"The West Surrey Cyclist" - January - March 1999
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|CTC Councillor (West Surrey, East Surrey and West Sussex)|
|Hardriders||Clive Richardson||01428 724390|
|Intermediates||Bill Mann||01252 524509|
|Cranleigh & Villages Wayfarers||Trevor Strudwick||01483 272387|
|Farnham CRN||Ken||01252 724433|
|Guildford & Godalming Wayfarers||Hilary Stephenson||01483 572687|
|Woking Wayfarers||David Nightingale||01483 725674|
|Audax & DATC Rides||Roger Philo||01483 233381|
|Mid Week Wayfarers||Harry Statham
The D.A. Annual Dinner and Prizegiving took place at the Y.M.C.A. at Guildford on Saturday 28th November. Thirty members and guests enjoyed excellent food (the best I've had at any Dinner) and a very happy evening. I do hope that more members will attend next year; I am sure that they would not be disappointed.
The following morning whilst on an intriguing route devised by Ken Bolingbroke, we were confronted by two well wrapped-up gentleman walking towards us. As we passed them one of them looked at us and said 'You must be mad'! The sun was shining, lighting up the Autumn colours, we were happily enjoying the company of our friends and the pleasure of riding our bikes but, presumably because there was a nip in the air, we were classed as 'mad'. I haven't got a name on my modest abode, maybe I should hang a board outside saying 'The Asylum'?
I have been amusing myself lately by upgrading some LED front and rear lamps with better LEDs. The new ones came from Maplin Electronics (telephone 01702-554000) - red PF07 and yellow PF08. I have no means of measuring the brilliance but I think that it could well have been doubled. Allied to which the consumption has been decreased - which must be good. The LEDs are intended for use in 'Visual Displays' in high ambient light conditions. As proof of their effectiveness, whilst on the Seale Valley Road one night recently, I twice had an oncoming car slow down to a crawl upon being confronted by my 'Visual Display' - when was the last time your front light brought that about?
I am looking forward to seeing all the beautiful bright new bicycles which our members will, no doubt, have received from their loved ones at Christmas. When I first rode with the West Surrey one of the regulars was Bob Naris. He was both a keen tourist and a very good racing man. Every year Bob would have a brand new racing bike, fitted with all the best Campagnolo equipment. One year a friend asked him why he always had his bikes exactly the same colour. 'So the wife doesn't know when I get a new one' said Bob. As far as I know she never realised!
By the time that the present Runs List finishes we will be able to think about warm days, blue skies and spring flowers - try to bear that in mind when you are next riding into a chill wind from the North East and the sky is a miserable dull grey. It might help.
Some of you will know since November last year I have become a proud father (thanks to my lovely wife Gill) and so Gill and me do not get out on our bikes as much as we would like. However we do take turns most Sundays, one of us goes out in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Christopher, our son, has already been introduced to the wonderful world of cycling and does not seem to mind sitting in the child carrier on the back of Mum's bike. When on holiday, the whole family hits the road, Mum and Christopher on one bike with Dad on his bike towing Moss the dog in the trailer.
Christopher's legs are obviously not long enough to reach the pedals yet, but we do not want to rush things. I figure he will be riding the Tour De France in about twenty years or so.
I am very grateful to those who have contributed to the magazine. We have our regular reliable contributors whom I can always depend on, but it is always nice to receive articles from first timers. Please, if you have any ideas do not hesitate to contact me. I want newspaper clippings that you may come across in relation to cycling in the West Surrey area - articles on tours you have ridden - letters, tell me about experiences you have had with various cycling products, good or bad.
I look forward to hearing from you.
WEST SURREY DA CLOTH BADGES.IDEAL FOR SEWING ONTO YOUR SADDLEBAG OR CYCLING TOP.
