Leicestershire and Rutland
Cyclists' Touring Club

(founded 1897)


President's Page
Technical Topics
David Sulley Memorial Challenge Rides
30 Mile and 30 Km Meander Rides and Freewheel
Letter to the Editor
Charnwood Chatter
General Thaw?
South Leicester and City Report
Easy Riders
CTC Leicestershire and Rutland Award Winners 2009
Back to the Fuchsia Rides
Easter Tour of Knaresborough
CTC National Tourist Competition 2009
Ernest Whitehead
Whitwick Wheels to Wainwright's Walks
A Summer in France (part 11)


Holidays are just around the corner again, let's hope the weather is good to us all after the long hard winter! It's always interesting to receive your articles and I look forward to reading them. Many thanks to all contributors. The theme this year for our photo competition is "Flowers" so time to get out your cameras and start clicking. I shall be interested to see your results in November at the slide show.

I went to Meriden in May, it was a glorious day for the service with our President/Secretary Ray Clay laying the wreath for Leicestershire and Rutland.

Everyone seems to have a full programme for this year again so I am anticipating some exciting articles.

Next year Charnwood Section celebrates its 60th anniversary. John and I will be producing a special magazine and would like any articles, memories or photographs etc to include. If you could let us have them as soon as possible it would be a great help. Many thanks.

There will be a report from the AGM in the next edition and, of course, the National Dinner. Congratulations to all our trophy winners at the Dinner, the Skittles and Prize Presentation and Charnwood's Lunch and Presentation.

A special "Congratulations" to Heather Jones on her outstanding achievements, I have had a number of photographs sent to me and hope to use them on the back cover as I can produce colour pictures there.

Well, all have a lovely summer and a safe journey wherever you may be.

Ivy Allen

President's Page

Ray Clay

Although our prize presentation in February at the Wheatsheaf, Thurcaston seemed to be again well received, it was disappointing that many of the prize winners did not turn up to receive their awards. The guests of honour were Stuart Jones and his family who have obtained considerable success in national competitions. My thanks to Keith and Jean Lakin for sorting out the skittle competition and prizes were awarded to John and Ivy's grandchildren Hannah and Adam (they got the highest scores!).

The recent persistent snow and ice has proved to be difficult for us cyclists. Apart from the treacherous slippery conditions, there is now the added problem of potholes everywhere. Roads in general were not in a brilliant state before the inclement weather and the prospects of highway maintenance expenditure cuts doesn't bode well for the future. The weather certainly affected the Loughborough CTC's Mince Pie Run at Belton. The numbers were well down due to the dangerous icy roads.

I enjoyed the David Sulley Memorial Rides organised this year by Dave Grimshaw. There was a good turnout. The weather was fine and the area was new territory for me. The route took me along some delightful quiet lanes with lovely views. I'm not the strongest cyclist in the world so I elected to ride the 30 mile route. I usually have to push my bike up at least one hill on a ride. But, thanks to Dave's route, I didn't have to walk once!

At the time of writing, the national AGM and dinner are almost upon us. Leicestershire and Rutland Cyclists' Touring Club are the hosts this year and the venue is Loughborough University. The AGM will be held Saturday afternoon with the dinner Saturday night. Loughborough CTC is arranging rides on the Sunday. The AGM is likely to be dominated by the question of whether or not the CTC should have charity status. Pros and cons have been widely elaborated in Cycle and emails. It is unfortunate that the date of the event clashes with Meriden. I'm torn between supporting the event clashes with Meriden. I'm torn between supporting the Loughborough rides and going to Meriden. I think, on balance,I shall go to Meriden to lay a wreath on behalf of Leicestershire and Rutland.

Shortly, it will be the CTC Beaumanor camping rally. It will be the usual informal format. No barbecues or barn dances. There will be led rides and a film show on the Saturday night. The bookings are coming in slowly and I'm expecting riders from all over the country. It has been advertised in Cycle and email so I'm hoping for a good turnout.

I'm currently working with Keith Lakin in planning cycle routes for North West Leicestershire. We recently attended a meeting at the National Forest. The chairman was Ian Vears from the County Council. The plan is to draw up a cycle map to include Ashby and Coalvile. The proposed National Forest cycle centre will be an essential part of the plan. So it sounds quite an exciting project.


David Sulley Memorial Challenge Rides

David Grimshaw

On Sunday, 7th March, the DA Challenge rides took place from Morrisons supermarket car park in Lutterworth. Named the David Sulley rides, they commemorate the memory of David, who was a leading member of the local CTC section over 20 years ago.

A bright and sunny, if rather nippy day ( -5 when I left home at 0800!) , saw 45 riders head off over distances of 100, 70 and 50 kms; and over a shorter ride of 20 miles.

Most had started by 0930, into a cool headwind, as some rode into South East Leicestershire, through rolling countryside and charming villages like Walton, Gumley, with its park, Foxton, Medbourne, the Langtons, Belton, Launde, with a stop at Sweethedges for a bun and brew! Fully refreshed they travelled through Tilton, Kibworth, Saddington and Gilmorton as they headed towards Lutterworth and finish. The 20 mile route was rather more leisurely on a circular route around Lutterworth with a garden centre stop for refreshments.

All riders finished and agreed that this had been a good event for the first local ride of the year.

This was the first time for me organising the event and I am indebted to a number of people, and I apologise for those I drove slightly batty - especially in re-organising the routes (sorry, John!).

Honourable thanks and mentions go to Morgan Reynolds, our previous organiser ( couldn't have managed without your input, Morg); Keith, Jean and Leila Lakin, who, as usual, were stalwarts for the event on the day; our President, Ray Clay, who turned up to support and ride; Bernard Bailey and Marilyn Grimshaw, essential companions in physically checking the routes; local cyclists who arrived to support the event, even when they were not riding it; John Catt, for his help with the website insert; and Ivy Allen, for smoothing over the first attempt(s) of getting the Cycle Chat piece right. Morrisons and Sweethedges again participated without a hitch and so, lastly, thanks to all of the riders, without whom the event would be a non-starter. Their enthusiasm and good humour is a fundamental part of any successful event!

I think the roll call is complete, but I offer profuse apologies if I`ve missed you off.

Would I do it again? I`ve moved from `No, I would not` - (that was in the early days) - to `I might` and now through to `yes, I probably would`.

I didn't ride, but I had a brilliant day in the good company of cyclists - why wouldn't I do it again?


30 Mile and 30 Km Meander Rides and Freewheel

Jim Gerrard

Another fine weather day was enjoyed for this years meander rides and freewheel. A total of 32 riders enjoying the spring sunshine.

27 riders completed the 30 mile route and 5 the km ride. We only had one guest rider from out of the area, this being Lee Jackson from down the road at Nottingham. Lee finished 3rd in last years DATC event and no doubt looking to improve with the points from our double event. Mind you I'm surprised he could get on his bike as he had ridden a 200 mile event the day before.

