It’s really great to see so many new cyclists out and about on the roads, many of them wearing the latest trade team tops (predominantly the blue and black of Team Sky!) and on the latest hi-tech bikes. However, I have to say I have noticed a certain lack of ability and knowledge on their part re the basics of their bike. I have more than once had to explain how to take a wheel out and then replace it, never mind the complexities of actually taking a tyre off!
Cycling is allegedly a “low skill” sport, and I suppose by that they mean it doesn’t have the skills needed for ball games. I suppose I must agree with that to a certain extent, but the bike itself does require skill to both ride safely in close proximity to others, and to maintain and carry out roadside repairs. If the football goes down, or his boots fall apart, he doesn’t have far to go to get back to the changing room! Likewise a collision on the pitch doesn’t often result in much more than a roll around for a few seconds, then a quick application of the magic sponge or spray, but for a cyclist, a fall can be very painful and bloody or much worse.
On a spur of the moment decision, I booked myself into Hartington Youth Hostel in the Peak District for 3 nights, hoping to get some autumn leaf shots, but was frozen a lot of the time. John Allen had reported that the tunnels on the Monsall Trail (a disused rail line, now converted into a walking and cycling route) had now been opened and the entire route could be ridden from near Buxton to Bakewell, so I took a ride along it. I was delighted. The upper part near Buxton is absolutely spectacular with massive cuttings through the rock that show the strata and different rock types and the embankments give lovely views down into Millers Dale. The echoes in the tunnels are also great! Next time you’re up that way, do go and see for yourself.
The Lance Armstrong affair continues to rumble on, but fortunately this doesn’t seem to have deterred the new cyclists, or been used as another stick with which to beat us normal bike riders. One of my cycling friends, who is a postman, said he wondered why he couldn’t go as fast guys like Armstrong, then realised Armstrong was using EPO, not the GPO!Dave
This year’s President’s ride on September 16th was a very pleasant get together awheel starting from Abbey Park.
Some 30 took part but not all at the same time with several joining at elevenses and lunch.
My thanks to John Catt for e-mailing some members who we don’t usually see on our events and it was a great pleasure meeting some of those on the day.certainly had wonderful hospitality at both Cossington Garden Centre and the Blue Lion at Thrussington.
Evergreen tandem couple Ron and Eileen Johnson were out all day- both former Presidents - and a few weeks later they organised the annual “Off Road” challenge rides with the HQ at Groby Village Hall.
I enjoyed the rides and although we had visiting cyclists from afar the turnout was rather disappointing-particularly as food was laid on by.Their daughter Gail travelled from Lincoln with her family to take part and it was great to see them.
In the previous issue I stated that John Catt http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b7/BroodingSoldier.jpg/200px-BroodingSoldier.jpgwould be standing as national councillor and as you will have seen from “Cycle” this is not the case and he will be making way for a lady member as our national councillor for the East Midlands region- Jaki Lowe now of Nottingham. Some 15 years ago Jaki rode with Charnwood CTC.
I am sure that you will join me in thanking John for his work on the CTC council and hope he continues on both our county CTC committee and that of the CTC East Midlands region-our division on the council.
Going back to August Bank Holiday Sunday John helped man our stand along with Elizabeth Barner, Keith and Jean Lakin and John Hartshorne in Abbey Park as part of the “Sky Ride”.Thanks to the team for their efforts, it is greatly appreciated.
This was the only event on the county CTC scene that I have missed this year due to family commitments.
To give Ray Clay a bit of help I agreed to compile the annual report this year for the AGM which at the time of writing is only a few days away.
A couple of weeks later (17th Nov – see separate advert) the Annual Photo Competition and Slide Show takes place organised by Keith and Jean Lakin.Last year the attendance was disappointing- a great shame after all the efforts of organising and the presentation of slides which were fantastic by visiting presenter Terry Williams.
Another Derbyshire CTC member will be coming along with his presentation of DVD’s-Derrick Orton.This time I just hope that we get deserved support.
Between these two events I will be chairing the CTC East Midlands Region meeting in Derby, meeting up with dedicated members who somehow serve on this committee in addition to their many other duties.
We have offered to organise a Triennial Veterans ride in June next year, along with other groups from across the country.So if you are 50 years of age and over this is for you.
On a seasonal note I hope to meet up with many of you at the Christmas Carol Service and Mince Pie Run (see separate adverts).
Finally our “Cycle Chat” – in January it will be 80 years since the first edition appeared and looking at the first editorial the objectives of the magazine remain the same now as they were back in January 1933.
Seasons greetings and happy cycling in 2013.
by Ray Clay
I enjoyed John Allen's president's Ride. It was pleasant sunny day when we congregated at the start at Abbey Park, Leicester. John led us at a nice easy pace through Watermead Park to the coffee stop at the garden centre at Cossington. It was fortunate the weather was fine since it would have been very cramped indoors. After the obligatory tea and toasted teacake, it was time to again saunter to the Blue Lion in Thrussington, a good choice being a cycle friendly pub. Then it was time to return to the start. A good day out and well planned by John.
In view of trouble with my car, which needed urgent attention, I unfortunately, missed the Sky-Ride in Leicester. I had said I would help with the CTC stand and I feel embarrassed that I couldn't make it. I understand that it went off very well and was very popular. The Olympics seems to have had the effect of increasing the number of people cycling.
The Birthday Rides were well received despite a few glitches. The weather was pretty good on the whole and the rides well planned. I did my own thing most of the time and planned my own routes – hill climbing is not my forte. I know how much time and effort goes into organising the Birthday Rides so I think the result was commendable.
We have a new CTC Councillor lined up. John Catt could have carried on for another year but, since Jaki Lowe has decided to stand, John wishes to call it a day. He has taken the view that there should be more females on CTC Council and also, by standing down, he is saving the cost of an election. I'm sure we all agree that John has done an outstanding job during his year in office. Jaki rides with the Nottinghamshire CTC but she has had links with Leicestershire. She starts her role on 1st January and I'm sure she can count on our support.
Unfortunately, I missed the Historic Churches Cycle ride this year, the first time for many years. This was due to a mix up in our holiday plans. So I was on holiday in the Western Scottish Highlands in early September enduring the cold, wet and windy weather while the rest of the UK was basking in hot sunshine. I borrowed a bike for a couple of short rides during a let up in the weather.
