Contents


Editor's Comments
President's Page
Secretary's Report
Technical Topics
Leicester Easy Riders
South Leicestershire Report
General Knowledge
How NOT to ride the End to End
Peter tries out his new bike
“Can yer ride tandem?”
30 mile & Km Rides
“The Sulley Challenge Rides 2014
Freewheel Competition
A Summer in France (part 26)


Mountain Road, Majorca, April 2014.
Photo by Dave Binks

"Editor's Comments"

Dave Binks

This spring I enjoyed a great nine days on the bike in Majorca. I have been many times in the past, but not since 2008. I was absolutely astonished at the increase in numbers of cyclists to be seen on the roads even since that last visit. The Germans have always been there in quite large numbers, many being on a package deal, but the Brits and also Irish are fighting back hard. All the popular cycling venues are very busy serving drinks and snacks to the hungry hoards, and the financial impact at what would otherwise be a quiet period must be tremendous. Someone told me that one Swiss tour operator brings 28,000 cyclists over each year!

I promised to report back on my experiences with a Garmin Edge Touring GPS. Having used the unit for some months now, both on local and distant roads, including my trip to Majorca, I can sum it up in one word; disappointing. It works, but is not an easy item to set up and is slow to react and despite being programmed not to, tries to take routes along muddy tracks and byways that are just not suitable for road bikes. One thing in its favour is that it does always know where it is, even if it does want to take you on a route you don’t want! The claimed 17hrs battery life is way too optimistic. I average about 6-8hrs, barely enough for a full day out. I wouldn’t dare venture out in a strange area without a map. If you really can’t read a map (are there any touring cyclists who can’t?) it can be a boon, but a competent map reader with a map on the ‘bars will beat it every time. The usual time, distance, etc info works fine, and the elevation data is interesting, but most of these are covered just as well on the simpler bike computers most of us already use. My advice is wait a few years until they have improved them.

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President's Page

Peter Witting

Peter Witting

I enjoyed our prize presentation evening in March at the Black Swan in Shepshed. Congratulations to the prize winners, thanks to Ray Clay for organising, and especially to John Allen for arranging the awards despite his recent operation. I certainly wasn’t expecting to receive the Open Road Trophy.

An unexpected feature of being club President is the emails I now receive: I am regularly invited to participate in prestigious events in foreign parts at vast expense. The most recent being a 7-day drive from Goodwood via 6 countries to Monte Carlo with “fine dining and lavish hotels” for £5,795. I would put it to our committee, but I’m pretty sure I know what the Treasurer would say!

2014 is a historic year for cycling in the UK: We have the Giro d’Italia starting in Ireland as well as 3 days of the Tour de France in England, not to mention the Women’s Tour of Britain starting in the East Midlands! With such an increase in media interest, the CTC should be looking to introduce new riders to our clubruns. Let’s make sure we are ready to welcome them!

I’m looking forward to meeting as many local CTC members as possible on my President’s Ride on Sunday 31st August. We will meet at Kibworth, then ride to coffee at the Langton Garden Centre, with lunch at Shearsby all via some of our most scenic lanes.

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Secretary’s View

by Ray Clay

Ray

Thankfully, the railway line at Dawlish is now repaired so it will be easier to see the grandchildren. When we were there in February, there were hundreds of workers making good the line. It was fascinating watching them pumping concrete and seeing large cranes. I'm sure the caterers in the town did well, especially the famous Gaye's Creamery.

We had a new venue for our annual dinner/prize presentation in March, namely, the Black Swan, Shepshed. Sadly, the numbers were slightly down this year but I felt the the evening was pretty well received. The winners (listed in the last edition of Cycle Chat) were presented with their awards by our President, Peter Witting. Ladies clinched the two main awards – Jean Deacon won the Hames Award and Jean Lakin was crowned Clubperson of the year.

Unfortunately, I missed the Sulley Memorial Ride this year organised by David Grimshaw. I wasn't feeling well. Nothing serious, just a heavy cold which made me feel pretty rotten. From the reports I've heard, the event was a great success. David had 121 riders out and £384.10 was raised in aid of the heart unit of the University of Leicester. I'm sure we are all very grateful to David for organising this event so efficiently despite problems with last minute road closures and form filling complications.

I shall probably also have to miss John Allen's Back to the Fuschia ride. I'm off to France next week and I'm not likely to return in time to get my breath back. I've done the ride in the past and it's usually well supported and the countryside around Thornton is very pleasant.

I shall make a special effort to attend the Meriden cyclists' service in May, particularly with it being the centenary anniversary of the start of the first world war. It should be an interesting day out.

Again, in the May Spring Bank Holiday, there is the Cyclists' Camping Rally at Beaumanor Hall. I've lost count of the number of times it has been held. It must be around 13. Fortunately, Keith and Jean Lakin tell me that they will be there to help. Last year we had around 50 campers. With the York Rally now closed, I'm wondering whether that figure may be surpassed. I've already had bookings from Wales and Yorkshire and there could be a group of about 10 from Coventry. We also get good support from Max Scott's area in Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes.

Keith Lakin has already mapped out the location for the CTC Carol Service on 7th December. There have been preliminary discussions with the vicar who seems supportive of the idea. There is a nice church hall next door and the Black Swan PH is just round the corner.