We also had two families, the Jones family and the Smith family with Heather and Max being the only juniors all completing the 30 mile.

Heather was the overall winner of the Junior award for the DATC competition last year and we wish her well for this year.

This years 30 mile ride followed the 2008 route, out through Barton in the Beans to Twycross and coffee stop at the Sheepy Magna Shack where we were well looked after with bacon butties etc over looking the fishing lake in the bright sunshine.

The 30 km ride followed the same route as last year with similar refreshment at the Sutton Cheney Wharf.

We were all made welcome on completion either at the Thornton Hill top café or the Steaming Trumpet (formerly Tipsy Fisherman, I always thought it a silly name for a pub any way).

After rest and refreshment the Freewheel followed, well organised as usual by Keith and Jean Lakin in the nearby Stanton Lane.

No tandems this year but we had a total of 18 riders taking part. Martin Bulmer was unable to defend last year's honours as he was on his small wheel bike. The overall winner was Stuart Jones (Charnwood Section again), this was achieved on a bike which had previously won the event several times, although in different ownership. (It must be worth a fortune in stud fees. See Stuart for details). With Lee Jackson taking 2nd and myself taking 3rd the Charnwood section monopoly has been broken but I'm sure they will be out if force again next year to make amends.

A good day out with plenty of friendly chat was enjoyed by all.


Technical Topics

by Peter Witting

Korean Candybar

The product originates from South Korea and is made by Samsung - so it's not one to eat! Although it's not a cycle component, it's one that most cyclists now take with them. It's a mobile phone - this particular model taking the "candybar" form.

Let me explain why am I taking the trouble to review this particular model: While cyclists need a reliable and rugged phone, the trend is for large touch-screen devices, which are expensive and fragile. And I found it's becoming impossible to buy a cheap disposable clam-shell phone to replace my old £15 Woollies bargain.

Last year Samsung released their B2100 model, which is ruggedised to US military standards for dust and water exposure, shocks and temperature extremes. The manual even displays a downhill mountain biker in action; so it should be OK for some sweaty cycling action. I guess they had the US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in mind also! It is variously tagged Xplorer, Brick or Extreme depending on the retailer.

The phone costs around £90 sim-free, so not cheap. But in an emergency you may be grateful for having a phone designed to function when others won't. It can be submerged in water without damage, though not recommended.

As well as handling phone calls and texts, the phone has a very basic 1.3mp camera (think Kodak Instamatic!), Bluetooth wireless facility (for handsfree in-car use), and slow internet connectivity (it's not a 3G phone), plus FM radio. If you choose to fit a memory card, you can access your digital music files, and store more photos. It also acts as an alarm clock, calculator, stopwatch, voice memo recorder and offers timewasting games. It even has a small flashlight. small flashlight.

At around 4 ozs (102.8 Gms.) it's not particularly light; but on tour you can leave behind your camera, radio and MP3 player 'cos they are all incorporated in the mobile, then you will have saved weight! It's maybe too basic for some folk, and it has its shortcomings - check with Google. It's too early to recommend, but worth using as a benchmark if you need to replace your own mobile.

Route Planning Website

If you like to plan your routes for cycling that avoid the obvious and heavily trafficked roads, especially in towns, then I can recommend the Cyclestreets website, which I used when I needed a quiet route out of Bedford town centre: http://www.cyclestreets.net/

Once you have selected the start & finish points, the website plans 3 alternative routes - the quickest, the quietest, and an in-between balanced option. It details each route with type of surface, warning of non-cycling sections and giving percentage, indicating distance and timings based on your speed selected, and the degree of hazard from traffic. It allows you to load the route to a GPS device (not tried it), and fly over the route using Google Earth if you've installed it on your PC. The site is in beta testing, and bugs are being ironed out. It depends on local input. It works for Cambridge, where the idea started, and it works for Bedford. But Market Harborough fails to recognise the pedestrian level crossing between Glebe Road and Braybrooke Road, suggesting it currently lacks the vital local knowledge.


Letter to the Editor

Wally Farnham

I am writing to you to inform you of the death of one of our members, Alan Stanley Causer. He was a life long cyclist before the war. I met him in the Loiterers, Intermediates and Photographic Section. We also went on cycling holidays, and visited steam railways. He was a plumber during his working life in the employment of Shipman's on Belgrave Road, Leicester.

His funeral was on Wednesday 17th March at Gilroes Cemetery at 10. 45am. He was 85 years old. I thought it would be a note for Cycle Chat.


Leicester Easy Riders

with Rose Holman

Though the weather has been pretty grim, we have still managed to hold most of our rides.

Nancy and I did a separate ride to the rest of our group ie; Richard, Dave, Jim, Ian and a new member Theo. Nancy and I has 11's at Sevenoaks Garden Centre and, although they are not very cycle friendly, there is plenty particularly for the ladies to look at in the furniture line. It was then on to Rothley Station tea room for lunch and then we returned home.

If anyone is out in the week, there is a very good café called The Munch Box in Narborough with very reasonably priced food etc although unfortunately they are closed on Sunday.

The Off Road Group are holding an event on the 25th July and would welcome any cake donations. For details contact Andy Tokeley.

The theme for the Easy Riders photo competition this year is "Statues" nude, or otherwise, alive or deceased!!

On the 7th March our section split into three different groups. Nancy and I had coffee at Thurlaston and then rode on to Earl Shilton, Brascote, Newbold Verdon and Desford with lunch at the Bird Sanctuary then we rode home. June and Pete headed for Kings Lock, whilst Dave and Theo rode to Cold Overton and High Kettleby.

With the cafes being advertised on the computer, what happens if you do not have one!! If I am not out on out sections rides could the leaders please telephone me to let me know who was out so that I can fill in the runs list.


General Thaw?

Martin Bulmer

What a winter! Snow and ice dominated the start of the year. I managed to fall off on ice just after the start of the final ride of 2009, jarring my left arm and wrist, which took some time to recover. As a result of this, and the continuing bad weather, my mileage was reduced for a few weeks, and it has taken a while to build back up again. It's surprising how quickly you lose it. We've been to some old favourite lunch stops - Lullington, Markfield, Old Dalby, Atherstone; places where we always get a good welcome. The Winter Madness run on February 21st had to be called off because a couple of inches of snow fell overnight. It didn't lie for long, so some of us got out later in the day, but no official Generals' ride took place.

I count March 18th as the first day of spring this year - the weather had calmed down, and the first signs of spring were appearing on the cycle trails - Grandparents walking toddlers, and old blokes unloading new supermarket bikes from their cars, trying to figure out which way round the saddle goes. Come and join us! Also, a few pods of our racing brethren were out and about, a sure indicator of better weather. The improvement came just about in time for us to get in some longer rides, to Shirley and to Hamstall Ridware, in preparation for our Easter Tour to North Yorkshire based between Ripon and Knaresborough.

