First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Wendy and Ken Hoxley for the last ten years of excellent Cycle Chat magazines. A special thank you must go to Ray Clay for holding the fort during the last two editions. How do I follow them? Well, I can't compete with the expertise shown by Ken, so I will do 'my own thing'.
This edition is a little thinner than of late but hopefully you will enjoy reading it. My computer is using Microsoft Windows XP, and the programme is Publisher 2000. If you have Excel Word you can save it and then send it by e-mail and I can sort it out from there. I have used Arial font for most of the text.
I am sure that you will all join me in wishing Dennis Heggs a speedy recovery following his recent illness and also 'Happy 80th Birthday' for July.
If you have any present or even past articles that you would like to see in print please send them in. I would also to thank Pearl for allowing me to use the photograph of Dick on a tour in Spain, and to add my condolences to both Pearl and her family on the recent death of Dick, someone I had personally known for over forty years.
Finally, I would like to say a special big thank you to my family for their support, but especially to my son Ian for his technical assistance. Thanks Ian. Ian has declined my proposal to become Cycle Chat assistant editor though!
It is good to see the weather getting better after the wet we had at the start of the year. The cycle route through Garendon Park is much better now with the song birds singing and the flowers in bloom as I travel on my way to work.
First may I thank Ivy for taking on the task of editor of Cycle Chat and also a big thank you for all the work done by Ray Clay since Ken Hoxley retired last year.
I found John Dickinson's film show at Whitwick about the Levant Mine in Cornwall very interesting, although it was overshadowed by the sad news that Dick Thompson had passed away the previous day. The small church at Worthington was packed to overflowing for Dick's funeral. The service was conducted by a good friend of his, the Rev John Dawson who started cycling with Charnwood Section at about the same time as Dick.
The Prize Presentation at Thurcaston was very enjoyable. John Allen asked us to stand for a minutes silence in tribute to Dick. . The prizes and certificates were presented by John Cutler CTC National Councillor for the East Midlands. Thank you Ray, for a good evening.
I enjoyed the 30 mile in three hours, although I was disappointed at the low turnout. I remember a lot larger numbers of riders for events back when I joined in 1967. I suppose things change. This was followed by the Freewheel. I only had one go then I had to get home so I'm not sure how it went but thanks to Jim Gerrard and Jean and Keith Lakin for their efforts.
Coming up we have the Audax, the Tri-Vets and the Challenge Rides.
On July 15th it is my Presidents Ride. This year starting from Coalville
Memorial Square (Clock Tower) at 10. 30 am. Then it's the Off Road
Challenge. With no Birthday Rides this year, Ron Johnson is
organising a special Birthday Ride from Abbey Road Pumping Station in Leicester.
Finally, Pat Arnold asked me to thank members who attended her
husband John's funeral.
I hope to see many of you out cycling in the next few months.
I must, first of all, thank Ivy Allen for "volunteering" to take on the role of Cycle Chat editor. As you can imagine, there wasn't a queue of volunteers to take over from Ken Hoxley when he retired as editor, particularly when Ken had done the job for ten years so effectively. I endeavoured to do the job for the last two issues but I was struggling since I don't have the time nor the expertise to produce an edition in the same league as Ken..
Fortunately for me, Teamprint was very supportive and put together the final draft for me. Ivy already has experience in producing the newsletter for the Barton 1246 Society. I would, therefore, urge contributors to meet deadlines so that there isn't a rush at the last minute.
Sadly , we lost one of our most stalwart members, Dick Thompson, who died in March. A leading member of the Charnwood Section, Dick led many club runs and tours to foreign parts. As a relative newcomer to cycling, I'm afraid I didn't know Dick very well personally but I'm sure he will be greatly missed by many, especially the Charnwood Section and, of course, his family. I attended his funeral at the lovely old St Matthews Church in Worthington along with many of his friends and family. The church was packed. The service was conducted appropriately by the Rev John Dawson who, coincidentally, was a CTC member and rode with Dick in the Charnwood Section in his youth. Many of us went to the Cross Keys, Newbold Coleorton after the service at the invitation of Pearl and the family.