One of my other jobs is secretary of the Charnwood Road Safety Committee. We are affiliated to BRAKE, the road safety charity. One of their latest concerns is the effect of switching off street lights in the evening. This concern is shared by Roger Hill, our CTC Rights Officer. It is suggested that the effect of the County Council action is putting the lives of cyclists at risk. We get dazzled by oncoming car headlights, can't spot dangerous potholes and road signs are invisible. The County Council may be saving money but at what cost to the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. I shall arrange for the Road Safety Committee to consider this. Furthermore, we have a meeting with the County Council coming up shortly so perhaps we can flag this up then.
There are still some events planned for the latter part of 2012. There's the AGM on 4th November, slide show and photo competition on 17th November, CTC Christmas Carol Service at Great Bowden on 9th December.
The final 2012 event will be the Mince Pie Run at Belton Village Hall on 23rd December. Any help with running the raffle in aid of Rainbows Hospice charity would be welcomed.Contents
by Peter Witting
Touring Gears Update
In the CTC’s Oct/Nov “Cycle” magazine, Chris Juden (the Club’s Technical Officer) points out that there hasn’t been a drop-bar touring groupset since the 1980s! We have to mix-n-match to get low touring ratios with drop handlebars. But this year Shimano have spoilt our chances with incompatible 10-speed groupsets - so what now? Chris identifies SRAM as the possible answer, as I suggested 12 months ago. Their WiFLi mechanism will operate with drop-bars on cassette sprockets as large as 36 teeth, according to Chris. Indeed Contador relied on SRAM WiFLi on the ultra-steep climbs to win the Vuelta a España this year. Although SRAM don’t offer a triple front mechanism, the double lever can still be used with a Shimano MTB double chainset with only 22 teeth. That 22 front/36 rear combination is low enough to lift your front wheel on climbs! Check Page 60 of “Cycle” for further details.
Cycling Option on Google Maps
I’ve found this new feature to be a huge benefit for route planning. If you use Google Maps free software to “Get Directions”, then select the “Bicycling” symbol, the route suggested will incorporate any suitable cycle-specific routes, with other cycle-friendly considerations. In your home area you will already know such features; and you may well find some are missing. Much of the input has come from Sustrans, and seems urban based. But away from home the suggestions can be gold-dust! On routes across Devon and south of the West Midlands I had loads of alternatives that the O.S. Landranger map failed to identify: A dual-carriageway crossing closed to motors, a footbridge over a trunk road, a cycleway through a chestnut wood, a well-surfaced disused rail line, and others. It also seeks to minimise climbs by longer alternatives. I would hesitate to rely on their suggestions, but incorporate them into a pre-planned route.
Cateye Computer Upgrade
Just over 5 years ago I had to replace my Cateye Cordless with the updated model – the Micro Wireless. Now I find that model has also been upgraded, while retaining the same name. The new model costs around £40; but if you can find the old model, you’ll save the extra £5 or so. The principal feature you get with the new model is the ability to customise both upper and lower lines of the display. At long last I can get rid of the “Current Speed” that every other cycle computer insists on showing!
Food & Drink
If you didn’t get around to making my DIY bonk bar, described in the Spring Cycle Chat, you can buy. Nakd bars use similar combinations of ingredients – Dates, Raisins, Cashews etc. A 4-pack Nakd Berry Delight costs around £2.30 in supermarkets. Which compares well with branded sports energy bars. See Cycling+ September 2012 for their energy bar review.Contents
The Generals go to the Birthday Rides
by Lyn Dolphin
This year, as last, the section went to the Birthday Rides, this time in Ellesmere, Shropshire. Originally there was to be six of us, but Keith unfortunately had an accident at work resulting in snapping a ligament in his arm, so was in a sling and unable to cycle. Martin had other commitments and therefore cancelled. Which left Nick, Joe, Pete and I.
The college building, on its approach, was very impressive, the old building being built of red brick with large windows and stone mullions. When Pete and I arrived, there were already many tents pitched on the playing field assigned to them, motor homes at the back and many bikes of varying shapes, sizes and colours.
We met up with Nick and Joe in the queue for the evening meal (I don’t think anyone had warned the college about cyclists and appetite) and after eating a hearty meal we decided that we would go along to the welcome meeting. As a result of an appeal during it for a replacement room for Ted King and his wife, Pete and I volunteered to move, which resulted in the four of us enjoying a free bottle of wine each evening with our meals.
The cycling was lovely, along quiet lanes and the scenery varied dependent on the direction you went. The weather, as with all of this summer, was changeable!
Lyn Dolphin in the lunch stop sunshine by the River Severn on the CTC Birthday Rides in Shropshire - August 2012
Photo by Pete Gale
On our first day, Tuesday, a beautiful hot and sunny day, we went on a ride out to visit an old furnace at Llanymynech. This is one of only three Hoffman kilns left in the country and the only one with a chimney. After passing the entrance a couple of times (the signpost was hidden in a hedge) we went to have a look around the kiln. You can wander inside it and appreciate how huge it is, and think about what a horrible job it must have been to look after it when it was working. Then, after an 11’s stop in the village, we continued on to Melverley, to look at the black and white timber framed church on the banks of the river Vyrnwy. Continuing on we soon arrived at a pub by the side of the river Severn. The sun was blazing and it was just too nice a spot to continue by, so a lunch stop was had, whilst looking up the history of Rodney’s Pillar on Pete’s phone, which was visible on the hilltop across the river. A pleasant route then took us back to the college, and after the evening meal, the evening’s entertainment was enjoyed.
On Wednesday, the weather forecast was for heavy rain at 1pm. Joe had put his name down on the bus assisted ride and he was whisked away at 9 that morning. Nick, Pete and I decided to do a short ride due to the weather warning, and set off south from the college, with the first port of call being a small church on the edge of the village of Petton. Cycling to the church we had started off in sunshine, however by the time we left the church storm clouds were gathering. We rode on to the cafe at Sleap airfield, just in time for rain to start, so an extended stop was had. We watched a helicopter hovering over the crossover with the runways, clearly doing some sort of training in very poor visibility.