Roland had found us a very spacious cottage in Staveley, which made a change from sleeping on a bookshelf in a broom cupboard last year! Saturday was a joint run led by Sue of the Easy Riders. After an early coffee stop in Ripon, we headed East, stopping for lunch at Helperby, a quiet village with something of the ghost town feel about it. It was used as the setting for a 1998 TV film "The Life and Crimes of William Palmer" about a Victorian serial killer. It wouldn't have needed much stage dressing. Despite setting off in light rain, by lunch we were able to sit outside in warmish sun. Returning by the lanes, we crossed the River Ure by way of Aldwark toll bridge. Erected to replace the ferry following an act of Parliament in 1772, the bridge was re-built in the 19th century after being struck by an iceberg!

In the evening we got together with the Easy Riders again to enjoy a meal in the Royal Oak at Staveley, within easy staggering distance of our cottage.

On Sunday we headed west into the hills, stopping at Brimham Rocks for elevenses. The rocks are fascinating formations of eroded piles of stones, some looking precariously balanced. After further ups and downs we arrived at the allotted lunch pub, only to find it closed. Moving on to the next one we had further disappointment; it was also closed, despite the "Under New Management" sign. Third time lucky, we found a pub at Bramelane that our motorised biker cousins were keeping open. We then returned via a few country roads to a Bridle path leading to Ripley Castle, where we paused for their "World Famous" ice cream (could this be the source of the iceberg?) before continuing on a trail back to base. I haven't been able to find out why the ice-cream claims to be world famous, but it has its own Facebook site, so I suppose that counts. There is even a "Who's heard of Ripley ice-cream?" site, and from the replies it would seem that its fame has spread at least as far as Harrogate.

On Monday Roland led us out North Eastward for elevenses at Easingwold, after which we found probably the worst yellow road I've ever been on, with mud and potholes to negotiate. We then headed towards the white horse on the ridge - built as a school project in 1857 it seems - to lunch at Kilburn where the "Mouse Man" furniture is made. The route home included a wade through a field, which was doubly frustrating, because on the other side of the hedge was a well-made but private track. After scraping the mud out of our mudguards, we resumed our journey home, covering just over 50 miles for the day.

It was a very enjoyable weekend, and despite weather forecasts of rain and more rain, we only got a bit damp on Saturday and Monday mornings, and were able to sit outside for lunch on all three rides.

Easter was followed by the 30 mile meander and freewheel competition, which was very well attended this year. The following week was the Sunday of Streakless Skies, as cloudless conditions coincided with a ban on air travel due to that Icelandic volcano. As Richard has had some achilles trouble (get well soon) Roland stepped in at short notice to lead us on a slightly hilly route through the lanes to Nether Whitaker for elevenses, and Ridge Lane for lunch. The Cycle Chat said Atherstone, but GPS said "no". Good job Lyn wasn't with us.

Charnwood's Birthday Tea run was well attended, with a stop at Wilson Golf Club where there was a warm welcome waiting, followed by a carvery lunch in Shepshed, at which the annual prize-giving took place.

On a personal note, I've been helping a bit with the annual "Thringstone Live for Charities" (TLC) music festival over the last two years. This year I've been asked to take part in a sponsored cycle ride from the festival site at the George & Dragon, Thringstone, to Skegness on August 8th. Once again we are supporting Loughborough's Rainbows children's hospice and Cancer Research. If anyone wants to sponsor or donate, I will be carrying sponsor forms on Charnwood Generals runs, or you can contact Andy, the other rider, on http://www.tlcfestival.co.uk via the "Get involved" button. That's where you will also find details of the festival which is on Saturday Aug 21st this year. Do drop in if you're in the Thringstone area any time from lunch to late.


Charnwood Chatter

with Betty Naylor

Although the weather continued to be dreadful during February and March with rain and cold, strong winds, the Easyriders maintained an average of six for the Sunday Rides.

Easter was still rather cold, but undeterred Mary, Alex, Howard and myself enjoyed a few days at Fiskerton near Lincoln, staying together in a cottage. Alex had to leave his trike at home because Mary's camper was out of commission. Saturday dawned fine and sunny so we caught the local bus into Lincoln, where we spent a most interesting day touring the magnificent cathedral, admiring the beautiful all white floral decorations there, before treating ourselves to lunch in a nearby café. The day was rounded off by a spot of shopping before returning to our comfortable digs.

Easter Sunday also dawned fine and sunny. Alex set off to walk one of the many cycle trails towards Washingborough with Mary pedalling alongside. Howard and I took the Water Rail Way in an easterly direction to Bardney. We were pleasantly surprised to find the Station café open, so enjoyed some refreshment before setting off along the road on a south westerly course intending to visit a relative in Metheringham. However, the bitterly cold head wind deterred us, so after about six miles we turned west towards Washingborough where we caught up with the others along the trail and returned to base for lunch. Bardney is a most interesting little village with an ancient abbey and a National Heritage Centre, which we hope to explore more fully in the future.

Four of our more active Easyriders spent their Easter break camping near Knaresborough in Yorkshire, details of which can be read, thanks to Brenda Ottey's report.

Our intrepid globe trotters Eileen and Ron Johnson, gave a most enjoyable slide show entitled "North Sea to the Baltic" at the chapel in Thringstone on Saturday 20th April, which many of us attended. Our thanks for an interesting evening.

Seven members took part in the 30K/30M Meander/Freewheel organised by Jim Gerrard. The section was well represented in the freewheel contact by the Jones family - who won all three classes.

The Charnwood Sections 59th Anniversary Dinner and Prize Presentation held on the 25th April in Shepshed, proved to be a great success, thanks to Martin Ayling for booking the venue and John Allen for organising the trophies, also our President Brenda Ottey for presenting the trophies. It was good to see so many old friends there, who can no longer cycle, especially Phil Allen.

On a lovely Spring morning, five members enjoyed a pleasant ride out along the Cloud Trail to meet up at the Wilson Golf Club for elevenses. Here we are made most welcome, and the Generals too, who followed us there were quite impressed. The wild flowers along the trail were much in evidence, especially the primroses and violets. After coffee, it was so warm, that we shed our jackets before cycling back uphill to Breedon, then continuing to Tonge, Diseworth, Long Whatton, arriving in good time to Shepshed. We were joined there by the Jones family who has cycled from Castle Donington and who, yet again, won most of the trophies. It was a very happy reunion.

The warmer weather has led us to think of holidays - Pearl and Soo have booked a week camping for mid May on a site near to Thetford in Norfolk. Mary, Alex, Howard and I are returning to Fiskerton to explore the many miles of cycle tracks along the River Witham, allowing Mary to set the pace on her new electric bike.