CONTACT HELEN JUDEN. 01428 683302
Ladies Benstead Shield JANE COOK
Junior Benstead Cup JAMES CALLAGHAN
Bernard Howell Trophy - Highest Placed Veteran PETER CALLAGHAN
Bill Inder Trophy - Sunday Attendance Competition CLIVE RICHARDSON
Junior Attendance Cup JAMES CALLAGHAN
George Alesbury Tankard - Midweek Wayfarers Attendance Competition GEORGE ALESBURY
The Bert Bartholomew 100 mile Memorial Trophy HAROLD COLEMAN
The Keith Parfitt Memorial Trophy JAMES CALLAGHAN
|Gold||JAMES CALLAGHAN; PETER CALLAGHAN; HAROLD COLEMAN; PHILIP HAMPTON; DON JONES; CLIVE RICHARDSON; TREVOR STRUDWICK|
|Bronze||KEITH CHESTERTON; RORY FENNER; GEOFF SMITH; HARRY STATHAM; JOHN PUGH|
We have had a successful year with everybody in the group wishing to lead our Sunday rides, giving everybody the opportunity to add new route ideas and destinations. One ride we all enjoyed was through the quiet Sussex lanes to West Itchenor on a fine sunny day in August, stopping for lunch and refreshments at a pub in Dell Quay overlooking the Chichester Channel. We then cycled to West Itchenor through picturesque tracks and lanes alongside the Channel, giving a continental appearance, then on to a ferry boat to Bosham. After disembarking we cycled alongside the Bosham Channel with the sounds of seagulls and the bracing smell of the sea. We then witnessed a stranded car caught by the high tide with the owner frantically baling out water from the interior of his car with the bonnet and boot open to dry out, which added to the afternoon's entertainment. We continued on our way home through Rowlands Castle and the delightful route through Ditcham Park School near Buriton finishing for tea on "Col de out Look"!! On the 13th September we had a very successful trip to the Isle of Wight. Train assisted to Portsmouth Harbour then across The Solent to Ryde on a catamaran. We enjoyed the quiet picturesque lanes through villages with thatched cottages, Victorian architecture and extensive views of the landscape, farmlands, cliffs and sea. We hope to make this an annual event or, maybe, a weekend break during 1999.
I wish to extend my thanks to members of the group for their help and warm hospitality into their homes after a season of excellent rides and would like to extend an invitation from the Hardriders to all West Surrey members who would like to extend themselves a little to come and join us.
Intermediates Reported by Ken Bolingbroke.
Many thanks to Trevor and the other people who have led rides this year. I have not really been fit lately and have not been out as much as in previous years. As a consequence, I have decided that I do not wish to continue as leader of the group in the coming year. I am grateful for the support that you have given me and have tried to make the runs as varied as possible with good pubs and cafes for the stops.
Bill Mann led a good run to St. Mary Bourne which was well attended but was a little longer than usual. My own run to Burnham Beeches was somewhat shorter but unfortunately only two riders turned up. I always like the café at Burnham Beeches where we had lunch on this occasion because you can sit outside under the trees and meet other cyclists for it is a very popular stop for cycling groups. I feel that we could be better supported than we are but, at times, the speed of the group is too fast so that those who like to ride at a steady pace may feel uncomfortable and would be happier to take a few more minutes over the ride.
Midweek Wayfarers Reported by Les Houlton.
We had a most enjoyable year with 67 members having ridden with us. This is slightly down on last year's figure. The highest attendance was 35 at our Christmas lunch at Chobham. The lowest was 9 on May 27th. The average was 16, the same as last year. We had 10 train-assisted rides this year, the most successful, although poorly supported, was to Brockenhurst in July.
Two members of the 'Troika' resigned but Les Houlton continued, ably assisted by Rico Signore. Many thanks to all those who have led rides or helped in any way. At last we have a good compatible group, long may it continue! The George Alesbury Tankard was won by George Alesbury for the third year.
Cranleigh and Villages Wayfarers Reported by Trevor Strudwick.
Sadly I have to say this is a very short report because, unfortunately, our planned rides for the last year have not all attracted the numbers I would have liked to have seen. In fact, only two rides, 26th April and 17th May, had any riders apart from myself and these were friends and members of my family. It is rather demoralising to turn up at the start, month after month, and find nobody there! Advertising has been tried on notice boards in and around the Cranleigh area, but sadly to no avail. I can only assume that the people of Cranleigh and surrounding area are happy to cycle on their own.
Well, I am sorry to say that after three or four years of trying to get this group going, it looks as if we are 'flogging a dead horse' for want of a better expression. What can be done about it I do not know, and sadly it looks as if it is time to call it a day.
Guildford and Godalming Wayfarers Reported by Hilary Stephenson.
Anyone taking a pleasant Sunday stroll through the Surrey countryside might well have glimpsed a contented band of cyclists progressing at a leisurely pace along one of the many lanes and bridleways criss-crossing the county. The group organised rides on a fortnightly basis throughout the year, heading for all four points of the compass. Rides in a southerly direction tended to predominate, but we did make the odd sortie northwards, covering 30-40 miles in a day with relaxing coffee, lunch and tea stops at a variety of venues.
