Well, no-one came forward and volunteered to take over, so I assume that my first Cycle Chat wasn't so bad after all. I am sorry that it was a reduced edition but at the time I didn't have a lot of copy. This one is a bumper one with lots of interesting articles, photographs and reports etc, if I have missed anyone out please accept my apologies. I have again included some photographs but couldn't obviously use all that were sent in.
You all seem to have had a very busy summer despite the terrible weather we have had. I travelled with the family to Scotland where we had a really lovely holiday with glorious sunshine (sorry), visiting some really beautiful areas and enjoying lots of walking with the two grand children.
The AGM is almost with us again, this is of course when we elect a committee to steer us through the next twelve months. Will there be some new faces with different ideas? My thanks to John Hartshorne and all the DA committee for all of their outstanding work during the last two years and I look forward to perhaps meeting you at the DA AGM on November 4th at Botcheston village hall.
Late News: I received an e-mail from David Grimshaw with good news that Dennis Heggs has at last been discharged from hospital and is now living with his daughter and family. I know you will all join me in wishing Dennis all the very best.
We must firstly thank Ray for the splendid job he has done since Ken finished along with the many other jobs that he has taken on, I don't know how he finds the time.
We must also thank Ivy for taking over as editor of Cycle Chat, let's try and get runs lists, reports and any other copy in on time.
The Tri-Vets ride in June was my longest ride for some time and I think some thought that I was not capable of completing it, but it was a good route, and with some great company my brother Alan led us for about 65 miles until his saddle broke. Thanks to Ray and Keith for getting him home, also a big thank you to the organisers for a really enjoyable day out, and not forgetting all the ladies who kept us fed and watered.
Unfortunately the weather has not been very good this year and this I am sure affected my presidents ride with only six of us setting off from Coalville, this included two past presidents. A big thank you to Pearl who invited us for coffee at her home in Ibstock which was very welcome in such terrible weather.
We then cycled through Heather where we saw some of the scarecrows and at Shackerstone we found Thomas the tank engine steaming along. We met other members at the Globe Inn Snarestone for lunch including another four more past presidents. We all sat together around an open fire in the middle of July, so different from last year when the weather was so hot. This year has badly affected a number of events including the off road ride when only three riders braved the elements.
So, my two years as president are now almost over, I have some wonderful memories. I was particularly very proud to lay the wreath at Meriden service in May.
I would like to take this opportunity to say how much I have appreciated your support through the past two years and I look forward to seeing you all at the AGM in November.
Don't forget: Leicestershire & Rutland DA AGM is Sunday 4th November at Botcheston Village Hall at 10. 30 am
It's been quite a busy few weeks although the weather hasn't been too kind to us. At the time of writing we are having a respite from the floods and having a spell of fine weather to encourage us to get some miles in.
Some weeks ago, I had a call from the Shepshed Twinning Association. They were expecting a group of cyclists to descend on them for a weekend in June and could I lend a hand in sorting out a suitable ride. I attended a number of their meetings and arrangements were put in place for a welcoming reception, barn dance and skittles. I suggested to the committee that we should involve Ron and Eileen Johnson and Stephen Dee as they are experienced cyclists and know the area well. In the event, Stephen excelled himself by cycling to Northampton on the Thursday and led them to Shepshed on the Friday. After a reception at the Council offices, the French cyclists were taken off by their host families. They obviously enjoyed the barn dance and refreshments. On the Saturday, Stephen took us on a sight seeing tour taking in Mount St Bernards Abbey, Breedon Church and Melbourne. The skittles evening also went well. Sunday morning we waved goodbye to round off a very successful event. There is talk of the possibility of the DA making a return trip to Domont. Anyone who is interested please let me know.
I'm sure that there are a great number of members who were looking forward to seeing Josie Dew present the DA slide show this year. Things were in place up to a week ago. However, Josie has now asked for her presentation to be put back until November 2008. The reason being she now has a baby girl, Molly. She feels that it would be very complicated to bring her baby with her. Next year, the baby will be old enough, she thinks, to leave with her mother. It is still planned to put on a slide show with a photo competition.
Unfortunately, the Beaumanor camping weekend lost the unequal struggle against the weather this year. Half the campers went home on Sunday but we did manage some rides and Roger Lovell put an excellent film show on for us. Again I must thank Keith and Jean Lakin for their support in checking people in and clearing up at the end.
Some notable items have been issued by National Office recently. One is the new Toolkit. No, not a set of spanners but new various forms. These include risk assessment, event entry forms for members and non members, guest registration forms and incident report forms. The DA committee recently considered the new forms and we need to have clarification on when to use the forms. For instance, does a normal Sunday club run constitute an event? A question was raised about what happens if a club run doesn't have a nominated leader? The risk assessment form also seems quite comprehensive. The forms can be downloaded from the CTC website.
National Office has also produced a Policy handbook which, in effect, is a revision of the DA Handbook. At present, it amounts to 26 pages. It is still in a draft form and subject to consultation. Again, the documents can be downloaded from the CTC website.
On the topic of websites, the DA has co-opted John Catt onto the committee. John has now retired from his job in banking. During his first committee meeting he "volunteered" to act as auditor for Cycle Chat. And, thanks to John we now have a new website www.ctclr.zxq.net
I'd like to make a plug for the sponsored Ride and Stride event due to take place on Saturday 8th September. This is organised by the Leicestershire Historic Preservation Trust. The plan is that you cycle to churches of your choice and the sponsor money raised is split equally between the church of your choice and the Trust. Last year, a record of over £50,000 was raised towards the repair of our lovely old churches. So, it's an enjoyable day out and a good cause. I have sponsorship forms and all the details if required.
During the summer of 2007 I got a job as a part time local assistant working for a UK based holiday company offering hotel based (very) easy cycling holidays in France.
I had already told my boss that I intended to go part time in the summer, with or without his blessing, but recent politics in the office meant that when I saw a job advertised in the cycling press I was very interested indeed.
The job entailed acting as local mechanic maintaining and cleaning the bikes and being a local friendly British contact. The ability to speak French was a requirement and as a part of the interview was in spoken French, mine was obviously thought to be adequate although I don't rate it very highly. It seems, rather surprisingly, some of the local hotels used do not speak English, so an ability to communicate between clients and hotel staff was necessary.
The company (Susi Madron's Cycling for Softies) has a deal with ten groups of hotels spread throughout France, albeit in the easier cycling areas. Each group has approx. 4-5 hotels, and clients can follow one of the set tours, or make up their own. The hotels are all booked, and bikes provided, so all the clients have to do is turn up, ride and eat the two very substantial meals a day provided. The clients are not keen cyclists in the "club" sense, so the rides and routes offered are very moderate, some hotels being only 6 miles apart!
Nevertheless, they do ride, and therefore need some assistance with setting up the bikes and emergency help, although they are expected to be able to fix punctures themselves and how to do this is part of the customer training I would be expected to carry out. Many of the companies offering this type of holiday supply luggage transfers and airport collections, which obviously means a lot of driving around for someone. One of the attractions for me was that there was none of that with this job. Panniers were supplied for transporting their luggage between hotels and clients made their own way to and from airports and train stations etc.