Here's hoping we are lucky with the weather!


CTC Leicestershire and Rutland Award Winners 2009

"Years Record" certificates for events ridden.
Freewheel winner - The Charnwood Salver - Martin Bulmer
Oldest gent in 100 miles - Moulds Tankard - Tony Davis
Youngest junior solo rider in David Sulley rides (70 Km)
and "Back to the Fuchsia" (60 miles) - Joe Upton cups - Robert Watson
Family - The Bull Family Trophy - The Jones Family
Highest placed county rider in National Tourist Competition - CTC Trophy - Stuart Jones

Events Medals
Gold - None
Silver - None
Bronze - Tony Davis, Neil Dixon, Alan Hartshorne, Peter Witting
"Best All Rounder" - The Open Road Trophy - Alan Hartshorne * runner-up Norman Castle
"Ladies B.A.R." - Ladies Cup - Pearl Thompson * runner-up Nancy Henson
"Junior B.A.R." - The Kibworth Cup - Heather Jones *
*Judged on 49 Sundays during 2009 - local group rides, county events and National CTC Tourist Competition.

Best "Cycle Chat" article - The Domant Trophy - Dave Binks
"Hames" award - awarded to a lady for services to the County CTC - Aileen Andrews
"Club person of 2009" - The Seager Trophy - Norman Castle and Keith Lakin

Photographic Competition
Smith Trophy - Pictorial: John Allen, 2 John Allen, 3 Gill Lord
Alan Haywood Rosebowl - Clublife: John Allen, 2 Gill Lord, 3 John Allen
Sue Greaves Shield - Humorous: John Allen, 2 Norman Delves, 3 Ron Johnson
Junior Trophy: Heather Jones, 2 Heather Jones, 3 Heather Jones
George Clowes Tray - Theme - Transport: John Allen, 2 Aileen Andrews, 3 Ivy Allen
Stoneygate '84 cup - Novice - first time of entering: Heather Jones, 2 Heather Jones, 3 Aileen Andrews
Birthday Rides '84 cup - Pictorial: Ron Johnson, 2 Tom Bailey, 3 Phil Allen
Clublife cup: Ron Johnson, 2 Ron Johnson, 3 Ron Johnson
Scraptoft '84 cup - Theme - Transport: Tom Bailey, 2 Ron Johnson, 3Ron Johnson


Back to the Fuchsia Rides

Jean and Keith Lakin and John Allen

Three national cycling girl champions took part in this years rides on May 9th when 39 riders enjoyed routes and distances of their choice. In fine weather the rides radiated from The Fuchsia Centre, Thornton.

Heather Jones (10) the CTC's junior girl champion in 2009 in the national touring competition, Lucy Garner (15) of Leicestershire Road Club and her sister Grace national under 12 road and track champion completed one of the scenic 25 mile routes.

President Ray Clay also took part as did 88 year old Alex Thomson on his trike. All ages of the spectrum were represented including long serving CTC members veterans Mick Bradford and Colin Taylor (Coalville Wheelers) and Graham Green (Leicestershire Road Club). Some rode the event for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Stuart Jones completed 140 miles during the day (4 x 25 mile routes) plus riding to and from the event from his Castle Donington home, with Western Australian Lee Jackson (Notts CTC) completing 113 miles.

Largest contingent taking part were Charnwood CTC (NW Leics) with 15 participants (plus three organisers).

As always we enjoyed the hospitality of John Smith and his family, proprietors of Thornton Nurseries (The Fuchsia Centre) HQ for the rides.

John is a former CTC member although we didn't see him for much of the day as he is a Leicester City season ticket holder and was at the Walkers Stadium for the Leicester - Cardiff play offs. He did arrive later in the afternoon in his blue outfit - commenting on a few refereeing decisions!

Thank you all for coming, it was a real friendly get together as usual.


South Leicester and City Report

Tony Davis

This piece is a quick scamper through the highlights of the last few months. The South Leicestershire section's year for 2009 wound up with a few old favourites. In November we took an unseasonably warm ride up the climb from the Trent Valley flatlands to the Church End Brewery. The sandwiches came out of the saddlebag, made at home by the well prepared and courtesy of Greenacres for the rest.

We had almost a full turnout in mid December. Not for a Sunday club run but for the section Christmas Dinner at the Pig in Muck in Claybrooke. It was not gourmet food but a thoroughly enjoyable evening in good company.

Gill Lord packed the hall at Sibbertoft again for her New Year Lunch. This event attracts riders from all over Leicestershire and Northamptonshire and is always a good opportunity to catch up with friends who you only see a few times a year.

A cold and frosty day dawned for the Welland Valley reliabilty ride. This 100k ride is in a figure of eight. I arrived late and guessed that Neil would do the eastern loop first. So I rode the route backwards to ensure that I met Neil on the way. Unfortunately I'd guessed wrong, Neil did the western loop first and I didn't see him until I got back to Lubenham Village Hall.

The David Sulley rides had the usual good turnout. Jayne and I met more riders than usual. We were not able to ride after a very late night the previous night but we sat in Morrison's cafe welcoming riders back.

After missing several Sunday rides due to other commitments I was able to join the group again the first weekend in April. By coincidence it was a ride to Church End Brewery again. Jill Stocks had riden direct to the lunch stop and Jayne arrived by car having got back from a skiing trip that morning. Peter, Roy and Shane called in at the Wetherspoon's in Bedworth for some "afternoon tea".

We have just returned from a week in Mallorca. Gill and Bernard went early in April and came back the same weekend as us. Each year we ride for a week in warmer climes with a group of friends we originally met on a Graham Baxter training camp. As a bunch we weren't quick enough for group 3 and too fast for group 4 so we formed our own group 3 and a half. This year we had a slight change of scene by staying in Cala Bona instead of Puerto Pollensa. We had a glorious week of sunshine and temperatures in the mid 20's C. Our group met up with Gill and Bernard and a couple of other friends from previous visits to Mallorca at the cyclists mecca of Petra on the Tuesday. On the Thursday we were shown some of the local roads and cafes by Sean who has lived and were shown some of the local roads and cafes y Sean who has worked in Mallorca for 15 years. He was clearly a keen cyclist. His full carbon TT bike looked a bit fast for us but he seemed to enjoy his day off work riding with us. I'm not sure the rest of the group will trust me to lead any of the rides again after I found some lovely quiet lanes through beautiful scenery. What was the downside? A significant lack of tarmac! It made our post winter roads seem positively smooth in comparison.

Tomorrow morning we are heading off for the annual ride from Leicester to Skegness. Jayne is joining Roy on the tandem and I'll be on a solo. I hope the weather forecasters have got it wrong but it looks like it might be wet again this year. I'll let you know how we got on next time.