The skittles/prize presentation was held this year in March at the
Wheatsheaf Inn, Thurcaston. That wasn't the original plan. I had booked the Blue Bell at Rothley where we went last year. But when I rang them in December to check whether everything was in order, the landlady told me she was leaving in February. It was then panic stations! The Bradgate Arms at Cropston couldn't oblige so I finished up at the Wheatsheaf at Thurcaston. As it happened, the pub did us proud and I think the evening went very well. Probably the best skittles night we've had recently and the food was tasty and plentiful. Oh,and more prize winners turned up this year.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the weather stays fine for the camping rally we are holding again at Beaumanor Hall at the end of May. Last year, the weather was wretched just before the event and I was afraid that vehicles might get bogged down. However, we were lucky that it turned out fine in the end. Technically, this is an East Midlands CTC event but our DA gives it support. There is nothing fancy arranged. No barn dances or barbecues. It's nice just to be there in picturesque surroundings among friends.
I had a message from National Headquarters recently requesting us to support "Five to Fabulous". This is an event aimed primarily at novice women cyclists to cycle a five mile route at a leisurely pace. I'm pleased to say that we have a volunteer, Lynda Rowe, who has agreed to arrange a ride to take place on 2nd June. I shall be there.
1st Alan Wratten - Herts DA
2nd Chris Delf - North Yorks DA
3rd Roland Smith - Leics DA
4th Richard Delf - North Yorks DA - Junior
5th Jim Gerrard - Leics DA
6th Martin Bulmer - Leics DA
7th Peter Turner - Derby DA
8th John Hartshorne - Leics DA
9th Dave Holman - Leics DA
10th Vic Baines - Leics DA
11th Peter Butler - Leics DA
12th Alan Witty - Leics DA
13th Pearl Thompson - Leics DA
14th Rose Holman - Leics DA
15th Dave Smith - Leics DA
16th June Mills - Leics DA
17th Richard Billsdon - Leics DA Contents
A personal tribute to Richard Thompson
Where does one begin to even try to sum up the characteristics of Dick?
Dick and I go back a long way, to our early teens in fact, when we started cycling
together, first touring with Charnwood Section of the CTC, and then racing with the Coalville
Wheelers. We enjoyed many tours together, North Wales, Shropshire, East Anglia come to mind, and Dick was a strong touring man, a feature that stood him well in later life. When we were racing Dick and I were the core of the Wheelers
junior road race team, and we won several prizes in this capacity. Our training then was sophisticated - a mad bash of forty or so miles, and then refreshment of a liquid variety. But it worked, and we achieved a reasonable degree of fitness.
As our ages matured, so we passed our driving tests, and Trad Jazz was our raison d'etre. We toured the Midlands dancing the nights away, The Dancing Slipper in Nottingham and the Il Rondo in Leicester were favourites, and Dick had a unique style. He's the only person I know to do a complete skip jive, looking heavenwards at all times. Dick became an accomplished musician, having his own band of 'Sandie and The Saracens'. He loved music and playing the guitar.
And then marriage to Pearl, and their subsequent family of Sally, Marie and Kirsty. Dick and I lost touch somewhat at this time, but our friendship re-emerged when the family came to live in Newbold, in the old vicarage. It was a sort of Good Life with keeping many kinds of livestock. I'm sure he kept deep puddles in his drive, so his ducks had somewhere to swim!
He was a stock car driver, and his main goal was getting on to the start line to collect his start money, and he didn't too frequently finish a race. No matter it was enjoyable, and he was the only driver to take a stock car in his old bus, plus goat, so that when the family had an overnight stay, he could milk the goat and give them fresh milk. On one occasion he even took the goat into a pub, when staying at Skegness.
A character indeed, perhaps a degree of eccentricity, but he was a friend who I shall miss. He is so well known around here, being seen walking the dogs and spending time in the Cross Keys.
By profession Dick was an accountant, working firstly in Leicester, and then at Shepshed, where he reached the lofty heights of Chief Accountant, with the Dunlop Company, and he retired from this profession when he was fifty five years old.