It couldn't be better!
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Technical Topics

by Peter Witting

Free-hub Failures

It’s always embarrassing when the guy who writes about technical issues suffers a technical failure, as Norman Castle pointed out! My pedals spun both ways, luckily just outside our café stop. I had to get a lift home; not for the first time either. Dave Birch of the WVCC and Sharon Clifford of the Coventry RC both had a similar recent failures. Can the failure be predicted? I’d simply noticed several “clunks” from the transmission just beforehand. The rust-coloured off-side bearings indicated that the rubber seal on the free-hub had worn out, allowing water into the mechanism. Hardly surprising after the wettest winter on record. On the old-style freewheels you counted the ticks from the pawls for one wheel rotation when new. Any reduction warned of impending failure; but Shimano free-hubs don’t tick.

The Curate’s Egg

That seems to be the verdict on the Garmin Edge Touring GPS device. I certainly won’t spend several hundred pounds for a sulphurous oeuf! Some folk seem content to use it to follow other’s routes, especially those who have difficulty with maps. But if you visit a retailer’s website and read the reviews, lowest rating first, you get the full picture. Even those with earlier Garmin models seem disappointed. You don’t have to take my word for it: Two local globetrotting cyclists have reached the same conclusion: Frank Burns from Kimbolton had replaced his first Touring as faulty, but got a refund on returning his second. Our Editor, Dave Binks, is similarly unimpressed. The best bet seems to rely on a smartphone with GPS mapping app to get you out of trouble when all else fails.

Summer Solution

It may no longer be necessary to carry a tube of greasy sunscreen to apply when stopping on summer rides. Reimann P20 claims to offer 10 hour protection from a single application (before you set off) and be water resistant. Their website gives advice on which factor needed. I shall be trying it out this summer; yes - that does mean abroad!

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Leicester Easy Riders

by David Smith

By the time this is printed almost half a year will have passed. No snow at all this year, but the rain came down in buckets full. Thankfully we didn’t get it as bad as some parts of the country did.

Our first New Year ride was on a very dull day, 6 set off for Wistow but only 5 made it there, I came home after Stoughton due to a very heavy cold. The following Sunday ride was to Sevenoaks, the roads were very icy. Only Andy Tokeley arrived on his bike, the rest of us travelled by car.

Our ride to Cosby was on a very sunny day, 10 of us had coffee in the cafe, and 6 returned home afterwards. 4 of us carried on to Foxton Locks via Willoughby Waterleys & Saddington. The last ride in January it was raining heavily, only Ian Smart braved it on his bike to Rothley Station, the rest went by car.

February’s ride to Medbourne was changed as the sun was very low in the sky and it was quite dangerous riding. We went to Kibworth and then on to the Langton Farm Shop where 4 members decided to buy lunch. Quite expensive but very nice; afterwards we all rode home. The following week’s ride was to Thornton, but again it was very heavy rain and strong winds so we went by car. On our ride to Thrussington, 7 of us arrived at the cafe for coffee where we were joined by Andy Tokeley who had made his own way. 3 rode home afterwards and 5 of us rode to the Carrington Arms at Ashby Folville for a drink. The last ride in February it was very windy so after having coffee at the Glebe Garden Centre, Countesthorpe, we returned home.

The 5 week’s rides in March saw an average of 6 riders out each week with most Sundays being cold & windy, the exception being March 30th which was a lovely warm day.

Norman Delves took the first ride in April to Foxton with 7 riders out. 4 members went on a cycling weekend to Hampshire near Winchester which had to be cut short due to me falling down some stone steps at the B & B and injuring my back. Thankfully nothing was broken but I cannot ride my bike for 5 weeks. It is now improving but very painful to lie down.

April 13th was Jim Gerrard’s 30m/30k meander/freewheel at Thornton. This was well attended.

Easter Sunday was an informal ride.

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South Leicestershire Winter/Spring 2014

by Tony Davis
(with a memory prompts from my friends who post regularly on Facebook)

The usual run of family birthdays followed by skiing holidays meant that Jayne and I haven’t been out regularly on Sundays but we have had a few highlights at this, potentially inclement, time of year. This has included repeat rides to current favourites such as Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve followed by lunch at The Green Man, Long Itchington but also a couple of memorable rides which called at less frequently visited stops.


Brandon East Marsh Pool
with Willow Island in the foreground

Sunday 23rd February

This was a day with a wet and windy forecast but the usual suspects plus Judy were joined by Dave Mann and John Cox at Catthorpe for a ride through the gated road to Watford village then through Long Buckby to lunch at the Saracen’s Head in Little Brington. It was a battle against the wind all the way there. The pub was so busy that we struggled to get out our group together round one table.

On the wind assisted return home Jayne and I peeled off at Stanford on Avon to go straight through Lutterworth and on home. We had completed 92kms by the time we reached our front door – not bad for a winter's day out.

