

The nights will soon start drawing in so you will eventually need to get your lights out...please let me know which batteries you will be using so that I can take out shares....!!!  Do you get the feeling Ed is short of ideas as to what to write in the Editorial for this issue...

Ed would like to issue an APB on any articles for the next issue as Ed had to start writing some for this mag  aghhh...Thanks to all those who contributed to this issue, and Ed's apologies for missing out information from the previous issue plus a few errors.  Hope you all enjoyed the Guess the Tearoom Name Quiz.

The Tour de France will soon be on Channel 4, should be fun!  The sun is strong at this time of year so take care to avoid being a beetroot on a bike!  Take suncream with you on a ride as you may need to reapply it, even on a dull day the sun can still burn, and the clouds can move.  Sunglasses are also important to protect your eyes, make sure they conform to the British Standard.  Latest information suggests that dark glasses that cause the pupils to dilate, but which don't block the harmful rays are worse for your eyes than no sunglasses.

Happy cycling   Ed.


West Surrey District Association Officers  1994-95

Same as in the January issue except that there are no longer Thursday evening rides in the Woking area, so the leader's details have been deleted.


A weekend in the Cotswolds

When I first joined the Woking Wobblers - sorry Wayfarers, I heard someone talk about a "Ladies" weekend.  It sounded intriguing, especially when I heard that it was meant to be a tea to tea ride, stretched over two or three days.  So without hesitation, I asked Marguerite to bear me in mind when it was coming up.  Anyway the date was set and I committed myself to come;  it then turned into an All-comers event.  Obviously just as well, because we seemed to need these menfolk to keep us in check!!  Take the first day's ride on Saturday the 12th of May.  I had arrived the night before to find Marguerite and Harry as well as Marion and Les sitting in the cosy restaurant of the Moreton House guesthouse.  They had just finished their meal and were enjoying an after dinner coffee (I did not check if it contained anything else) and were then going to set off on a pubcrawl!!

Well, I declined to join them, having only arrived back from the States that same morning and was badly in need of some sleep.  All rides for Saturday were scheduled to leave at 10am sharp, or so it said on the handouts.  Not wishing to be late, I woke nicely in time for breakfast and even managed to catch the bathroom, got ready and went down - only to discover that I had set my watch for an hour too early.  So I went back up again and had time to study the route for a change.

The day looked beautiful and all present (some 18) were trying to organise themselves into groups.  I decided to join the "A" group consisting of Margaret, a friend of Marguerite's from her End to End tour in 1993, Hamish and Ken and led by Marguerite.  We set off for Evenlode and soon passed a magnificent bluebell-wood.  We had to stop to take photographs even though we had hardly ridden a mile.  Continuing along the route worked out by Geoff Taylor we stopped at a tea place in Milton-u-Wychwood.  This was the stop intended, although the route-sheet described it as being at Shipton-u-Wychwood.  This would not have been a problem, but for the fact that Roger was actually trying to catch us up, having come especially for the day before going on the DA 150km ride the following day.  Blissfully unaware that we were sitting in the very impressive conservatory of the place where Roger would not have expected to find us, we consumed the very nice tea and coffee and presently continued on our route.  Less than a mile later, we spotted a cyclist ahead and hoped it would be Roger.  When he did not respond to our shouts we almost gave up, but he finally heard us and joined us for the rest of the day.

At Swinbrook Roger actually dissuaded Marguerite from taking a route up a 1 in 6 or thereabouts and continue along the original route along the river Windrush as far as Little Barrington where we stopped for lunch.  Suitably refreshed, we then continued as far as Turkdean where a slight error of mapreading led us to follow a D road, with hairy descents and most strenuous ascents to follow and far more suited to mountain bikes.  So much so that Roger was seen to push his bike uphill - only because of lack of traction of course-!!!  Having survived that bit I was ready for tea and soon spotted a sign with that invitation.

At the end of a short track was the farmhouse where we were mistaken as an expected group of 9 cyclists.  Realising the mistake, she was not at all keen to welcome us, but eventually served a very plentiful tea.  As we now realised that time was running out and we ought to get back to base as quickly as possible we departed trom the route and went via Condicote to Burton on the Hill and there joined the A44 on a very long descent.  Halfway down this very busy road Marguerite's map decided to take flight and landed right in the middle of the road.  Brakes screeching, cars swerving and the map was retrieved.  By now it was about 6.15pm and dinner was to be served at 6.30pm.  Marguerite's information sheet proclaimed that there would be ample time to recover and get ready for the evening meal, expecting to be back at about 4.30.  We actually arrived back at the guest house 8 minutes late and were not popular!