Easter Tour of Knaresborough with the Easy Riders of Charnwood Section

by Brenda Ottey

Dave And I decided to go to Knaresborough on Wednesday to start our Easter holidays. On arriving at the campsite at Bishop Monkton, the owner said the field was a bit wet due to torrential rain the day before. We reversed our motor home on the field and unfortunately soon got stuck! Luckily, the farmer was on hand with his tractor and he towed us out and onto a pitch. Next job, kettle on and the holiday could start.

Later on we walked into the village of Bishop Monkton which was very pretty with all the daffodils out. There was a stream running through the village with lots ducks on the water.

On Thursday, we decided to go for a walk as Pearl and Soo were not due until later on. We set off down a bridle path and after a while I checked the map. Unfortunately I had taken the York map instead of the Rippon one! Luckily we had got to the junction of Rippon canal and the River Ure and so we were able to get on the road and hopefully head for Bishop Monkton. A helpful lady out walking her dog put us on the right path back across very muddy fields and that saved us a long walk on the road.

On our return Soo had arrived in her classic VW camper and had no sooner said "I'll put the kettle on" and Pearl drove up, so we were all there safe and sound. The only job left to do was to read the maps (the right ones this time) and decide where we were cycling to on Friday.

We rode towards Knaresborough for the start of our ride with Soo in charge of the map as she was the only one with a map holder on her bike! We arrived in Knaresborough and soon found a coffee shop. Duly refreshed we climbed out of the village and were soon off the main road and onto Soo's speciality bridle ways.

We saw a red kite along the way, soaring way above us but by the time Dave had got his camera out it had gone. A few more lovely lanes and we found a nice church in South Stainley where we were able to sit in the porch and eat our lunch. Then we continued back to the camp site for yet more food as Soo had made a chocolate cake, which we all tucked into, whilst sorting out the ride for Saturday when we were joining the generals.

The generals cycled to meet us from their base in Stavely and we all set off towards Rippon. As there appeared to be nowhere else for coffee we has a stop here and then continued out of Rippon with Soo at the helm again with the maps. As w were heading for the motorway we had to stop as I has a puncture in my back wheel. Lyn assured me that Roland was a brilliant puncture repairer so he fixed it for me.

After riding along some lovely lanes, we came to Helperby which was to be our lunch stop. After passing two pubs that were closed we were glad to find the Golden Lion open. The village was very attractive with wide streets and cobbles. We discovered later that this delightful village was used for filming "The life and crimes of William Palmer" in 1998. As we left the pub I found that I had yet another puncture in my back wheel so once again Roland very kindly mended it for me and we were able to get on our way again.

Heading back towards the motorway, we crossed a toll bridge at Aldwark but we were waved over free of charge. We then headed back towards Stavely where the generals were staying. As we passed the door Lyn asked us in for a cup of tea and a slice of her mum's fruit cake which we all accepted. After our refreshments I noticed that my back tyre was again soft so I pumped it up and made for home quickly.

Saturday night we were going to join the generals for a meal so Soo took us in her camper. We had a lovely meal and caught up on club news.

When we came out of the pub there had been a cloud burst which we thought nothing of until we were nearly back at camp and we came across a large flooded area of the road. As we were on strange ground, in hilly and dark conditions we were unsure of how deep the water was. Dave was pushed out of the camper wearing Soo's wellies. He was going to check how deep the water was as the VW has a low engine at the back. As Dave disappeared into the darkness the engine on the camper cut out. Pitch black, lonely lane, how deep was the water, would I see my husband again? Soo managed to get the camper started and Dave appeared ahead in the head lights and called to us that the water was not too deep so we drove carefully through it and headed home. Another lovely day in Yorkshire.

Sunday did not dawn a very nice day and I had a puncture to mend before we were able to go anywhere. Puncture repaired and the weather had not brightened up much so we decided to go the Rippon and have our coffee and if the weather did not improve we would stay in Rippon. As it rained and hailed as we came out of the coffee shop we went to look around the workhouse which was very interesting. Pearl and Soo getting tickets to go to the police and prison museum later in the week. We decided to go back to our campsite in the early afternoon as Pearl had made a simnel cake and Dave had done a hotpot for us for tea. On arrival at camp we spoke to some fisherman who told us that they had been in sunshine all day so the weather must have been localised.

Monday we rode to Harrogate to see the cyclists plaque. We set off and went to Knaresborough for coffee and to check the maps again with Soo leading once again. We made our way into Harrogate on some very busy roads but once again Soo's navigational skills did us proud. We sat in a bus shelter and had lunch before going to ask in the tourist information office where the plaque was. We were directed to the wrong end of town by them and when we did discover the plaque we found it was pretty close to the tourist information office. I hope they remember where it is for any other cyclists.

The plaque was erected to commemorate the start of the CTC which began as the Bicycle Touring Club in 1878 and was started by a medical student. We had our photograph taken there and then went for a drink. After refreshments in the pump room it was time to find a very well hidden cycle route out of Harrogate and head back towards Knaresborough where we stopped and admired the river. There was a bridge carrying a train and people in rowing boats on the river beneath the bridge. We headed out of Knaresborough, up the hill and eventually joined the bridleway we had used previously. We saw two red kites this time with the sun catching their beautiful red plumage but Dave was still too slow with his camera. We were soon back on the campsite and tucking into Pearl's simnel cake.

Tuesday Dave and I were going home so the farmer came to tow us off the field as the rain on Saturday had made the field even wetter. Pearl and Soo were doing to Pately Bridge and Brimham rocks so they cycled away as we left. On Wednesday Pearl and Soo went to visit the police and prison museum.

Thanks to Lyn for suggesting Yorkshire for Easter, we all had an exciting time.


CTC National Tourist Competition 2009
Leicestershire and Rutland members positions.

19th Stuart Jones
41st Heather Jones (aged 10 - First Junior Girl - Brooks Trophy and medallion)
77th Jon Worters
86th Tony David
89th Teresa Jones
145th Mark Bigam
294th Roland Smith
302th Norman Castle and Jim Gerrard
320th David Rowley
332th Robert Watson (Junior)
338th Neil Dixon

We came seventh in the team results.

Ernest Whitehead - Ernie to all his friends.

Eric Neal

Ernie was born on October 12th 1920. Until his death on Wednesday 14th April he had enjoyed a very busy life. He had hoped to reach his 90th birthday but it was not to be.

Ernie served in the second world war in the Western Desert, chasing Rommel. He was ship wrecked on his way back to Europe, he told me that hanging on to a rope when scaling down the side of the ship saved his life. He went through Italy and his usual words to me was "I've told you all this before but I'll tell you again". For me some 11 years younger I always liked to listen, his memory of life events lasted him right up to the end. He was a survivor!

He was a trained hair dresser in his early days, often told me of my 'short back and sides' hair cuts, never a man lost for words. For many years he worked for Sketchley Cleaners in Hinckley from where he took his retirement.