In his later years, cycling was concentrated on, he toured many exotic places including the Atlas Mountains, Mexico, Thailand, a trip he hated. Dick always went to places where trouble had just finished, the reason being it was cheaper then. He was a CTC stalwart, being the runs secretary for many years, and I'm sure others more qualified will cover these details more fully.
A new career beckoned following his retirement, and lorry driving became a love of his, Sadly though, he became ill, and this was just under a year ago, and he passed away in the Derby City Hospital on 23rd March.
As I've said, he will be missed by so many. A genuine man, who would help anyone, nothing was too much trouble. He lived a full life and we are left with our memories, personal ones and ones to share. This was a man who loved his jogging bottoms, held up with lengths of binder twine, a man who according to Sally, did not do fashion, but a man who was loved, respected and highly regarded by many.
My condolences go to Pearl and all Dick's family, he will be missed by so many people. It was a privilege for me to share time with him.
A big event in the CTC year is the Annual General Meeting in April. This year it was particularly important as motions to change the constitution were to be decided.
A rather technical motion to allow the Council to co-opt four additional non-voting members was passed. These are intended to fill in any gaps in expertise there may be among the elected Councillors. Perhaps it could also give greater diversity on the Council. People worry that we are mainly white, middle-class elderly men, and so the ideal co-optee could be an ethnic minority female BMX rider. But none of the main advocates of diversity has offered to stand down in her favour.
The motion to reduce the number of elected Councillors from 20 to 15 was lost. It would have meant groups of three Councillors in each of five super regions. The arguments for making a change are not convincing and the proposer failed completely to carry the debate. The arguments against are that there would be less chance of Councillors being familiar with their
areas, and who is who, and what is going on in them.
A few years ago there seemed to be a shortage of suitable people standing for election in many regions. The problem has mainly gone away, although a significant number of Councillors have been returned unopposed. The advantage of a smaller Council from the point of view of efficient meetings and quick decisions seems far outweighed by what would be lost. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
After the AGM comes the dinner. The East Midlands contingent consisted of John and Ivy Allen, Ian Hill from Derbyshire and myself. The proposition that the food compared unfavourably to faggots and mushy peas was agreed. And the question was put as to why, if fizzy beer costs £3.40 a pint, it is not possible to fill up the glass. Nevertheless it was a very enjoyable evening including the Volunteer Awards in which Ian received the certificate for the East Midlands 2007. This is also the time to chat to old acquaintances, but none were able to persuade John to return to the
Council and its six hour meetings.
There was another chance for me to chat and experience some lovely lanes and byways on the Sunday ride out from Guildford. There are many attractive places for cyclists still in Surrey. A fast ride and a mountain bike ride for tougher members headed for the hills, but unfit Councillors still were able to experience the Hog's Back and Frensham Ponds with the slow group.
The first Sunday in March saw the first of the DA Challenge Rides for 2007 based on Morrisons at Lutterworth, and in memory of David Sulley, a great force in the local CTC section over twenty years ago.
A really daunting weather forecast had the organiser thinking that only he was going to put in an appearance at the start point, but, by 9. 30 am twenty stalwarts were on the roads for the 100 km, 70 km and 50 km challenges. By mid-morning rain and sleet showers added to the cold conditions as riders battled into South Eastern Leicestershire taking in the villages of Walton, Gumley Park, Foxton, Medbourne, the Langtons, Stockerston, Belton and Launde Abbey. The return journey was through Tilton,
Kibworth, Saddington and Gilmorton and home.
Eighteen riders were successful which included four ladies, Gill Lord, Jayne Davis, Reita Simmonds and Emma Dekin from Lutterworth, a young blind lady who stoked George Barnett on their tandem around the 70 km route and finishing with the biggest smile you could wish to see! Other successful riders were, in the 100 km event, Tony Davis, Roy Dayman, Neil Dixon, Peter Witting and John Rootkin - up from Essex for the day.
In the 70 km ride were Ivan Waddington, Ben Waddington, Geoff Leatherhead, John Tyler, Simon Barnett and Eddy Baughan, followed by Jim Gerrard and Andrew Simmons.