The next morning the rides were scheduled to start at 9.30am and would you believe it, this time I over-slept and then could not get into the shared bathroom.  Consequently, I arrived for breakfast just as everybody was ready to leave for the ride.  Kind as everybody was, they waited for me and we had a photo-session with us all cramming onto the four poster bed.

As for the actual rides for Sunday, Hamish led the A group (same as day before minus Roger) and Marguerite was allowed to "enjoy" her day out.  We headed off for the northerly part of the Cotswolds towards Snowshill, a most beautiful, sleepy and picturesque village from where we descended to Broadway and coffee.  Marguerite and I were apparently competing for the fastest speed down that long hill, and needless to say, she won, clocking up 44mph!!  After lunch at Welford we departed from the route, avoiding Stratford, instead circling it to the north and returning to Moreton in plenty of time for dinner, which I did not have.  Instead, I set off for home with Anke as my captive passenger.  Chatting in our native tongue, the time and miles flew past.  How quickly we had progressed and arrived home became apparent to me only after arriving at Anke's house.  She was quite shaken by this experience and probably vowed never to get into my car again.

All in all, I had a wonderful weekend in some of our most glorious countryside, but this was not it - only joking!!!

Heidi Powell


WALES 2 - WEST SURREY 0

That was the score when Bob and I attempted the Brian Chapman Memorial Ride, which starts from Chepstow, crosses Wales diagonally to Anglesey and returns to Chepstow.  Nominally a 600km Audax, it was, according to the route sheet actually 630km, and it also had at least 5040 metres (16 535 ft) of ascent.  For two riders, who last year had had only an hour and 50 minutes to spare on the flattest 600km (600 actual not just nominal) Audax on the calendar, it was, perhaps, an ambitious target, but if we didn't start we definitely weren't going to finish.

At 06:00 Bob and I along with about 120 other riders left the Castle car park in Chepstow on the 72km first leg to Bronllys, which is about 8 miles NE of Brecon.  We did not ride together as we have different riding styles for longer Audax events, I start off faster and slow down more later on than Bob and I usually need to stop and sleep at some point which Bob doesn't.  The weather was dry and fine, if not very warm, and remained so for the rest of the ride.  The only concern I had about the weather was the northwesterly wind, which was not ideal for a ride from Chepstow to Anglesey.  This concern was removed for quite a while when Dave and Pam Pilbeam overtook me on their tandem a few miles after the start.  I can't in general shelter from the wind on hilly events by tagging on to a group because most riders climb faster than I do.  However, tandems tend to be slower on climbs, so I got on to the Pilbeams' back wheel to see if I could stay with them.  On the flat they were travelling faster than I could manage on my own but not fast enough to give me problems staying behind them, and on the climbs I was, initially anyway, faster.  I prefer to take at least token turns on the front if I can, but Dave didn't seem interested in following my back wheel so after a couple of tries I stayed at the back.

The scenery on this ride varies from the interesting to the spectacular, and whilst it's true that if you ride at my speed you don't have time to stop and look at the scenery on Audax rides, this doesn't mean you don't have time to look at it.  Riding in a group does restrict the amount of time you can spend looking around but it beats cycling on your own into a headwind.  Organisers of Audax rides also have at times to strike a balance between interest, navigational simplicity and length.  Presumably this is why the ride used the A470 to get from Bronllys to Builth Wells instead of the lanes on the other side of the Wye, which I'd ridden a fortnight before on the Brevet Cymru 400km.  The A470 wasn't particularly busy, which was just as well, because there is no real alternative to get from Builth Wells to Rhayader.  The route continued through Llangurig and followed the Wye to a few miles from its source before heading downhill on the A44 towards Aberystwyth.  I lost my shelter from the wind at this point as I couldn't keep up with the Pilbeams' tandem on the descents and got into the next control, at Tre'ddol about 10 minutes after them.  Riding behind them had helped a lot, I was now 180 hilly and breezy kilometres from the start, I had taken 8 hours 20 min to get there and I'd enjoyed it.

