Contents

Editorial
President's Page
Secretary's View
Letters to the editor
Charnwood Chatter
General Knowledge
Easy Riders
The Outernet
Technical Topics
Joyce Hames
Riding with the East Surreys
Angela Birkenhead-Roberts
Audax Awards for 2008
A Summer in France (part 6)

Editorial

Where has the time gone? It seems only a short time ago that I was producing the December issue. I hope that you all had a good Christmas and managed to ride your bikes as well as eating (and drinking?) over the holiday. The weather still seems to have managed to give us some more very cold and white stuff. I'm sure that the children whatever age have enjoyed it. There is a lot to look forward to this Spring, apart from all the many varied rides. There is the Skittles and Prize Presentation Evening on March 28th at Thurcaston. Don't forget to contact Ray for your tickets as numbers are limited. I already have mine booked, hope to see you there. It is always a very enjoyable evening, and great to see all the gleaming trophies and friends. Thanks Ray.

Charnwood Section have a slide show on Saturday 14th March and also their Anniversary Tea on Sunday 26th April so don't forget to book for these two very enjoyable social events. Thanks to Phil, Jean and Keith.

We have a special article about Angela Birkenhead-Roberts, and there is a lovely article about Joyce Hames who sadly died just before Christmas.

Once again many thanks to Penny for another beautiful front cover and to all the committee who works so hard for us all.

Ivy Allen Contents

SECRETARY'S REPORT FOR THE AGM 2ND NOVEMBER 2008

Ray Clay

Times are hard! It seems that the car industry has been particularly hard hit. People are finding it difficult to obtain loans to buy new cars and, consequently, the factories are laying off the workers. I feel very sorry for the people who have been made redundant. It isn't much comfort to them that the recession seems to have revived the interest in cycling. I've read that there is a marked increase in cycling in London, for instance.

Apart from the problems encountered by retailers and car makers, the recession is also causing difficulties with bike maintenance. According to Peter Witting, he asked a bike shop to order a part for his cycle and was informed that this was not possible under the current situation.

Tom Bailey entertained us at the annual slide show at Leicester Forest East. He showed some very impressive slides of his many tours. The evening was well received and, thanks to Jean Lakin and her team organising the refreshments, a surplus was made to help the club funds.

Our carol service was held in December in the old beautiful St Mary's Church in the picturesque village of Ashby Folville. (well worth a visit if you didn't attend). The minister and church wardens couldn't have been more helpful. We had refreshments before the service in the village hall across the road. Crossing over to the church we could hear the bells being rung. The interesting thing is that I was expecting to see a group of bell ringers but it turned out to be one man at a keyboard playing the lot. The weather was cold and crisp and the tea after the service was welcome - again thanks to the Jean Lakin team. The collection was divided between Loros and church funds.

Loughborough CTC held its usual Mince Pie Run at Belton. Thanks to the fine weather, hundreds of cyclists turned up for the refreshments. In fact so many arrived, the food ran out. The raffle was well supported and raised "180 which was donated to the Rainbows children's hospice.

I didn't manage to attend Gill Lord's New Year's Ride but I've heard that it went very well as usual. Well done Gill.

Leicestershire and Rutland Cyclists' Touring Club is organising several events in 2009. Morgan Reynolds is arranging the David Sulley rides on the 1st March. I am the contact for the Prize Presentation/Skittles evening on 28th March. At the time of writing, I have tickets still available but bookings should be made asap.

Another date for the diary is 13th September when our President, Keith Lakin will lead a ride starting at Lutterworth. People who went on Keith's ride last year around Oakham will know that his rides are always well researched and enjoyable and suitable for all abilities.

The Birthday Rides this year will be based at Oundle and start a week later than usual on 8th August. The reason for this is that the site is not available the week before

. This suits me since I now won't miss my grandson's birthday on 5th August! My counterpart in Northamptonshire, Max Scott, is the main organiser. However, since this is an East Midlands CTC event, we in Leicestershire will be giving a hand. If you are interested in being involved, please let me know.

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A Letter from your President

What is repetition?

Dictionaries will quote: “The act or process of repeating; the saying, doing or producing of something again”.

Our County AGM falls into this category, in particular our officers, who have held positions for many years, namely Ray Clay, Peter Witting, John Allen and Jean Deacon, plus several others.

The Leicestershire and Rutland Cyclists' Touring Club Carol Service held at Ashby Folville and organised by Ray Clay and his regular team of helpers, is quickly followed by the Mince Pie Run organised by Loughborough CTC under the leadership of Brian Hinners and his team of helpers.

The New Year starts at Sibbertoft with the South Leics dinner, a decade of organising by Gill Lord, assisted by Jayne Davis.