Grateful thanks to helpers Jean and Keith Lakin, Vic Baines and Dennis Heggs. All riders and marshals deserved the highest acclaim on such a wintry day. Well Done!
Sincere thanks to you all for making the effort and competing in this the 19th Memorial Rides.
After a good breakfast we left the Castle Farm Guest House on a slightly misty morning with the sun promising to break through.
As we had a fairly full day planned, we didn't delay and left Fotheringhay about 10. 00 am crossing the River Nene via the causeway road to Tansor passing the Blue Bell lakes on our right.
After crossing the A605 Nancy picked up a rear wheel puncture which was soon fixed. Before setting off again we all shed a top layer of clothing and down to shorts as the morning had warmed considerably in the brief time since leaving our B & B.
We carried on via fairly quiet roads through Polebrook, Hemington and Great Gidding where we picked up the B660 road crossing the busy A14 trunk road. As it was now late morning we sent David Smith into a local shop come store in Catworth to enquire about local tea shops. As there were not any, David negotiated five cups of tea for £1 total which we were all well impressed with. These we enjoyed sitting on the nearby green in bright warm sunshine.
Suitably refreshed we carried on to Grafham Water our intended first destination for the BCQ (British Cycling Quest) question needed by
myself. Whilst locking up the bikes at the café, Ken and Wendy Hoxley arrived also for refreshment and a break on their way home from visiting family.
Lunch was enjoyed alfresco overlooking the water and a multitude of small sailing dinghy's all seemingly going round together as if on a merry go round.
After our farewells to Ken and Wendy we set off for our nrext destination being the turf maze at Hilton again with its BCQ question. This was achieved without too much trouble passing through Buckden, the Offord's Cluny and Darcy, Duck End and Gravely.
We again raided what was left of our saddle bag food supplies and following a photo session with David Holman making the pilgrimage round the maze although not on his knees. The maze is slightly unusual as there are no cul-de-sacs, just a convoluted route to the centre.
Without riding back through the village we followed the road to Fenstanton to re-cross the busy A14 and on to Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots, both picturesque places. We were informed by a local couple that we would be able to cross the River Ouse to Houghton Mill via the cycle way and foot path as this road was a dead end.
Before crossing we stopped for a short break at the Axe and Compass Inn at Hemington Abbots. On crossing the river the path passes through the middle of Houghton Mill where Dave Smith informed us that whilst the mill was used as a youth hostel the kitchen was on one side of the path with the dining room on the other. You had to cook your food in the kitchen and cross the footpath to eat it!
Houghton village is another picturesque place but was also very busy with lots of people about enjoying the good weather. On leaving we joined the B1090 and made good progress through Abbots Ripton, leaving at wood Walton to Sawtry crossing the A1 en-route. On reaching Sawtry, we decided to start looking for a suitable pub for our evening meal, having earlier agreeing to eat before we got back after our Friday night experience at the Falcon Inn, Fotheringhay.
The next village, Glatton had just the place and we enjoyed an excellent meal amongst the locals at the Addison Arms. This pub features a dutch gable wall made with Dutch bricks brought over as ships ballast in the distant past.
After our meal, we left the pub needing lights and our wind tops as the evening had cooled considerably. We were again on small country roads with frequent junctions. Arriving at Lutton we had difficulty in reading the map as we didn't have a torch between us as we were either on dynamos or urban diode lights. However, using the telephone box lighting and external church lights we confirmed that we were on route and carried on passing through Aston Wold woods with myself having a close encounter with an owl that was fortunately travelling in the same direction (I'm not sure who was the more startled!).
On reaching the A605 we were again confused as the map indicated a cross roads but appeared to be a T junction. We soon however realised that the opposite road had been closed with gates installed and a not very cycle friendly flap gate although the road was a designated cycle way.
The short lane brought us back to Tansor where we rejoined the road to Fotheringhay arriving back about 9. 15 pm after a super day in lovely countryside and summer like weather and completing 68 for the day. On arriving back I enquired if anyone fancied a nightcap at the Falcon but unfortunately no-one was interested.
The recent fine weather held for this years meander rides and freewheel although some riders may have been caught in a shower on the way home.