Leaving the airfield behind as the rain had almost stopped, we decided to visit the village of Tilley (this being Keith’s surname) and send some pictures back to show we were thinking of him. There was a Tilley Arms for the pub, a Tilley Manor, a Tilley Hall, all were captured in picture especially for him...though from his comments back I think he thought we were poking fun! From there we used some very small lanes to the village of Loppington. As Nick took his wet weather gear off, we discussed if we should use the pub, but decided no we would carry on, even though Nick commented that it was 1pm. Two miles further on the rain started, and it was as if someone had turned the tap on. We discussed whether we should return to the pub, stay under the trees or carry on. We decided to carry on and within 10 minutes were so wet it made no difference as to where we were, and within 30 minutes the puddles were deep enough in places to be up to our cranks. Fortunately we were only about an hour away from the college but we arrived back very wet and bedraggled. Joe had had rain from the moment the bus had dropped them off and driven away, so his day had been a wet affair too. That evening after a slide show of old slides we joined in the quiz, after having to sweet talk a couple of gentlemen from Tyneside into letting us join their team – a good evening, but we didn’t win!
On Thursday Nick, Pete and I went car assisted to Shrewsbury for a ride to a lunch put on by the ladies of the WI at Picklescott. Lovely lanes (and in the same area we were in at Easter), sunshine, but a slow climb all the way from Shrewsbury up towards the Long Mynd. Joe cycled all the way from the college and met us at the village hall. After a very nice lunch we continued on along the edge of the Long Mynd, bouncing some chevrons through Betchcott, before dropping down into All Stretton. After following the old roman road in the valley we returned to Shrewsbury by the cast iron bridge at Cantlop possibly designed by Thomas Telford. Here we waved goodbye to Joe and after visiting Percy Thrower’s garden centre for a cup of tea and started off back to the college. On the journey we found Joe, who was suffering from a bent gear arm after his chain had got trapped and broken. We were unable to provide suitable tools to repair the damage, and after Joe had refused the offer of a swap to Pete’s bike, he continued on in one gear. After the evening meal the four of us were able to apply a temporary fix to the gearing problem, and then went to the evening show of “Four Men in a Bow Tie”. This did split the audience as to whether they liked it, but on the whole we were for rather than against.
Friday dawned, it was quite damp, and there was also to be a cycle procession through the town of Ellesmere that afternoon, so we decided to do our own route across to Chirk. After following some small lanes, dropping down into the valley at Pont-y-Blew to cross the Welsh border, and waiting for a herd of cows to go by we arrived at Chirk and had 11’s. We then walked over the Chirk Viaduct (Pete did cycle to take pictures of us crossing) and then meandered back via the edge of Gobowen and Welsh Frankton to Ellesmere in time for a late lunch and the procession. After the CTC had managed to stop the traffic flowing through Ellesmere we all went back to the hall for the Birthday tea, speeches and cake. That evening the entertainment was a Jazz band, and that too was very enjoyable.
We then all decided not to stay on the Saturday night, Nick had to return home that evening, Joe went home Saturday morning due to football commitments and we went home via Chester to allow us to get ready for the following week.Contents
Leicester Easy Riders
by Jim Gerrard
Considering the poor weather experienced this year we have been able to enjoy most of our autumn rides.
All rides during August were completed which included a good day out to Eye Kettleby Lakes with lunch taken in the sunshine before our return and tea taken at Goscote Nursery at Cossington.
Two rides have been out to Waterloo Farm on the Brampton Valley Way with several weeks between visits. Both with coffee stops at Great Bowden taken en-route,
Early September we extended one of our rides to the Welford / Kilworth area and found a new tea stop at Sulby Air Field where on a good day you can watch the gliders being launched, both winched and towed. The café is very reasonable and worth a visit.
Andy led a good ride out to Loddington which was followed by a nice day out on the Presidents Ride in September. Out through Watermead Park to Cossington for coffee and on to the Blue Bell Inn at Thrussington for lunch which was again enjoyed alfresco in the garden.
Our September week end also enjoyed dry weather (just), staying in Landbeach just outside Cambridge.
Three good rides were completed visiting Cambridge and Chrishill windmill on the Friday, Bury St, Edmunds on the Saturday and Ely on the Sunday. Sundays ride developed into a bit of a battle coming back into a strong head wind but we managed to get back just before heavy rain started which was continuous all the way back to Leicester.
Norman and myself had a long weekend in Suffolk / Essex staying at East Bergholt. We had a very wet day on the Friday when we went to Wivenhoe via Flatford Mill and over the fields to pick up the road again at Dedham.
Saturday was better and we were able to fully dry out bags and shoes etc. on our ride to Woodbridge. Sunday was a dull and damp one but we had a good ride albeit a tough one to Castle Hedingham where we got comfortable in the Bell Inn at lunch time which served all its beers direct from the barrel.
Monday saw us moving over to Saffron Walden and a short day, visiting Audley End House which was closed and Thaxted before our return home.
We shall soon be into the festive season which always ensues a busy and sociable December and we would wish a Happy and Peaceful Christmas to everybody and a safe new year to all awheel.Contents
South Leicestershire Summer* Report
(*did we have one?)
by Tony Davis
The Roy Damon Memorial Ride from Leicester to Skegness - 12/13 May.
The South Leicestershire group had 8 riders out on this ride. In the light of the new name for this ride I don’t think I need to explain why we were so keen to take part.
We set off from the Clock Tower in Leicester. Without Roy to marshal us along the “traditional” route on the main road to Melton we set off through the lanes via Scraptoft and South Croxton. This alternative is slightly more direct but significantly lumpier and quieter.
A late breakfast was eaten in the Kettleby Cross, Wetherspoon’s pub in Melton. More rapid progress was then made until elevenses which was taken at the Colsterworth diner which had had a bit of a makeover since our last visit but still provided good food with quick service. After Corby Glen comes the pretty section to Rippingale before you drop into the flatlands. The Fen Road starts at Dowsby and runs almost dead straight all the way to Boston. Halfway along this road we were joined by Judy, Neil’s partner, for the trip to Skegness and back.
At Boston lunch was eaten outside in the sunshine before the last section to Boston. Again we opted for the lanes rather than the A52. At Skegness, due to the number of riders, the group had to break up in order to find accommodation.
South Leics riders ready to ride home on The Roy Damon Memorial Ride
Leicester - Skegness - Leicester weekend 12/13 May 2012
Photo by Peter Witting
One of the advantages of Skegness as a destination is the abundance of reasonably priced B&Bs, as well as the “people watching” opportunities in the pubs in the evening.