Sunday 2nd March

The David Sulley rides offer a range of different distances and a wide option of start time so the South Leicestershire group ended up riding in sub groups. I rode with Shane Blower, Jill Stocks and Jayne. We rode from home to the start to meet the others then had a leisurely 9.30 start on the 50km route. We had been warned of road closures on the route but we avoided the detour by taking a slightly over distance one of our own. We added in a café stop at the Greenhouse Café, East Langton. This was a first for a Sunday. I have visited during the week when the service has been exemplary, but it was not up to it’s usual standard on this occasion. Thankfully the coffee and cake were up to the usual high standard. We resisted the temptation to stop for lunch at Shearsby. After checking in at the Masonic Hall, Jayne and I headed for home, but Shane and Jill still had a few miles to ride, so they had a refuelling stop at the Wood Farm Brewery.

Outside "Edwards" canal side café in Crick
Photo by Shane Blower

Sunday 9th March

This day really did feel like the first day of spring and the weather brought a huge turnout. The usual core group of Neil Dixon, myself, Jayne, Shane, Gill and Jill were joined by Norman Castle, Neil Talbot, Stephen Lake, Ivan Waddington, Dave Mann and Judy.

Things nearly went pear shaped when our planned coffee stop was closed but the alternative was even better. We went to Edwards the canal side café in Crick for the first time in many years. The café is under new ownership and were very welcoming. Twelve of us sat outside in the sun.(Shane Blower posted some pictures on the South Leicestershire Facebook page which perfectly capture the relaxed atmosphere).

Most of the group carried on via Ashby St Ledgers and Barby to lunch at the Shoulder of Mutton. We sat outside to eat here as well. We were joined for lunch by Stephen’s wife Judith who knows a good proportion of the group through Tuesday Gilmorton coffee rides and bellringing.

Neil didn’t lead us the most direct way home, as the weather was so unseasonably good. Jayne and I had covered 98kms by the time we got home.

The Audax season is now all year round but the spring time is when the longer (300k + ) rides start. So I have missed a few club runs due to being away on Audax rides and Jayne, Jill Stocks and I all managed to stretch our usual week on Mallorca to 9 days this year. Gill Lord’s stay overlapped with ours and we were able to meet for lunch a couple of times, once at Petra, the cyclists honeypot, and once at the Max Hurzeler shop.

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General Knowledge

by Lyn Gale

Bday CakeThe Cake! by Jean Lakin
photo by Pete Gale
Bday Dinner1John & Phil Allen, Pearl Thompson, Martin Bulmer
photo by Pete Gale
Bday Dinner2Joe Butler, John & Phil Allen, Martin Bulmer
photo by Pete Gale
A few of the "Meander" riders at Thornton Garden Centre.
Photo by Jim Gerrard

The past quarter has, in the main, been kind to us with the weather, we have had a few extremely warm days, which help to take us through to what I think is the best time of year. Spring, when all of the new foliage is coming out, the daffodils, tulips, magnolias and wisteria start to show themselves and the Sunday run becomes colourful again.

During the quarter we have had breakfast at Twycross Zoo whilst watching the snow leopards bask in the sun, Sunday Lunch at the “Mucky Duck” at Fradley Junction, a ride that was a little too ambitious that meant the breakfast stop was missed, and took part in the 30 mile meander and free wheel competition.

ftp.plus.net

Last Sunday (27th April) we had the section’s Birthday Dinner at the Ferrer’s Arms in Lount. It is this type of function that really shows the spirit of the CTC and the section, with the diverse range of ages, level of cycling activity and general backgrounds all coming together to experience a very enjoyable lunch and prize presentation. We had a founder member of the section, Phil Allen there, who after lunch, undertook the duty of presenting the prizes. We had Keith, Jean and Leila Lakin, along with John Allen, all of whom work tirelessly for the section whether it be as Secretary, BAR co-ordinator, typist, press co-ordinator, prize co-ordinator or cake baker. We had members of the Easy Riders, Pearl Thompson (who almost had a clean sweep of the trophies), Brenda Ottey, Howard and Betty Naylor. We had members of the Generals, Richard Shanks, Martin Bulmer, Joe Butler, Nick Tudor Jones, Pete and I. And we had family of section members with Ivy Allen along with Julie and her family, Anne Naylor, Jill Shanks and Jeanette Bulmer. After a committee vote we had the unprecedented situation of having joint winners for the club person of the year, with Martin Bulmer and Joe Butler sharing the trophy – Joe has already been advised to hold the trophy for the first six months to ensure it doesn’t get lost at the Bulmer residence prior to him receiving it!

We now have the May Bank Holiday week in Cumbria to look forward to, though by the time this is read we will be back. Seven of us are stopping in a converted barn bear Cockermouth, and the Easy Riders are stopping nearby in their motor homes. Routes have been planned, now all we need is the weather to be kind. Pearl, Brenda and Soo are then putting the Generals to shame by undertaking the Coast to Coast route before they return ... oh the glories of retirement !

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30 MILE & KM MEANDER RIDES

Jim Gerrard reports

Another sunny spring morning greeted our gathering for the Meander Rides on the13th April. Although it was sunny it was still cool with a light wind but nothing like last years difficult conditions.

After a slow start 28 riders eventually turned up ready to leave at 9-30am from the Hill Side Nursery Thornton. John the proprietor also came out to introduce himself . As he was a former CTC member I did offer to pump up his tyres so he could join us but he declined.