Our County committee meeting at Botcheston on Jan 19th welcomed Aileen Andrews to her first meeting as Cycle Chat Administrator, however I must thank Eileen Johnson on behalf of you all for her work in this position.

How fortunate we are in having so many voluntary workers, and I now look forward to the David Sulley rides on March 1st organised once again by Morgan Reynolds, and our other Springtime events and I hope they will be blessed with good weather.

Thank you.
Keith Lakin

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Letter to the Editor

Thank you for the set of 'Cycle Chats'. The cover design/paintings by Penny Clay are very good and certainly different.

I appreciate the opportunity to judge the best article for you for 2008 and have spent some considerable time trying to make sure that I would be fair with it.

It all boils down to three articles in my opinion, but one in particular stands out a little higher above the other two: Lands End to John O'Groats 5 to 10 September 2008 with Tony Davis (December issue 2008). I felt as if I was riding the tour with him with all the detail he put into it as well as it being very well written.

The second and third placing was hard to split really and maybe should be regarded as a tie, but if I really had to choose then I would say: 2nd Big Dave and Snakeman Willans by Alan Staniforth (for humour and detail) and 3rd A Summer in France - Dave Binks' latest adventures (for detail).

Once again, thank you for the opportunity to make a judgement on these articles.

Kindest Regards
Derrick Orton

Derrick has written many interesting articles for Derbys CTC magazine "Awheel" of which he is the current editor. Many thanks.

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THE OUTERNET

Compiled by Peter Witting

It's Cheaper by Car!
In a financial crisis it makes sense to check the costs. I found it was over £100 cheaper to drive to Belgium in November to watch the Gent 6-day race instead of using the bike. The reason is that cycling is slower, so you need Bed & Breakfast stops along the way. Plus there is the cost of an evening meal and a drink or two. When the YHA closed the Youth Hostel at Dover, the cost of an overnight stop there nearly tripled. And with the pound sterling falling against the Euro, the continental B&B costs have escalated. Yet the cost of a ferry return crossing in a car is only £20 more than with a bike. And with the price of petrol temporarily falling, it added to the advantage of driving. Finally there is the cheaper booze that a car can carry, and a bike can't! The consolation is that you can take a bike in the car at no additional cost, and pedal a few miles when in Belgium.

Time to Cut The Cr*p?
Once again we are enduring the puncture season thanks to the annual hawthorn hedge cutting activities. It is an offence under the Highway Act 1980 to leave hedge cuttings or other debris on a road, footpath, or cycleway, with fines of up to "1,000. Yet the failure of the police to enforce the law means the agricultural folk continue their thoughtless and irresponsible behaviour. It is left to individual cyclists to try to get compensation through the civil courts. A recent case got the victim "2,500 compensation; but that only happens after an injury to the rider. The common puncture doesn't justify entering into the legal process. Yet the CTC's tame solicitor relies on precedent to advise the club - and precedent hasn't worked! Because the CTC lost a case and costs in the last century, they seem terrified of attempting to change the status quo.

A farmer admitted to me that he might have invested in cycle-friendly kit some years ago, when profits were being made; but as the kit cost more, and noone was being prosecuted, there was no reason. What the CTC could do is to exert pressure on County Councils to only offer contracts to those with the correct cycle-friendly kit. The kit pulverises the cuttings and blows them back into the hedge bottom, rather than scattering thorns all over the road. That decision would apply the financial pressure on contractors to scrap their cheap and nasty kit.

"Traffic Jam - 10 Years of "Sustainable" Transport in the UK".
That's the title of a report by academics to mark the 10th anniversary of John Prescott's "A New Deal for Transport". Policies to encourage cycling are said to have been "neglected", while the number of car jorneys had increased by 9%. Another report "The Oil Crunch" warns that oil production will peak as soon as 2011, resulting in devastating economic consequences. And our UK Met Office warns that we must change transport methods within 2 years if we are to avoid runaway climate change.

You might think that those of us who ride bicycles might be entitled to have a say on transport policies at both national and at local levels. Yet it seems our own County Council continue to put cyclists at the bottom of the pile in traffic schemes, trying to get us off the roads onto 2nd rate "Cycle facilities" while continuing to provide for the motor vehicle above all else. To those responsible for their failure to address the real needs of cyclists, and therby encourage cycling, may I offer the (reputedly) ancient Chinese curse - "may you live in interesting times"! We'll be riding our bikes - what will you be doing?

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Leicester Easy Riders

with Rose Holman

Seven members set out from St Margaret's bus station on June's ride to Mountsorrel on the 26th October. Due to unforeseen circumstances June was unavailable to lead the ride and so several of our members led different parts of the route.