Sat 28 April - the day before I left
After acting as finish timekeeper at my own club's (Leicestershire Road Club) Open 3 up Team Time Trial, I went out for a pub meal with friends as a bit of a farewell send off. All was well until the power went off and the whole of the village was plunged into darkness - a power failure!
This meant the pumps would not work, so there was no beer except out of bottles, but more importantly, the kitchen staff could not work without lights, which meant no food until the power came on.
After 3 quarters of an hour we were trying to decide if we should move to another location when the landlord made the decision for us - he was closing the pub as it would not be safe once it got fully dark.
A quick rethink and a trip past another pub to see if they could fit all seven of us in at short notice got a negative response, so the local takeaways got our business and we all went back to Jo & Dennis's place instead. Susi, my future employer, said I had to be prepared to be flexible in the job, but I hadn't realised it would start before I had even left!
Sun 29 April - I set off.
My plan was to ride all the way from home to a hotel near Le Mans, France, where Susi would meet me and we would drive down the rest of the way to my area, which is just south of Angouleme, in the Cognac and Charente area. For those who aren't up with the French map, this just over halfway down France and about 60 miles inland from the west coast. My journey would be split into 3 days in the UK, then another 3 days in France to do a 2 day ride, thus allowing a free day in France for sightseeing or whatever.
Today, after the final check around the house, I had to get down to Towcester where I had a bed booked in the Travelodge. My first choice had been the Youth Hostel in Milton Keynes, but this was fully booked - no doubt a school party had taken some beds and their policy now is to reserve the whole Hostel, to avoid the kids having to share with strangers. This therefore denies others the use of the Hostel - surely hardly what the founding members of the movement wanted?
I had managed to get everything packed into two panniers and a top bag and finally got going just before noon. It wasn't until I got to Towcester that I remembered I had forgotten to empty the kitchen waste bin, complete with food scraps. The smell after six months in a warm unventilated kitchen would be a really nice thing to come home to, so I rang my neighbour and asked her to empty it when she next went in to check things were all OK. Having no family living nearby makes you appreciate good neighbours and friends.
My route followed the Sustrans Cycle Route through Leicester (basically the canal) until Blaby after which I took to the quiet country lanes to Lutterworth. Although the forecast was warm and sunny, the day was actually very cool and overcast, but the north easterly wind was helpful. With the late departure and only having a relatively short ride to complete on local roads that I knew well, Morrison's Supermarket in Lutterworth was in just the right spot for lunch so I didn't argue. Emerging with a full belly a little later into the warm sunshine that had finally arrived, I removed a layer of clothing and rode off with bare legs but still with my arm warmers on. I was making good time as I approached Towcester and so stopped for a tea and teacake at an old set of farm buildings converted into a specialist shopping area and on the A5. Another diner introduced himself as a member of the "A5 Rangers Cycling Club" whose events I have ridden in the past, and he suggested a somewhat hilly but scenic route for the final run in. He actually offered me a bed for the night, but with the room already fully paid for, there was no point, but I was grateful for the offer. A trip into the Co-Op for some tea meant I didn't have to pay the high prices in the restaurant that night.55 miles
Mon 30 April
A lovely day all day - warm, sunny and a tailwind nearly all the time! I finished the last of last night's tea for breakfast in my room rather than waste the food and pay much more in the restaurant, "Waste not, want not!"
I had noticed the bike was handling badly and soon realised the panniers were set too far back on the carrier, so moved them forwards before setting off, only to stop again in a mile and repeat the process again. This made a dramatic difference; the bike felt more stable and the tendency for the front wheel to lift up whenever I wheeled the bike all but disappeared. I had wanted to avoid the complications of front panniers as the particular bike I was on had no "eyes" to attach them and they added even more weight. I had been thinking I had made the wrong decision, but this adjustment removed that doubt.
My route to the hotel last night had taken me along a dreadful ring road and I was determined not to repeat that mistake, so took care to find a quieter road back into Towcester and from there, a country lane passed Whittlewood Forest with its grand house with ornamental lake and grounds. Noticing it was open to the public and free (the grounds at least) I rode in and watched the deer but as soon as they saw me they took flight (do deer fly?). Perhaps it was my fluorescent yellow jersey they didn't like.
Buckingham was a town I had never been to and I spent a delightful hour or two here. Right smack in the middle of this surprisingly small town, no longer the Capital of Buckinghamshire, is the ancient town gaol, now turned into a museum, complete with inmates under lock and key (dummies of course). The town boasts a fine layout with wide streets and a nice array of small shops and cafes. A soup and roll set me up for the afternoon ride and I headed off again through more delightful lanes towards Thame. This was another first for me, and as Buckingham, I was pleased I had bothered. The sun was really warm by now as I found another café to drink tea and eat a scone. The town was very pretty, but all hopes of good photos were spoilt as usual by the parked cars in the squares.
Next stop was to be Wallingford. Although Thame is on the Thames, the river doesn't feature much as it's still pretty small, but by the time it has got to Wallingford, it has grown into a big river, complete with pleasure boats and riverside bars and restaurants. I had only to follow the Thames to get to Streatley Youth Hostel where a bed awaited me, and I had a choice of the main road, or the quieter, but hillier B road on the other side of the river. I chose the B road and paid for it with a puncture. I should not have been surprised as I had already suffered two punctures in the preceding week. For me, punctures come in groups of three. I go ages without, then have three in short succession; different bikes, different wheels, so it's not that I don't fix them properly. The Hostel was a welcome sight, but not the extremely steep slope up to the bike shed, and I had to dismount and walk the last few yards. I had remembered on the way down that the only other time I had stayed at Streatley Youth Hostel was while I was still at school. It was on a 2 weeks cycling holiday with a school friend and I can remember we swam in the River Thames. That would have been over 40 years ago, and I have now gone semi-retired! The evening meal in the hostel was bit basic and I was reminded again that I think the YHA has rather lost its way in these things - name tags on the table, but not very large helpings and not particularly well cooked food. Never mind - the pub next door was very welcoming and the pint slid down beautifully.65 miles
Tues 1 May.
My last day on British soil for 5 months!
My night's sleep was good, spoilt a bit by the footboard stopping me stretching out properly. I suppose they have to fit them for safety in the upper bunks (all the bottom ones in my dormitory were taken) but it is really annoying when trying to lie flat on my back to feel my feet pressed against the end.
After the previous evening's poor meal, breakfast was fine, and plenty of it, so with a full tummy and the sun already out strong and warm, I set off for Portsmouth and the overnight ferry to St. Malo. Streatley is at the foot of the Ridgeway Walk and one of the chaps in my dormitory was walking it. This meant there were only two choices of route - straight up onto the Ridge, a climb I just didn't fancy with stiff legs, or to try the flat main road along the river valley into Pangbourne and Theale. I stood and watched the traffic for a minute or two then decided the main road wasn't that busy, so chose that. I was also curious to see how much of the famous Pangbourne Lane I could remember from the only two occasions I had been along it. My older readers with an interest in Time Trialling will know that the stretch of road between Theale on the A4, commonly known as the Bath Road, was the start and finish of the famous "Bath Road Club" 100 miles time trial course. This course was the first one to see 100 miles in 4 hours beaten by a solo rider - Ray Booty in 1956. I wasn't there on that occasion, I was only 8 at the time, but can remember my dad getting excited over it. Some 7 or 8 years later, when I was getting properly interested in cycling, my dad and I rode out very early one Summer Bank Holiday Monday morning to watch this famous event. I can remember it was a scorching hot day, and the 120 miles round trip from our home in Croydon seemed an awfully long way. The only other time I had seen it was as a competitor myself in a 100 miles time trial. It wasn't in the famous Bath Road Club event, and I don't think 4 hours was beaten that day, but I was keen to experience a little bit of history before they stopped using the course, which happened not many years later. Traffic and other, faster courses taking riders away was the cause.