I slowed a little on the next section as I got more tired, the hills got steeper and I was riding on my own.  Even so the climb from Machynlleth round Cadair Idris to get over to Dolgellau wasn't as bad as I remembered it being on the 400 km from Frodsham last year.  The control was actually at the Youth Hostel, which is in a delightful spot a mile off the main road to the west of Dolgellau.  Pauline Porter, the organiser of the ride, and her helpers were ensuring that everyone was well fed here, although I think I got one of the last vegetarian meals.  Suitably fortified, I set off just before 6pm on the 55 mile stage through Trawsfynydd, Penrhyndeudraeth, Beddgelert and Caernarfon to Menai Bridge.  In Beddgelert I saw a group of riders on their return journey - only 50 miles ahead of me.  The sun set as I was riding round the western side of Snowdon and by the time I left Caernarfon's street lights it was almost completely dark.  Reaching the old Menai bridge I was pleased to see another indication that our highway authorities are considering cyclists - under the standard "No Overtaking" sign at the start of the bridge it says "Except of bicycles by bicycles".  The route only just goes to Anglesey, the control at which we turned was a hall about 200 yds from the bridge.  I arrived just before 11 pm and after eating enquired about the "basic sleeping accommodation" mentioned on the route sheet, and was told this was the floor of a room off the main hall.  Nevertheless, as the route back to Dolgellau was 93km I thought I should try to get some sleep before setting off.  This was a mistake as I didn't sleep and it turned out I couldn't afford the time.

I left the control about 12:30, so I missed the views on one of the more scenic parts of the route, the Llanberis pass, although it may have been useful not to be able to see how far I had to climb.  Going up the pass I overtook a trike ridden by Alistair.  Since I'm more used to seeing him on a tandem trike with his father I asked "What have you done with your dad?" and got the reply "He's broken his arm, inconsiderate sod".  After the descent from the pass I had some trouble staying awake and had to stop to close my eyes for 5 minutes or so, although again I didn't actually sleep.  I then joined a group of two bikes and trikie Alistair and rode with them through Beddgelert and on to the retrace of our outward route.  I was still sleepy and by the time I realised the left turn we had just passed might be the road to Penrhyndeudraeth and slowed to think about checking it, the other three had disappeared into the night.  After I'd turned round and found it was the road we wanted, it was too late to catch them so I continued on my own.  Night riding has its points, especially if, as in North Wales, there is almost no traffic and oncoming vehicles dip their lights almost as soon as they come into view.  However, I'm still happier when it starts to get light again, which in this case was around Penrhyndeudraeth.  The climb past Trawsfynydd wasn't as bad as I thought it might be and by 6:15 I was back at Dolgellau youth hostel.

After eating breakfast I tried to get some sleep in one of the dormitories but was again unsuccessful and I set out just before 8am.  The climbs were now a bit of a struggle and I was very sleepy and had to stop once or twice to close my eyes for 5 minutes.  Then, about 6 miles before the next control, at Newtown, I got a puncture caused by a cut in the sidewall of the tyre.  This was a cut and not the infamous Conti sidewall split and was easily repaired with the spare piece of tyre canvas I was carrying.  It was still time lost and I arrived at the control just before 1 pm.  According to the route sheet there were 150km to go, with a time limit of 10pm for the RM brevet and midnight for the AUK brevet.  I knew there were more climbs to come, I still needed to sleep and I was riding very slowly and whilst I might have got in by midnight I was fairly sure I wouldn't finish by 10pm.  As I was riding this particular 600 mainly because I wanted it as a Paris-Brest-Paris qualifier, the AUK brevet was no use to me, and since I had stopped enjoying the ride I saw no point in continuing.  Pauline was now at this control and when I told her I was giving up she told me that Bob had got back in to the Dolgellau control a few minutes outside the time and was also not continuing.  She also said she had no space left to give me a lift back to Chepstow, to which I replied that I couldn't complain about that because the version of the AUK entry form I had sent her still had the words "Entrants must rely on their own arrangements in the event of a failure to complete the course"

This control was at the home of Dave Stokes and I took up the offer of a bed upstairs to sleep for about an hour before drinking more tea and setting off for the station, which was only half a mile away.  The journey involved changing at Shrewsbury and Newport and at Newport I found I had an hour and a half to wait for the next train to Chepstow.  I thought it would be quicker to cycle from Newport to Chepstow than wait for the train and it was, by about 20 minutes.  When I got back to the hotel we were staying at Bob was already there.  He had had an easier return journey as Alistair had also packed at Dolgellau and had phoned his father to come and get him (and presumably the trike) and they had given Bob a lift back to Chepstow.

Was it worth attempting?  The route was interesting, I enjoyed most of it, and I'd like to ride it again, although maybe not with a 40 hour time limit, and you don't have to finish to get fitter by doing Audax rides, so the answer is yes.  And the scoreline?  Well Bob, Eric and I all completed the Brevet Cymru 400 km which crosses Wales from east to west, Severn Bridge to New Quay, and back, so its 3 - 2 on aggregate.