We headed for the Grand Union Canal and carried on along the tow path to St Mary's Mill and then turned right by the railway bridge on to the Great Central, into Western Road, over Narborough Road, Hinckley Road and eventually arriving at the Glenfield Island. We continued through the cemetery and onto Anstey Lane with elevens at Gorse Hill Farm where Norman C and Mick were waiting our arrival.

After leaving Gorse Hill we rode down Bennion Road, Astill Lodge Road and on to join the track which brought us out onto Anstey Lane. Here, my legs had become splattered with mud, much to the amusement of the male members as I was wearing shorts. It was then on to Rothley Station for lunch, much to the delight of Dave Smith as several trains called at the station.

Norman D, Mick and Dave Smith left the group after lunch. The next destination was the Carillion Cafe in Loughborough for afternoon tea.

We found the cafe prices very expensive. Our male riders had a quick look around the museum in the adjoining room. We then climbed Nanpanton Hill and onto Woodhouse Eaves where Norman C left the group. It was then onto Anstey where Richard left us. The remaining three, Nancy, Dave Holman and I carried on to Braunstone where we again split up with Nancy going her separate way home and we returned to Enderby.

On the 2nd of November our section split into two groups. Norman Castle led a car assisted ride along the Birmingham canals with Ian, Andy and Jim.

Nancy, Dave Holman and I had an informal run. We met Nancy at Leicester Forest East and then travelled along the A47 to Peckleton Lane and Peckleton, then along the back road to Kirkby Mallory and onto the A447 passing the Greenacres Garden Centre and left into Sutton Cheney, heading towards Shenton. As we approached the railway bridge we saw that the road was flooded. As it was only three inches deep we decided to carry on to Whitemoors Antique Centre for morning coffee.

After our coffee during which we had dried out our damp clothing a little, we moved on to The Gate Hangs Well in Carlton for our packed lunch, after passing through Far Coton. Now feeling fit and ready to go, we mounted our bikes again, and straight into a head wind which slowed us down all the way home.

Before reaching home we had travelled through Barlestone to Thornton Garden Centre for afternoon tea. As it wasn't a very pleasant day the tea room was very quiet with only two other customers. We left the garden centre about 3.30 pm to make sure that we were home before dark. Dave and I parted company with Nancy at Kirby Muxloe after riding through Merrylees, Botcheston and Newtown Unthank.

Dave Smith represented us at the DA AGM.

If anyone is cycling in the Dorset area, there is a very good Bed and Breakfast there. It is owned by Mr and Mrs Moore, telephone 01308 459001. You will be made very welcome, it is reasonably priced and has a safe and covered parking for bikes. They have both twin and double rooms for around £26 per night per person.

We had a good turnout on the 16th November, fifteen in all, for Alan's ride to Normanton Turville. Eight members set off from the bus station to the Great Central underpass where Dave, Joe our son and I had arranged to meet them. As Dave Holman had a puncture the rest of the party left us to continue to Countesthorpe where we followed shortly afterwards.

On our arrival we found that Bernard, Rhona, June and Pete had also made their own way there. After coffee Bernard and Rhona returned home while the main group carried on at a faster pace to Normanton Turville, then onto the Elephant and Castle at Thurlaston. Dave, Joe, June, Pete and I made our leisurely way there via Cosby and Croft. After lunch we went our separate ways home.

Twenty six members and friends had an excellent meal at the Red Lion in Huncote on the 14th December at our Christmas Lunch. I would recommend it to anyone.

I would like to thank everyone who provided raffle prizes for the Christmas and New Year lunches.

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General Knowledge

with Martin Bulmer

Open and Closed

Charnwood Generals have continued to explore the surrounding area, increasingly closed in by the encroaching hours of darkness which reduce our winter roaming range.

It is saddening to see so many small village pubs closed and boarded up as we ride through, and those remaining often survive mostly on food sales, so do not welcome people bearing sandwiches. It is therefore pleasing to see that the White Horse at Seagrave has at last re-opened, and although under new management, they are happy for us to eat our own. They also supply food for those who have not made provisions, so we get the best of both worlds. We haven't been there on a club run since it re-opened, but I've been doing my own prospecting, and it should be back on our list shortly.

We have also seen some new tea places opening, and have used the new marina between Willington and Findern a couple of times. This seems to have rapidly become a cyclists' favourite, and we have met up with other groups each time we have visited. There is also a cafe now at Barton Turn Marina, along with gift shops, a butcher, a Thai restaurant, a large hotel/pub, and a toy museum. That will be a useful watering hole in days to come, well positioned for trips into darkest Staffordshire.