On the Sunday we had breakfast at the B&B before meeting outside the Wetherspoon’s ready for the return trip.
At lunchtime we were made very welcome at the Bull Inn at Rippingale. Jayne was suffering with a bad back and resorted to a lift with Judy back to Leicester. The rest of us rode on via “afternoon tea” at The Kettleby Cross. Jill Stocks was delighted when we got back to the car having completed 189k, the furthest she had ever done in a weekend.
Heart of the Shires Audax rides
On 2nd June this year the Heart of the Shires 100k and 200k Audax rides were organised by the South Leicestershire Group at Lutterworth Rugby Club again. As usual it couldn’t have happened without the support that was given by the volunteers who manned (or womaned) the controls. Thanks to Shane Blower, Neil Dixon and Gill Lord. Jayne Davis, Maggi Dayman, Jill Stocks and Keith Lakin were the organising force behind the very polished food operation at HQ. Keith Lakin had a very busy day as he went on to help out at the Beaumanor Hall Camping weekend.
The number of entries for the Audax rides was similar to previous years at 41 for the 100 and 45 for the 200. This masked the fact that there was a reduction in entries from further afield with a compensating increase from the local clubs with significant presence from Leicester Forest, Hinckley CRC and the Welland Valley.
The riders on the 100k had a smooth run but the riders on the 200k had to contend with a special jubilee carnival in Southam. A bouncy castle had been erected directly in front of the suggested café control making it very difficult to find. Fortunately I had given riders the option to provide receipts from shops as proof of passage.
For some riding an Audax is a routine exercise but for others it is the pinnacle of their riding year. It is always a pleasure to see the glow of achievement when they arrive back at the HQ.
The South Leicestershire sections regular Sunday runs continue to follow a familiar pattern but with occasional changes to the routine. We have the usual familiar faces plus a number of regular visitors. The runs always go to the café listed on the runs list but changing pub landlords and café owners change the reception a bunch of cyclists may get on a Sunday lunchtime.
On 10 June this year Dave Mann, Gill Lord, Shane Blower, Neil Dixon and I set off on a run which was listed as Brandon Marsh and Harbury. As we passed through Leire there was a bang and it turned out that Neil’s rear derailleur had swung into his spokes. We were only a couple of hundred yards from Neil’s home so he popped home and swapped bikes.
We rode on through Ashby Parva to the A5 where Hinckley CRC was running a 25 mile time trial. Morgan Reynolds and Pete McManus were marshalling at the Magna Park roundabout so we stopped for a chat before heading to Brandon via Little Lawford and Bretford. We were met by Peter Witting at Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve. This has a café in addition to 200 acres of wildlife reserve.
A debate ensued about the suitability of the venues in Harbury as a lunch stop. This resulted in a change of plan and we headed off from Brandon, through Cubbington and along the Welsh Road to the welcoming Green Man at Long Itchington. We get a very warm welcome there, the beer is excellent and the food is cheap!Contents
A Week in France
Words & Photos by Tony Davis
Dave Binks has had a “Summer in France”, whereas Jayne and I managed a week. We have always planned to introduce cycle touring to any of our nephews who showed an interest and this year an opportunity presented itself.
One of Jayne’s sisters, Julia, lives in France. Julia and her husband, Malcolm, and their three sons, live in an old farmhouse just outside a small village in Deux Sevres. In the middle of August Jayne and I flew to La Rochelle with our bikes. We were met there by Malcolm and his middle son Ross who had just reached the age of 11. Malcolm left Ross and his heavy mountain bike with us to cycle camp the 118k to their house. Ross’s luggage was shared out in our panniers. Ross had never ridden more than 8k in day before and his bike didn’t have a rack for carrying luggage.
I had planned a route on quiet roads and loaded this onto my GPS. I had also loaded route points for all the campsites on the route so that we could make a flexible choice of stopping point depending on how we were progressing. I had not booked on the campsites as we wanted some flexibility and we only had two small tents between us.
We set off into the Saturday sunset at 8.15pm to ride the short distance to the first campsite. The campsite at L’Houmeau was near a beach and it sounded as if a party was in full swing. I knocked the rust of my French and asked at the bar if we could have a pitch for the night. I was advised that they were fully booked for August. Despite my protests that we only wanted one pitch for one night they repeated that they were fully booked. Fortunately there was another campsite only 4k further along our route at Lagord. At this site the gate was open but the office was closed. So we chose a pitch, put up the tents by the light of head torches and went to bed. We had covered 9k.
When we struck camp on the Sunday morning the office was still closed even though it was well past the posted opening time. The weather was dank and drizzly so we were reluctant to hang around and headed off in search of breakfast which we found at the village boulangerie.
In the village of Saint Zandre the PMU bar was busy with locals and we were able to get a good coffee. Just outside the bar a stall operated by all old lady in a pinafore was selling fresh mussels and oysters. We bought lunch supplies from the supermarket before pressing on. The weather was warm but damp most of the day. Our route ran roughly parallel with the N11 and just after we crossed it for the first time at Nuallé D’Aunis the heavens opened and it poured down. We spotted a bus shelter, took refuge and eat our lunch. Ross’s parents like their children to sit at the dining table and eat a proper lunch so a cycle tourist’s lunch in a smelly bus shelter was a novelty to Ross!
As the afternoon progressed the skies cleared and the sun came out. We crossed a few rolling downs before dropping into the marais, which is similar to the fens, but with lots of trees. We ended our day’s ride after 43k in a lovely village called Maillé, which had a beautiful riverside campsite. It was a sunny Sunday evening and very peaceful. We had a drink at a bar overlooking the ancient village church. We found out that the village did not have a shop which stayed open on Sunday afternoons and the local restaurant did not open on Sunday evenings either. I left Jayne and Ross playing frisbee and cycled off to the next town, Maillezais, which was 8k away. I searched for shops or take away food outlets and eventually found a bar restaurant but the chef was on holiday. The girl behind the bar made up three ham and cheese baguettes and fried some chips. I cycled back to the campsite as quickly as I could so that the chips would still be warm. The baguettes were so big that we kept half for breakfast on the Monday morning.