Thirteen riders completed the 30 mile ride although four visitors from out of the area rode from Heather as the incorrect details in the Cycle magazine and events web site.
Fortunately one of the riders had a route sheet from a previous year and as the finish was the same, we all met up on completion for lunch and the freewheel.
Our visitors from afar being Chris and his son Richard Delf from North Yorks DA, Alan Wratten from Stevenage, Herts DA and nearer to home Peter Turner from Derby DA. All registering points for the D.A.T.C competition.
Chris and Richard also attended last year with Richard achieving 1st Junior position, no doubt assisted by this double D.A.T.C. event.
In addition to the 30 mile ride, nine riders also rode the 30 km route with both groups enjoying the sunny weather and coffee stop at Sutton Cheney Wharfe.
I was, however, informed that the Loiterers contingent skipped the café because of the queue and returned direct to the Bricklayers Arms.
This I found difficult to believe until confirmed on my return.
Following a leisurely lunch and rest in the pub garden, a total of seventeen took part in the freewheel competition, well organised as usual by Jean and Keith Lakin. This was being held on the nearby Stanton Lane this year, having the benefit of being recently resurfaced.
Our visitors all faired well in this event which was finally won by Alan Wratten from Herts DA, closely followed by Chris Delf, the defending winner from last year, Roland Smith from Charnwood Section and Richard, son of Chris.
Charnwood Section's Easter Tour this year saw a party of nearly twenty of us in Lincolnshire, near Louth. The customary camper vans and caravans were parked at a site in South Cockerington, which also provided B & B accommodation for some of our number (highly recommended by those who stayed there). There was also a smaller contingent in self-catering accommodation at Austen Fen about five miles away. This was a cottage converted from farm buildings, one of three on the site, where we also had the use of a large lock-up shed for our bikes, again highly recommended. Then there was Sue, who did proper tent camping at Saltfleetby.
On Saturday we met up at the main campsite and headed south towards Alford enjoying the sunny weather that was to stay with us for the whole weekend. At Alford we visited the five-sailed windmill for a late elevenses then some moved into the town for a look around and a bite of lunch before returning to the campsite. Others, duly refreshed by a pub stop, went on towards the coast and explored a fascinating junk shop at Sutton-on-Sea then returned to base via the lanes. There were very few hills encountered on this ride. That sounds good until you
realise that this means no freewheeling!
In the evening most of us had our meal together at the pub nearest to Sue's campsite, where we raised a glass in memory of Dick Thompson who had organised the trip for us despite his illness, and who had been the inspiration behind all of the recent Easter tours, and so much else in the Charnwood Section. We will miss him.
On Easter Sunday, the "Generals" headed south again before turning west and climbing up onto the Wolds where the tea stop shown on the local authority's cycling map was closed. Pressing on, we joined the ancient ridgeway called the Bluestone Heath Road, which took us north to the White Hart inn at Ludford where one bread and cheese lunch fed three of us! After lunch we continued north, and as we descended from the Wolds, we met the easy riders who were travelling in the opposite direction. They had just enjoyed a cup of tea at Waltham Windmill, a six sailed specimen. Unfortunately by the time the generals arrived at Waltham the tearoom had stopped serving tea in favour of ice cream, so it was a tea-less day for us. I hadn't realised that cyclists could function without tea, but we got home somehow.
That evening a number of us met up for a meal at a nearby Italian restaurant where we were well fed for a very reasonable price.
Some people travelled home on Monday, but those of us who remained rode the fen lanes northeast to the coast at Donna Nook, where the RAF conducts bombing practice. On this occasion the skies were deserted, perhaps the pilots get Bank Holiday off? In the afternoon some rode the most direct route back to camp, others didn't. I headed inland for the hills, just to get in some freewheeling.
The weather was kind to us all weekend, and the various accommodation and meal places were excellent (apart from the tea drought). We look forward to next year.
The ride to Hallaton on the 4th February was my initiation as a ride leader, so I hope everyone enjoyed the route. Five members joined me at St Margaret's with the rest of the group joining at Sainsbury's café at Oadby for coffee.