19 riders set off on the 30mile route with 9 on the 30 km route. Although no riders from outside the local area this year we were supported by cyclists from the Leicester Spokes group and a couple of relatively new riders who were testing the water so to speak. As this is the purpose of the Meander rides lets hope they carry on. They were both in touch after the ride to say how much they enjoyed it so lets hope we see them again.

There were also two brand nftp.plus.netew bikes on display out for almost their maiden rides. Also on their newish tandem were Lyn and Pete Gale (see last issue Cycle Chat).

Steve Ralphs rode with his young daughters Jasmine and Amy, one as stoker on the tandem and one on the tag-a-long also attached to the tandem, all completing the 30 miles. Stuart Jones also rode with Teresa and Sadie but all on solos this year.

It's nice to see young riders out and on the other end of the scale Colin Fields was our oldest rider, Colin is 80 plus I believe.

The 30 mile riders were again able to enjoy coffee and bacon butties sitting outside the Sheepy Shack looking over the fishing lake in the sunshine. I don't know what will happen when we have a wet ride as there is only room for about 4 people inside!

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Freewheel Competition

Jim Gerrard reports

Record numbers contested the free wheel this year. This again was on Stanton Lane out of Thornton which enjoys a smooth road surface and light traffic.

With Keith Lakin starting every one off with a light push at the top of the hill and Jean marking the road when you fall of on the uphill section with 18 riders taking part.

Tim Young and Steve Ralphs both came in before last year’s winner Nick Tudor-Jones. This, for the first time in a long time, broke the Charnwood Section's dominance in this event. They will no doubt be back next year to make amends.

After persuading the Spokes contingent to enter they did quite well taking the 1st lady position (4th overall). Jasmine and Amy Ralphs also entered taking first and second junior positions.

Thanks again to the Lakin family for the well organised free wheel with Keith both organising and riding.

Thanks also to the Hillside Nursery for the use of their frontage and cafe facilities.

  1. Tim Young
  2. Stephen Ralph
  3. Nick Tudor Jones
  4. Kathy Burditt 1st Lady
  5. John Hartshorne
  6. Jim Gerrard
  7. Micky Gould
  8. Keith Lakin
  9. Veronica Linsley 2nd Lady
  10. Norman Castle
  11. Andy Tokeley
  12. Ron Johnson
  13. Liz Kemp Lady 3rd Lady
  14. Mike Gamble
  15. George Lawrence
  16. Jasmine Ralph 1st Junior
  17. Colin Field
  18. Amy Ralph 2nd Junior
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How NOT to ride the End to End

Peter Lee tells us some of the (mis)adventures on his ride.

BEFORE YOU SET OFF

I have wanted to ride the End to End (Land’s End to John o’Groats)for some years now, and decided this summer that it had to be done now. The End to End is by no means easy, and there are a lot of hurdles to overcome even before you get on a bike. I will take it for granted that you are fit enough to do the ride. The first thing you need to decide is what sort of accommodation you are going to use. There are several options :

Youth Hostels are a good choice, particularly if you intend to ride alone or with friends and saddle bags. There are plenty of them all over the country and they are reasonably cheap. We chose to do it with a caravan.

My wife and son wanted to accompany me and we originally looked at hiring a campervan. This proved to be very expensive and very restrictive. The van had to be picked up from a certain point at a certain time and returned to that point and there were restrictions on speed and how many miles you could do in a day. My wife did not want to Youth Hostel or B&B as she wanted to take our dog, so we bought an old caravan. This caused problems along the way, but more of that later. The choice of accommodation determines the route as you need to end up each night at some sort of accommodation. My wife was driving the car and pulling the caravan, and as she was an inexperienced caravanner we decided to stick close to the motorways and follow the M5/M6.

The next decision is which way are you going to ride (bottom to top or top to bottom) We decided to ride bottom to top as that is supposedly the way the prevailing winds blow. Not that I noticed.

Then you need to decide how many miles you can do in a day. The official distance is 874 miles (at least that’s what it says on the signpost at Lands’ End), but that seems to be using main roads and motorways (not recommended) the route I took was over 1,000 miles. It takes a day to get to Lands’ End and 2 days to get back to Leicester from John O’Groats, so if you have only two weeks holiday to do the ride in as we did, you need to be doing 100 miles or thereabouts most days. My average mileage was 97 and my longest day was 120.

So, you’ve got most of your decisions taken, you just need to sort out a route. In practice I had to sort out two routes, one for the bike and one for the caravan. The bike route is not so easy. You can get various books and the CTC website to help you and they will take you along safe car free routes. Good you might say, but there is a downside. The side roads are inevitably hilly. If I ever saw a sign that said “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” I knew it meant hills. Make no mistake. On the End to End hills are your enemy. The surfaces are also poor. Sustrans routes are dotted up and down the country, but there is no joined up thinking to them, they use paths through parks, cemeteries, along canals and generally go a long way round.