Monday was bright and sunny and that’s how it stayed for the rest of the week. At Oulmes we came to the end of the marais. Our route crossed a busy main road here and we stopped for lunch. When we left the town we headed up a steep incline into rolling countryside. By early afternoon we had covered 37k in very hot weather to get to Coulonges Sur L’Autize. We stayed on a campsite that Jayne and I had used on a previous trip. On that occasion we were the only people on the site and had to go to the Mairie to pay. This time the site was almost full as there was a fete in the town on the next day. Ross had a little saddle discomfort but was doing really well. We played Frisbee before wandering into the town to find food. We struck lucky as there a mobile creperie on the town square. So we had an indulgent meal of savoury crepes followed by sweet crepes.
On Tuesday morning Coulonges was getting busy for the fete as we left and by sheer coincidence we saw Ross’s Mum, Dad, siblings, Uncle, Aunt and nephews driving into the town as we left. We gave them a nonchalant wave as if we’d expected to see them. The route from Coulonges to St Aubin where Ross lives was only another 39k but it was what Audax organisers euphemistically call scenic. In other words seriously up and down – hilly. For the last few kilometres Ross took over navigation and I dropped back to make a phone call to organise a reception committee. All the family were waiting at the top of the drive when we pedalled up to the house. I felt immensely proud of Ross and felt that he deserved the hero’s welcome he got as he arrived home. He had covered 118k of varied terrain in weather which went from cool and wet to very hot.
Jayne and I stayed one night camping in Malcolm and Julia’s garden before we started back for the airport. We had a very hot and humid ride of about 60k to Coulon. The campsite which was recommended to us was full but there was another couple of kms out of town in the direction we wanted to follow the next morning. That evening we met Neil Dixon and Judy for a meal. They were in the area for FFCT Semaine Federal.
The next night we learnt the lesson that you really do need to replace your Michelin camping guide every year. As the campsite I had picked out of my 2009 guide no longer existed and we had to ride another 5k to find a campsite at Aigrefeuille D’Aunis. This town was very much a working town rather than a tourist resort. We found a not very attractive looking restaurant which served the best food of our week.
On our last day we only had to cover 32k from the campsite to the airport. We went via the centre of La Rochelle and once we had passed the glass and steel development of the University I was surprised by the beautiful old fortified harbour right at the heart of the city. The waterside was lined with bars and cafés. It was the ideal place for a leisurely lunch, a bit of people watching and finishing off the holiday books before heading home.Contents
The London Trip
by Brenda Otley
The start of the planning for our trip to London for the jubilee celebrations began back in spring 2011 when Soo came up with the idea of visiting London when it would be at its best with the jubilee celebrations and the Olympics being held as well. The group finally consisted of 12 cyclists some went down to London by car as they were visiting Belgium after the jubilee.
We travelled down to London on the train from Tamworth as this was the easiest and cheapest station to travel from. My youngest grand daughter and I went on the earlier train and Dave and our eldest grand daughter came down on the next train. We boarded the train with lots of football fans as well as people going down for the jubilee we stood up all the way jammed in with suit cases etc. wondering if we were going to enjoy cycling in London. The girls had been training after school for weeks to get fit and traffic wise.
We met Soo and her friend Jackie at the British library as they had come into St Pancras and we came in at Euston. Soo had discovered that St Cuthbert’s bible was on display at the library so we took the opportunity of looking at what the public had raised nine million pounds to save for the country.
We had not met Jackie before so after introductions we set off to go to the youth hostel at Greenwich I must admit to feeling nervous about cycling through London but after crossing Russell Square we passed lots of famous landmarks the Shard the London eye the houses of parliament famous theatres and then along by the Thames we finally arrived at the youth hostel another first for us. We were pleasantly surprised at the accommodation and the meals and also how many people were staying of all ages we certainly were not the oldest there.
After we had all met up stored our cycles and discussed what we were doing the next day some of the group cycled along the Thames to the Cutty Sark before going to the pub to try the beer in London.
Sunday we all had an early breakfast and made our way into the city to get a good spot to watch the flotilla we met our son and went up to near Battersea power station where we had an uninterrupted view of the Thames. The rest of the group went on the other side of the river and had a good view as well. The weather was not very warm but we were sheltered by a large block of flats which kept the wind and rain off until almost the end of the flotilla.
After a lovely day we made our way back to the hostel for our evening meal. On Monday we all met up after breakfast to cycle to the Olympic stadium. We were a large group to be cycling in London but as it was still a bank holiday the traffic was a little bit lighter. We cycled over Tower bridge past the royal mint and along the Thames and down lots of cobbled streets to eventually arrive at the Olympic venue. Some of the cycle paths had been closed off as we neared the venue but we were able to go up onto the station and view the stadium etc from there. We set off again after Soo had consulted the map. Her map reading skills once again were brilliant how she finds the places we get to I do not know.
We found a lovely pub back on the banks of the Thames and saw a tall ship sailing down - it looked brilliant. We went under the river and up in the lift at the Cutty Sark and back to the hostel after an eventful day.
On Tuesday morning after another excellent breakfast we used our bus passes and went into the centre of London and walked around some very nice streets. The houses were amazing and we ate a packed lunch on the steps of a church and then went into Harrods where the staff were entertaining customers and giving away jubilee biscuits. We did feel a little conspicuous in our bright cycling jackets but we only had one jacket no room in panniers for fashion. As we had gone to see the fly past of the Red Arrows we made our way to the Mall to join thousands of cheering crowds in singing and cheering and feeling proud to be British and part of the celebrations.
We made our way back to the hostel to join the rest of the group, some of whom were going on a tour of some of Brunel's engineering works. Some of the group left on Wednesday for a tour of Belgium but we cycled up to Greenwich observatory to meet Soo's friend. We had coffee together and then Dave myself and grand daughters went and straddled the time line and then looked down on the equestrian centre being completed for the Olympic games once again very impressive. We went back down the hill and left our cycles outside the maritime museum and went for lunch in the university cafe and then wandered in the grounds looking at the lovely old buildings. We met up with Soo and Jackie to cycle back to the hostel for our evening meal.
Thursday started off extremely wet Soo and Jackie were going to visit art galleries and museums and to see a show later on we went and had some lunch browsed in a few shops and went back to the hostel as the rain by this time was torrential.
Friday Jackie was leaving to go to a family party so Soo went with her to the train on the way to the station they went into Southwark cathedral and were amazed to see and take part in a funeral of an unknown person. They were told that there had been some excavations locally and several tons of human bones had been unearthed a whole skeleton had been discovered so it had been decided that as a mark of respect there would be a grave for people to visit similar to the tomb of the unknown warrior.