Anyway, before I set off on my trip down nostalgia lane, I returned to last night's pub, "The Bull at Streatley", for a photo as it was quite photogenic and historic. Parking my bike next to the traffic lights I realised there was smoke swirling around and looked for the source. A veteran MG sports car had caught fire whilst in the queue for the lights! It can only just have happened as two workmen got out of their van and started back towards it with fire extinguishers just as the sound of a fire engine could be heard approaching. The traffic behind the burning car couldn't get past it due to the oncoming traffic but until they did so, the brigade couldn't get to it. I decided to seize the initiative and take charge of the traffic, so, stepping into the middle of the traffic light controlled junction I signalled the main road traffic to wait and beckoned out those stuck behind the burning car. This did the trick and the brigade was then able to get to the car and quickly get to work with their hoses. I left them to it and set off, but recognised nothing along either Pangbourne Lane or the short stretch of the A4 Bath Road I followed before turning off. This turning takes you onto the road past the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston with its heavily guarded and protected perimeter fence. Some pleasant lanes took me over the Berkshire Downs to my first planned stop - Overton, a place I had been to before and where I knew I should be able to get a drink and a cake of some kind, so was pleased to find a choice of two small tea rooms. I think I must have made the correct choice as the village delicatessen served a lovely pot of tea and two cakes for only £3. I was so surprised at the value for money that I queried if they had charged me for both cakes! (yes).
By the time I left, the sun was getting quite strong, and with the tailwind, the climb out of the village made me sweat hard. I knew I had a long ride to do today, about 75-80 miles depending on my route, so wanted to stop only twice or I would start to worry about missing the ferry. A good look at the map showed me some quiet lanes that ran through more small villages and I soon was at New Alresford, famous for its "Watercress Line" preserved steam railway. The train wasn't running today - too early in the season, but the cafes and pubs were open. It was possibly a little soon to stop again, but having thought about my route into Portsmouth and not wanting to get onto busy roads until the last possible moment, realised I may not get another chance, so locked the bike and had a salad lunch. My final run into Portsmouth took me to the top of Portsdown Hill, which overlooks the entire area. This was quite a hard climb, but the view from the top got the camera out of the bag. The descent into Portsmouth was great, but the roads in the City itself were dreadfully busy. I finally made it to the front at Southsea at 4.15pm, some 3œ hours before I needed to be at the ferry, so made use of the time by drinking tea, sending a couple of postcards announcing my safe arrival, and to avoid any last minute panics, found the port entrance for later reference. I had time to get on board, find my cabin and have a shower before the ferry pulled out in the dusk. It was quite a magical moment - the fading light on a still warm lovely day, the lights coming on in Portsmouth and the thought that the next time I saw England the summer would be over and my little adventure would be just a memory.
After catching up on some notes and downloading photos, I wandered along to the bar/showroom to see the end of Liverpool beating Chelsea in a European Football Cup Match of some sort, before the magician took to the floor. His first trick was pretty easy to see through, as it involved little more than a mechanical prop to support his (very) glamorous assistant whilst he removed all but one of the supports beneath her. The next where he seemed to make her disappear in a box was obviously done by her bending in the correct manner. However, his third and final trick, in which he got a member of the audience to participate, was much better. He tied his assistant with a long length of rope and her hands behind her then asked the jacketed gentleman to stand in a skirted hoop that reached to the floor. The girl, still tied up, stepped in behind him; the hoop was raised for no longer than 15 seconds, and then dropped again. The man's jacket was now on the girl, complete with rope tied around the outside of it! It was obvious the way the rope had been wound and tied allowed her to do some manipulation, but it was impressive. By now my eyes were getting sleepy with the sun and two beers, so it wasn't long before the next act, a live musician, lost my attention and I took to my cabin bunk.81 miles
Wednesday 2 May
The crossing had been good, and I was tired, but for some reason I didn't sleep too well and when the alarm went at 6.30 I was already awake, despite the total lack of light in the cabin. Last night I had been one of the first on the boat, but today I was one of the last off, simply because the panniers on the bike made it too wide to fit between the large removals vans blocking my exit to the ramp. As these vans were all British registered it did seem to indicate the one way movement of house relocation the TV programmes are so keen to show us when they follow "Henry and Samantha" or some other well heeled couple, relocating to a hovel in need of renovation in rural France. I have been to St. Malo once before and recalled it as a nice place, but my memory had let me down; it's actually a very nice place. The old town was actually very badly damaged during WW11, but the locals decided that they would rebuild it just as it was, based on photos and plans that survived. The day's weather was wall to wall sunshine all day, but the wind was keen, and, coming from the East, decidedly cool, but tolerable. First port of call was a brasserie (basic restaurant) for breakfast. I took my time and it was nearly 10am before I paid up. I had already decided I would stop in St. Malo as I needed a rest after yesterday's ride which had been quite long and also that I wanted to look around again. The Youth Hostel was found and a bed booked, but I wouldn't be able to get into the dormitory before 4pm but could leave my panniers with the manager. The rest of the day was spent just wandering around this walled city with attractive café bars on every corner. Being early in the season there weren't too many crowds to spoil things. As I made my way back to the hostel my eye was taken by the bright sails of the kite surfers and I stood and watched as the large kites they were using dragged them at breakneck speed through the surf on their surfboards. The really good guys were taking off and being lifted high into the air, turning somersaults and then coming back down and surfing again. My evening was enlightened by joining in the chat with some young Canadian guys and Kiwi girls chatting and exchanging experiences of their travels.9 miles
Thursday 3 May.
I slept like a log last night, probably as a result of the build up of tiredness and the poor night on the boat, so much so that I never heard my Canadian room mates come in at midnight after being in a bar until it closed. I had already made up my mind to move on, but it wasn't until after breakfast that I finally picked a destination - Rennes, via Dinan, the next coastal town to the west. I found Dinard a confusing place, having no real centre and nowhere near the choice of beaches in St. Malo. I didn't stay long and was soon making my way due south on the short ride to Dinan, a place I had last visited 17 years ago. I remembered it having lots of half timbered old buildings going down to the old port on the Rance, the same river that flows between St Malo and Dinard. I wasn't disappointed - it was every bit as good as I thought and I spent a couple of hours there searching for that elusive photo that would capture the essence of the place. I had seen a very small route which would take me onto the D2 road I wanted, and ignored the "Road Closed" signs and followed the river to the tiny hamlet of Lehon with its ancient Abbey, then a steep climb up before a rather boring ride to Rennes where I managed to not only get a bed in the Youth Hostel, I actually had the double room to myself!58 miles
Friday 4 May.