Some rides delivered unexpected surprises, such as coming across the newly opened Ramblers' Rest at Colekitchen Farm one bright spring morning. Other surprises were less welcome, however, such as the cancelled cream tea at Marguerite's special stop in Walderton. One rider had a rather nasty spill on a patch of black ice in early February, necessitating major dental repair work for the princely sum of £1800! It is perhaps worth pointing out that the NHS does not automatically foot the bill and that not all personal accident insurance policies cover dental treatment - something to check when renewing or taking out a policy.
Numbers participating in the rides have sadly fallen over the last couple of years. The best-attended ride in early August attracted twelve cyclists, but numbers were as low as two or three on several occasions. The average number of cyclists per ride was 6.59! Dwindling numbers can be attributed partially to old stalwarts leaving the area, yet we have not succeeded in attracting many new regular riders, despite numerous enquiries and a 40-strong mailing list. Maybe a concerted recruitment campaign next spring could help to swell our ranks. One undoubted strength of the group is the existence of a hardcore of willing leaders. This means that usually nobody needs to lead more than one ride per quarter, thus ensuring a minimum individual commitment and a maximum range of routes. All in all, there have been some very enjoyable rides, providing healthy exercise, delightful routes and scintillating company!
Woking Wayfarers Reported by David Nightingale.
We have had an excellent year, thanks to all the people who ride with us. A special thank you to Les Houlton and Harry Statham who do a splendid job of assisting the leader. We have had an average of 14.63 riders per ride and have seen the return of some riders and welcomed some new riders. We have discovered a new old road and revisited a few that we had almost forgotten about - well the leader had a few memory problems remembering how to get to one of them. Please talk to the leader if you have any ideas or suggestions. Thanks to you all, Happy cycling.
Away Rides Reported by Roger Philo.
The DA's riders have been slightly less active in the DATC than in previous years and at the time of writing the highest placed were Philip Hampton and Richard Phipps at =11th with the team in 4th place. DA riders Chris Avery, Roger Philo and Richard Phipps were to be seen on Audax rides all over the country and Roly Masset was spotted on the 600km from Doncaster, completing his Super Randonneur series.
Over the past year more DA members have begun to contribute articles and letters which has helped to make the magazine a good read. The Editor hopes that this trend continues and that more West Surrey cyclists will put pen to paper and contribute.
We are on the verge of having to consider increasing production of the magazine to meet demand. However, there are costs involved and more advertisers are being sort to help offset these.
My responsibility as a member of the CTC Council is to help set CTC
policy and its budget, set the priorities for the staff (via the Director),
and on occasions represent the CTC publicly. I was put on the Leisure,
Touring and Countryside Committee (LCTD).
I am on the Council to represent your views - please let me know what you think!
February New CTC Director, Kevin Mayne, starts. Forceful, lots of new ideas, experienced in managing and marketing, and a keen cyclist (but uses a lot of "management speak"!) New, simplified membership subscriptions agreed. New CTC Logo introduced.
April. Results of CTC membership survey presented - 50%
of new members own a mountain bike, average member owns almost 2 bikes!
New CTC staff and headquarters organisation agreed. More emphasis on campaigning, off road, and money raising. Front office team to be trained to answer 90% of queries straightway.
LCTD replies to Government's consultation on access to countryside, supporting legislation and asking for access for cyclists on tracks. Also trying to get voluntary access via landowners.
July Agreed to enter into negotiations with London Cycling
Campaign with a view to combining together. (Rejected by LCC membership
Agreed to pursue a united Welsh cycling body.
Agreed on a budget for 1998/9 with a loss of over £200,000. This includes the cost of fundraising staff, who would be expected to generate income in future years to cover this. I pushed hard to get more money for touring activities - partially successful.
LCTD - I helped rewrite CTC policies on countryside, National Parks and AONBs, national trails and ferry transport of cycles.
August I was on CTC's (1st ever) symbolic trespass on Dartmoor to try to preserve cyclists' rights.
October CTC shop concentrates on Mail Order - much smaller display area.