Roger Philo


Guidance on Safe Cycling on Club Runs

Riding with a group of friends is an essential and pleasurable part of C.T.C. membership.  If a few basic rules are observed, group riding is safe and enjoyable;  if not, it can be worrying and dangerous.  The essence of stress free and safe group riding is caring for the rider behind you, and giving other road users clear indications of the group's intentions.

The leading rider(s) must warn the following rider(s) of any dangers  e.g. potholes, parked cars etc., before they are encountered and the warning must be passed down the line to the last rider.  If the rider in front of you suddenly swerves round a pothole, your chances of avoidance are seriously diminished and if you come down, those behind you will almost certainly come down too, some of them on top of you.

The accepted warnings are:-
1.  Pothole The Leader will call "hole" and point down to the appropriate side before commencing to steer round it.  Pass the same warning down the line.  Gratings and manholes are similarly dealt with.
2.  Obstructions (parked cars, skips, projecting trees, pedestrians etc)  A call of "on the left" or "on the right" is appropriate - made of course before the obstruction is reached.
3.  Stopping Never just stop.  Give warning that you are going to stop by calling "Stopping" or "Easy" as you start slowing down to come to a stop gently.  Having stopped, for whatever reason, get off the road onto the verge, footpath or lay-by.  Do not stand in a group half way across the road, and do not stop at road junctions.
4.  Approaching Vehicles When a vehicle is approaching from ahead on a narrow road, the leading rider will call "car down" - he is warning those behind of danger so do not ignore his warning.  Be prepared to single out and pass the warning on down the line.  Singling out can cause chaos unless everyone does the same.  The accepted method is for outside riders to drop back and carefully pull in.  Obviously inside riders must also drop back to allow space for the outside riders.  With a vehicle approaching from behind on a narrow road, the call starting from the back of the group is "car up" after that the procedure is the same as for "car down".
5.  Safe size of a group With ever increasing volumes of traffic, it is felt that the maximum safe number to ride in a group is about eight.  When more than this, it is advisable to split into two groups and either have a different second group leader who knows the route, or leave a gap between the two groups of about 100 yards.
6.  Problems within the Group It is helpful for someone to ride near the back of the group to pass word forward, to the run leader if someone has been left behind, or has a mechanical problem.  If someone has a puncture or mechanical problem, they should not be expected to cope with it on their own.  At least one other rider, who knows the next destination of the group, should stay behind.
7.  Signalling Always give clear hand signals at cross roads and roundabouts for the benefit of other riders and other road users.  Give ample warning when turning left or right.  Be particularly careful when turning right, especially when going from a major road to a minor one.

These seven simple rules make commonsense and are for the mutual good.  None of us wants to be injured, or cause injury to any of our friends, so please keep them in mind.
 
Roy Banks and Harold Coleman January 1995.


A COACH TOUR OF THE ISLES OF SCILLY!

Well here is my Small Coach Tour Operator tour in spite of the fact that I said that I wasn't going to write any more articles for the DA Magazine as I felt someone else should be given a bit of space!

WEDNESDAY  I was collected two minutes early from my home by an "inclusive" taxi and taken to Bagshot to meet the coach.  The first stop was at Farnborough station for a few more people making a total of 22 on a 48 seater bus - so plenty of space.

Shortly after the end of the A303 we stopped at a "Harvester" for coffee before proceeding to the Service Station on the M5 at Exeter, for lunch.  There was only one other coach in the car park so no queuing for food or loo!.  We arrived at the very comfortable "Queens Hotel" on the promenade at Penzance at about 4.50pm which gave me time for two cups of tea before a brisk 45 minute walk around the town bringing back memories, once again, of my End to End in 1993.

Everyone is very friendly and I've already chatted to Vera from Woking who knows Harry, Frank from Mytchett, a couple from Camberley and a lady from Chiddingfold.  Tonight's meal was superb.  I had roast Norfolk Turkey with sausage, bacon and stuffing plus two types of potato with green beans and cauliflower.  All this was followed by Apple crumble and custard.  (A commodity sadly lacking in the Cotswolds in May!)  When I phoned Harry he said that he had eaten a Pork pie!!  I've sat in bed for the last half hour watching Eurosport on Satellite TV and reading my book - what a life!