Not having made my mind up where to go today, and the day being overcast and decidedly cool, if not actually cold, I was in no rush to be up and away, so I checked out but left my pannier bags in the baggage room, thinking I would have a quick look around Rennes city centre before moving on later. A cycle path running beside the canal was a quick and convenient way in and I was soon there. I had not anticipated much, but was very pleasantly surprised. The city had managed to retain many of its old buildings and quite a few streets were still as they were built in mediaeval times, albeit with modern shops and restaurants to keep them alive. Plenty of large squares and the lovely park (Parc du Thabor) with its ornamental gardens and aviaries made for quite an attractive place. I was really surprised to find they even had a Metro underground line running across the central part of the city! One feature did catch my eye and that was the free cycle loan facility. This is a system whereby the user gets a card from various points around the City after proving their identity. The card is then inserted into a mechanism that releases the bike and returns the card, but not before registering who has taken the cycle. When you have finished with the bike, you return it to any of the parking stands that are located throughout the City and your card is wiped clean again. This means you can only get one cycle at a time and you are identified as having that bike, thus deterring any theft. The bikes are quite distinctive, being unisex, with a basket on the front, small wheels and easily adjustable saddle. Mudguards and a chain guard keep the user clean. Hub dynamo driven lights are fitted. I saw quite a few being ridden, one or two being collected and returned, and even a vehicle picking them up for return to the workshop for maintenance. This was part of the City's attempt to encourage the use of cycles for environmental reasons. Cycle lanes were everywhere, and motorists were considerate. If only the British could get over their prejudice against cycles we could have something similar here.
I was not very warm and lingered over a large coffee weighing up my options before deciding I would stay another night and catch up on photo work and do some washing in the Hostel laundry. I realised I would probably get in again without booking, but actually got the same room as before, and still with only me in it. I normally just hand wash, but with the cool weather and no washing line combining to make drying difficult, together with the need to be reasonably clean and tidy when I met Susi my new employer on Sunday, I thought I should do the job properly. Lunch was simply a large filled baguette from a café, but was adequate. I cooked a proper meal later at the Hostel, despite the lack of utensils and crockery most French Hostels seem to suffer from.4 miles
Saturday 5 May
Today I had to meet my new employer in Vaiges, some 50 or so miles to the east of Rennes, and as the easterly wind (thus in my face) was showing no signs of easing or changing, knew I would have a harder time than the last few days. My route away from Rennes was to be via quiet roads, and as is the norm in any large city, finding the exact road was not easy. There were plenty of signs onto the Routes Nationale and Autoroutes, but very few to anywhere else. In trying to pick it up I again passed by the entrance to the beautiful Parc du Thabor and I stopped to take a few photos, not having done so the day before. It wasn't too long after that I found the correct road and this took me out through some very modern, but lengthy suburbs into open countryside. I had set off in shorts and short sleeves, but couldn't get warm so put on an extra layer to keep the wind off. This part of France is rather flat and to my mind, rather boring, having had many of the hedges and trees removed in the name of agricultural efficiency, and no hills to speak of, just gently rolling wide open countryside.
I had gone but 10 miles when I saw a patisserie and realised I had not yet had a cake on any of my days out. A slab of custard slice took my eye, but I hadn't realised just how big it was until I sat down in a bus shelter to eat it! Bike riding gives you stamina, so I called on mine to get me through to the last morsel, and very tasty it was too. My next town of any size was Vitre, a town whose entrance is dominated by the enormous Chateau which just can't be missed by anyone approaching. The modern road takes today's traveller past the outside, but even so, the ancient timbered streets can be easily seen. I stopped and wandered for nearly an hour, just taking photos and drinking in the atmosphere.
The Chateau was originally built in the 11th Century and has been worked on and modified ever since. Whilst many Chateaux in France are just stately homes, this one was real castle, complete with drawbridge split in two widths; one for horse and cart, and a narrower one for pedestrians. It was free to enter the courtyard of the castle, but a fee was payable to enter the rooms themselves. Time did not allow a full visit, but I was glad I had stopped. I polished off a few uneaten biscuits and a banana I had been carrying and continued to Laval. The normal entrance to this quite busy city is by major road unless you read the map carefully and do what I did, which was to come in from the North West and follow the banks of the River Mayenne, the river that gives its name to the general area of this part of France. I didn't linger in Laval, it was much the same as any other city, busy and noisy, but without the attractive parts I wanted. Perhaps they were there and I do it a disservice, but by now I wanted the day over and so ploughed on the remaining 20 or so miles along more rather boring roads to my final destination - Vaiges. Here I was welcomed by the Hotelier and his wife, who had been told to expect me, and was shown to a lovely room. After a shower and a stroll around the village, a stroll which didn't last long as there's not much to Vaiges, I returned to see Susi Madron in the bar with an aperitif waiting for me. The evening meal was plentiful and very tasty, and we chatted away, or at least she did as I was a bit tired, until the lure of my bed was too strong and I had to make my apologies.68 miles
A new DA Website has been established at www.ctclr.zxq.net and is being developed by John Catt. John would welcome ideas as to what should be included.
The Website is the view provided to the online world of the DA activities. This will complement the existing yahoo discussion forum which can be found at http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/CTC_Leics_and_Rutland or you can follow the link from the new website home page (top left). There is also an option to join if you have not already done so (bottom left).
The yahoo discussion forum is for members only and provides a platform to share ideas. If you have any suggestions for development of the website please post them there. You do not have to be copied in on all the messages posted to the yahoo board. Various options are available to members including only viewing messages when they visit the site.
Ideally John would like to share the development and maintenance of the site with others. If you are interested (John would be pleased to coach any one interested to a basic level) please get in touch with him, either through the discussion board or by e-mail (email@example.com).
For the 22nd year in succession the Heart of the Shires Audax took place on the 3rd June based at the Youth Club at Stanton Under Bardon. A lovely sunny day saw a field of approximately 90 riders completing either the 100 or 200k routes.
The event was in two 100 kilometre loops, mainly along country lanes, with the first of the two heading north-west, passing through Copt Oak, Loughborough, Cotes, Rempstone, Wysall, Plumtree and on into the Vale of Belvoir via Cropwell Bishop and Harby, to climb the Belvoir ridge before arriving at Lakeview fishery after 56k for an event control and refreshments.
After passing through Melton Mowbray lanes were followed through Eye Kettleby, Kirkby Bellars, Frisby on the Wreake and Rothley before climbing back over Charnwood Forest to Stanton under Bardon.
For those carrying on for the second loop the route headed south through Bagworth, Nailstone, Sheepy Magna to arrive at Nether Whitacre for the 138k control and a welcome drink at the garden centre. The tiny villages of Furnace End and Church End were passed through before the route guided riders through Corley Moor, Shilton and Wolvey to return to Stanton via Croft, Thurlaston and Desford.
The event attracted many out of county riders, including Chris and Richard Delf of North Yorks ctc, currently the national CTC touring champions at senior and junior level, along with Jim Hopper of Derby DA who completed the event on a tricycle, and Chris Narborough from Netherseal who, as part of the Audax UK fixed wheel challenge, rode the 200k using a fixed wheel.