He was married to Chris for over 49 years. Their honeymoon in 1941 was spent on their bikes based at Newtown Linford. It was all so quick as he had received his call-up papers a few days later. They took the bus into Leicester on one of the days - money was tight he recounted.

Janet and my meeting with Ernie was in 1966 when I reformed the then Hinckley Section of the CTC prompted by Ken Pepper, it was my second stint as Secretary, the first was in 1953 and lasted for the next four years.

Ernie rode with the section for many years and was President for a number of years and joined many of my tours to places farther a field. His machines were in immaculate condition and he always favoured his Sturmy Archer gears. He gave me his treasured Ernie Grubb - it can be viewed in my garage as a lasting memory of happy days on the bikes shared between himself, Janet, me, David and Joy Bunting, Gordon Ward, with Morgan and Joy arriving a little later. His son John was never a real cyclist but as it happens in some families, the children do not follow in the footsteps of their parents, signs of the times.

Ernie will be missed by all who knew him.


Whitwick Wheels to Wainrights Walks Part Four

by John Allen

In parts one, two and three, John Allen recalled memories, inspired by his brother Phil's article in the December 2008 edition of "Cycle Chat", of a Charnwood CTC holiday tour back in 1957 - and Wainwright's Walks.

Several readers have contacted me over the article so far, so I will start with some of this "feedback" - thanks for joining in my story.

Albert Franks rang to say how much he had enjoyed travelling with me so far and asked about the final resting place of Alfred Wainwright.

Alfred's ashes were taken by his second wife Betty to Haystacks, his favourite mountain where she scattered his ashes helped by a few of their friends. (Taken from "Alfred Wainwright - An Introduction" on his web site.) We passed close to Haystacks as we descended from Blacksail down Scarth Gap Pass in Part 2.

Back in 1957 of course, Wainwright was in the early years of writing and illlustrating his books on his walks in the Lake District, and indeed, he may have been in the area at the same time as us.

Incidentally, in the April/May 2010 issue of the national CTC magazine "Cycle" on page 36, there is a picture of a cyclist on Blacksail Pass which will give you some idea of the terrain and where the pressure valve on our primus stove was lost.

Stuart Jones commented on the quality of the photo at the top of the back cover in the previous issue of Cycle Chat taken high up on the Langdale Pikes on that tour 53 years ago - in the rain. This photograph was kindly loaned by Alex Thomson with Alex (left), Stan Kent (centre) and a youthful me watching the primus stove for any fluctuations (loss of) pressure. The picture was taken by the late Derek Lowe who as I have already mentioned was a superb photographer, he was also a very talented saxophonist with the Bobby Gray dance orchestra.

The Bobby Gray orchestra was the regular band on Saturday nights at an always packed Grand ballroon in Coalville in the 1960's (now the Emporium) and was the support orchestra for the world famous Victor Silvester dance orchestra on their visits to Coalville to play at the annual Bardon Quarry dances at which I tripped the light fantastic with the editor (her uncle was an owner/driver of a lorry at the quarry so we got his tickets!).

In the 1950's Charnwood CTC even had its own dance band "The Charnwood Chandoliers" formed by Derek and Doug Lowe (Doug was a talented pianist) and other guest artists, they played just once a year at Charnwoods annual social and dance in a packed Ravenstone Institute. In the early years of Charnwood CTC Derek was our rep on the county committee, meeting up there regularly with other renowned photographers including Bill Seager, Len Brigstock, Buster Haywood and Bernard Brittain. Derek was a face worker at Whitwick Colliery - he got the coal, his brother Doug (also Charnwood CTC) weighed it and his other brother, a steam locomotive driver, burnt it!

It was a great honour for me to receive the Derek Lowe memorial salver at Charnwood CTC's recent anniversary luncheon for my efforts in the county CTC photographic competition, This award was presented to Charnwood CTC in 1997 (DA centenary year) by Derek's family following his untimely death due to a brain tumour.

Well, Stuart Jones, you really set my grey cells working (usually after a very slow start!) with our chat about the photograph and Derek Lowe so I will give the readers a rundown on the other members of the "cast" in my story.

Phil and I, most of you already know, Derek I have described, so on to evergreen Alex Thomson, now 88, who recently rode 30 miles on his trike on the "Back to the Fuchsia" rides. Back in 1957, he was a fitter at Rawdon Colliery, Moira - now the site of "Conkers" in the New National Forest - he joined the CTC back in 1953 and has rarely missed a Charnwood CTC club run in those 57 years. A native of Fife, Scotland, he was an armourer in the RAF during World War II. He met his late wife Joan in the RAF and they settled in Moira to raise a family.

Stan Kent was a founder member of our section back in 1951 with Phil. Stan joined the CTC earlier in 1947. During the early part of the war, he did his army training up on Beeley Moor overlooking Chatsworth, an area he loved to visit later on his beloved bike. In the theatre of war he drove massive tank transporters yet, when the war was over, he did not renew his driving licence, much preferring to cycle - including to his place of work, Seals webbing factory in Whitwick where he was a setter/mechanic. Stan died some years ago well into his nineties.

Last but not least, Barry Whitworth of Ellistown who with his younger brother Paul joined the club in 1953 - a year before me. Barry worked at Desford brickyard and was a cycling colleague for many years, also taking part in most of Phil's tours. He is enjoying the story and has put me right on a few things - some whilst we were visiting Phil in Coalville Community Hospital earlier in the year. Barry was also visiting his brother Paul's wife along with Paul. For you Leicester City fans out there, Barry is the uncle of former City and England full back Steve Whitworth - a very speedy wing back of the highest order.

Now you have met the cast I will continue my story. It was the Sunday of the second week that Stan had led our "Wainwrights Walk" up the Langdale Pikes - we had "done" Wrynose and Hard Knott Passes on the bikes the previous day - (Thanks Barry.)

The next morning (Monday) it was still drizzling as we set out fully laden to cycle back up to Grasmere and eastwards along the northern shore of Rydal Water, then south east to Ambleside at the northern end of Lake Windermere where we had lunch - in a café!

Whilst exploring the town afterwards Phil found a small ironmongers shop which stocked spares for every primus stove and blowlamp ever made, two pressure valves were purchased so we had the luxury of a spare - no more matchsticks and rag!

During the afternoon, we rode out of Ambleside with Snarker Pike to our left and Stock Ghyl to our right. We climbed the tortuous road to join the A592 - the Kirkstone Pass - and a long freewheel with brakes sometimes less than effective in the wet.

Phil had plotted a route to include a track to get off this main road to the west of Brothers Water - aptly named as we stopped along here to have a break, and to try out the new valve on the primus stove. Well, Frank Whittle would have been proud as the stove now resembled a meteor jet engine - back up to full pressure and the water was boiling in minutes. Amazing how much better our "cuppa" was, and the time it saved.

