"The West Surrey Cyclist" - October - December 1999
|Previous magazine . Next magazine|
Sometimes when I am on my bicycle cycling alone through a quiet country lane I feel like just one tiny object in an infinite universe and then I turn a corner onto a main road and "THUMP", I fall back to earth like a ton of bricks! I thank the heavens for the fabulous network of lanes in this country which allows the cyclist to get away from the hustle and bustle.
By now you have probably heard about THE SOUTH OF ENGLAND MILLENNIUM CYCLING RALLY - organised by your very own West Surrey DA. What a great event this will be. See page 23. Your committee is now hard at work with the planning. Mark the date of this event on your calendar (May 26th - 29th 2000), it is a must. The Merrist Wood College venue promises to be an excellent location and there will be many exciting things happening. Volunteers needed to help with the rally. Here is your chance to do your bit for the DA. Please let a committee member know if you can help.
As the days are now getting shorter and it is time to think about lighting for our cycles, I brace myself for the poor cyclists who will get knocked off their bikes by drivers who "just did not see them". Please be careful out there - make yourself visible. Don't get caught out, get your lights working before you need them.
Finally - it is with reluctance that I will have to step down as Editor of The West Surrey Cyclist magazine. Due to many other demands on my time I am now finding it difficult to find the free time to devote to the mag. The past two years as Editor have been very enjoyable and rewarding for me and I am grateful for the support and contributions made. I feel sure that there are other people in the DA who would do a grand job of running the mag. If anyone is interested please contact me or a committee member soon.
I must now take this opportunity to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a wonderful NEW YEAR in 2000.
13 West Surrey members rode including old friends Ricco Signore, Bill Townsend, Kevin Blackburn, Phil Hampton, Ian and James Callaghan, Simon Jones, Mark Waters, Roger Philo, Chris Avery and Roly Masset, the last three of whom were using the event as final training for the 'Paris-Brest-Paris'.
As organiser my special thanks, and the thanks expressed by so many of the riders, go to Pat, Kirsty and Trevor Strudwick, Elizabeth and Peter Callaghan, Clive Richardson, Roy Banks, Bill Mann, Ken Bolingbroke, Paddy Shea, Marguerite and Harry Statham (it was great to see Harry out and about again), Peter Norris, and John Chitty of the Charlotteville. Some of these good folk manned two check points and then returned to the H.Q. to help.
I was disappointed that no other D.A. members were willing to offer an hour or two of their time just once in the year. The D.A. has many activities all of which have to be organised, these include the weekly runs. To those who never contribute, who just take and never give, I say 'Beware', you may find one day that the 'Givers' have given up giving and you are left with nothing to take. Next year the West Surrey D.A. is host to the Southern Counties Millennium Rally over the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May and help will be needed from as many DA members as possible. The tasks will be very varied so if your forte is not leading runs - fine, there will be plenty of other things to do which will be just as important. Just so long as we have sufficient help the rally will be fun for both the visitors and the helpers - so PLEASE offer your services and help to make the rally a great success. Trevor Strudwick is the man to contact - 01483-272387.
FINES FOR CYCLISTS RIDING ON PAVEMENTS. We now have the choice of riding on the roads and being run down by some mad motorist, or riding on the pavement and being run in by a zealous policeman. But why should cyclists ever wish to ride on the pavement? Only because the roads have been allowed to become so dangerous - especially for youngsters. It isn't just the amount of traffic which has made them so dangerous, it is the belligerent style of driving which prevails nowadays. It is the 'get out of my way, I'm not going to delay for a single second for anyone' attitude. We all know that pavements should be only for pedestrians and yet one of the measures approved by politicians is the joint use by cyclists and pedestrians of some paths - who I wonder is held responsible if you should at night run into an unlit pedestrian, or in daylight a child who suddenly runs across in front of you. For these reasons I seldom use shared paths; needless to say as a result I have been shouted at by motorists - usually when there is no oncoming traffic and I am in no way delaying them, it is apparently just my very presence that offends them. Unfortunately I see no solution to the problems that cause some cyclists to seek the safety of pavements until we have a government which is brave enough take measures to really curb selfish and dangerous driving, and as that would mean that they would almost certainly be out of office at the next election, if not before, I fear that is just a 'pipe dream'.