Local riders were thinner on the ground, but it was nice to see the Loughborough A section out in force, along with Ivan and Ben Waddington. It was a very successful day with many compliments over the route, and I would like to thank my mum and dad (David and Gill Bull), my brother Rob, Howard and Betty Naylor, Mick Cooper, John Allen and Pete Gale for giving up their free time and helping me to make it so.Lyn Dolphin
Having ridden 900 miles across France from north (Dieppe) to south (the Camargue) in 2004, Wendy and me decided on another, perhaps easier, challenge for 2006 - a ride from the Atlantic Ocean (at Arcachon) to the Mediterranean (at Gruissan Plage). We also fancied riding some of the way along the Canal du Midi.
We were joined by fellow West Suffolk Wheelers' member Ted Cross. He had not ridden an awful lot in recent years and doubted his own ability to make the trip. Much to his surprise, and delight, he completed it much stronger than when he started and was glad we had persuaded him to come along.
His wife, WSW life member Anne, not wanting to miss the action, drove their car and provided support. Thus we were able to get to our starting point at Arcachon fairly easily and then take our time returning to the UK afterwards.
The CTC kindly furnished routes recorded by other members but, apart from making a few rough calculations from maps and meeting a couple of times beforehand, we didn't put a lot of organisation into the ride.
We did, however, book our first and second nights' accommodation before we went and I sent an e-mail to the tourist office at Langon which, to this day, has remained unanswered. Having plotted a rough route, we played it very much by ear. We chose April/May for the ride as the temperatures are still quite low and we have found this is the most comfortable time to cycling in the south of France.
We had a dry ride - the only rain occurred for about 20 minutes, co-inciding with a coffee stop at Grissolles, north of Toulouse. This was just before we made our first assault on the canal towpath. To make things a bit easier we stayed within reach of main towns and motorway junctions (a ploy that had been successful on our previous ride) so as to ensure a plentiful supply of hotels for overnight stops. We had no real problem with accommodation. The nicest overnight stay was at the Chateau le Grenier, a chambre d'hote at St Leger, near Aiguillon.
We read accounts of previous rides on this route (which all seemed to start from Bordeaux airport) about needing a towpath permit. We decided to risk it and not bother. All in all we found the towpaths a little disappointing. As they seem such an obvious cycle tourist attraction, we had expected better signposting and surfaces, especially through Toulouse, where it all seemed very hit and miss - at one point we followed the wrong canal!
Of course there were places where it was a joy to ride 'traffic free' but Wendy and me were certainly glad of the 32mm tyres we put on for the trip. We had also decided to use our trusty Giant mountain bikes (as we had in 2004). Ted managed quite well on a road bike with 28mm tyres.
The only mishap occurred on the first day when our support car ran over my back wheel. I had foolishly left my bike lying on the ground behind the car when we stopped for a breather. I repaired the wheel with a spoke key and plenty of patience later that day, managing to get it serviceable.
Wendy punctured her front tyre minutes after we had completed the ride at Gruissan Plage! we had in 2004).
We used IGN one cm to one km maps which we found were almost a necessity on those occasions when we were away from the canal, although we also made good use of the N113 main road at times.
Having a support car was a real boon as we were not burdened with luggage - we would not have liked to have ridden on some parts of the canal weighed down with panniers. We kept in touch with the support vehicle by mobile phone (which was a costly exercise at around £1 a minute) and a walkie talkie, which worked sometimes.
We wasted a certain amount of time when communications broke down. A signal for the mobiles' was often almost non-existent. Anne did extremely well to find her way through towns and cities, single handed, on strange roads and having to use a map. Hers was probably the hardest and most nerve-racking task!
Our route was: Arcachon (SW of Bordeaux), St Symphorien, Marmande, St Leger, St Loup, Montauban, Toulouse, Castelnaudray, Carcassonne, Narbonne, Gruissan Plage. In all we covered 382 mile in 10 days.Ken Hoxley
On a recent holiday is the Scottish Highlands I came across a small cycle shop at Strathpeffer, and much to my surprise, by the entrance were two penny farthings - the model is smaller than the original, 36" front wheel, modern rims, tyres and inner tubes, built in Taiwan at a cost of £250.
Some were used in the local Victorian carnival. The village was very popular as a 'spa' centre hence the large number of hotels. Also, before the local railway station closed, people travelled from as far as London to try the waters.
The railway station is now a café, museum, shop and wood carver. The latter has just completed two six foot model wood carvings of a man and a woman, each taking two months to complete, these may finally stand in the village square.Phil Allen
110 years ago - almost exactly to the day, this edition of 'Cycle Chat' is published, the first official ride of our District Association took place.
Starting from Victoria Park Gates and then by way of Glen Major (now Great Glen) and on to Wistow to the Bath Hotel, Shearsby Spa (re-enacted on various anniversaries). CTC members of that year would be wearing silver filigree locket badges containing a metal membership disc. This view shows such a badge with an 1897 membership disc. The disc colours for that year were red and white, quite prophetic this as in 1928 the golden jubilee year of the CTC "DA's" nationwide were given colours, ours being red and white!
Our grateful thanks to Ian Hill, secretary of neighbouring Derby DA for the picture.
Superb limited edition replicas of these Victorian filigree badges were produced by the CTC in either gold or silver for the CTC Centenary Year of 1978. I was presented with a silver one by a life long CTC member and Ivy was given a gold one. Recently a member of our local village found one in his garden and although it had some damage to the spokes it was in quite good condition. It was made to be worn as a necklace and since he had no interest in it, he sold it to Ivy.
The Charnwood Section has the Bill Randon Memorial Trophy which includes an original locket badge and a 1" diameter silver filigree badge - not the locket type.
Incidentally, back in 1888, CTC began placing two foot diameter cast iron "winged wheel" plaques on establishments recommended by the club. Our "winged wheel" heritage symbol still appear frequently next to the modern logo "working for cycling".
Amongst our archive material we have a plaster replica donated by the late Ted Nevett of Birmingham and Midland DA. These plaques can still be seen around the country. Recently on a family holiday in Dumfries and Galloway we photographed one of these on the wall of Waterstones in the centre of Dumfries. On enquiring we were informed that the premises was formally "The County Hotel".
Keith Matthews of Wessex CTC has set up a website on this subject.John Allen
On Sunday 5th August as there was no Birthday Rides this year, Ron Johnson organised a "Birthday Picnic" to celebrate the 129th birthday of the CTC and our own 110th anniversary.
This was based at the Museum of Technology on Corporation Road in Leicester. The weather was glorious as cyclists and friends gathered. A birthday cake was made by Jean Lakin and it was, as usual, delicious. Eileen Johnson and Jean provided endless tea and cakes, many thanks ladies.
Pictured left is Brian March, a founder member of the Desford Lane Pedllers, who brought his 1884 Quadrant Tricycle to the picnic. He was also wearing an original silver filigree badge.
The Quadrant bit refers to the front wheel steering mechanism.
According to an answer to a parliamentary question, in 2005 seven cyclists were killed in 'personal injury road accidents' in which a 'poor or defective road surface', 'deposits on the road' or 'slippery road' was reported as a contributory factor by the attending police officer.
For CTC's on-line road defect reporting facility see: www.fillthathole.org.uk
You can report rights of was obstruction too through: www.clearthattrail.org.uk
Seen a pothole? Know where there's a pothole? Perhaps you've hit a pothole. Don't just moan about it - dial the county council pothole hotline.