We eventually arrived for the night at Patterdale youth hostel at the southern end of Ulleswater. Stan, Alex and Derek were to spend several nights here, so they borrowed a rucksack from the friendly warden to spend several days walking the fells which years later were also to become part of "Wainwrights Walks".

On Tuesday morning Phil, Barry and I bade farewell to the others as we set off fully loaded to cycle via Rooking, Crookabeck and more off-road ("rough stuff" back then), to emerge at Hartsop.

In pouring rain with wind increasing we climbed back up the Kirkstone Pass as best we could with very strong cross winds and driving rain at the summit causing problems with our capes. The weather had really closed in and visibility was poor with only the leaden outlines of the mountains sometimes appearing in the heavy clouds.

Yet as often happens in the Lakes, bits of blue sky appeared as we left the main road on the descent to Ambleside, the clouds lifted to reveal a magnificent Panorama, with fast moving shadows of the clouds scudding across the mountains.We were in glorious sunshine again and despite the strong winds it was a really wonderful experience.

We had as you can guess been fortified with hot food produced very quickly on the primus stove during the day and I think that was to be the last time the stove was used on that tour.

Tuesday night was spent at Ambleside youth hostel - very much 'posher' than other hostels we had stayed at except Buttermere.

Wednesday morning saw us setting off fully laden heading south along the shores of Windermere via Bowness to leave the wonderful Lake District but the westerly wind was increasing to gale force. From Bowness we headed south east along the Lyth Valley to pick up the A6 to Carnforth

We had a very brief stop in Morecambe before passing through Lancaster and on to Glasson Dock at the mouth of the Lune estuary.

In the next episode we do get to meet Mortenson and Morecambe and Wise as promised in the previous issue.

Click here to continue.


- By Dave Binks Continuing the story.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

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 installed himself into his accommodation and is getting involved with both his job and the local cycling scene. His story continues..

Wednesday July 11

I spent some time in the workshop in the morning and then went on the club run with the local French cyclists in the afternoon.

Whilst working on the bikes a van arrived from one of the other hotels in my area. This had the panniers from two of my three holiday makers who were due back later that day. Looking at the labels, I was surprised to see that one of them was "The Rt Hon. Lord MacLean". This was the elderly chap who had struggled getting his leg over the cross bar and so I had changed his bike to a "mixte" version without a top tube. Although he had spoken about knowing some politicians, it had never occurred to me that he was a member of the House of Lords himself!

During lunch with the hotel staff, I took the opportunity to ask why so many of the local place names ended in "….ac" (Niersac, Cognac, Jarnac, Fleurac, etc) but no-one knew why and I doubt they had ever even thought about it by their reactions.

The club ride, which had gone out north eastwards into what was quite a strong wind, and thus was on fairly flat roads, enjoyed a strong tailwind on the way back, and it turned into a race at the end and I have to admit being one of the culprits, my legs having recovered from last week's miles.

My friends Gil Lord and Bernard Bailey were due to visit soon from the UK and I rang Gil for a chat later on and to find out the dates when she would be arriving. Unless I got some late bookings, I would be able to spend nearly a full week with them without having any holidaymakers to look after.

65 miles

Thursday July 12

I saw my visitors away and immediately set to cleaning their bikes and then put them back into stock before I had some lunch. The morning had been overcast but warm and as the day had gone on it became a lovely day.

During the Second World War, the Nazis had overrun France very quickly, and to avoid the repeat of the slaughter of so many of their countrymen in WWI, the French Government had surrendered. The Nazis split France into two, one part being governed directly by themselves, the other under the control of the French themselves, albeit those with an allegiance to the Nazis. The line of demarcation between the two controlling bodies had passed through the Charente region but some of the local inhabitants on both sides of the line had resisted both governments.

In Angouleme there is a small museum commemorating the efforts of the resistance and also remembering the many Frenchmen deported to concentration camps during the five years of the war. I had wanted to visit this for some time, but for one reason or another never got around to it. Today was a suitable day so I rode in and spent a very interesting hour or two looking at the exhibits and trying as best I could to read the stories, many of which were very moving and thought provoking. The day was very hot and it was pretty cool inside, so when I came out I bought a drink and a cake and just sat in the sun for a while to warm up again.

17 miles

Friday July 13

Just as the weather forecast had said it would be, it was wall to wall sunshine all day today, right from when the alarm went off, to the sun setting, and hot with it, touching the mid 30's in the afternoon.

I had already decided today would be a good day to go to one of the other far flung hotels for my lunch, so set off eastwards for the Chateau Sainte-Catherine, which sits in its own 8 hectare park. This had been described by some holidaymakers as "excellent and very impressive" so I was keen to see it and taste the cooking.

My route took me out on roads I was beginning to recognise and could anticipate the climbs before I got to them, not that they are very hard or long anyway, but as the day wears on, they seem to get steeper - strange that, isn't it?

Riding along a valley, with the road gently climbing ahead of me I saw an elderly female cyclist emerge from a road to my left, but one that was at an acute angle to mine. She was also descending as she entered my road and her momentum swung her quite wide across my path until she straightened out and returned to her side of the road, but was sufficiently far away to cause no concern to me. I said "Bonjour" as we passed and continued.

A few seconds later, as I got even closer to the junction, another cyclist, this time an elderly gent, emerged and did exactly the same thing, but this time he was much closer and had come right across the road and we were on a collision course. I shouted to him and he looked up and realised his error at the same time as I tried to avoid him by getting even closer to the gutter and indicated to him that he should pass to my left. But by this time he was in all sorts of panic and fell into the grass at the right hand side of the road, but with sufficient lack of speed to make it unlikely he would be hurt.

Naturally I stopped and looked at him and his bike which was old and had a pannier strapped to the side. "English?" I asked. With a very embarrassed look on his face he confirmed he was and started trying to apologise in French, but I stopped him and said I also was English, not to worry and was he hurt? As I suspected, he was fine, the speed was low and it was a "topple" rather than a crash. He was more embarrassed than anything else.

It had been his wife just ahead of him and they were on their way to the same restaurant at Rougnac that I had visited a few weeks earlier. I helped him up and we chatted for a few minutes. They were retired and lived locally for a few months in the summer as a holiday from their Brighton home. He was obviously OK and when a passing car driver stopped, having seen him in the grass and asked if everything was OK, I simply laughed and said yes, he was having a rest!

I checked out a disused railway line, now converted into a walking/cycling trail that one of my clients had suggested and followed it for a while to see if it was in good enough condition for me to recommend, which it was. I actually find these boring as they are usually heavily overgrown at the side and afford no views over the surrounding countryside and, being virtually dead flat, soon make my arms and backside sore as there is no variation in gradient to allow any change of position on the bike. So after a few miles, returned to the road and into the village of Marthon.