I was fed-up; I had been parked in a wheelchair in a hospital corridor for over half an hour, bored out of my skull, when a doctor advanced towards me with my x-rays in his hand and a smile on his face. 'Ah, good news', I said to myself. The doctor then cheerily said 'You've got a broken leg, no wonder you've been hobbling around in pain for the last two weeks' - so much for the good news. A temporary plaster was applied and I was sent off home - courtesy of the Marguerite Statham Taxi Service. Two days later I was back for the full treatment, most of which entailed hazardous journeys on crutches along the hospital corridors, from one department to another, and carrying (with great difficulty) the large handleless bag containing my x-rays. Not surprisingly, there were moments of interest such as when fighting with self-closing doors, attempting an instant stop upon the sudden emergence of a trolley from a ward and, particularly, when I managed to kick my left crutch with my left foot. I went into a passable imitation of a 'Whirling Dervish' with crutches, arms and damaged leg flailing wildly as I pirouetted on the good leg.
How did I come to be in this sorry state? Well, believe me if you can, I was doing all of 2mph on a mountain bike when I attempted to traverse a shallow depression containing some wet mud. I didn't see a broken branch in the mud, my front wheel touched it and I was off. So suddenly that I do not remember going down. My foot was trapped, the rest of me wasn't ......... PAIN! Based upon my experiences I have to conclude that the riding of mountain bikes, even at low speeds, is infinitely more dangerous than climbing trees, cycle speedway, ice skating, rugby, motor bikes, and descending French mountain passes at 50mph on racing bikes. OR was it just that I was trying to follow Marguerite? At the time, as I managed to move my leg and ankle and wiggle my toes I didn't think that I had done anything that warranted going to hospital - well most things heal of their own accord. So, with no little help from Marguerite, I managed to ride home and set about giving the self healing process the chance to get going. Two weeks later Harry and Marguerite turned up at my door and announced that they were taking me to the hospital - I protested but to no avail. The rest - well, you know all about it if you read this far.
I am now in strict training for the Social Season.
Despite insinuations to the contrary, both Scouser and Swiss were re-admitted to the mainland from the Isle of Wight without problems. Note that Scousers are not really foreigners, they just speak funny. The impeccable character references of above Swiss were such that re-admission was assured. But he wore BLACK SOCKS, which clearly spoilt the image and cancelled out many accumulated Brownie points.
Of the six who decided to ride all the way, three started from Mayford Green, two from Normandy and one from Petersfield. Barely a few miles from home, Super-Duper Scouse Bike Mechanic lost his front mudguard, which was duly dismantled and hidden in nearby nettles, to be picked up on homeward leg (with satellite navigation?). Approaching Portsmouth who is in trouble again? Three guesses. After fiddling about with gears and cables, eventually reducing them from 21 to a mere 15, Chief Mechanic battled manfully, without complaining, for the remainder of the three days.
Who very nearly got us into trouble in Portsmouth? None other than Mr. President himself. Leading from the front (what a change) he successfully managed to manoeuvre us onto the M275. With only blue signposts in evidence, we backtracked a few hundred yards to the nearest roundabout. Imagine the headlines in the local rag:
|Chairman, President and Secretary of West Surrey
CTC arrested on hard shoulder of M275.
demonstrated their total lack
of consideration by failing to
observe our beautiful town's
road system which was built
at considerable expense and
with much hardship to
facilitate speedy progress for
motorists and lorry drivers.
|It is clearly not intended for
slow cyclists. Despite the
existence of some 100 yards
of cycle paths here and there,
these nuisances insist on
using our roads and even
colonise the hard shoulder of
Yes Mr President, the hotel was indeed aware that we were cyclists, even letting us park our bikes in the entrance lobby and corridor, probably to the inconvenience of some other guests. Accommodation was very comfortable and the food very good - but thou shalt eat at the agreed time, or else. Having pre-ordered starters and main courses, some participants had very hazy short-term memories of what they had ordered and created havoc with the strict procedures, throwing staff and colleagues into bouts of confusion.