All this means slow, and if you have 100 miles to cover in a day you do not want slow. I came across one man and his two teenage children who were following the CTC route and they had taken two and a half weeks already and still had several days to go. If you have the time, that is fine. So you do not want slow, but you do not want dangerous. In practice I chose a route of B roads and Sustrans tracks where they seemed useful, mixed in with the odd A road when I need to get a move on. This was OK for one person, but I would not recommend A roads for a group, and I would not recommend some of the roads that I did end up on. Britain is not setup for long distance rides on bikes any more. A roads that you would ride on 30 years ago are to be avoided like the plague now. There is no easy answer.

Planning the route is also a question of choices. I chose to use old fashioned maps, which means that you have to carry several with you (not every day, but you have to have them with you) This gives a certain amount of flexibility as you can change the route during the day if you need to (too dangerous, too slow, not enough time etc.), but can be time consuming and I found that I spent quite a lot of time during the day checking maps.

The alternative of course these days is to get a GPS navigator and download preset routes from say the CTC. I did not try this, but I would think this would give you very little flexibility.

CORNWALL AND DEVON

Le Grand Depart Start

So anyway, after months of planning, saving and training, we finally set off and arrived one Saturday evening in Bude in Cornwall. We arrived quite late as my wife lost the car keys the previous day and we only found them when she went to the local shop and they told her she had left them on the counter.

From Bude we drove to Lands’ End the next day and the adventure began. Don’t worry, I will not go through each day with you, although I don’t think I will ever forget any of them. There was good news when we arrived at Lands’ End. The car park fee is £5 for the day, but when they saw I was dressed for cycling, they asked if I was doing the End to End and told me parking was free.

It was 12 noon when I set off on the 100 mile ride back to Bude. I chose to use the coast roads as opposed to the fast A30 as there would be less traffic. The coastal views are spectacular, but the hills are awful. They are not long, but they are very steep. In Cornwall they have what they call “curtseys” that dip down from the cliff top to little bays and then climb back up to the cliff top before the next “curtsey.” Very pretty, but when you are doing that all day it takes its toll on your legs. By Newquay I had had enough and there were still about 40 miles to go.

At Padstow I had a very expensive cup of coffee by the harbour and decided to take the main road to Bude. This was not too bad as it was past 5 pm and as the roads were rolling and fast I could get a move on. I would say this was my worst day on the bike, and I was not sure I would make the last ten miles and had to get off and sit by the roadside and massage my legs to try to alleviate the cramp. I finally arrived back at the caravan at 8pm.

Part 2

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Peter tries out his new bike

By Peter Witting

The first Sunday of Spring! Over 120 riders enjoyed our first big ride of the year; and for me a chance to test my new summer bike (no mudguards), finishing in time to enjoy the Belgian K-B-K classic race on Eurosport accompanied by a suitable Belgian beer, and followed by the BBC’s coverage of the World Track Championships from Colombia. A perfect day for a cyclist!

Panic stations the day before: My final shakedown ride for the titanium Van Nicholas Ventus and I found the route blocked by an artic wedged under a rail bridge. “Hope it will be clear for tomorrow’s cycling event” I said. “You won’t get through tomorrow – the road’s closed for bridge repairs.” was the reply. So urgent updates to route instructions to incorporate the diversion, to websites and to GPX files faced the organiser!

Plenty of riders were ready for the 8.30am start, so I set off with John Cox and James Singlehurst of the Thursday Club plus Dave Mann from our CTC Sunday group. We caught several early starters before being passed by a fast moving group. But like the tortoise and the hare, we passed them when they stopped for a break. After they re-passed us James decided to tag along for the full 100km route, while we stopped for a coffee at Medbourne before turning for home on the 70km option. I knew the extra 30km was very hilly, and would deliver us at Tilton on the Hill to face the rising headwind home with possible rain later. And the new bike gave me another excuse to take a cautious approach.

We left the Neville café as they struggled to cope with increasing numbers of cyclists. Neil Dixon dropped in but continued on the full route as we were joined by a rider in shorts from the Hinckley area to replace James on our foursome. The new bike lacked the tri-bars of my old Giant TCR so we singled out into the headwind, with me appreciating Dave’s ability to offer shelter! A group of 50km riders appeared from a junction ahead but were easily dispatched on the climb to Tur Langton.

The final stretch from Kibworth into the wind confirmed the wisdom to avoid the hilly 100km route with 1500m of ascent, certified by Dave Gair who rode it. The Ventus had performed to expectation, and the gears had coped faultlessly with the climbs. The new Selle Italia SLR Gel Flow saddle was less comfortable than my leather Brooks B17 titanium saddle, being softer yet with less “give”. No doubt I’ll get used to it. I had noticed on the shakedown rides that the Mavic Ksyrium bladed spokes had been affected by gusty side-winds, but not on this ride.

On our return home along the route we spotted our CTC South Leicestershire Group who had started maybe 30 minutes after us, giving them a wave. Thanks to Dave Grimshaw and helpers, including the Lakin family, who coped with the magnificent entry. The Glenfield Hospital cardiac unit will benefit from the profits in memory of David Sulley who collapsed fatally on this ride 25 years ago.

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“THE SULLEY CHALLENGE RIDES 2014

By David Grimshaw

It’s that time of year again and the 25th Sulley Challenge Rides (SCR) have again come and gone on the 2nd March. Named after the late David and Doreen Sulley who were influential in establishing the original rides – the full history is on the website.