We had coincidentally seen the horse drawn coffin whilst we were on the bus heading for Camden market. We had a very interesting time looking round the market which is very historic there were some very nice areas showing how the area used to be. We went from there to Covent Garden quite a contrast. We met up with Soo who had seen Jackie off safely and we planned our journey the next day to catch our trains home.
We loaded our cycles up on Saturday morning they seemed very heavy after touring around London without panniers. We set off back towards the Cutty Sark and down in the lift and under the Thames and along the cobbled streets back near Tower bridge and towards St Paul’s Cathedral we sat near the cathedral and watched a wedding while we had coffee we headed off then to go to the British museum where we saw the Olympic medals and also part of the exhibition was the Much Wenlock modern games On the Easter tour we had visited Much Wenlock so we seemed to have come full circle with the Olympics.
We cycled on to the British library where we had met up and said our goodbyes to Soo who had put so much time into planning the trip also to Lyn as well. Our train journey back was much better as we were able to sit down the only confusion which end of the train went to Tamworth and which end went on to Birmingham only apparent once the train had set off. Dave travelled on the second train Virgin first class and their bikes put on for them and the journey was just over an hour so we arrived back in Tamworth minutes apart. Adventure complete every one had a brilliant time what will we do for the next adventure?Contents
2012 OFF-ROAD RIDE - Sunday 7th October
Peter Witting tells us about his ride
For those who didn't ride, you missed an excellent event! Ron Johnson had linked up some roadside cycle-paths with Route 63 of the National Cycle Network, some un-surfaced roads, and some traditional bridleways. I’d researched the route details from our website using the O.S. Explorer map; then checking unfamiliar bits on Google Maps using street-view and their satellite view for the bridleways. So I was ready to lead others round the 25 miles at 9am. Unfortunately the early fog seemed to have delayed those from afar, so I set off solo.
I’d borrowed my son’s Van Nicholas Amazon road bike as last year. It had huge clearances and I’d gambled on leaving the mudguards fixed. It rolled fast downhill on the cycle-paths to County Hall, under the A50 and into Station Road, Glenfield. Here I was introduced to the Ivanhoe Trail (Route 63) which was new to me. Running behind the houses and factories, alongside the Rothley Brook, it passed under the A46 ring road and under the M1 to Ratby. The blue cycle route signs then directed me through the backstreets to reach Burroughs Road.
I knew the largely traffic-free route through to the golf course, past the reservoir and on to Thornton. The longer (25 mile) route left the road at Cross Hills Baptist Church, following the tarmac track over and around the spoil heaps to exit from the car park. During a “comfort stop” I was passed by a rider whom I subsequently discovered to be a later starter – but somewhat faster. He was riding a hill-climb later in Derbyshire!
The roads took me to Desford, along the un-surfaced but rideable Kirkby Road & Archers Lane to Peckleton, then on to the A47. So far, so good on my road bike! But fat knobblies were needed to reach Elms Farm along the field edges to Gullet Lane in Kirby Muxloe! More road to the old Desford Tubes factory, then knobblies were again needed to cross Ratby Burroughs, through the woods to reach Cow Lane and Markfield Road.
The mud had clogged up my front mudguard, so the Q/R was used to free the front wheel. Then under the M1 before a final off-road stretch to reach Slate Pit Lane and the A50 cycle-path into Groby, finishing in 3 hours 20 minutes. About half a dozen rode the 25, perhaps double that did the 16 miles. I just needed to hose off the mud before returning the bike to its owner! Thanks to Ron for organising an interesting ride, and thanks to Eileen for the catering.Contents
by Ivan Waddington
L’Eroica is a rather special ride which is held each year on the first Sunday in October in Tuscany, Italy. The ride is based on the strada bianca, the traditional white chalk roads which originally linked isolated farms and villages in the area. In the 1990s, the local authorities in the area wanted to tarmac over these old roads and local residents mounted a successful campaign to preserve them in their original condition; part of this campaign involved the launch of L’Eroica, as a celebration of the strada bianca. The first ride was held in 1999 and had one hundred riders; such has been the success of L’Eroica that the 2012 event attracted no fewer than 5,488 riders from 33 countries.
Photo © Pashley
In keeping with the celebration of these historic routes, all bikes must also be “heroic”, that is made before 1987,with down tube gear levers, toe clips and straps (no clipless pedals!) and exposed brake cables. And there is a bike inspection to make sure that your bike is old enough! To add to the spectacle, riders are also encouraged to wear traditional clothing, such as woollen jerseys and shorts. And the refreshment stops also offer traditional Italian cycling nourishment – including Tuscan bean soup, Italian ham and Chianti! – all served by Italian women dressed in traditional costume.
I had been meaning to ride the event for a few years and I was finally spurred to put in an entry by an article in the June issue of Cycling Plus earlier in the summer. There were 700 places reserved for non-Italian riders (subsequently increased to 800) but these had all long been taken up. However, there is no limit to the number of entries from foreign (i.e. non-Italian) riders over the age of 65, so I was able to gain a place on the ride, despite the lateness of my entry.
The choice of bike to ride was easy – my 1984 Sid Mottram – so that left only one other decision to take: what distance to enter? There are four distances: 35 km, 75km, 135km and 204km. Riders over the age of 65 are not allowed to ride the 204 km ride, so that narrowed the choice. Actually I would not have chosen the longest ride anyway – those who choose this distance have to start at an unearthly hour (between 5-7a.m.) and the route is really tough. Tuscany may not be mountainous, rarely rising above 1000 metres but, as I knew from previous visits, it is very hilly and some of the hills are very steep. Add to this the rough road surfaces on the strada bianca, with ruts and loose gravel, and you can appreciate why anyone who completes the 204km ride in under 12 hours is given a large hamper!
I felt it best to leave the longer distance to the ex-pros riding the event, who included former world champion and hour record holder Francesco Moser, as well as several former Italian national champions. I eventually decided to ride the 75 km event, since I wanted to be able to take my time, enjoy the scenery and the refreshment stops and take plenty of photos. That proved to be the right decision, since even the 75 km event was quite a tough ride.