Speaking of Barton, we have just returned from a pub at Barton Green, on route 54, where cyclists with sandwiches are also welcome, and a selection of real ales is available.

We've had our fair share of rain, wind and ice so far this winter, and as I write at the end of February there could be more to come, but that's the same for all of us. At least the days are lengthening and we can start to open out our range again. Let's hope there are enough country pubs left for our lunch stops. I know the purists enjoy roadside sandwiches and a brew-up, but those pubs have one major advantage - warmth.

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Charnwood Chatter

with Betty Naylor

There is much talk about 'global warming' but it seems to me this winter has been a 'global freeze'. However, despite the arctic conditions, when runs have had to be curtailed due to ice and floods, there has always been a few stalwarts out on the Sunday runs.

Here's hoping we have the 'global warming' to come! There is an interesting programme of events planned for the next few months. Besides the normal Sunday rides, there is the caravanning few days planned for the Easter break. This is based on Wormington, near Broadway in the Cotswolds, when there will be both long and short rides, and even walking for those interested.

Towards the middle of May, Mary Margoschis has initiated a week of rides based on Beccles, Suffolk, in the hope of seeing the 'kingfishers' from the riverside site, as advertised in the 'Caravan Club' magazine. Sites have already been booked but there is always room for more!

Pearl and Brenda are planning a fortnights cycle touring around Galway in Ireland commencing around the 17th July. Apparently, one can board a train early on a Saturday morning in Derby and be in Galway by teatime the same day - for just £100.

Then, of course, there are the Birthday Rides being organised for week commencing 8th August based on Oundle Public School. Local CTC members are all invited to offer their services for the event, as it is only being held over the border in Northamptonshire.

It is hoped to attract more families to our section, like the Jones family from Castle Donington, as our rides are all moderately paced, and there are plenty of refreshment stops, and places of interest to be visited.

A hearty welcome is extended to any prospective new members.

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Technical Topics

by Peter Witting

USB “Dog Tags”
In an emergency you may not be able to provide helpers with your personal details. That's why the military required servicemen to wear identification “dog tags”. You could by such tags to include blood group and medical conditions and emergency contact phone numbers. All that information needed engraving; and it had limited capacity, requiring replacement when anything changed. Now all that information and much more, can be held on a USB “Dog Tag”. You can input all the information via a home PC, updating when necessary. It can then be accessed by the emergency services using any laptop or similar device. They are marketed under the UTAG brand for around £25. For about £5 less there is their “ICE” card, carried with you instead of being worn around your neck; it works in the same way with USB connectivity. Some bike shops are already selling the kit.

Shimano Force Upgrades
Do you have a Shimano bottom bracket on any of your bikes? Does it use their Octalink design – the one with 8 splines joining the crank to the spindle? If so, you could be in for a shock if it wears out and the bearings start to feel loose. The higher quality Ultegra bottom bracket cassette seems to have been withdrawn, leaving only the “105” model as a replacement. The latests Shimano cranksets use the newer outboard bearings design, so mileaters probably no longer use the octalink cassettes. Those who are forced to use the “105” Octalink replacements may find we have to replace them more than once a year. If so, we may be forced to upgrade our chainsets – time will tell!

Race Cap for Summer
If we ever get a hot sunny day this year, you may want to wear a racing cap to keep the sun and sweat out of your eyes. Like most things, you get what you pay for; and the Assos cap is expensive at around £9! What you get is an open mesh sector at the back to aid heat loss. You also get a top quality elasticated section, that allows a comfortable fit which is secure without being too tight. The quartered design ins available in various colours combinations, should you want a smart colour co-ordinated look to match your bike.

Just the Drill!
The rotten weather last Summer, Autumn and Winter has made undue demands on the various bearings on the bike. Usually you only need to regrease the hubs when they go a bit loose with wear and need servicing. That's why the modern sealed units don't have lubrication holes. But I remembered the old Campag hubs that had a hole covered with a metal spring to keep out the dirt. Seeing some signs of corrosion on my front hub I got out the drill. With a small “metal” drill bit I bored a hole through the alloy hub, using some sticky tape to stabilise the bit during the drilling. Then a few squirts from the grease gun, 'til the grease showed on both sides of the hub. A few layers of tape to seal the hole and job done! Time will tell if the drilling weakened the hub but it never seemed to be a problem for Campag.

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Joyce Hames

by her son Alan

Joyce Hames died on 5th December 2008 at the age of 78, a lifelong CTC member.

Joyce was brought up in Thurmaston, and was an only child. Her father, Arthur Mabbutt, had been a cycle touring enthusiast since his early teens. Extracts of his detailed diary of CTC club runs were published by Joyce in this magazine a few years ago.