After two punctures in quick succession Richard decided to play safe and return home from Illston Grange, the remaining members carried on to the Bewicke Tea Rooms for lunch.
On the return journey, the first group split up in Tur Langton, Nancy, Dave H and I continued on to Kibworth and Wistow where the café was closed due to a new franchise. It was then on to Kilby, Countesthorpe and Blaby where we parted company with Nancy.
Seven members enjoyed June's ride to Anstey where the landlady at the White Hart let us eat our packed lunches even though they provided meals. Then it was on to Thurmaston for the afternoon tea and home.
For Jim's ride the members split into two groups. The first group doing a short ride to Thurlaston, whilst the second carried on to Sutton Wharfe café. It was then on to The Odd House at Snarestone for liquid refreshments. Alan Hartshorne joined our ride for the day, we hope to see you again Alan.
Dave Smith's run to Market Harborough changed to Sileby due to predicted wet weather which we avoided as far as Sileby, but we had a very wet ride home.
Andy Tokeley selected us a wonderful pub with a very welcoming landlord who provided a good selection of free food. So many thanks to the Three Crowns at Hathern.
Richard slipped off his bike on the towpath between Leicester and South Wigston on John Moon's ride to Brokshill, luckily he received no injuries.
I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Loiterers to thank Ray for a very enjoyable evening at the Skittles and Prize Presentation. Congratulation also to everyone who won trophies and certificates, it was good to see our section do so well!
Five of our members also enjoyed a weekend away around the Fotheringhay area of Northamptonshire, the birthplace of Richard III also where Mary Queen of Scots was executed. If any of you are in this area I would suggest that you avoid the Falcon inn in Fotheringhay, the meals are very overpriced with very small portions, also it is £2 extra per helping of vegetables.
Twenty two of our members and friends enjoyed a Hot (eat as much as you like) Buffet at the Plough in Littlethorpe which is on the menu every Thursday evening. Very good value for money, highly recommended.
We also welcomed a new member Denise to our section. Everyone enjoyed the Meander and Freewheel, thanks to Jim and Keith.
February started with a cold, crisp day around Market Bosworth, with lunch at the always popular Odd House. Tony led us back on new ground along the Route 63 section through the old Merrylees Pit area. Whissendene was our next destination, along soggy roads, although the day itself was surprisingly warm and sunny.
The following week Rob led us to Gates (Cold Overton) and then took the hilliest route he could find to the small but welcoming pub in Belton-in-Rutland.
Heavy rain was predicted for our first run in March, as it had been raining for much of the previous week. Even getting across the River Soar to the Loughborough start was difficult. Our planned route was put aside, and we took a circular route through Charnwood, hoping to reach Newtown Linford in the dry for elevenses. Unfortunately the rain started earlier than predicted so everyone was soaked by 11.00 (what a surprise that everyone then went home after cakes at Jade - a wise choice as the rain got heavier and heavier all day long). The weather was much better for the other March rides, attracting 10 out to lunch in Hallaton, although there was smaller numbers on other weekends.
April started with a long ride to Lullington on a blustery day. Despite an attempt to drown everyone with scalding water at Shackerstone Victorian Tea Parlour nine riders had an enervating day out.
We've had two car-assisted runs in the last three months as well as a three day tour in Shropshire, based in Bishops Castle. The first trip was from Waltham-on-the-Wold eastwards to Horbling, as always, fascinating to be in an area we don't know that well. Only Dave and Roger made the ride from Uppingham to Geddington on Mothers Day - experiencing a variety of weather, including snow! The Shropshire tour was a great success - since this was one of the sunniest Easters for years, and the scenery around the Long Mynd and in Central Wales is some some of the best in Britain, all the ingredients were in place for cycling at it's finest, many thanks to Dave for organising it.
April 15th started with dense fog, but turned into the brightest day of the year so far. We took a tweaked version of Route 6 along the river and canal through Leicester to Blaby, before taking to the overcrowded roads around Wistow. It wasn't long before we were back on tracks and canal paths (Route 6 again) for Foxton Locks and Great Bowden. Then we followed the quiet back lane to Welham and Hallaton for tea, finishing off with a perfect evening ride through Nosely, Houghton on the Hill and Ingarsby.