November Agreed to put to AGM a change of the structure of the CTC Council to a Regional one, using the Government's regions for England and separately the other countries of the UK. Regional events would be organised, a regional committee set up and "services delivered regionally". Each Region would have a minimum of 1 councillor + 1 each for Ireland/overseas, Scotland and Wales. On my proposal it was agreed that regions with larger memberships would have extra councillors. The South East which consists of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Bucks, Berks and Oxfordshire, and has 13 DAs would have 3 councillors (compared to its present 4). I used the comments made to me by West Surrey DA members in my arguments - and they helped!
Overall impressions CTC leadership is determined to push forward major changes, make CTC the UK's dominant cycling organisation, respected and seen as working for all cyclists. Council meetings are firmly run, but important papers - particularly finance - are often dropped on Council members at meetings. Committee decisions are not formally endorsed at Council meetings and time is not allowed for discussion. Council needs to decide, but the old CTC membership is in danger of being left behind. We need to ensure that members are fully informed and fundamental changes are widely discussed before being implemented.
Keith Chesterton, 'Firle', Chestnut Av, Guildford 01483 563392 Email email@example.com
There will be 200km, 150km and 100km Audax Rides and a 50km non-Audax
Ride. Organiser: Roger Philo.
These rides will take place on Sunday 16th May and will start from Cranleigh.
Stonehenge 200km Audax Ride and Danebury 150km Audax Ride.
Organiser: Peter Callaghan.
The 200km 'Stonehenge' and 150km 'Danebury' Audax rides will be on Sunday 27th June. On the same day there will be a series of 'Clover Leaf' rides offering distances from 25 miles to 100 miles.
Roughstuff 60km Hard Audax Ride and 50km Easy Audax Ride.
Organiser: Trevor Strudwick.
The Roughstuff rides will be on Sunday 18th July.
Tour of the Hills 100km Audax Ride. Organiser: Harold
The Tour of the Hills will be run on Sunday 15th August.
100 mile and 75 mile Reliability Rides. Organiser:
The 100 mile and 75 mile Reliability Rides will be on Sunday September 5th.
Tricyclathon. Organiser: Roger Philo.
The Tricyclathon will be held on Sunday 3th October and will include a Hillclimb, Freewheeling and Speed judging.
This is the completion of my Trans-America trip.
One of the nicest things about writing up your trip report for the magazine is that it gives you a chance to relive it and in my case it's also a break from the decorating that I promised to do when I got back. Just how to recapture the experience of this second half of my trans-am trip in a page or so. It's impossible! However I can try and recall some influences and a few incidents that made the most impact.
The Rockies dominated this part of my adventure. They dragged us across the wheat and corn fields of Kansas like a giant magnet. Our first glimpse was of Pike's Peak named less than 200 years ago after an army captain who found it when checking just what had been bought with the famous Louisiana Purchase. It was here that we realized just how recent the history of the USA was. We were following in the footsteps of Louis and Clark, who were the first whites to enter this area in 1805. We crossed the Oregon trail where the conditions were so harsh that settlers were reputed to have been buried at the rate of one every 30 yds. That was as recent as the middle of the 19th century. Later than this even there were still Indian wars and we saw many belated memorials to their suffering.
We were to climb to 11,541 ft within the next few days when we went over Hoosier pass, the highest point on our route. We stayed at Breckinridge, a smart ski resort, for a day and rested by going white water rafting on the Colorado river. We certainly used different muscles and it was cool. We mostly climbed at least 2000ft each cycling day from now on until we reached the coast.
Rising before the sun the group, red leds flashing, would be winding along the quiet roads by first light. Thus we hoped to avoid climbing in the heat of the afternoon. The temperatures on the roads were always high 90's or even 100's; records were being broken all over the USA. Some days it didn't work and we would be stopping for water every 10 minutes if it was a long climb with no shade and they often were. Other days we would climb through shady forests in the middle of the afternoon with no problems. Always there was something interesting to see.
In Yellowstone of course there is Old Faithful, the famous geyser, but we also saw moose, bison, elk and lots of wild flowers. The flowers were abundant because of the huge fire in 1988 that destroyed a third of the forest allowing more light through to the vegetation on the ground. Another day we would see llamas or ostriches perhaps, these of course in captivity. Birds of prey were also common, twice I saw ospreys plucking fish from a river. The rivers and mountains were the biggest thrill to me; they were so much larger than anything that I had ever seen before. Once we followed a river for 60 miles or more as it descended a deep valley with no visible habitation anywhere. Lava fields, canyons, painted rocks, fossil beds, these and much else was on the itinerary. We went over Muddy Pass through Muddy Gap, climbed Togwotee Pass, a mere 9658 ft., toiled through Hell's Canyon, a scorching desert, but always it was rewarding either from the scenery or perhaps a wonderful descent with roads so wide and empty that they could be taken at full speed. On two occasions we were able to bathe in hot springs, at no charge as they were not commercialised, and then plunge into a cool river; a few repetitions of this and our aching limbs would soon be back to normal.