To our great joy the weather played fair for the three days - no rain, but cloudy. As soon as settled for coffee or lunch outdoors, the yellow disc managed to hide behind thick clouds; at least we escaped any downpour. Under the expert guidance of Don Jones, who appears to have a phenomenal memory for routes and places, we had an extensive ride around the Island - and soon realised that flat it ain't. Some of the ascents took everyone's breath away. The main roads were quite busy, even very busy at peak times, whereas smaller side roads were comparatively quiet. In High Season it might well be a different story.
To avoid the horrors of Portsmouth we decided to board the train ex Portsmouth Harbour to Rowlands Castle and start our trek home from there, avoiding built-up areas. The train guard informed us he was only allowed to take six bikes on board - as there were six of us, there was no real problem. However, an unfortunate young lady with her bike was promptly turned down at the next stop and, depending on her destination, might have had to wait a full hour for the next train. This confirmed that CTC's fight for more bike accommodation on trains is vital.
Yes, that famous mudguard was duly recovered and transported home for refitting.
THE SCOUSER & THE SWISS
PS: Please note the name is RICO (one C only), RICCO means "RICH" in Italian, SIGNORE means GENTLEMAN, so Ricco Signore is a RICH GENTLEMAN - a downright lie, as I am neither rich nor a gentleman - I keep on pointing out that there is no such thing as a Swiss Gentleman!
I hope that you might find the enclosed suitable for inclusion in the West Surrey Cyclist. It was written by the New Yorker that I cycled along the Pacific coast with for his club magazine. I asked him for permission to use it and he assured me that he would be proud to have it published in England and that the story is "well basically true, with a few minor embellishments".
I decided to go after them. (Yes, I know it's not good form to pass the leader on a club ride and I hope he will accept my belated apology.) Until then I had been pedaling-coasting and guiding the bike with the fingertips of one hand. Now I gripped the hooks and began a steady cadence, but it wasn't good enough. The lead group had formed a paceline and was widening the gap, so it was time to start showing some enthusiasm. I moved my hands to the drops, flattened my back, jacked up the cadence and began working my way through the pack.
I was still gaining speed as I went off the front. I recalled the hours I had spent down in my basement the previous winter, riding the rollers and the wind trainer. Whenever I practiced I would turn on the VCR and watch replays of the Tour from earlier years. To put myself further into the right frame of mind I would turn down the commentary, dim the lights and play tapes of serious training music. There's nothing like the overture to the Barber of Seville, the Ride of the Valkyries or the theme from Rocky at full volume to get the blood moving. I would run through the training drills while watching the videos and listening to the music, and, in my mind's eye, ride along with LeMond as he fought it out with Delgado, Fignon and Indurain. Now, as I reached the end of Plainview Road those images were fresh in my mind. I leaned into the corner and picked the same line that I'm sure Greg would have taken. By the time I straightened up out of the turn I was spinning flat out down the center of the Champs Elysees, closing fast on Julich, Ullrich and Pantani, and the crowd was roaring.
The outcome of the Tour is usually determined before the last stage, and the ride into Paris is mainly a ceremonial one. Not this time. Today, after more than 2,300 miles through the French countryside, the Pyrenees and the Alps, we are locked in a bizarre four-way tie for the yellow jersey. The peloton fades back as I continue to reel in the breakaways. Ahead, one of the domestiques falters. It's clear that he's in agony and is finished. This raises a question of etiquette. Should I blow right by him, teeth clenched in determination, seeing only my quarry up ahead? Should I ignore him? No, that's not my style. Instead, I'll destroy him. As I reach his side, I catch his eye, give him a friendly smile, say "Nice day for a ride", and drop him.
I hope he doesn't hear me gasping as I leave him behind. Those few words cost me precious oxygen that I shouldn't have wasted. I steady myself, cool my neck with the last of my water and toss the empty bottle to the side of the road. Two young boys scramble for the souvenir. Perhaps, years from now, on a special day like Bastille Day, after dinner is over, the winner of that scramble will take the bottle down from its place of honor in the family's china cabinet, show it to his wide-eyed grandchildren, and tell them the story one more time. As he nears the end, he'll hold the bottle aloft in one hand, point to it with the other and say "...... and this is the bottle he used, on that day". Or maybe the boy will grow into a mercenary old miser, and the bottle will wind up on the auction block at Christie's.