The weather is all for this event which is so early in the year. For the weather in this years event I reckon we got 7/10 in the morning and 5/10 as the day went on. There was a bit of pandemonium the afternoon before when, through a local cyclist (Peter Witting), it was found that part of the 50, 70 and 100 km routes were closed around Foxton and Kibworth for bridge repairs - just on the Sunday! A quick re-route (thanks Peter); a quick visit to Rainbow Copying in Earl Shilton (thanks Danny) and an alteration to the website (thanks John) and by 6pm it looked like business almost as usual. However it didn’t stop me being out on the road at 06.15 the following morning to physically check! Even the birds were still having their pre-singsong gargle.

All was well and having got to the venue in Lutterworth rather earlier than planned, I found cyclists waiting to sign on - that’s 07.45 for a 08.30 start! Fortunately all of the paperwork was already sorted and after a few minutes I let that first group away early into a really pleasant morning – warmish with a light wind. Jean, Leila and Keith, Lakin were quickly in position behind tables booking riders in and soon were joined by Morgan Reynolds. The photo shows happy workers beavering away! Given the number of e-mail enquiries I had received I guessed we might have a few riders more than the 71 in 2013, but it got increasingly busy right up to the rather flexible shut-off deadline at 10.00. I must confess that I spent rather more time having to continually explain to riders about the diversion and the re-routing instructions attached to the route sheet, especially those from out of area. Fortunately I had kept the details of those riders who had previously e-mailed me so was able to contact them the day before. The website recommends that riders check the website frequently and as late as they can before coming to the event – just in case – and this years ride well proved the point.

The final tally of riders this year was 121 and as it was a charity event, with all proceeds going to Glenfield Hospital Heart Department, the final sum raised was £384.10, which includes donations over and above entry money. Participants included 11 juvenile entrants, which, even though a small number, is a vast – and welcome - increase. Well done!

This year, because I have qualifications in scrounging and “the old pals act”, the event costs were only £15. The usual costs are very low anyway but on this one-off year everyone I approached pulled out all the stops!

Back to the story! When all the cyclists had set out and the proceedings went into “lull-mode”, it was time for sorting out all the paperwork and counting money and only just in time for some of the early riders to return. All reported having had a good ride and overall there was only a minimum inconvenience with the re-route. Then as the riders gradually returned the weather gradually got worse with the wind increasing and the rain starting until it was a typical early March day. Last riders were back around 15.30 with a small number unaccounted for. These, I guess, had had enough of the weather and retired. I waited until 16.00 when, with no more returnees and messages, I closed the control. A point I would like to make is that if you ride and are not coming back to the venue – please ring - the number is on each route sheet – then we know that you are not slumped, base over apex, in a muddy ditch somewhere. Some riders did ring, so thanks.

Overall this seems to have been another successful SCR judging by the positive comments from returning riders and the e-mails I have received since. It provided a great day out for everyone and had the bonus of collecting dosh for a good cause. I feel a formal charity presentation coming on – better get my new longs pressed! Hopefully it will help to raise the profile of cycling as well as providing the Heart Unit with funds.

Thanks must go to supporters who provided almost everything free of charge; to Jean, Keith and Leila Lakin, and Morgan - fellow volunteers without whom the event would probably fail; to our local committee for being willing to forgo income on this one occasion; to Peter Witting and John Catt for all the techie bits; the Lutterworth Freemasons for the free venue shared with a car boot in the afternoon which provided the finishing cafe and scrummy, yet unhealthy, cake. Personally I only managed 4 bits and was beaten to the count (you know who you are!); and to everyone else through the preceding year who I’ve pestered for one thing or another. FINALLY (who said at last) thanks must be given to the riders for their enthusiasm, good nature and humour.

This will be the last year that I organise the SCR and there are a couple of things that I think need to be said.

This year we did manage with booking riders in and out. Another increase in riders in 2015 towards the scale of 2014 will mean that we probably will not. Even this year it was so busy that it was impossible to physically check each entry form as most entrants get booked in during the first 40 minutes or so. Details like not putting your CTC membership number thereon invalidates your tourist competition points; failing to sign the entry form; illegible details; and yes I know it’s a pain in the proverbials but the space on the form is there for a purpose. Print it off the website and complete it in the comfort of home. Print off or download the route sheets as well – this saves both you and the bookers-in time at the start.

In 2015 the venue will be in the same place but in a proposed newly-built separate room at the back of the car park, which will help with space, but if there is another large increase of riders the booking process will be jeopardised. This time last year I asked for volunteers for this year and other than the usual `crew` no-one offered – very disappointing but not wholly unexpected! The busy time is always at the beginning, so cyclists who intend to ride the 32 or 50kms could help out prior to getting on their ride. Limiting the number of riders could be an option but not one that I would favour. It would mean pre-booking which brings a whole new area of admin into play and gets away from the relatively simplistic paperwork system currently in place. Using the current system would work with one booker-in to each distance but again, volunteers needed!