The camping was now getting more interesting. We often stayed in National or State parks which sometimes had showers but always had boxes of either steel or wood in which to store our food at night, the steel to frustrate bears, which we never saw, and wood for raccoons and skunks, which we did see. Sometimes we pitched our tents in real seclusion alongside a swiftly flowing river or deep in a forest, and we might have a fire to keep off marauding mosquitoes while we chatted with other cyclists. The drawback was that we would have to do our laundry in a sink and dry our shorts in the hot sun on the back of the bike the next day. We always looked forward to our rest days; we used to meet people on the trail who didn't rest and they were invariably jaded. We would use the time to visit museums, possibly a free concert, always get a really good meal with beer or wine, and might even go for an unladen cycle ride.
My wife (God bless her for letting me go) to whom I wrote every day says that from the letters it would appear that food played a major role in my enjoyment. She is right. We rarely missed any opportunity to obtain pancakes or apple pie and ice cream. The cafes were always very welcoming and the other customers always expressed amazement at our achievement. You can imagine that we used to feel pretty good; stomachs stuffed with food and heads filled with praise.
Astoria, Oregon, our final destination on the Pacific coast arrived all too quickly for me; it was 92 days and 4,400 miles since we had left Yorktown, Virginia on the Atlantic coast. That last night we abandoned our tents for the comfort of a motel just a block away from the fanciest restaurant that would host a group of bearded men escorting a very attractive Californian girl, Sarah, who had staunchly led us across the continent. With our tongues loosened by champagne we relived some of the more amusing incidents of our adventure. Hermine our German lady was once escorted down the prohibited freeway by police cars with flashing lights, she got away with it by pleading her ignorance in very bad English and using German obstinacy. Hermine got lost a few more times but Sarah always managed to find her, she became an expert in handling sheriffs! One evening we had been allowed to take over a school for the night having been forced to seek shelter from a violent storm. We had all retired early having been worn out by the strong headwinds. Lights coming on in the gym woke me up, I went to the door to find out what the disturbance was. A young woman surrounded by youngsters started to explain that they were there to play basket ball, gradually a look of horror spread across her face and she started to usher the children away. The cause was New York Bob across the room rising naked from his sleeping bag. Sarah eventually bought him lightweight psychedelic silk pants to wear at night after he frightened a few other women when we were staying in a hostel. Bob had claimed that pyjamas would overload his bike. On one occasion we were in a restaurant when the waitress told us that on her way to work she had seen this nude cyclist by the side of the road at the top of a steep hill just a few miles away. We then knew that Alex, a student from Florida, hadn't been kidding us when he said that he had been suffering from heat stroke and in order to cool down had removed all his clothes. We were a little more suspicious by this time about bis mental state!
Next day we made our farewells; it was a little sad. The others were flying back to their various homes but for Bob and myself we were setting off on another adventure, albeit for only 800 miles, down the coast road to San Francisco; but that's another story. Oh! How I miss those big blue skies!
As a Swiss national I was very interested in the item "VELOLAND SCHWIIZ International Biketoon" in the Oct/Dec Issue and write to offer some clarification.
The term "Schwiiz" - (definitely not related to "swiz" though the comparison may have certain attractions) is simply our pronunciation of "Schweiz", German for Switzerland. "Schwiiz" is Swiss German, or "Schwiizerdütsch", our local vernacular. To confuse you further: Schwiizerdütsch is spoken in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. As it is only a spoken, not a written language, all our newspapers and books are published in what we call "Schriftdeutsch", the written High German. So the expression "Schwiiz" is a phonetic rendering of how we pronounce it (approximate English equivalent "shweetz"). A Russian professor quite seriously declared that our "Schwiizerdütsch" is the world's most efficient secret language, as only the locals can understand it properly! George Mikes in his book "Switzerland for Beginners" states that Schwiizerdütsch is not a language, but a conspiracy.
A further give-away is the term "Veloland" - in Germany it would probably be "Fahrradland". We constantly borrow and use words from neighbouring countries and languages - after all we have no less than four within our borders. So the use of the Italian "ciao" and the French "merci" is totally current, rather than "auf Wiedersehen" or "Danke schön". We like the little differences that separate us from our big brothers around us - minorities are always a bit touchy about their identity.