THURSDAY  Brekky at 8am preceded by a brisk walk along the sea front.  On the bus at 9am;  on the Helicopter at 9.30am and in St. Marys - the largest of the Scilly Isles - by 10.05am.  It was wonderful flying over Land's End in the sunshine.  I did a 5 mile walk around the old Garrison area this afternoon followed by another excellent meal tonight in the "Atlantic Hotel" Restaurant overlooking the Harbour.

FRIDAY  and at the 9.15am briefing we were told that because of the strong winds we were unable to sail to St. Agnes and St. Gugh.  I excused myself, changed into my boots, and walked the 12 miles around St. Mary's Coastal path.  The wind almost blew me over on occasions, the sea was pounding against the rocks and spraying many feet into the air and occasionally across the path.  A wonderfully exhilarating day.  The sun shone for most of the day and when it did rain I managed to keep dry.  When I got back to Hugh Town I decided to walk along the Quay.  As I was returning, and only about 100 yards from the Hotel door, the sea came spraying over the 8ft. wall and I was drenched!

SATURDAY  and we were on the 10am ferry to St. Agnes and St. Gugh.  The boat was small and the waves were large but we all arrived safely.  After a cup of tea in The Turk I crossed the sandbank to St. Gugh and walked round in the opposite direction to everyone else.  Only 3 people live on St. Gugh so you can imagine how quiet it was with no roads.  The distance around is probably about 3 miles.  After a picnic lunch I returned to St. Agnes and went back to The Turk for a drink before a 4 mile walk around the coastal path.  At one point I was chased by a couple of Heifers and and fell over!!  This evening we've been to a small concert given by the Islands' music teacher and his wife.  They played various "historical" musical instruments including Cornett and Cornamuse;  alto and tenor Gemshorns and Crumhorns and a Serpent.  It was a most enjoyable evening held in the music room of the local school.

SUNDAY.  Today we were on the 11am ferry for Tresco.  George, the Proprietor of our Hotel, gave us a 1.5 hour guided tour around the Abbey Gardens which have many South African and Australian plants growing quite happily in the open.  Everyone, except for two of us, boarded the Island Hotel "mini-bus" (which is a tractor pulling a trailor with benches on it) for lunch at.....guess where?...the Island Hotel!  I walked a few miles on the coastal path in the (almost) hot sunshine before cutting westwards across the Island to Old Grimsby and then eastwards to New Grimsby to have a cup of tea before catching the 3.45pm ferry back to St. Mary's.  We took the "scenic route", a long way round to view some of the other Islands including St. Martin and Sansom, before heading out to the Eastern Islands where we saw several seals.  On the way back to St. Mary's some of us saw one Puffin.  The sea was a little calmer today so our small boat wasn't quite so rocky although we did get sea sprayed several times.  After another excellent dinner this evening we had a talk by Peter Robinson on local birds.

MONDAY  and up early to be on the bus at 8.30am to arrive at the Airport in time for the 9.05am Helicopter.  At 9.40am we were on our Truemans coach heading for the Exeter Service Station and then the "Harvester" near the end of the A303 before arriving at Farnborough Station at 4.15pm and Bagshot at 4.31pm where our taxis were waiting.  I was home soon after 5pm.

Truemans certainly run a very efficient "door to door" service.  I shall possibly go somewhere with them again in the future but I won't be recording the tale!

MARION HOULTON AND GILLIAN SMITH WENT TO PARIS WITH TRUEMANS.  PERHAPS WE SHALL HEAR THEIR STORY SOMETIME UNLESS THEY HAVE TOO MUCH TO HIDE FROM LES AND HAMISH!!

MARGUERITE STATHAM
(March 1995)


For Sale

Lightweight Touring Tricycle by Ken Rogers.  20 Inch step through frame;  700c Alloy wheels;  10 Gears;  3 Brakes;
One careful lady owner.  £320.
Sue/Phil - 01483 772008



 
CYCLISTS' TOURING CLUB

 
WEST SURREY DISTRICT
ASSOCIATION
DOWNSLINK 60km
ROUGH STUFF

START and FINISH at NEWLANDS CORNER

SUNDAY JULY 23rd at 10:00 am

DETAILS FROM 01428 724390


FROM ONE OF THE "GREY PANTHERS"

The aspect of life, since retiring, that is most relevant to my known mental and physical discrepancies is the knowledge that two pedals and the vagaries of balance combine to give me, not only forward motion, but friends as well.  I wish I'd known about it earlier in life.