We have enjoyed excellent weather for our rides this quarter, beginning with the February ride led by Jan along Cloud Trail. This is the busy route along the disused railway track between Worthington and Derby, which takes in some lovely views in NW Leics. It is popular with cyclists, walkers and horse riders. Although it was quite cold it was lovely and sunny as we made our way through Kings Newton passing the old Market Cross and then on to the lake at Melbourne Hall. We were surprised how many wild fowl were on the lake and also the huge number of starlings in the trees on the hill next to the lake. From here we continued to Wilson village and then on to the track to Scotlands Farm. This began well but soon became very muddy at the edge of the golf course. We then made the descent to refreshments at the Breedon Garden Centre before returning to Worthington to recover the cars as it was beginning to look like rain, the sun had disappeared and it was more like a normal February day.
Andy led the March run from Victoria Park Gates, again it was sunny but quite cold. We passed the new Football Stadium and saw its roof parked in the car park where it had been blown by the February gales. On to the canal towpath along the Leicester Straight and under West Bridge. The wind was blowing so hard it was forming waves along and under the bridge at least two feet high, a sight I had never seen before. Bracing is the work I think! We continued on the towpath to Swans Weir and on to North Bridge and along the cutting to Watermead Park, into Wanlip and on to Mountsorrel for coffee. From here the route led through Rothley to the bridleway to Thurcaston and the track to Astill Lodge. From here Forest Way brought us back into Leicester.
The April ride was led by Eddy Asbury at Cannock Chase. He was supported by quite a number of Lichfield Section riders as well as myself, Jan and Andy. Although it was April 1st the weather did not fool us, it was a perfect Spring day with glorious sunshine the whole way. We left cars at Castle Ring and waved Joan and Eileen off on their hard day touring the craft centres in the area (by car admits Eileen). We began our ride on the edge of the Chase then climbed the hill to Wandon. On the way we were treated to the spectacle of a descending rider falling foul of an extremely muddy patch, not only did he come off but got well and truly stuck. We had been warned of this by Eddy, who had come to grief here on a previous ride, so were able to avoid
trouble. Through Wandon crossroads to the top of Stile Cop where hard men were attempting the downhill mountain bike course. After some thought Andy Rice of Lichfield gave it a try. Well done Andy, he survived where others were not so lucky.
Proceeding down the Mifline Valley we crossed the A460 choosing the track to Birches Valley Visitors Centre for elevenses. Here we met up with Ann and Sylvia who had decided on the road route rather than cross country. We carried on through
Walsley Plain, with many fallen trees showing the force of the February gale, and on down the Abraham Valley, Seven Springs and Devils Drumlle Ford, fortunately with stepping stones. Up to Hartshill and over Oat Hill finally reaching Milford for lunch.
After an enjoyable break our ride took us around the cuttings through Brockton Coppice, up Coppice Hill before dropping down to Sherbrook Valley, then zig zagged across back to Parrs Warren. Our tea stop was at the very busy visitors centre in Bradley Heath. Finally along Marquess Drive, across Beau Desert Old Park and back to Castle Ring and on to more tea and cakes at the home of Eddy and Joan.
An absolutely splendid day out, voted one of the best by everyone. The route is to be called 'Eddies Cannock Classic' and published by the Lichfield Group. A big thank you to Eddy for leading us for the second year, and to Joan for the delicious cakes and tea.
The next few months are busy with our visit to Ludlow in June. The rides will be based on the Mortimers Cross Loop. A bit hilly but wonderful scenery and the old town of Ludlow to enjoy as well. It is a pity that Janet Cooper will be away on holiday whilst we are there but she has very kindly sent us some interesting information to help us plan the weekend.
In 1997 the group produced a book to mark the centenary of the District Association called
"A Century of Cycling". It is made up of 172 pages and is both the story and a celebration of a century of cycle riding
in Leicestershire. Originally priced at £4-95 in 1997 it is now available for just £1 plus post and packing from: Eileen Johnson, Rosedene, Park Lane, Bagworth LE67 1BB Tel. 01530 230476.