About the Veloland cycle routes: roughly five years ago the Swiss decided to create a number of cycle routes to be ready for the millennium (no domes for us). I am happy to say the network is already complete, with nine signposted cycle routes of various grades and interests, total length no less than 3300 km. In addition, bikes can be hired at many railway stations on a daily or weekly basis. A 36-page brochure giving details of routes, hire charges, accommodation etc. can be obtained from Switzerland Tourism in London (for the time being only in either German or French): Tel: 0171-734 1921; Fax 0171-437 4577, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Rico Signore (Italian name, but citizen of Zurich, speaking "Schwiizerdütsch")
Trying to get to Portsmouth was harder than expected, partly because of Stagecoach's new rolling stock which have no guards vans but a tiny section where five bikes can be stacked vertically. There were nine of us.
The crossing to Ryde only takes 15 minutes by catamaran and the bikes were no problem. Then a cycle down Ryde Pier - the second largest in the country - and we were off. It soon became clear that much of the Isle Of Wight was hilly. We arrived in Shanklin for a late coffee. Afterwards we looped round to Ventnor on very quiet, narrow roads, going through Wroxall. The weather by now was warming up after a chilly start and longs were soon put in saddle bags.
The lunch stop was Ventnor, an idyllic spot on the south-facing slope of Boniface Down, well known for its micro-climate. After negotiating the hairpins, overlooking the sea, we stopped at the Mill Bay pub on the front. The sea was warm enough for a paddle, though John Pugh provided the highlight of the day by falling in. Unfortunately Clive failed to get a photo of this.
A 1 in 4 hill straight after lunch caused a few grumbles and then we were off on the scenic coast road to Niton. After that a strong headwind caused difficulties as we turned onto the Military Road. Our glorious President's response to this was to put the hammer down and have a pensioners time trial, ably assisted by Don and Grandad Pugh. The views over the channel were excellent, with the Needles clearly visible and beyond that a long stretch of Dorset coastline, probably, Peter Callaghan thought, all the way to Portland Bill.
After tea at an old farmhouse at Brook the rain came down and we paddled our way to Newport, arriving at Ryde about 5.50 pm. The wooden planks of the pier now being wet, most opted to walk to the end except those of us with the superior control of fixed wheel. We then met Ian and Hilary from the Guildford and Godalming Wayfarers who had taken a direct route back from Ventnor.
A pleasant sunny crossing followed by good train connections and a successful day was effectively over. Clive promised that our day trip to the Isle Of Wight will now be an annual fixture. Lets hope so!
After quick breakfast, stripped off protective packing from bike, refitted pedals, adjusted handle bars, and finished packing panniers in record time to join the late starters on the road. Soon bowling along carrying full luggage for the first time, and just under control going downhill for 5kms to a small dusty village, Alba, for picnic supplies - where we turned off south up into the mountains.
Here the mountain road climbing started, fortunately with good gradients. So for 2 hours we climbed crocodile-fashion with the increasingly familiar tight hairpin bends into the mountains, with little to see except small farmhouses, stunted olive trees, and a few crop patches - in a brown rugged landscape. Fortunately, the sky was overcast - so we didn't suffer too much from the heat, but with others had to walk short stretches and it was a relief to get to the top!
The road down to our lunch stop at a mountain village, Ohanes, was not without problems. Unlike the UK, where one can fly down the hills - with care! - here, it was not to be recommended with a full load, and lots of loose gravel at the hairpins. So we did the descent ... gingerly.
Suddenly round the corner was the spectacle of our first Appuchian/Andalusian village, perched on the hillside, crowned by a large church in its centre, with ubiquitous orangey red roofs and dazzlingly white walls. We were to see many of these mountain villages on our tour - but this was one of the prettiest.
Our small group, consisting of Stan the chest surgeon, 'No Gears' Kevin (more later), and two ladies later to be nicknamed, unfairly, the "Merry Widows" - disappeared into an unlikely looking bar for lunchtime refreshment. Very welcome cervezas (beer) were served by friendly bar staff who offered delectable tapas - which included succulent locally grown olives.
Later, Kevin made himself "at home" by dipping his feet in the local village fountain - fortunately the locals were indoors in the midday heat. (Each of these mountain villages had a drinking fountain - latterly essential for filling/topping up our water bottles - with its supply of normally delicious mountain spring water.) It was now very sunny, making the village even more picturesque.