This unfortunately clashed with the Meriden Service (not our fault - they altered their date!) and it rained and rained.
Entries were somewhat down but nevertheless 24 riders braved the elements for the 16, 25 or 50 miles radiating from Thornton Nurseries, "The Fuchsia Centre", where once again we were made so welcome by proprietor and former CTC member John Smith and his family. Those cycling to and from the event will have their total mileages for the day on their "years record" DA certificate.
Great support was again given to the event by Leicestershire Road Club members who include it as part of their Sunday ride, several of whom are also CTC members. No-one attempted the longest distance of 110 miles in such conditions. Thanks to all who supported the event, now well established on our Calendar.
It was great to see the Staples family of Burton-on-the-Wolds taking part, comprising of Mum and Dad, Lindsey and Trevor, and sons Stephen and Tim. They completed the 16 miles ride. Congratulations.Keith Lakin and John Allen Contents
Superb weather was forecast and it duly arrived for this national event with this ride hosted by us as part of our 110th Anniversary Year. Held every three years for almost eighty years, veteran riders over the age of fifty, complete a 100 mile touring route in a maximum of 12 hours including ample meal stops. These ample meal stops this year were organised by Jean Lakin and Ivy Allen, ably assisted by Judy Smith and Betty Naylor, with Pearl Thompson providing a mobile cuppa in the morning from her new vehicle.
Keith Lakin re-vamped the routes from the tried and tested Market Bosworth HQ with a fifty mile circular route which included 'elevenses' at the National Forest Centre at Rosliston before returning to Bosworth for lunch.
Then it was off for a thirty five miles ride south to return to Bosworth for tea. A fifteen mile final leg brought the groups to the finish and more food and drinks.
Our oldest successful rider was Richard Taylor of Kettering in his 81st year, just a little older than the event itself! Other riders came from as far afield as Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Northants in addition to "home" riders.
Several of these did valiant service as group leaders including Alan Hartshorne who after over sixty miles had to retire due to a severe saddle problems, thanks again Alan.
Another wonderful contribution was made by Roy Dayman who 'volunteered to be our 'sweeper' for the day, encouraging some of the slower riders to complete the event in time, this despite a painful back thanks Roy, you made our day.
Thanks to the "team" who took part and helped generate a wonderful atmosphere as always on this event. See you in 2010!
Forty riders entered but we had several last minute non starters due to illness etc.John Allen Contents
Those of you who attended the Charnwood Section Slide Show on the subject of the Levant Mine at the end of March will recall that a collection was made on behalf of the BBC Ruby Rainbow Appeal. A total of £30 was handed over to the BBC and a certificate for inclusion in the Charnwood Section Scrap Book was received. Thank you to all those who contributed.John Dickinson
The Thompson family would like to thank everyone for their sympathy cards, letters and support to us. It was greatly appreciated and a comfort to know how much Richard was liked and respected.
It was lovely to see so many at the funeral and the touching service given by the Rev. John Dawson offered support and hope to the family.
We would like to give a special thank you to the Loiterers Section for their beautiful planter filled with bright summer flowers to lift the spirits and think of better things to come.Pearl Thompson Contents
I have been inundated with get well cards after my recent stroke. I am pleased to say that I am making a recovery, all be it very slow. I am going in the right direction and starting to move certain parts of my limbs.
Lying in this bed, one appreciates the simple things of life, no more than sitting on a bike and turning the pedals. Perhaps the weather has not been conducive of late but I assure you that I would enjoy every drop of rain that fell on me.
However, I fully intend to rejoin you in the happy band of cyclists, but I realise that it will be limited and in a different area. I am going to live with my daughter at Northampton at, 7, Spinney Drive, Collingtree, Northants NN4 0NG This will give me the opportunity to explore a new area. I wish you all well and thank you for the time spent among you.
CTC East Midlands Region
We held the CTC East Midlands Region camping rally again this year over the Spring Bank Holiday period at Beaumanor Hall. The event was blighted by, surprise, surprise, the most awful weather. The event opened with campers arriving, mostly on their bikes, Friday evening. The weather fortunately at that time was OK and we were able to at least put up out tents in the dry.
Even on Saturday the weather wasn't too bad and we had some good rides. Max Scott led a 50 mile ride to the Melton Mowbray area after having coffee at Land Dyke Lane. Yours truly took a group for a more modest ride to Hickling for lunch. Things didn't all go to plan since a puncture delayed us considerably so we skipped the coffee stop.
In the past, on the Saturday night, we've travelled to the Leicester Film Festival, courtesy of a vintage Barton's bus, but, unfortunately, the dates didn't coincide this year. So we were treated to a film show on site by Roger Lovell from Cyclemagic. The show was very well received and I'm grateful to Roger for stepping in to help us out. He put on a film show and talked about the work of Cyclemagic who renovate bikes for underprivileged mainly young people. Roger also gave us a history of the association of Leicester and cycling and the characters involved.
By this time, the weather had really closed in. Poor Alan Hartshorne had drawn the short straw to lead the Sunday ride. He took a group of diehards to the Market Bosworth area. From what I hear, the group spent more time drinking coffee than cycling! A good proportion of the campers had decided to cut their losses and pack up and go home on Sunday and who could blame them. Only about a dozen of us were left out of the forty or so original campers.
Again, we usually ramble over the fields to a watering hole in Woodhouse Eaves on the Sunday night. Not to be outdone, we decided to walk to the village but use the track which wasn't too muddy. The best laid plans go awry sometimes. Our usual pub was closed! Fortunately, Woodhouse Eaves is quite well served with pubs so plan B was put into action and we managed to get suitably lubricated.
It was still raining on Monday and we had to say goodbye to the Northampton contingent. The usual Monday morning ride was cancelled and we called it a day at 12 noon instead of 3 pm as advertised.
So, all in all, because of the weather, the Beaumanor camping weekend was disappointing this year. But, then, we haven't had much of a summer and it hasn't exactly been ideal camping conditions lately. Maybe we shall be luckier next year.Ray Clay
Roof Rack Bike Carrier
When "Cycling Plus" recommended the Thule ProRide 591 in the June edition, I took note. My old rack was 20 years old, and depended on parts from others to keep it usable. At £75 per bike the 591 is expensive, so I needed a good recommendation before spending so much. In addition you need a pair of cross-members suitable for your particular car.
The Thule 591 holds the bike upright on the roof without the need to remove the wheels. An adjustable arm clamps around the down-tube just above the position of the chainwheels. The wheels are strapped into easily adjustable cups. It might seem capable of holding any bike, but I found one exception: My tourer has a 3rd bottle cage fitting underneath the down-tube. I would have to remove the cage to fit that particular bike.
I always fit a touring bike to a roof-rack so that it points backwards. Why? 'Cos that stops the 70mph wind getting inside the mudguards and breaking off the free ends! It must also marginally help fuel consumption. If you need to fit more than one unit to the roof, then it's fairly easy to switch the fittings around on the Thule 591 to ensure all the bikes point to the rear, whichever side the bike is loaded from. But if you need to carry two bikes, then you could save money with the Halfords own brand Twin Deluxe carrier for under £50.