Cycling was the family's preferred method of escape at weekends and holiday times. Joyce was carried in a sidecar on her parent's tandem as an infant, and graduated to the 'stoker's' seat behind her father, before getting her own solo machine.

Joyce left school at 14, as was the norm then, entering the world of work as a shorthand typist, and became a member of the Cyclists' Touring Club at 16. After a couple of years she had joined the hard - riding Intermediate Section, until then an all male preserve. On the 28th of January 1951 on Windmill Hill overlooking the Charnwood Forest, one of the 'Inters' - Arthur Hames - asked her to marry him. She accepted him, and they were married six months later. When their son, Alan, arrived in 1955, he was also introduced to life on two wheels, at a very early age.

In the early '60's, there were many new parents within the DA, so a Family Section was established to accommodate the range of capabilities of the youngsters. A diverse range of bicycles appeared on club-runs - solos, tandems and trailers. In the winter time when roads were too slippery for inexperienced riders, walks were arranged instead.

As time passed, although still riding daily to work until their respective retirements, Joyce and Arthur were both feeling the effects on their knees and hips, and began to spend their weekend free time with rambling groups. Nonetheless, they continued to support DA activities, such as acting as marshals on BCTC events.

2008 was a sad year for the Hames family, as Arthur passed away in February, and Joyce succumbed to cancer only eleven months later. At Joyce's funeral service, representatives from her many areas of interest attended, but she would have been most proud to have seen the DA contingent in full Club colours.

Cycling was a source of immense pleasure in Joyce's life and she treasured the friendships made during her active years with the CTC that would continue for the rest of her life.

Joyce will be greatly missed by her family and friends. I attended her funeral with other cycling friends and spent some time reading through one of her many diaries. These were all leather bound and were illustrated with beautiful drawings and paintings. I could have spent all day, and longer, reading of her 'adventures', some of which were in her lovely garden.

Joyce was also an accomplished and very talented needle woman and her many delightful pictures produced by sewing machine adorned her walls. She presented one to the Leicestershire and Rutland Cyclists' Touring Club, a number of years ago, which was framed by her husband Arthur. I received this from Joyce at last years Prize Presentation Evening at Thurcaston and it has proudly stood on my lounge wall ever since. It was a great privilege to know Joyce.

Editor
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Riding with the East Surreys

By Peter Witting

"Bring a packed lunch" was the instruction, despite it being early January. I had visions of lunch in a freezing bus shelter somewhere in Kent. I set off at 8am from my daughter's home in Tooting, just as the night turned from black to murky grey, to meet the East Surrey CTC. The main roads were very quiet as I rode across Mitcham Common to join the A23 to Purley. At the entrance to the old Croydon Airport was a 4-engined de Havilland Heron, a mid-fifties executive/business aircraft. Its supporting stilts made it look like a sci-fi flying spider from a horror movie, given the winter gloom all around.

I was first to arrive at Purley, joined shortly by Andy, who needed to fix a puncture. During this process we were joined by Willie in his Saltire jersey, our leader who I knew from past rides, and Pat. Luckily my only contribution to the repairs was to offer hand-wipes when the job was done.

The first few miles followed the A22 south, crossing out of Greater London into Surrey, before we turned left towards Woldingham. On past rides we had used the excellent tarmac bridleway past the convent school; but today's route ran East rather than South. That gave several of us the opportunity for a "comfort stop" overlooking the golf course, while the non-climbers set off up Lunghurst (should that be Lungburst) Hill!

We kept our height, riding East along the North Downs just above the Pilgrims Way, before descending Clacket Lane to cross the M25 past the eponymous Services. Our own services were over the border in Kent, at the Tudor cafe on the green at Westerham, overlooking the statue of Winston Churchill. Waiting for us at the cafe was Peter, another stalwart I had met before.

It was only slightly warmer and brighter as we rode south past Churchill's Chartwell home; but we sweated for the next mile or so which involved climbing three "arrows" to reach Toy's Hill. Quiet lanes led to Sundridge, before some main roads took us north of the M26 to Otford and the hamlet of Twitton.

The Rising Sun at Twitton was an old fashioned pub with no food - so out with the packed lunch! The roaring fire made sure our clothes would be warm when we departed. There were already some other cyclists present, with a good mix of other folk, including one group who sat down for a pre-arranged special lunch.

Local knowledge took us from Twitton along the track of the original Polhill, before the modern A224 and newer-still M25 were built. The stiff off-road climb through the woods led to the road at the Polhill Arms. Nearby is the base formerly called Fort Halstead, now simply Qinetiq, where military research takes place. Let's hope they had no secret cameras in the woods after our pub-lunch!