One fascination is that every time I stop at a junction, or slow down uphill, our group changes places and I have someone else to converse with.  This combination of sunlight, shade, bluebells, aroma, sweat, mechanical idiosyncrasy, sudden climatic change, make that law of probability - known as Murphy's - (if you have a sense of the chaotic, like me) one of the endearing facets of life on two wheels.  I'll know more about it once we've been to France and cycled on the other side of the road for a fortnight.

Keep pushing the pedals around and hope that one day I'll catch you up for a brief, breathless, conversation about when our Leader is going to stop and let us catch up and get our breath back for a normal conversation.

Have a super summer and know that I'm always there at the back - somewhere - with my tools!!


HALF A CREAM TEA

You may have noticed that Avenue Nurseries & Garden Centre, between Lasham Airfield and 'The Golden Pot', has appeared in the tea-rooms list.  Chris and Lynette 'discovered' it independently (even independently of one another) one day in June, and its Snack Bar is recommended.  A good cup (a real one, not plastic) of tea costs 40p, and all cakes cost 60p, such as a fruit scone filled with cream and jam.  That's half a good cream tea for £1.


Lili Marlow and
Margaret Statham are
knitting blankets for
Romanian orphans and
refugees.
If you have any spare "Double Knitting"
wool please could you leave it at 74
Claydon Road Woking.
Thank you for
your help
Marguerite Statham


Dear Editor,

Some time ago in a communication to our much respected President I referred lightheartedly to St Sprockett, patron saint of cyclists.  Since then I have been deluged with requests for more information about this semi-legendary figure from our members and I felt that I owed it to both of them to shed what light I could on this little known subject.  It was at this point that I realised that I, in fact knew almost nothing about the subject.

However help was at hand.  My great uncle Professor Sean O'strom, who is as everyone knows Professor Emeritus in Antiquarian studies at Trinity College MacGillicuddy.  He is author of that definitive study "The wheel from Archimedes to Brunel" (MUP 54 vols folio).  When it comes to locomotion O'strom is, as they say locally a bighe uillhhe.  When I contacted him he was in Lhasa researching the prayer wheel in mediaeval Tibet.  In spite of being up to his ears in yak droppings uncle was kind enough to fax me the memorandum, which I reproduce below.  Uncle asked me to point out that it was written without him being able to consult his own notes and other sources.  Nevertheless he feels that the information given is broadly correct.

Father O'strom's paper

Saint Sprockettus was a sixth century Irish monk, who was before his transfer to Rome at an undisclosed fee called simply Fergus Sphroadhcathe (simplified spelling) in his native Kerry and known to his very few friends as "Sprock".

Much midnight oil has been burned and numerous learned papers published on the question whether Sprock was inventor of the first bicycle.  With regret I have to tell you that recent delvings into the arcane archives of the Emperor Hadrian's administration have revealed that the Roman army had a device called the Ordinarius - colloquially known as the Denarius or as we would say "The penny".  Unfortunately the Roman exchequer had no farthing so that it was inevitably a one-wheeled contraption and as such extremely unpopular with the legions, who had to be regularly decimated in order to persuade the men into the saddle.  The Denarius was hazardous at the best of times and in the 2000 stadii down-montus race quite lethal.  In any case the Romans were pretty thick (having pinched most of their ideas from the Greeks) and they never saw the potential of the Denarius, which fell into disuse at about the time that Rome itself did.

We move on a hundred years or so.  Legend has it that Sprock was despatched to Ireland by Pope Gregory the Great to keep an eye on St Patrick, who was suspected of heresy.  Being allergic to horses Sprock managed to locate a dilapidated, though late model Denarius for his journey over the alps.  It is said that Sprock, like St Paul on the road to Damascus was smitten blind by the Holy Spirit, though other authorities insist that his blindness came from a more mundane spirit.  Be that as it may, on recovering his composure immediately that he must add a second, smaller wheel to his Denarius, thus achieving much improved stability.

Arriving in Dublin (in good time since it was not to be built for another two centuries) and having dealt with the heresy thing he lost no time in setting up a factory to make his mark2 Denarius.  Some time later he added a primitive handlebar, which was a great improvement over the leather reins used until then.  These advanced machines were exported all over Europe by his agents the monks of Iona under the frightfully ingenious brand name "Iona bicycle".  For many years all went well and it is believed that Sprock retired to a tax haven in the Isle of Man, though this is controversial.