I bring my mind back to the task at hand. I've got to stay focused if I'm going to ride with this bunch. I'm still hammering but my lungs are on fire and my quads feel like mush. Even so, I manage to crank out a couple of extra revs and I close to within a meter just before it happens. At first I see only a front wheel from the corner of my eye. A split second later he's abreast of me. It's a kid, about fifteen years old, on a rusty Schwinn three-speed and he's carrying his girlfriend on the handlebars. As they pass, she smiles and says "Nice day for a ride".
In the story, "MPBC" stands for Massapequa Park Bicycle Club" and the "C" group is the club's slowest group, which normally rides at a pace of 11-14 miles per hour.
72 percent of leisure cyclists consider that traffic-free cycle routes are the most important facility in encouraging utility cycling. (Source: Transport Implications of Leisure Cycling. G Gardner. Transport Research Laboratory 1998)
The weather was set sunny and hot (80F). Cycling companion Kevin and I - mostly playing the part of Lanterne Rouge on this trip - had a glorious descent down the mountain side with few cars or trucks to inhibit us, finally reaching the floor of the valley near Torvizcon, where we found some of our crowd already sampling the drinks in an attractive bar/restaurant with vine-covered trellis roof.
Having reached this interesting spot, we were in no hurry to move on, so Kevin, and Andrew - to be nicknamed "Fax - Man", a strong if erratic rider from Harrogate, settled down to a few beers, and had some friendly games of table top football. (More about Andrew later episode)
The other members of our group had moved on over an hour ago, when the three of us suddenly realised that we had a long way to go, and some challenging climbs ahead - so reluctantly mounted our bikes, after taking on more aqua potage (drinking water) in the village fountain.
We had a grinding uphill climb out of the river valley for about 19 km in the hot sun, with little change in scenery to break the monotony of the pedalling in the lowest gears, and few "breaks" where the good tarmac-surfaced road levelled off, or even went down for a bit, to relieve aching legs.
Most of the land was farmed, with terracing of olive trees, though there was little sign of other cultivation - not that we would have had too much interest, as all our concentration was directed on getting to the next corner, and the next, and the next.
Suddenly the skyline white silhouette of the next small town, Orgiva appeared in the distance, and with renewed energy we struggled into the busy main street a short time later - now about 3pm for a late lunch stop.
We espied some of the keener members of our party, already refreshed and just starting to move on. It is at this point that you now know the feeling of utter exhaustion, and the need to stop everything - whilst the "others" who have seemingly arrived hours ago, look completely in control, and take it all in their stride (or should it be on their high chainring) and cheerily wave their goodbyes as they climb out of their saddles looking for the next challenging hills.
However, some of the "advance party" stayed in one of the many wayside local bars/restaurants to keep us company, and joined us in some much needed refreshing beers, and the highly recommended mouth-watering salads and ice creams, which made life a little rosier again.
Having taken camera shots of our cycling group for posterity, I was shown by a "local" where to photo some very pretty Andalusian white-washed cottages covered with a profusion of flowers in earthenware pots, in a nearby alley.
Slightly euphoric, due to the hot sun having its effect or maybe the beers, we moved out of town, and soon paid the penalty for the indulgent, late but long lunch. Yes - there was another long stiff climb in prospect, up to our two nights stop-over at Lanjaron, some 9 km away!
Somehow we made it!! - the scenery here was quite spectacular with deep ravines and gorges - and in the distance, at the side of this largish town, were the well preserved turrets and walls of one of the local castles inhabited by the Moors before they were forcibly removed by the Christians.
Unlike the previous night, the Hotel del Castillo here had excellent spacious and airy rooms. Like the rest of this small town in the mountains, it was built somewhat precariously on the side of a cliff with great views down into the valleys below, and across to the castle, which was standing alone a little way below the present town, on a rock pinnacle outcrop.
The food and wine here was great too. Yippee ... there's a rest day tomorrow, with an optional trip to see the Moorish treasures of the Alhambra Palace at Granada.