We then followed the lanes past Knockholt to cross the A233 south of Biggin Hill at Hawley's Corner. That led to another mile of track through the woods, to emerge on the B2024 north of the Pilgrims Way once again. Good views can be enjoyed from the viewing points to the south across the M25 in the Summer; but for us it was time to switch on the flashers and follow the "B" road back into town, and home for a well earned tea.

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Angela Birkenhead-Roberts

Before Christmas I spoke to Ann Dickinson and she told me that the lady who had been making our cycling tops (Angela Birkenhead-Roberts) had passed away after a battle with cancer. Below I have included the card that I received from Ann together with a small article written by Angela's husband Mike and daughter Anthea.

Editor

Just to enclose the "piece" Angela's husband has sent to me.

She was from my experience a delightful personality. We only met once when John and I called to see how she would be to do our jerseys. Seeing the high quality of her work I had no doubts and she was so efficient to deal with. We had many chats on the phone and she was always ready to help.

She obviously adored her husband and daughter and the world is much better for Angela having been amongst us.
Ann Dickinson

Angela Birkenhead-Roberts - Cottage Casuals
25/05/1960 - 05/11/2008

Angela was born in Chester, when she left university she went to work for the Midland Bank. She cycled to work every day, rain or shine, not content with taking the direct route there she would add many miles before she arrived. One evening on her way home she was in collision with a car which crossed her path, leaving her unconscious for some time. She lost her ability to concentrate for long periods, making her working life very difficult.

When HSBC took over the Midland, Angela was pensioned off. We met via a local running club, but I found I was to out of breath to talk so I took up cycling. She was so fit that I could not keep up with her so we decided to buy our first tandem. We were dropped off at the shop in Colwyn Bay and were going to cycle it home. Unfortunately for me there was a very steep hill out of the town, so by the time we reached the top I was shattered. Angela said this is fun, so I am sure she did not peddle up that hill.

Angela made cycling clothes for us that we found very hard wearing. In fact, our honeymoon was spent on a three week cycle tour of the UK. Another time we cycled from Chester down to Portsmouth, crossed the channel and cycled around the coast line of Brittany, then back home. These trips averaged 1200 miles, usually with just two pairs of tops and shorts. Friends soon saw the good job that Angela had made of our cycling gear and asked if she could design and make gear for them. This was the start of Cottage Casual where she became very busy making made to measure clothing. She also took over making the official Tandem Club tops.

We married in 1990 in Hawarden and in 1995 we had a daughter Anthea. As she grew we shared ourselves between cycling and walking.

In January 2008 Angela was diagnosed with advanced Pancreatic Cancer. She underwent a trial course of Chemotherapy, not even this stopped her from walking and keeping fit. Her first scan showed that the cancer was shrinking so we carried on with it. In October she went for her last scan and was told that the chemo had failed and the cancer had spread. All that they could do was keep her as comfortable as they could. Angela passed peacefully away in a local hospice early on the 5th of November

Much missed, Mike and Anthea Roberts
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Audax Awards for 2008

Two of our local South Leicestershire riders merited special mention in the 2009 Handbook of Audax UK for their achievements.

Neil Dixon was one of those on the "Randonneur Round the Year" Roll of Honour who rode an Audax of 200Km or more in each of the 12 consecutive months.

Tony Davis also achieved this feat - but in his case it was for the 5th year! Not only did Tony achieve the Super Randonneur award in 2008, riding events at 200Km, 300Km, 400Km and 600Km, but he also exceeded 5000Km of Audax riding in the same year. And to cap that, Tony is one of only 44 riders ever to achieve the "Brevet 25,000" award: That requires covering 25,000Kms within a 6 year period over a range of different and demanding Audax events - that's well over 2,500 miles of Audax rides each of those six years. Congratulations to both! This year AUK are hosting the London-Edinburgh-London ride. It takes place between July 25th and 31st. Helpers are required at the Thurlby control, so please contact Peter Witting for details.

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A SUMMER IN FRANCE

- By Dave Binks Continuing the story.
Part 1

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

The story so far:
Dave has taken a job in France, working as an assistant for a UK based holiday company (Susi Madron's "Cycling for Softies") in Angouleme, near Cognac. His duties are to act as a local mechanic and representative to ensure that holidaymakers have a good time as they cycle between top class hotels in the are.