My wife and I took a flight from Luton to Pisa on the Thursday before the event (which was held on 7 October) and there were no fewer than 12 bikes loaded onto the plane from other Brits going over for the event. I happened to be sitting next to one of these, who had really entered into the spirit of the event by growing a splendid large handlebar moustache specially for the ride! At Pisa we collected a rental car and drove to our hotel at Castellina in Chianti, about 12 miles from Gaiole in Chianti, where the ride is based. The following day we drove into Gaiole to pick up my “race numbers” – I was number 1892 – one for my jersey and one for my bike, together with a free Eroica musette and cotton cap, and a ticket for the post-ride pasta.
Although this was two days before the ride, the whole town was already completely given over to the event. There was a special Eroica bike shop where you could hire a pre-1987 “heroic” bike if you did not own one. And the centre of town was given over to a large market with stalls selling retro bike gear – wheels, brakes, pedals, gears, handlebars and stems etc. as well as shoes and clothing from the 1970s and 1980s. And there were also some wonderful bikes on display, including a bike which had been ridden to fourth place in the Giro d’Italia before the First World War and the bike on which Fausto Coppi won the 1951 Giro. We spent some time on the market, and I bought a pair of beautiful, unused (but maybe 30 year old!) traditional Italian leather cycling shoes for riding with toe clips and straps for 40 euro, which I thought was a snip.
The market continued through the next day but as we had already spent Friday there we decided on the Saturday to explore the local countryside a little by car (my wife does not cycle). And then on to Sunday – the day of the ride!Contents
by Dave Binks
They were a young couple, not long married, still madly in love, enjoying a cycle camping trip to the Spanish Sierras. Being not long married, they hadn’t much money and had borrowed a friend’s small and old, but perfectly serviceable tent. It was one made long before the days of zips to hold the door shut and relied on cloth ribbons tied together to hold the door shut. They were well into their trip, and having always played safe and stopped in recognised campsites, they decided that just for once, they would camp “wild” i.e. not on a campsite. They were in a very lonely part of the Scottish Highlands, so there was plenty of choice, and they picked a suitable spot.
There was no-one else in sight, nor a road or any habitation when they pitched up and leisurely ate their evening meal. They had sat and chatted for hours, thoroughly enjoying the warm evening and each others’ company until it got dark and sleepiness overcame them. They couldn’t be bothered to wash the dirty dishes that night, and just left them outside their little tent. Tomorrow would allow plenty of time for that, so they bedded straight down for the night.
Some hours later during the night, the man suddenly woke up as he thought he could hear something moving around outside. Not wanting to disturb or frighten his wife, who was lying next to him huddled up in her own sleeping bag, he just sat still and silent, listening intently. He also didn’t switch a light on, not wanting to draw attention to the fact that he was awake, in the hope that if there was something there, it would just go away and leave them alone. He listened carefully. Yes, there was definitely something moving around out there, and it was pretty close by. “Be logical,” he thought, “it’s probably just a fox or a dog nosing around.” But no, it sounded like quite heavy footsteps on the ground and they were very close by and getting closer by the second. Something, and this time it definitely sounded like a heavy two legged creature, tripped against one of the guy ropes holding up the tent. His heart started to beat madly, adrenaline flooding his system with the primeval and instinctive energy needed to “fight or flee”. His brain went into overdrive over what should, or indeed could, he do. Should he call out in a loud fierce voice, or would he sound like the frightened child he felt like? Would that encourage the intruder to flee, or would it encourage them to attack? Was there anything to hand he could reach quickly and use as a weapon with which to defend them both? Yes, there was the large sharp knife they used for cooking, but then he remembered they never did the washing up after their evening meal, so it was still outside with the dirty dishes.
Could he quietly get out of his sleeping bag, untie the ribbons, open the door and reach out for the knife? In fact could he even recall exactly where the knife was so that he wouldn’t have to fumble around trying to find it? In his frightened state of mind he really couldn’t remember where it had been left. “Think, think” he told himself, “our lives could depend on this.”
Suddenly, in the dim light of the interior of the tent, he saw a hand came through the door from outside. He was now scared witless. Were they both going to be robbed and possibly murdered in their own little tent? His heart nearly burst out of his chest with fear.
Then he realised it was his wife, who had earlier crept outside for a pee without him hearing her leave!Contents
A Tale of Three Cities
by Lyn Dolphin, who also took some of the photos.
Lyn continues her story from the Autumn Edition of a group holiday to London, Bruges and Ypres. She has spent time in London for the Jubilee celebrations before travelling on to Bruges. Sightseeing done, they have moved on to Ypres and are into WWI Memorial territory and have just seen the famous Guynemer memorial, commemorating the French national flying.
Following on from this, after battling against some vicious cross winds and resting by a restored windmill, we saw the Canadian memorial at Saint Julien. This memorial is better known as the Brooding Soldier and it commemorates the Canadian First Division’s participation in the Second Battle of Ypres which included defence against the first poison gas attacks along the western front. In my opinion this memorial was the most moving of those we saw.
We then continued on into Ypres, stopping briefly at the New Irish Army Cemetery just before the city limits. Negotiating our way through Ypres to our bed and breakfast in the city centre was relatively straight forward, and whilst the new place to stop was very different to the last, it was also very nice, with our own en-suite facilities and a small communal area on the landing where we could have tea and coffee as we wished, and breakfast was to be served. As there were only two rooms in this establishment we had filled it so it was a very pleasant place to be. The cycle storage resulted in us having to push the bikes through the hallway of the house and out into the patio area behind, resulting in some very secure parking.
Once we had had a quick shower and change we made our way to the Menin Gate in order to hear the last post being played. This gate is a memorial to the missing, dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres salient of World War I and whose bodies have never been identified or found. After completion it was found to be too small so a further memorial is at Tyne Cot. Every day the last post is played at 8pm in order to commemorate the lives lost. This has continued uninterrupted since the 2nd July 1928 and has only stopped during the German occupation in World War II, when the post was played in Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, and resumed back at the gate the evening the Polish forces liberated the city. It was very poignant as the silence fell over the crowd gathered and the bugle sounded out its melancholy notes.
A bowl of Belgian stew in the city square, with a beer to accompany it, finished the evening off, and after the buffeting of the wind that day no lullaby was needed to send us to sleep.
42 miles of very hard cycling
Saturday dawned, the wind had not dropped, but the sun was out and the route today was to be circular so at least there would be some of our journey to take the benefit from the wind.