The afternoon run of 20 kms was relatively uneventful. We were now getting a little more accustomed to the longish climbs, even in the heat (around 75 degrees F), followed by seemingly short descents. However, it was somewhat a relief to reach our destination. We stopped short of the village, where we were staying, for some more liquid refreshment - at a bar in a large hangar - shedlike building in which a local wedding party was taking place. Not sure what the guests thought of the English "cyclistes" in their strange garb.
Laujar de Andrax is a large, somewhat drab agricultural village at 921 metres, but has an impressive town square. Glad that we didn't "rush" to get here with the early riders, as there was not much to see and it was Sunday with everything closed except the small bars.
Bikes were stored in a basement of the small hotel up from the village square, whilst our accommodation was again allocated on a random basis. Kevin and I teamed up together in a simply furnished but airy room.
He was certainly travelling "light" - as he had mis-read the tour instructions (There's a lesson here for all of us?). He had no bike panniers, thinking there was a support vehicle, and therefore had to carry all his stuff for the week in a small rucksack on his back! His bike was also "unsuitable" as he had few gears - and they were mostly too high for the terrain.
Kevin consequently suffered throughout the week, taking frequent stops to recover on the many climbs, and often walked the steeper ones. It suited me as we enjoyed each other's company and we were able to take more time admiring the scenery rather than head down and tackle the climbs more quickly.
Our tour leader Alan did a great job organising 25 orders from the different menu choices at our evening meal, which was taken in a small restaurant overlooking the village square. Quiet stroll and final bar visit before turning in for the night, after a memorable day.
More in next magazine issue ..... Richard Ellis
P.S. When picking up our bikes next morning in the hotel basement, we heard grunting noises, and in an adjacent room found three large porkers - maybe it's still common to keep livestock in homes, but a bit unusual for a hotel?!
A recent survey of UK drivers found that women in the South have less bad driving habits than men in the region. According to the survey men are more aggressive and not as safety-conscious as women behind the wheel. Men in the South are more than twice as likely to brake too quickly causing wheels to lock up. They also accelerate too quickly causing wheel spin. Other bad habits that men have are using mobile phones without a hands-free attachment and allowing youngsters to travel while not secured in proper child seats. Men are also more likely to drive without tax, insurance or MOT.
Only one in four people ever check the tread on their tyres which means there are probably a lot of motor vehicles on the road driven on bald or near bald tyres. Not a comforting thought for us cyclists.
A Cambridge cyclist has been fined for speeding at 45 mph one foot behind a lorry. Police said they clocked him racing along on his mountain bike in the slipstream of a lorry on a country road. The cyclist claims he was only doing 37 mph.
I mended the puncture and forgot the unsolicited advice. Until, that is, I puntured only a few days later coming back from work. I was not happy, particularly since it was dark and had just started to rain. Limping back home I remembered the advice of the old man and decided to sort through my many boxes of bits, mostly bought from cycle jumbles and never used. Success! I found some flint catchers at last and eventually fitted them so that they just skimmed the tyres.
The result? A huge reduction in punctures. The old President was obviously not bonkers after all, despite what people say.
My next job was to acquire more flint catchers for my other bikes. Knowing I had no more, I went to my local bike shop. "Flint catchers?" said the spotty youth, peering from behind an orange full-suspension mountain bike, "What are they?" I eventually found the shop owner who had heard of flint catchers, but he did not stock them and wasn't about to. "There is no call for them," he said, "Anyway most of my customers get me to mend their punctures."
So there we are. Is there a business opportunity here for someone to sell the things? I understand the old President is going to make then compulsory on all club runs next season.
ED (A free puncture repair kit for you, Paul)
We do not have:
Woking section minute book 3 (Feb 1950 - August 1952) or minute book 5 ( April 1955 - August 1961).
We are also missing:
DA minutes from December 1979 till now.
If anyone knows who has them or might have them, please let me know so that I can chase them up. Also, if anyone has any cuttings or correspondence about the DA, could you let me know, especially if you are willing to pass them on.
As well as the records, I have a large number of Bartholomew's 2 miles to the inch maps, and other maps dating back to the 1930's which used to be loaned out to members. They are far too old for that any more. Does anyone know if these have any value, or ideas as to their use?