More in the next Magazine issue ... Richard Ellis
I remember some years ago joining a riding group in Holland. By mid-afternoon on my maiden ride they had cracked me completely, but, thankfully, though to my embarassment, the whole peloton stayed with me and got me home. Being Dutch, they didn't mince words, and when I asked them whether they always adopted this approach they told me that the Dutch principle was: if you start together you finish together, but if a member is simply not up to it, he is told bluntly to go elsewhere for his next ride (which is what I had to do). Should we adopt this principle?
We will all have had the experience of being in the presence of riders who seem intent on turning the day out into a race, but I don't believe that this is intentional. I prefer to view these occurrences as cases of 'pink mist' and 'red mist'. The symptoms of 'pink mist' can be seen in the colour of the rider's eyes, and it manifests itself on the road by the victim establishing a constant 100 yards lead over the group and staying there for the duration of the day. Any attempt to close the gap is met by him accelerating to reestablish it. Riders suffering from this disease have assured me that it is unintentional and that they did not realize what was going on behind. Fair enough! But here technology can provide the solution. A rear-view mirror gives the leader constant feed-back about what is happening behind him, enabling him to adjust his speed accordingly; and this, together with a speed computer on the handlebars should take care of 'pink mist' on most occasions. Should we ask all leaders to install these accessories on their bikes?
'Red mist' is a mutation of 'pink mist', but is far more serious, though easier to handle. 'Red Mist' can also be seen in the eyes, and has been known to blind the rider so profoundly that he has even jumped traffic lights and cut-up other riders. It is caused by super-fast cycling which produces gushes of adrenalin and the cycling etiquette of a sprint finisher. It is probably the single biggest cause of first-time riders never coming out with us again, and of the riding groups getting spread-eagled along the road. The computer is no cure for this: after all, the whole point is that the victim is trying to see how fast he can go, so the computer actually compounds the problem. However, the solution is easy and instantaneous: make the rider stop, take a deep breath, have a long drink, and go to the back of the peloton for a few miles to calm down. Should we adopt this as a rule?
What about the specialist hill climbers? These are the guys, all 55 kilos of them, who can race up the hills without so much as breathing hard. Here, in fairness, we should remember that these lucky folk cannot climb a hill comfortably at the leisurely speed most of us have to adopt; they really do need to go a bit faster. But fairness is a two-way thing, and in turn they should be expected to wait at the summit, or at least to slow sufficiently on the descent so that the peloton has closed up within about half a mile. Is that asking too much?
Finally, what about first-time riders? These are our life-blood, and so it is fitting that we mollycoddle them at first. The ride leader has a special responsibility to get the novice through the day, and to give him any advice that seems appropriate, including riding technique and pacing. Happily, you usually find that one member of the peloton strikes an instant rapport with the new chap, and when that happens, it eases the burden on the leader. If we remember this, gone will be the days when the novice staggers home with his tail between his legs never to be seen again, with the veteran riders congratulating themselves on having 'ridden him into the ground'! Or does this never happen? You bet it does!
So how should we judge our performance? I suggest we should pay less attention to maximizing speed and distance on a ride; and instead win kudos as leaders by getting everyone happily through the day, in a group, stretching ourselves, of course, but not distressing each other either mentally or physically. Then good humour can prevail, and our days out remain something for us all to look forward to.
Most of the time this already happens, but on the odd occasion when the leader or somebody else forgets himself, we should not shirk telling him bluntly at the time. Let's 'Go Dutch'!
|We will need :||Ride Leaders
Please, we need your help to make this an event to remember. Planning is now well under way. Let your committee know as soon as possible if you are willing to assist.
Just as well really, not only for the participants, as the start and finish for both rides was outside, at Newlands Corner main car park.
Both rides seemed to go pretty well, with all enjoying the routes, which, incidentally, were the same as in previous years!
Numbers of entries were again similar to previous rides, with 14 on the 50k, and 18 on the 60k, of which 1 did not start and 3 did not finish, while on the 50k, only 1 did not start and all of those that took part finished.
First person back was a rider in the 60k ride, taking 3 hours 40 minutes to complete, closely followed by a rider on the 50k coming in 2 minutes later, all very fast times! But most took their time and enjoyed a leisurely ride in the countryside.
All sorts of machines were to be seen on the day, from the latest spec off-road bikes to the not so new, and even our president was seen sporting a new mountain bike, complete with sprung seat post!