Now the trail becomes fainter.  Some sources suggest that Sprock's patent was filched by St Pat, who sneakily began producing an inferior model using nasty and unreliable components from Gaul, which gave the trade a bad name.  There could only be one end - they both went bankrupt, were nationalised by Canute, privatised by King Alfred and re-socialised by Edward the Confessor.  In any case the market had collapsed, since the Anglo-Saxons, who all had disgusting table manners abandoned the sensible Roman policy of spending 110 per cent of the revenue on building huge eight lane sandal ways all over the country and spent the revenue guzzling and quaffing mead and pinching other men's wives, thus allowing the splendid sandal ways to rot.  Riding the Denarius through forest and fen was no big deal, though by this time of course Sprock had long gone to the great Velodrome in the sky.

Here and there in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Domesday book there are tantalising references to the Denarius, but these must be treated with caution.  In an unpublished manuscript by Geoffrey Chaucer there is mention of a very parfit gentil peddler on his way to Canterbury, but this may be a mis-spelling of pedlar.  We just do not know.  Some say that Edward the Third and his son Bolingbroke swapped their horses for Denarii at Crecy and Poitiers, but that the French claimed that this was unfair competition and obtained a ruling in Brussels outlawing its use in warfare, whereupon Ted went north to macduff up the Scots and Bolingbroke retired to Brookwood where he can still be seen, if you have the time and don't mind waiting.  Richard the Third, having failed to acquire a horse for an outrageous price at Bosworth was obliged to purchase a Denarius, of doubtful provenance from a local dealer, one Sir Roger de Philo at an even more atrocious price.  Predictably the machine fell to pieces with terminal results for Dick, who finished in a ditch.

This is the last authenticated historical reference to St Sprock's invention.  There remains only the question of his canonisation and on this the Curia is less than helpful, denying that Sprock was ever formally elevated to sainthood.  My own belief (and here I may be putting my status with The Holy See in jeopardy) is that Pope Borgia had all the records expunged so that he could market a machine of his own.  This was to have been a truly Catholic device with of course three wheels, sold for some reason under the name the Athanasius.  His plans did not prosper.  It is said that he despatched a rascally Portuguese monk called Bonifacio Shimano to the Far East to introduce the Athanasius and Christianity to the heathen.  This was a mistake, since in Japan Christianity proved a real turkey, but the Japs quickly copied the machine and exported improved versions worldwide.  The Italian bike industry has never been the same.

As you will gather there is still much work to be done in this historical field and I hand it on to younger members, who will it is hoped take up the acetylene torch.

Father Sean O'strom SJ.

Sadly, since receiving this document I have learned that Uncle has been transferred to Pekin as guest of the Chinese government, having unwisely announced his belief that the wheel was not invented by a Chunking apothecary in 50,000BC.  He is now helping the Pekin Police (or the Beijing Bobbies) with their enquiries.  I hope to have better news shortly.

Regards,

John


The Friends of the Earth Bike to the Future......

by Ed

Sunday morning 8.15 Ed zooms off to the start at Bushy Park, picking up the Basingstoke Canal at Sheerwater.  The canal path eventually joins the Wey navigation via a footbridge, the path along the Wey is not such a good surface, and in a few places is narrow and slopes down to the bank!  The scenery is very nice and Car free!

Is there a good coffee stop in Weybridge ????  From Weybridge to Hampton Court I followed the road by the Thames.  There was a steady flow of FoE cyclists going in the opposite direction, they let people go in groups of thirty.  There were some interesting species of bicycle, two young ladies where in a recumbent tricycle, which was heavily decorated!  Some of the cyclists must have been very glad of the Pit Stops, they were well attended..one of which was at Burrow Hill cross roads in Chobham.

On the leaving the Start I saw the Docklands CTC ride led by Ken going in the opposite direction.  Apparently they had to avoid being re-directed onto the FoE ride!

Channel 4 were at the finish providing some interesting quiz questions..about Sonic the Hedgehog and also the Tour de France.  The end of the ride was in Eton on the field next to the river with a view of Windsor Castle.

It was a great 30 mile ride...all in aid of FoE and their campaigns to save the environment, eg the current plan to widen the M3 through Chobham Common.  FoE are very Pro cycling and encourage people to cycle.

Bike to the Future is a yearly event held in May, for more details contact Friends of the Earth, 56-58 Alma Street, Luton, LUl 2PH.


A Ride to Oxfordshire using part of the Oxfordshire Cycle Way

by Ed

A while back some friends invited me to visit them at the weekend.  They had moved to a Thatched cottage in Oxfordshire.  This sounded like a great idea.  So getting the maps out I planned a route.  Oh no !! He's going to list every turn in the road....Ah no...if you do want to know more please ask.  Here is a summary.