There are other models which require the front wheel to be removed to allow the front forks to be clamped - you just have to remember to load the front wheel into the car! And there are rear carriers, but they usually require extra number plates, and even stop lights to be strictly legal. The best option is to carry a bike, or two, or even three, inside the car; that keeps it more secure and dry, and frees the driver from getting the blame when driving under a low height barrier!
"Not Invented Here"
Ask at any bike shop, or indeed at the York Show (as it's now called) for a waterproof saddle cover, and you'll get that response. A plastic bag may be cheap and available, but does nothing for your bike's appearance. Many plastic bags now have perforations for safety, and biodegradability means they easily tear and let in the rain. There is a firm that makes long-lasting waterproof seat covers; but they keep a very low profile. "Eager Clothing" have no website, and seem to advertise only in Winter! They supply seat covers in either wide or narrow sizes, depending on whether you have a touring or racing style saddle. Cost is £4.20 plus P&P. To order phone them on 01686 640873, and ask for their catalogue.
Overshoes for Summer
With the torrential Summer of 2007, I have found another product from "Eager Clothing" to be invaluable - their velcro fitting overshoe. These are less bulky than the usual thick Winter thermal type of overshoe, and easy to keep with other rainwear in the saddlebag. They were reviewed recently by Chris Juden in the CTC's "Cycle" magazine, They work OK with SPD shoes, and are available though some retail shops. They are not cheap at £18.80, but what price dry feet this year! The review in "Cycle" suggests going for a slightly larger size than your shoes is advisable. The phone number to order is as above.Contents
When the Tour de France visited London for the prologue, a group of British medal winners from the past were specially invited, and received V.I.P. treatment. Bob Maitland, who was himself a Tour de France rider, was accompanied by Gill Lord. Gill reports that as they were approached by another party, an elderly lady in the V.I.P. group spotted a familiar face and exclaimed "I know you - you're a cyclist, aren't you?".
"I don't think so." came back the reply, "I'm the Mayor!".Contents
Understandably things have been a bit quiet since the sad loss of Dick Thompson but nevertheless two rides have been held most Sundays to suit all tastes. The section has once again done a fantastic job on behalf of the DA in organising, helping and supporting CTC events and the national CTC Triennial Veterans Rides which we hosted.
Our AGM in October gives us the opportunity to discuss all matters affecting the section and to appoint a committee to guide us through the following twelve months.
Roland Smith has co-ordinated the longer rides and Betty Naylor the "easy riders", thanks to you both and to all the leaders and riders. Yours truly is not seen on club runs these days something I must address but I meet up with Charnwood members on county CTC and social events and enjoy my chats with all the runs leaders when they ring in on a Sunday evening with details for my weekly CTC column in the Coalville, Ashby and now Swadlincote Times. I am certainly with them in spirit.
Wife Ivy has done a wonderful job for the DA, without her the Tri-Vets rides wouldn't have been the success they were and of course she has taken on the editors job of "Cycle Chat". She is a very active member of several organisations and a very busy mother and grandmother, certainly her late father and Charnwood section president Joe Upton would have been very proud of her as all her family are.
Jean and Keith Lakin of course have also done a really magnificent job organising on the CTC county scene as have Lyn Dolphin, Eileen and Ron Johnson and I hope myself.
At the end of April we celebrated our 56th anniversary just as we have always done every year with an anniversary ride and tea, this year again at Whitwick Sports and Social Club.
The previous month John Dickinson presented our annual slide show featuring the Lavent Tin Mine in Cornwall of which he is a trustee.
Founder of the section brother Phil still does sterling work as a right to ride member covering North West Leicestershire.
Another long serving member Alex Thomson now in his 86th year rarely misses a ride on his trike. Mary Margoschis rides a recumbant at a similar age! No Charnwood member has longer CTC service than our president Howard Naylor who celebrates 60 years membership this year.
Our forthcoming programme contains much variety which we hope will encourage greater participation and attract new members, just as Dick always endeavoured to do.Contents
This time I start with an apology for missing the deadline for the previous edition of Cycle Chat so this report covers the last six months.
The second weekend in February saw a small group of riders putting on the walking boots rather than cycling shoes. Jayne, Shane, Gill and I spent a weekend at Llwyn y Celin Youth Hostel in the Brecons. For me this was instead of taking part in the Cotswold Corker. I felt I'd made the right choice as we had deep snow under foot and even walking was hard work.
Later in the week I found myself cycling through flood water up to the bottom bracket on the way to work up Riverside Way. An alternative route had to be used for a while as there was a layer of about six inches of silt left on the path once the water receded.
The next weekend I rode Malmesbury Mash 200k audax from Cardiff. The organiser had turned the route around this year so that we had a hard first 30k instead of a hard last 30k. The change was much appreciated. This ride always coincides with the Beaufort Hunt Lawn Meet at Badminton and the lanes were treacherously slippery where the horse boxes had smeared a thin layer of mud on the road. It was like riding on ice for about a mile, I survived unscathed but heard later that one rider fell and fractured a hip.
On a beautiful Sunday later in the month Shane, Jayne, Roy, Gill Bernard, Dave, Neil and I started off on a route that took us across an old airfield near Desborough to meet Mick Arnold and Peter Witting at East Carlton. As the ride progressed it gradually clouded over and went very cold.
On the way to the lunch stop at the Neville Arms Roy's gear hanger bent. Roy is an artist at bodgery and managed to continue riding a bike held together with cable ties and bungies.. The cold damp air aggravated Shane's asthma but fortunately Maggie had driven over to have lunch with us and was able to give Shane a lift home.
In my last message about the South Leics Sections ride I bemoaned the loss of the Thai food at Creaton. On the last weekend in February we visited for the first time since the change of landlord. While they were very welcoming neither the food nor the beer were good enough to keep that stop on our regular schedule. This ride was also notable because Paul Sharpe tried out his new tandem to the coffee stop at Catthorpe - on his own!
Final note about February - my month was blighted by a spate of p***s.
The first weekend in March was as always the David Sulley Memorial rides. The South Leicestershire was well represented but I'm sure someone else will provide a more detailed report on this character building ride, (yes it was wet and windy).
I completed the Cheltenham Flyer 200k on new my fixed gear bike. It was a gorgeous spring day and a first long outing on my new frame with rear facing dropouts. I thoroughly enjoyed it and nearly finished in daylight for my second fastest ever 200k The middle of March brought us some very unsettled weather. One Sunday it was so windy that we cut the run short, coffee should have been at Hallaton, but we turned at Kibworth and went via Wistow to Beanbags with Gill, Bernard, Shane, Neil and Jayne. Roy went on alone from Kibworth as he had arranged to meet Maggie at the lunch stop, Somerby. This windy weekend was followed by a short cold snap.
At the end of March Jayne and I took a weeks break in Mallorca to meet up with friends from previous cycling holidays. We also rode for a couple of days with Gill and Bernard who were there for a longer stay. The weather was pleasantly warm but there were some torrential downpours. April brought us an early taste of summer and the progression to longer audax rides for Neil and I as part of the build up to the Paris Brest Paris 1200km ride in August.
Jayne was persuaded by Roy to stoke on his tandem for the Skeggy run in May so on the middle weekend of April Jayne got some practice on a ride in really hot weather which took us to Thornton for coffee, lunch at Packington then a tour of Swadlincote town centre (via a flight of steps out of Morrison's car park) and another pub stop at the Belper Arms, Newton Burgoland which claims to be the oldest pub in Leicestershire on the way home.