Saturday June 2

Surprisingly I awoke to a misty morning. Surprising as the forecast was good, but as the morning went on the sun burnt through and it became a nice day. I showed Mike his bike and we discussed routes etc as best I could with my limited knowledge of the area, and in fact, having been in this area before, he probably knew it better than me. He didn't want to bother with the puncture and tube changing routine until the evening, as both he and I wanted to go out for a ride. Whilst he stayed local, I made for the town of la Rochefoucauld, which boasts a spectacular chateau and is about 30 miles north west of my base. I got a bit lost in some of the really tiny lanes I tried, but eventually arrived some two and a half hours after setting out having done the best part of 40 miles because of the unintended detours.

Lunch was simply a couple of cakes from a patisserie taken sitting on a wall overlooking the river and the chateau. I had to be back in time to show Mike the wheel changing and he had requested a prop stand which is not normally fitted or even available. Taking my boss at her word that we were to make the customers happy, I bought and fitted one for him and simply added the cost to my expenses. I was surprised at how totally inexperienced he was at anything mechanical, not even being sure which way to turn the spanner to undo the wheel nuts. In taking the tyre off I inadvertently managed to squash his finger with one of the tyre levers - oops.

A local wedding party had previously arrived at the hotel to much car horn sounding. This business with the car horns is something they do in France and it's pretty noisy when a convoy of cars arrives or just drives back all sounding their horns. When I went to bed at 11pm, the sounds of the disco was still to be heard, but luckily for me, not loudly.
66 miles

Sunday June 3

Mike, my holidaymaker, had already agreed he did not need me to be around when he left in the morning and that suited my fine as I wanted to go out with the local club again, which left at 8am, probably before he was even out of bed. Unlike yesterday when it was misty to start with, today the sun was out as I awoke and the morning got quite warm, although I rode for the first 3/4hr with a windproof jacket on. I made my way to the start point and this time a few more said "Bonjour" including the couple with whom I had first made contact, Richard the local butcher and Joelle his wife. I asked why no-one had turned up for the Wednesday afternoon ride, knowing full well that as it was raining they would not have turned up anyway, and they agreed that "Yes, because it was raining no-one went", but in fact I had been waiting at the wrong place anyway!

On Sundays they meet outside the Salle des Fetes (effectively the village hall) but on Wednesdays they meet outside the Mairie (town hall). Why this should be I don't know, as they are, at most, only 1/2km apart anyway! So I made a mental note to go to the Mairie next Wednesday afternoon. It was my intention this week to try one of the faster groups as last week I hardly raised a sweat despite having to wear a waterproof for some of the ride. Last week everyone set off together, and after about 30 minutes or so, the faster lads went to the front and rode away.

So, expecting the same again this week I ensured I was a very close to the front, and the slower riders as we all set off. As last week there were about 30-40 in the total group, so it was a long way between the front and the back, particularly as we made our way out of the suburbs and therefore having to wait at junctions etc. I looked back a few times and yes, they were all still there. Next time I looked, there were only 8 of us! Somewhere the rest had turned off on a different route and I had missed them again. Oh well, never mind. So I stayed with this little group for the rest of the ride.

Richard and Joelle were there, so I at least knew someone, and some small conversation was attempted, but Richard didn't seem to understand when I asked him to speak more slowly - he just smiled, then repeated the same words at the same speed, so a lot of guessing had to go into my answers. It was no surprise there were big gaps in the conversation!

One guy seemed to puncture, so we stopped, but there was no hole in his tube, but there were holes in his tyre where the canvas was showing through! We all tut-tutted and his friends gave him some stick, but we simply replaced the inner tube, I lent him my full size pump (why people insist on carrying the little ones that just don't get enough air in the tyre I don't know - perhaps it's sexy to only carry a small pump?) and we were away again.

Our route was pre-planned by Richard and he had it written on a note pinned to his handlebars, so there was no stopping or indecision as the direction, and we just kept going non-stop apart from mechanical or "call of nature" stops. I kept recognising places I had been through on my previous solo rides, so was mostly aware of where I was, at least in general terms of our position in relation to Angouleme.

We had set off north westerly to skirt around the western edge of Angouleme, then headed north, then swung west again, before returning in a south easterly direction. At one point we entered a village and there was much muttering and pulling of grim faces and someone said that the next climb was their version of the Col du Tourmalet - a famous mountain climb often used in the Tour de France cycle race. I had seen the foot of this little climb before, but never been up it, so wasn't sure what it would be like, but realised it couldn't be much, not in this area, which is not very hilly, just having mild undulations. It certainly couldn't be anything remotely like the real thing, which takes hours to ride up.