The route was..Sunningdale, Waltham St Lawrence, Wargrave, Henley on Thames and from there the Oxfordshire Cycle Way as far as Christmas Common, from where I went down hill to Watlington.  The Cycleway was brilliant, it followed single track lanes, lanes which ended in bridleways through Forestry Commission land and also used part of the Oxfordshire Way (LDP).  Most of the surfaces were dry even though it had rained hard on the Friday and was still spitting on the Saturday morning.  The scenery was great, although there were some long climbs...which with full panniers, slowed me down a bit!  There were a few busy places, on both days I met other cyclists on the route.  I have previously used the Oxfordshire Cycle Way to get from Henley to Pangbourne (nr Reading) which was also excellent.  Copies of the Oxfordshire Cycle Way are available from:

Tourist Information, Oxford City Council, City Secretary & Solicitor's Department Information Centre, St Aldate's, Oxford, OX1 1DY.  Tel. 01865 726871   The cost was 50p


Cycle Ways List

Get Cycling in Surrey
From:  Libraries
Map Cost:  Booklet ISBN 0 946840 407
Signposted routes:  No

New Forest Cycle Route (The)
From:  Tourist Information Centres in Lyndhurst and Ringwood
Map Cost:  ?
Signposted routes:  ?

Oxfordshire Cycleway
From:  See article above.
Map Cost:  50p
Signposted routes:  Yes

West Dorset Cycleway
From:  Tourist Information Centres, also....
    CTC HQ, and West Dorset District Council
Map Cost:  20p, this was some time ago!
Signposted routes:  ?

West Sussex 4 route Packs
From:  County Planning Officer, Planning Dept., Tower St, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1RL  Tel 01243 752059
Map Cost:  £1.20/pack
Signposted routes:  ?

Wiltshire Cycleway
From:  Tourist Information Centres
    Bath 01225 462 831
    Devizes 01380 729 408
    Salisbury 01722 334 956
    Swindon 01793 530 328
Map Cost:  Free
Signposted routes:  Yes

And there's more .... Ed thinks some other information may have been omitted.  Sorry!  This was done elsewhere so Ed did not have all the information to hand.  I hope the larger print size and better quality is some consolation.


Ink Jet Cartridges & Black Ribbon Users !!!

Please note by phoning 01276 857896 you can save £££'s and the planet...ish by getting your cartridges refilled and your ribbons re-inked, at very reasonable rates !!!


"The West Surrey Cyclist"

Information for contributors

I get the magazine printed in the Print Room at work, but it is up to me to prepare the masters.  This mainly involves reducing the A4 originals to A5, and there are three potential problems:  type size, margins, and print quality.

This page was printed on A4 with a 10 character per inch font, which gives acceptable results when reduced to A5, but anything significantly smaller is getting difficult to read.

A half-inch margin becomes a mere third of an inch after reduction, taking the text into the parts which the photocopiers I use cannot reach reliably.  If I have time I reduce the size of the image to widen the margins (exacerbating the readability problem), but otherwise I just have to hope nothing will get cut off.  Sometimes it does, so please leave 1" (2.5 cm) clear margins all round, as done on this page.

Black on white is much preferable to darkish grey on lightish grey.  By fiddling with the photocopier controls I can sometimes rescue pale print, but only if the paper is white, clean, not creased, and printed on one side only.  Please take note.

It is easy for people who use word processors to improve the appearance of their copy.  In our magazine, articles are usually allotted a whole number of pages, so an article which occupies, for example, about two and a half pages can be expanded to a 'prettier' three in a number of ways:  write some more text, use a larger font, move the margins in a little, put more space between paragraphs and force page breaks to come between paragraphs rather than within them, put more white space around the title, add section headings, or add a drawing.  Converse techniques, except those which jeopardise readability or margins, can be used to reduce two and a bit pages (say) to two.  Alternatively, if you supply your copy to the editor (or to me) on diskette (preferably in WordPerfect, but I can cope with others), I can do this for you.

Another advantage of supplying your copy in machine-readable form is that if any typographical or other errors have slipped through I can correct them and re-print the article.  Also, it is possible that the laser printers available to me at work are better than what you normally use, giving another possible benefit of submitting your copy on diskette.  Feel free to phone me to discuss formats, etc. on Woking (01483) 755434.

With a modest expenditure of time we can improve the appearance of our magazine considerably.  Thanking you in advance for your co-operation,

Chris Jeggo.


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Web page by Chris Jeggo.  Last revised:  15 November 2006.