I did my fastest ever 300k on the Everybody Rides to Skeggy audax. I rode it on fixed but was useless for the clubrun on the next day. I had a wobble round via Beanbags while the rest of the group visited Hallaton and Owston to see the Melton Classic Cycle Race.
Jayne and Roy did the Skeggy ride from the Clock Tower in Leicester near the end of May on Roy's tandem. This ride has previously attracted large numbers of local riders but this time Jayne and Roy were the only riders opting for an overnight stop in Skegness. They had a wet and windy ride home.
I have hardly managed to get out on a Sunday club run in the last three months. This has been due to audaxing and holidays. Qualification for PBP was completed in May then Jayne and I went on a cycle tour in France. After our bad experience with a budget airline last year we decided to use the European Bike Express coach service. We rode to Leicester Forest East services where we were picked up by a double decker coach with a purpose built trailer with a 53 bike capacity. After a surprisingly comfortable journey we were dropped off on the outskirts of Bayonne in the south of France and then cycle camped our way north to our pick up point at Tours. We spent a couple of days near Angouleme where we met Dave Binks who is currently working for Suzy Madron's Cycling for Softies. Dave was looking very fit and tanned as the job allows him to get out on his bike during the day. We also spent four days with Jayne's sister who had recently moved to France with her husband and three sons. While we were there Jayne and I were able to carry out our role as "bicycle fairy". We ensure that when our nephews need new bikes the bicycle fairy pays a visit.
On the weekend we got back it was the DA standard rides from Bagworth. It was a damp morning but while we were in the hall after completing the 50 the heavens opened. The riders who had planned going out to do the second loop soon changed their minds and opted for another cup of tea and a piece of cake.
As part of the effort to keep the legs turning over before PBP Neil and I entered the Worcestershire and South Cotswold 300k audax. This event is a hilly ride which wanders from Droitwich to Bath and back hopping up and down the Cotswold escarpment. At least that's what happens most years. This time the ride coincided with summer floods. We managed a ride of about 50k to Pershore and back. It was impossible to cross the river Avon. Even to get that far we'd ridden through water that came to the top of our water bottles. It was an adventure that left me buzzing with adrenaline. This outing also managed to finish off the bottom bracket which had done about 18000km.
The sun has finally started shining so I'll finish by wishing everyone happy touring for our late summer.Tony Davis Contents
Four of our members Nancy, Jim, Zen and Dave H enjoyed the ride to Rosliston on the first Sunday of May. The coffee stop should have been Shackersatone Station, as there was a special event there (Postman Pat) the price of a platform ticket had been raised from £1 to £3, so it was decided to carry on to Sunnyside in Ibstock for coffee.
Due to the inclement weather and other commitments only Nancy and Jim made it to the Meriden Service, and both received a good soaking both on the outward and home bound journey.
We did have a good turnout for Andy's ride to Granby, even though our members had to walk over a plank!!! carrying their bikes over a very deep gully between Watham and Garthorpe due to a road closure. Luckily they all arrived safely for tea at the Windmill Tea Rooms in Wymondham.
On the informal ride to Thornton on the 3rd June we cycled along the Grand Union Canal where they were holding a Dragon Boat Race with four boats waiting to take part in the event. Quite a few narrow boats were moored alongside the towpath, some selling their wares. At one point we rode through a gazebo which was just being erected by two of the boat owners. This event was organised by the Prostate Cancer charity.
After arriving at the Fuchsia Centre for refreshments we found that Dave H was missing so it was decided that Pete retrace our route to try and find him. When they found Dave they discovered that he had had a puncture in his rear wheel. June and Pete left the group after coffee.
Lunch was held at the village hall in Stanton-under-Bardon where Richard left us due to a hand injury after slipping off his bike in the ford on the Ratby to Thornton track. It was then on to Ibstock via part of the Ivanhoe trail for tea at Shackerstone Station. Andy W received the second puncture of the day in Kirby Muxloe. Apart from one injury and two punctures everyone enjoyed the day.
Nancy, Jim and Dave S completed the 100 mile Tri-Vets, well done all three. Nancy, Andy W and Dave H rode the 25 miles and Jim the 50 miles challenge rides. Thanks to Jean and Keith for the refreshments.Contents
The sun shone, the day was dry, so where was everyone? Probably it was the unprecedented rainfall of the previous few days, causing billions of £s of flood damage! Well we need not have worried; Ron Johnson's route was one of the best I can recall in over 30 years. Ivan Waddington and I set off from Ravenstone after a preparatory cuppa at the Institute. There was little difficulty with the track to Packington, shared with some folk on horseback. The next off-road section parallel with the A42 was more challenging, with a sunken single-track, before we took the roads through Ashby.
After the Bridleway under the new Ashby bypass, we parted company. Ivan turned right on the 16 mile ride, while I turned left for the full Monty! The track took me on fair surfaces to the road through Smisby. The sun on my back was leading to overheating; and that was emptying my water bottle faster than anticipated.
I was in splendid isolation on the next track before joining the road to cross the Ticknall-Hartshorne road. Some racing bikies gave me a funny look as I continued over the main road on the track up Gravelpit Hill. Muck in my front changer brought me to a halt here, but the views by the mast overlooking Foremark Reservoir were stunning. The long off-road descent became increasingly tricky, and I was glad to be riding at my own pace.
I missed a turning on the track looking for Hangman's Stone, and at the top of the next hill found two walkers also looking for the same location despite them using a GPS device. I returned downhill to regain the intended route to Seven Spouts Farm. Again I surprised some passing cyclists by diving through a gap in the hedge to reach the farm.
Ron's route-marking arrows were crucial on this next section, though sometimes they were found dislodged on the ground! One signpost had disappeared, but luckily Ron's wheel-marks indicated the correct path through a crop. I reached Ticknall after negotiating several flooded gateways. Ron's scenic route took me through Calke Park for the first time since I had moved to the Midlands over 35 years ago. Staunton Harold was more familiar, and I took the opportunity to refill my mud-covered water bottle at the toilets. Customers at the café gave me some strange looks, no doubt due to the accumulation of mud on both bike and rider.
The route next followed a new cycle path through the National Forest plantation, not shown on my map. Luckily Ron's map at the start had highlighted this feature. After regaining the road, and passing under the A42, a well-surfaced track ran through private land at Rough Park. This had been specially negotiated by Ron for a donation to Rainbows charity.
After riding past Farm Town and Sinope, only two more off-road sections remained, before reaching Ravenstone. The 25 mile ride had taken nearly 4 hours, almost entirely on new and unfamiliar tracks and roads and including marvellous views. I shall be back next year - hopefully conditions will be more typical of Summer, and more folk will turn out and enjoy the ride.Peter Witting
Views expressed in letters, articles or editorial are not necessarily those of the CTC or the Leicestershire & Rutland DA.
Rides start from Loughborough Market Place, Sundays 10-00am.
Off Road Group
Off Road Group
Tel. 0116 2543633
is a Leicester based European Cycling Holidays travel company that provides ‘hosted’ tours. This means that when you arrive at your destination you have someone available to help you get the most out of your holiday.