After a very large breakfast (though we were told off for not eating more) we left Ypres, passing through the Menin gate, to start our small tour of the World War I memorials and museums. Our first call was at the French military cemetery on the road out to Zonnebeke. Arriving at Zonnebeke we went to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917. This displays a large collection of artefacts from this time, along with an underground dugout tunnel with communication and dressing post, headquarters, workplaces and dormitories, giving a very real glimpse as to what life was like for the soldiers. There was nothing left of the villages above, what was down in the tunnels was all there was.
A welcome cup of coffee and then we were on our way, past the New Zealand war memorial before arriving at Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing. It is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war. The Memorial to the Missing is a wall embracing the cemetery which includes the names of 33,783 UK soldiers plus another 1,176 New Zealand soldiers. The new visitors centre is a very sobering place, with its perpetual moving display of pictures of soldiers buried there along with their names being spoken. Tyne Cot is said to have been given its name from the Northumberland Fusiliers who saw a resemblance between the German pill boxes and typical Tyneside workers cottages.
Passing back through Zonnebeke we tried to get some lunch, but were told by the restaurant there that they had run out of food (we thought that really meant they didn’t want cyclists in cycling gear in their establishment), so we continued on. Visiting the Polygon Wood Cemetery and the 5th Australian Division memorial en route we eventually chanced upon a small bar “de dreve” who were more than happy to serve us. Here they declared themselves to be Home of the Underground War, and we ate our lunch surrounded by their own collection of memorabilia to the accompaniment of war time songs.
Our last stop was at the Hooge Crater War Museum. This is described as being the best private museum in Flanders Fields telling the story of the war in the Hooge area. In 1917 the special Tunnelling Companies of the Royal Engineers let 1700kg of dynamite explode in a tunnel, with the allies immediately attacking the German soldiers now in a newly formed crater. The exhibits and full scale displays certainly lived up to the museums reputation.
Finally we followed the small lanes back to Ypres and our bed and breakfast each wrapped up in our own thoughts about all of the sights and illustrations of those terrible times that we had seen that day.
That evening, as this was the last day before returning back to our own shore, we decided that we would have a special meal out. After looking and ruling out a few restaurants we found a nice one tucked into the corner of the main square. As we arrived just before the last post was to be played at the Menin Gate we were easily able to get a seat. The meal was lovely, Pete changing his mind over his evening meal at the last moment due to the man next to him being delivered a beautiful looking steak and ordering “what he is having”. We all decided to have a desert, Keith choosing an extremely alcoholic sorbet/ice cream complete with glittery tassels. Pete declared that it was showing Keith’s feminine side and took a picture for our future reference.
31 miles cycling
Sunday was the day to return back to Dunkerque to catch the ferry. It was sunny and it was finally not windy. The slight wind there was, was favourable, and as we started out after an early breakfast the villages fell away behind us. By 10.30 we had crossed the border back into France, and as we entered the village of Bambecque the local cycling club raced round the corner, whistle blowing to warn both the traffic coming towards them and the back of the group of danger ahead. This drew our attention to the bar on the corner and the coffee called.
Feeling refreshed we continued on to Bergues. This town looks fascinating, with its town walls and river, however we had to press on in order to be back at the port in time. A place to put into the memory banks to visit in the future though. Skirting Dunkerque proper we rejoined our route out at Grande-Synthe to pass back by the oil refineries and into the port.
During the crossing on the way back to Dover we all agreed that it had been a very successful tour and cycle touring would be something we would be doing again. I really enjoyed the planning of the trip and consulting the maps prior to starting to ensure we saw as much as we could in the time available using the nicest looking routes possible. Belgium, as a cycling destination, has a lot to offer, and much more to see, so it is likely to be on the agenda in the future. It has three boat lifts further south that have very much captivated my imagination. A point for me to remember though is that Dunkerque port is actually about 10 miles outside of Dunkerque, which until we were on the boat over to Belgium and Martin pointed it out to me, I hadn’t realised (there is a port in Dunkerque itself which I had assumed was one and the same)!
It was raining in Dover when we arrived, as we cycled back up to the cars, youths hung out of a passing vehicle to shout something. We had not experienced any such behaviour during our days on the continent, and whilst the countryside of Britain rivals anywhere on the planet, the contents of the motor vehicles most certainly do not.
45 miles cycling
My thanks go to Martin, Nick, Keith and Pete for making the cycle touring trip memorable, to Soo for sorting out the London element and giving us the inspiration in the first place, and to Wikipedia for its information on the sights that we visited.Contents
An Open Letter to Ray Clay From Janet Neal
Thanks very much, Ray, for mentioning me in Summer Cycle Chat in connection with the Church Sponsored Cycle Ride on Sat Sept 8th. Yes, I hope to do it again this year, weather permitting. We have mostly had good weather. I find it a good social event. You see cyclists you perhaps haven’t seen for a long time and refreshments are very good at most churches!
I, of course, can’t do the miles I used to do and have to watch out for aches and pains. I have a foot which goes numb. I never realised how important feet are! Right arm aches and neck, making getting on and off the bike difficult.
But – must keep going.
Janet Neal, Hinckley
We welcome relevant Reader’s Letters, but if a letter is intended for publication, it should be made clear that this is the case. The author’s name and contact details must be included, together with the date, but the full address will not be printed. Handwritten letters are fine, provided they are legible and not too long - the Editor is a volunteer and not a copy typist!Contents
Rear Lights — check their alignment
Modern “L.E.D.” lamps are a big improvement on the old tungsten type, but are very “directional” with little sideways throw of light. So it’s most important to make sure your rear light is fixed firmly to your bike to keep it pointing straight backwards. A lamp incorrectly aligned, or even worse, dangling on a toe strap from your saddle bag, is not much good if it points down at the ground or up in the air.
You’re not really at risk from overtaking worms or low flying aircraft!
Have a look at yours and make sure you are getting as much rearwards illumination as possible.Contents
Spotted in France- By Dave Binks
France is famous for wine. Grapes are crushed to extract the juice which is then fermented before being bottled.
The item shown here is one of many ancient “pressoirs” which were used to press the grapes. The grapes were dropped into the top of the slatted barrel and then a massive screw would be turned by hand. This pressed the grapes down into the barrel and the juice would then leak out of the slats and be collected below. It’s all done with electric motors in modern stainless steel machines now.
The old ones are now just used for flower displays, as is this one.Contents
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