It was obvious it was going to be a race to the top, so I settled into a rhythm and just rode up at a reasonably quick pace. Richard had been the strongest rider all morning and he was immediately on my wheel, the rest being unable to follow either of us. I decided I would have a little fun with him and slowly increased the pace until I could sense he was struggling. I then changed into a bigger gear just to disconcert him, and increased the pace a bit more. The string broke and he was history. I just carried on to the top, without having to go any faster as he had slowed down to what was his more comfortable pace and by the time I had got to the top and had a pee, he was only just arriving, with a big grin on his face and obvious signs of congratulations for me.

I had already thought Richard reminded me of someone I know who has all the latest kit (both he and Joelle were on carbon fibre Colnago bikes which are very expensive and very light), is big, cheerful, strong on the flat but rubbish on any hill longer than a few hundred yards; Greg Hodges! By the time we got back, Joelle was starting to tire and we slowed a bit for her. Richard said next week I should go with the faster group. I didn't have the French to try to explain that was my intention today, but the plan had gone wrong!

The rest of the day was my own and I spent it writing my notes after doing some clothes washing. Sad though it is for a man to have to say it, but today was the first day when I was able to wash and get dried all the washing within the same day, up to now it had sometimes taken days for things to dry and often then only after placing them on top of the heater. I took this as a sign that the weather was getting better. As is now usual on a Sunday, I went into the hotel kitchen for my evening meal with the rest of the staff. It still surprises me what slovenly eaters they are in private, and then the smoking afterwards with four out of the six of us puffing away, actually in the kitchen of the hotel, I must assume and hope that they don't smoke whilst actually preparing the food. It has to be an assumption because I don't enter the kitchen when they are working. Although it's nice to have people around during the meal, they all talk so fast I can hardly understand a word.
64 miles

Monday June 4

Quite a boring day really. A bit of shopping in the morning for food and then some paperwork for my "Weekly Report" and to recoup my expenses etc and after a leisurely lunch, some time in the workshop working on a child's bike. The biggest problem with this was trying to stop the mudguard rubbing. It was an "after market" mudguard and simply fitted under the top of the front forks, but the problem was there was insufficient clearance for it, so I ended up having to pare a lot of it away (it was fairly thick plastic) with a sharp knife, but it did the trick.

The weather in the morning was overcast but dry and fairly warm but had a humid feel to it. I had made the correct decision to shop in the morning because after lunch the heavens opened for an hour or so and it also got quite cold for a while. I spent some time during the evening working on a movie of the local area for which I had been taking images for a week or two. During the morning when I was changing my dirty linen for fresh I met one of the ladies who is on the cleaning staff of the hotel and realised she was British. We chatted briefly and she said she had been living in Angouleme for 5 years with her family. I had seen her a couple of days before when she had wished my holiday maker a good weekend in what I thought at the time was excellent English - no wonder!
7 miles

Tuesday June 5

Four more holidaymakers were due today, split into two couples, fortunately due to arrive late in the day and within an hour of each other. This gave me the opportunity to get their bikes off the hooks, pump up the tyres, put the pedals in (which are taken out to save room on the racks) and add the bags, bottles and pumps, together with the toolkit and lock with which they were all to be supplied, and still have time to go out on my own bike.

The day was misty to start with, but with a promise to improve later albeit with the risk of a shower, so the obvious thing to do was the bikes first, then go out, which is exactly what I did. My ride was south through the lanes, in which I once again got a bit lost, not coming out where I had intended, to Barbezieux. I was again astounded just how quiet the minor roads are, being on one road for over 10 minutes without seeing anyone; car, lorry, tractor, cyclist or pedestrian.

Barbezieux surprised me, as I had tended to dismiss it as just another town on the Bordeaux-Poitier RN10 road. Imagine my surprise then when I saw the enormous Chateau, originally a fort, on top of the hill at the centre of the town. I popped into the local Tourist Office for more stock for my brochures book at the hotel and there was a leaflet, in English, explaining the history went back to something like the year 700 and has seen many battles.

The town itself showed its "no nonsense" rural roots with no frivolous displays of pavement cafes or fountains and I had quite a job finding anywhere I could buy a coffee and still be able to sit outside. It seems they weren't interested in tourists, or perhaps it was the other way round I don't know. However, it was the first decent sized town I had found outside of Angouleme or Cognac and had a very definite character of its own.

My return route was due north, but once again, I misread the map and ended up trying to ride up a road that was being covered over by the RN10 re-building works that seem to be stretching further and further along this major trunk road. I realised my mistake and cut across to a much better road that I then followed easily to Chateauneuf-sur-Charente, a town I had been to a couple of times before, from which it was an easy ride back.

My holidaymakers all arrived on time and we all enjoyed an aperitif whilst chatting about things in general and their holiday itineraries in particular. Mundane things like bikes would be dealt with in the morning when all were refreshed after a good night's sleep.
44 miles

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