Luckily no incidents this year of breaking chains, resulting in a walk of 2k or so to the finish, as happened to one of our junior members last year!
All in all a good day was enjoyed by all, and my thanks to the marshalls who helped on the day, Bill, Clive, Ken, Harry and last but not least Rory, who was last seen heading off towards the Channel Islands, but minus his bike, and with a rather long telescopic instrument in his bag!!!
Howard and Marina have been spotted on the Mytchett canal swing bridge! Has anyone else seen them?
This morning, August 3rd, Marina phoned Howard and set his toast alight.
Entrants had a choice of 30 places to visit, within 8 miles of the start, with a total distance of about 37 miles if all were gone to. I didn't expect anybody to get to them all, but Tom Hargreaves visited 29!
All clues were got by someone except for the GPO post at Brookwell and the number of concrete posts over a stream. I went back after the event to recheck and the GPO post was in the grass by the road and NOT overgrown. And one of the posts was wooden, so there were only 5!
However, I did make a mistake on the golf club restaurant. I gave the full points for no-one or no spiked shoes. Also I gave 15 points if someone gave 6 for the posts, as they had found them, even if they hadn't checked the material.
I think a hall is essential for setting up the map, and the Dunsfold Sports Pavilion made a very reasonable charge for its use. I'd got enough food in to cater for about 3 times the number of those who took part, but all the surplus is usable by my family, so no extra charge was incurred. Overall, the event broke even.
Can I thank Harry Statham who helped me in the hall, with my grandson, Rowan. I also thank all who entered. I'm sufficiently encouraged to organise another next year. Tell your friends it's fun and get more next time.
|Hargreaves Tom||West Sy||575||575||1|
|Juden Helen||L||West Sy||455||455||3|
|Ellingham Jeff||V||West Sy||410||20||390||4|
|Signore Rico||V||West Sy||385||15||105||265||5=|
|Boarer Cliff||West Sy||260||260||7|
|Chambers Roger||V||East Sy||280||25||255||8|
|Statham Marguerite||LV||West Sy||210||210||9|
|Boggon Chris||West Sy||190||190||10=|
|Morrison Fiona||L||West Sy||190||190||10=|
|Strudwick Trevor||West Sy||180||180||12|
|Bouch Joe||V||SW London||155||155||13|
|Jones Don||V||West Sy||400||185||105||110||14|
|Wellings Bill||V||West Sy||370||190||100||80||15|
|Currie Graham||V||West Sy||355||295||60||16|
Note - the score for a clue was deducted if an obvious guess was made and 5 points were lost for every minute back over the 4 hours allowed. So, for example, Rico lost 15 points for 1 guess and 105 points for taking 21 minutes over. Still, nobody got a negative total, which I have seen.
Keith Chesterton, for West Surrey DA 7/6/99
West Surrey DA / CTC
26th - 29th May 2000
Celebrate the Millennium by cycling through the leafy scenic lanes of Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire. There will be accompanied rides every day to suit all interests, abilities and tastes. There are a great number of sights, stately homes, National Trust properties and historic places of interest in the vicinity. Furthermore, on Bank Holiday Monday the traditional Surrey County Show takes place at Stoke Park in nearby Guildford, a superb agricultural show for all the family.
Merrist Wood College offers excellent camping and camper van facilities with ample parking, all in a rural setting with superb views over farmland and the North Downs. The grounds are extensive and feature beautiful woodlands, parkland, lakes and gardens (the College has won prizes at the Chelsea Flower Show).
Watch this space for further announcements - please mark this important date in your diary for the year 2000!
.... WANTED ... WANTED ... Ladies or gents to supervise children's activities on Saturday & Sunday afternoons at cycle rally. Some suggestions are a cycling gymkhana, donkey rides, treasure hunt etc. Volunteers please contact Peter Norris PH 01252 338504.
SUNDAY 7th NOVEMBER 1999
Free Coffee & Biscuits will be available at 10.00 am and
the AGM will commence at 10.45 am.
. Previous magazine . . Index to magazines . . Next magazine . . W. Surrey DA History & Archives home page .
Web page by Chris Jeggo. Last revised: 15 November 2006.