For the next organiser I would suggest a whole new and objective look at the process of the event and not take the easy route of following what has gone before. It may be that nothing would want changing but you know what is said about “a pair of fresh eyes.....”. Things like the venue, routes and website are all sorted and could stand. I have all of the information to pass over and would obviously give all the help that I can.

The FINAL, FINAL (please don’t lose the will to go on) word is about one of the riders – Jon W, who wanted a 200 kms ride. But there isn’t one I hear you say. Did it stop him – I’ll say it did not! From home to the event, completing the 100, and then home, he rode 208kms, which took him 11¼ hours – how’s that for dedication! Makes me legs ache just thinking about it.....but it’s certainly within the spirit of all of the riders and this event.

Contents

“Can yer ride tandem?”

Bicycle built for 10

A bicycle built for 10 in 1896.

This tandem bike is part of the collection at The Henry Ford in Dearborn.
(The Detroit News).

A collection of photos from the early days of “Bicycling” in Detroit, USA.

The full collection can be seen on :- http://apps.detroitnews.com/apps/multimedia/gallery.php?id=17715

Many thanks to CTC member Barry Bogin who passed this on. Barry now lives in Barrow upon Soar, but grew up in Detroit.

Contents

A SUMMER IN FRANCE

- By Dave Binks
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18
Part 19
Part 20
Part 21
Part 22
Part 23 Part 24
Part 25
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 local mechanic and representative to ensure the holidaymakers have a good time as they cycle between the top class hotels in the area. He has seen the season out and is now cycling home to Leicester. He has called in to see old friends in Brittany and has stopped the night there.

The story continues…..

Wednesday October 3

Today was to be a sociable and car borne tourist day, so after a leisurely breakfast and more chatting, we all piled into Dave and Fabienne’s car and set off for a short drive around the surrounding villages to see some of the sites. It soon struck me how very different the scenery and area was compared to Angouleme where I had spent the last five months. It was all very pretty, much hillier, very wooded, more prosperous and the car drivers were all going faster and with less consideration to cyclists. Obviously, the latter comment did not apply to the Bowman’s as they were both cyclists.

Carnac Stones

We came back to the house for a light lunch then drove across to see the standing stones at Carnac. These are similar to the standing stones found in Britain, and are large stones, up to 2m high, set into the ground, but standing vertically and in a specific pattern. In some locations they are in circles, but here in Carnac they were mostly in straight lines. Their exact origin and purpose is still not fully known, but they appear to have some sort of religious meaning and date from the very earliest of man’s days when he walked the earth.

Our evening meal was taken in a local hotel, where Dave very kindly treated us all – a true gentleman! The meal itself was good value and, as a cyclist still trying to recoup some of my energy from my earlier travels, I was pleased to see there was plenty of it. I surprised Fabienne by ordering the Andouillette sausage, a very pale coloured type that uses offal and different cuts of meat, such as tripe, in its make up. She was surprised as most English people don’t like it, but this was one of the discoveries I had made during my time in the Charente. They say travel broadens your mind – in this case it had broadened my palette.

0 miles

Thursday October 4

After my rest day I had to pack and be away for the port of St. Malo on the north coast, so was up early. Dave was now integrated into the French National Health system and they had decided it was time he had a routine blood test, but had been for it and got back before I was due to set off. After much handshaking and thanks, I left them tidying some bushes in order to allow access for a builder who was due to start re-pointing a wall later that day.

It was misty at first but this soon cleared and the sunshine came out, but the cool north wind made it a headwind all day and also made it chilly when I wasn’t able to shelter from it. I had the misfortune to puncture twice, but the second was due to my not being able to find the offending flint for the first. By the time I got to the outskirts of St. Malo I was getting pretty tired. I had studied the map carefully as I did not want to be on busy roads, so had approached the town on the western side of the river that joins the sea just to the west of the port as this was less populated and so the roads should be quieter.

The plan worked, but the ride across the barrage (dam) between Dinard on the west side, and St Malo on the east was horrible. This is actually a dual carriageway, and in normal circumstances would have been OK, but road works had closed one of the dual carriageways, thus forcing all the traffic to use just one side, and there was no cycle lane, so I had to ride fast as possible, very aware of the traffic queue building up behind me. I looked ahead and realised the road climbed after the barrage and realised I would be going even slower up there, again with the traffic stuck behind me. Fortunately, just as the hill was starting to go up and my speed was dropping, the hard shoulder reappeared and I pulled over onto that and let the traffic past!

Having come through St Malo 5 months earlier on the way down to Angouleme, I soon found the Youth Hostel again and booked in for the final night on French soil. I thought my physical efforts for the day had finished, but the final straw was the climb up the narrow spiral staircase in the Hostel carrying three heavy bags. I was too tired to go out again, so ate in the hostel restaurant, had a few drinks, started reading my book then fell asleep in chair, only to be woken by the man closing the bar and told to go to bed. Good advice!

83 miles

Friday October 5

I awoke early; glad I didn’t have to ride far as I was still a bit fatigued from yesterday’s hard ride, and had the hostel breakfast. I soon got chatting to an Australian who was curious to know how free and easy it could be travelling by bike. He was looking for a way of getting away from the restrictions of trains and buses etc. and said he intended to go to many out of the way places, like Iran! I told him he would be possibly safer on a bike as people always assumed you were poor, like them, and thus not worth robbing. Customs officials usually weren’t that bothered about cyclists as they couldn’t smuggle much, and who ever heard of a spy going by bike?