Pilgrim has a problem with her pedals, the bearings feel a bit rough. I hope they last until Norseman where I can replace them. It is costing $20.00 for a flea-infested caravan tonight. My bum needs a soft bed and I need a good night's sleep. Tomorrow I have a long journey. If I am up to it there are 182 kms to Balladonia. If I have a good day that is not too hot and without a head wind, I may make it in about 11 hours. Then again I may camp half-way depending on how I feel.
I thought I saw an emu today. It may have been my imagination. Barren landscape becomes a blur sometimes in the heat. You would not believe some of the things I have seen (or thought I have seen) out here. At the time, I stopped, rubbed my eyes and looked acutely at the object moving very fast amongst the scrub in the distance. I think it was an emu. Emus are the second largest bird in the world, after the ostrich. It is perhaps just as well that they cannot fly - imagine the damage if one hit your windscreen! Their long powerful legs enable them to travel fair distances at up to 30 mph. Apparently they are good swimmers too. I do not think they get much opportunity to swim around these parts though. Farmers do not like them much and regard them as a pest. This sighting made me think of "Mr and Miss", the two emus who lived in the animal compound at Mundrabilla. I had become very fond of them whilst I was there.
The heat of the day was dampened a bit by frequent showers. It was kind of like riding through a giant sauna at times as the water on the tarmac was sucked back up to the sky. Rode past a very dead and smelly wombat this morning as well as several kangaroo carcasses. Victims of the motor vehicle. Wombats live underground. (They have a similar lifestyle to the badger.) Their tunnels may extend quite deep but usually run more or less parallel to the surface for considerable distances. Sometimes small pits are visible in the ground near the entrance to a burrow. They use these for sunbathing during the day. Only at night do they venture out for food which consists mainly of grass, bark and tree roots.
The youth hostel here is delightful. The dormitories are housed in a 19th century stone building which used to be the shearers' bunkhouse back in 1875. Nearby there is the old cookhouse, built in the same year, complete with wooden stove. The old stove has been superseded by a gas one now, however, when there are enough bods to justify it the old wood stove occasionally gets fired up. Water has to be carried in by bucket. The landscape here is beautiful. I feel like I am in the middle of an old western movie.
Mike my Perth flatmate was supposed to have left me a couple of tinnies here when he passed through. There are no tinnies to be found anywhere. (Mike says that he did indeed leave them for me in the fridge with a notice saying that they were reserved for a mad cyclist called Pete. It seems someone could not resist the temptation to steal them.)
Staying in cabin at caravan park. Posted some clothing to England so as to lighten my load. (Never saw that clothing ever again.) Tendon in right leg is painful and swollen, backside also very sore. I may have to cut my distance down tomorrow.
Norseman is known as Western Australia's "Eastern Gateway". Gold was discovered in the area in 1892 and two years later a horse named "Norseman" stumbled over a large gold nugget, this is how the town got its name. The horse's owner later discovered a rich gold reef.
In a caravan tonight and being invaded by miniature mosquitos with giant appetites. They are finding their way through the insect screens. In desperation I have closed all the windows except for one. The atmosphere in here now is similar to an oven on gas mark 6!
My right leg has swollen and both my ankles look like tennis balls. My bum is no longer sore and despite my swollen limbs I feel very fit indeed.
A bit of a shock to the system today as I cycled through Boulder and into Kalgoorlie. Both of these towns are full of hustle and bustle. After becoming used to a relatively peaceful and almost solitude life I found all this noise and all these people a bit disturbing.
Both of these towns stand next to what was once the richest square mile of gold-bearing earth in the world. Well over a thousand million dollars worth of gold has been removed and there is plenty left yet.
In 1893 three Irishmen discovered gold in the area. This soon triggered a gold rush and thousands of men from all over the world came to try their luck. It did not take long for two towns to form. However, in this land of semi-desert, water was always a problem. A man known as C. Y. O'Connor devised a scheme to supply the goldfields with water. This consisted of constructing a 563 km pipeline which was fed from a reservoir near Perth. The pipeline was a resounding success, but the criticism it received during the construction process caused O'Connor to shoot himself before its completion.
I went shopping today and purchased some new parts for Pilgrim, a new alloy crankset, pedals and bottom bracket. Also I now have some mitts, this should help prevent my poor sunburnt hands from burning even more. My leg is still swollen but not causing me any pain. Hopefully a day off the bike will help it some.
TO BE CONTINUED
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Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 20 October 2006.