Unlike my outward crossing on the ferry, which was a night crossing, today’s trip would be a daytime one, and by the time I was on the boat, having being told I had to wheel my bike up the loading ramp as it was slippery and bumpy (good advice – it was both!) the sun was out and the day was warming up. The boat set sail at 10.45 for what turned out to be a very flat crossing, and I was able to look back at St. Malo and watch France disappear slowly over the horizon. I was glad it was a flat and smooth crossing, as it lasts all day. The boat doesn’t get to Portsmouth until 6.30pm, making the journey 8¾ hrs at sea. Provide I stayed out of the strong wind caused by the boat’s speed and the northerly wind, it was very hot in the sunshine, and I passed the time by reading and snoozing.

On arrival back in Portsmouth, I made my way to my pre-booked accommodation for the night. My digs were only a short walk from the night life area, so off I went and had an enjoyable meal in a Thai restaurant for probably about the same cost as a French restaurant meal, so not too bad at £20 with drinks.

7 miles

Saturday October 6

With my body clock still being on French time and thus an hour ahead I woke quite early and went for a walk to find a phone. I needed to ring my sister in her home in South London to ask if I could stay overnight. Of course, it was OK, so that determined my plans for the day. I wanted to be away not too late, but with breakfast not being served until 9.00am; it was 9.50 before I actually rode away.

I took one final look at the sea before plunging into the busy roads that lead out of Portsmouth. At least Portsmouth was being serious about encouraging cycling and there were many fully useable cycle paths, reasonably adequately signed. Often, local cycle paths are a problem for the long distance traveller as they only sign to the next minor suburb that don’t appear on the small scale maps used by people travelling any distance, but these were OK, so well done Portsmouth City Council!

The roads remained busy until I got to Rowlands Castle, some way north of the City when a turning away from the main Portsmouth to London corridor route suddenly released me from the bustle, and I was on my own in the lanes at last. By now the day had warmed nicely and the sun was making and appearance. It became a pleasant day and ride from then on as I made my way across country, using only the lanes.

Not having thought I would go back via London, intending, many months ago, to ride up through the centre of the country, I had only taken maps to lead me northwards, so had to buy a map to get me across Surrey for the last 30 miles or so to my sister’s house. At one time I could have done this from memory, but as it was now nearly 40 years since I had lived in the area, and many roads had changed with traffic “improvements” I couldn’t remember in sufficient detail and didn’t want to get lost at this late stage in my journey.

An amusing incident occurred as I made my way through one village. Two young lads were cycling along in the same direction as me, and, upon seeing me catching them from behind, one decided to race me, as lads often do, but his efforts were hampered whenever he got out of the saddle to sprint. His trousers started falling down and got in the way of his legs as he pedalled, so he had to stop riding and pull them up again. As he looked back at me in embarrassment, I could do nothing but burst out laughing and suggest he should wear a belt!

On reaching the town of Redhill on the old A23 London to Brighton road that I used to know very well when I still lived in the area, I joined the now busy and aggressive driving as per usual London standards from there on right up to my sister’s house in Croydon. I arrived there at about 5.30pm, so had done well with heavy bags across what was fairly hilly terrain. A nice bath, meal and chat and I was soon falling asleep in the chair.

83 miles

Sunday October 7

On the ride up to London yesterday I had decided that today would be my last day as I couldn’t face the ride across London and the everlasting suburban sprawl up through north London that seems to go on for ever; or at least until Luton. I would also have to find a bed for the night en route again because it was too far for one day. I would stay until the evening at my sister’s before getting the train up to Leicester from where I would ride the last few miles home.

So when I awoke a bit stiff and tired from the long ride yesterday, I wasn’t particularly bothered. It turned out to be a pretty lazy day as I spent the day socialising with my sister and her husband. A stroll to the newsagent’s for a Sunday paper, a leisurely breakfast and a trip to a local garden centre with them, followed by a very late lunch at a nearby restaurant was the sum of the day’s activities before I packed my bags for one last time. My brother-in-law suggested a train direct to Kings Cross via the “ThamesLink” train service, thus avoiding the need to cycle across central London between train stations, and this struck me as a good idea. When he then offered to take me and my bike in his van to their local station, East Croydon, I immediately accepted. From there it was a fairly straightforward train ride and short walk between Kings Cross and St. Pancras and the 21.00 hrs Inter-City to Leicester. A pleasant train journey northwards and an easy ride for the last few miles got me home. I arrived back after dark at 11.20pm to a home that had that “shut down for months” feel and smell and an overgrown garden.

I had done 8 miles for the day and a total of 6,058 miles since leaving home just over 5 months ago.

Am I glad I did it? Yes

Would I do it again? At the time I first penned this article, I wrote “I’m still thinking about that one…….” but have since been back seven times, although to different locations.

But you will have to wait for those tales……

Contents

Views expressed in letters, articles or editorial are not necessarily those of the CTC or the Leicestershire & Rutland CTC.


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