This large village actually had a café and a restaurant, which, had I not been only a few miles from my destination, I would have stopped at. There was a ruined tower overlooking the village and the valley, and I fancied a look so made my way up. A sign told me it had been successfully attacked by the English Army in mediaeval times, and they had wrecked it. Nowadays, we just send football hooligans.

A new circular staircase had been installed to get you up to the top, but the gate at the foot was locked. There was no-one about, so I climbed over and up the stairs to enjoy the view.

I carried on up the D16 towards Montbron, looking out for the Hotel on my right. It was a steady climb up out of the river valley and I was pleased to see the sign pointing into the grounds. It was certainly impressive, but looked very quiet.

Upon enquiring about eating, they apologised and said they had no staff in the kitchen that day until later on. Had I telephoned they would have arranged something, but it was now too late. Whilst I was half expecting a refusal due to my bare legs, I had not anticipated this. I asked if there was somewhere to eat in Montbron itself, some 4kms further on and was assured there was, so got back on my bike.

Montbron actually offered me a choice of three restaurants, and I chose one in the town centre. I was shown to the rear and into a shady garden where there must have been 15-20 other diners. My green salad, Catalan pasta and banana split were washed down with a carafe of water and an ice cold beer - wonderful. I took my time in leaving, not wanting to rush around too soon after a substantial meal, but then headed off towards La Rochefoucauld with its massive Chateau.

I had been here before and had thoughts of going into the Chateau this time, but having looked at the watch and the distance to get home, realised I really didn't have time. I realised I could come over one morning, have lunch in the town and then go in whilst my lunch was settling, so put that in the "later" file in my head.

My ride back was uneventful by the morning's standards, other than the heat and the tiredness which was creeping over me, and by the time I got back at 6.30pm I had had enough. The evening was still warm right up until the sun set and I realised this was the weather we should have been having all summer.

78 miles

Saturday July 14

Bastille Day in France, probably the most important date in the Nation's Diary and almost everything shuts. My two clients from Melton Mowbray needed to get back to Limoges airport today and with no trains running, had to order a taxi from the only company prepared to take them, and paid heavily for the privilege at £146 for the 60 miles trip.

Of course, the taxi had to come back again, so it wasn't quite the rip off it sounds but was still a high price. Had they known this when they booked the dates, it would have been cheaper to stay another night in the hotel and catch the train the next day.

Just as they were getting into the taxi at 11.30 am, the sun came out and it got very hot and sunny. I had already been to the Boulangerie (baker) and got some bread before they closed and found even that short ride a sweaty experience, so with yesterday's exertions still in my legs, opted for a rest day watching the Tour de France on the TV and doing some reading.

I sat outside for a while, but it was just too hot in the sun, and under the trees the flies and other creepy crawlies thought I was their lunch, so moved back inside again where it was cooler. I was in the habit of feeding the ducks my stale bread and when I went to do it today, the fish beat them to it and I found myself throwing it onto the water and watching the carp come up and grab it. The ducks saw me and came over, but much to my surprise, the larger carp who were up to 18" long, turned on the ducks and frightened them away! At first I thought I had misinterpreted what was going on, but it happened so many times, and in different locations there was no doubt left in my mind at the end. I think the fish were biting the ducks' legs!

2 miles

Sunday July 15

Despite last night being Bastille Day in France, when they celebrate the French Revolution with lots of fireworks, I heard very little as I went to bed.

Just like yesterday, today was hot and sunny right from sun up to sun down, and I set off on the club run knowing it was going to be a warm ride. I keep underestimating the time it takes me to get to the meeting point, plus they leave spot on time, and I had to ride hard to get there but some had already set off, but a helpful shout from one of those still there who was going to take a different route, said which way to go and I soon caught them up.

The route took us north for a change and onto quite a few roads I didn't know, so it was good. What wasn't good though was the pace, which was varied to say the least. Steady (slow) at first, and then fast until there were only about 8 of us left out of the 30 who set off together, then a bit slower when 4 of the 8 let the others go. After that it steadied until the lady in the group got tired and we crept up the little climbs. But it was hot and got hotter as we neared midday and when we got back it must have been in the upper 20's Centigrade, reaching into the low 30's in the middle of the afternoon.

I had a light lunch and settled down in front of the TV to watch a stage of the Tour de France as they entered the Alps. It was much cooler in my accommodation than outside, and the thought of sitting in the sun beside the swimming pool was just too much - I would have fainted in the heat I think.

67 miles

Monday July 16

A bit of a "nothing day" really. Mondays is the day I have to do my weekly report and fill in some paperwork and that always takes an hour or so, and I often have a lay in on Mondays, so I almost had to rush to get to the post office for the 12 o'clock closing.

After a leisurely lunch the realisation that today was a rest day on the Tour de France meant that I couldn't just sit in front of the TV all afternoon, so decided to go shopping instead. However, the rain decided it would be a good time for it to start, so I spent some time in the workshop instead until there wasn't much left of the evening and then just read a book.


Tuesday July 17

The "Meteo" (weather forecast) got it right today, although to be fair it often is, and apart from some clouds, it was warm and sunny day all day.

I wanted to go to Cognac and try the hotel there for my lunch so got dressed for cycling straight away.

When I got over to the workshop there were some leisurely touring cyclists getting ready to move on. I realised that the base hotel was being used as a staging post by another tour operator offering holidays to Scandinavians in general and Norwegians in particular.

Only a couple of days ago I had lent my bucket and scrubbing brush to a group who had obviously been on some muddy tracks as their bikes were filthy. I asked where they were off to and they showed me a marked map with information on points of interest added to their 20 miles route. The group today had exactly the same maps, and this time I also noticed the bikes were all numbered, so they were obviously hired for the period. I also noticed they had hub gears for easy maintenance, unlike mine - a good idea I thought.

I had also seen some Norwegians in the hotel on another occasion but had not connected them with cycling, but now the penny started to drop. It's very common to see the Dutch arrive by car but with their bikes loaded on the back and to see them head off for the day, but not Norwegians.

I set off for Cognac with the intention of finding the strangely named "Font qui Pisse" (literally "pissing fountain"!) near Chateauneuf. I had seen it on the map and was curious to see it, but despite riding up and down the road a few times, couldn't find it. As the side of the road is nearly a vertical wall of rock, it's probable that it's at high level and not visible from the road, but would still appear on the maps as next to the road.

I decided today was not the day to go rock climbing and carried on. The last time I had travelled by the southerly route through Segonzac it had been a pretty windy day and dull and cloudy. Today's sunshine, light breeze and warmer weather made it a much easier ride and I soon arrived in Cognac. I wanted to find the cycle shop as I needed a tool for the workshop and after some searching, found it. It was a specialist shop, seeming to only deal in lightweight cycles, but when I eventually got him to understand what I wanted (my French is not good enough to ask for "a two dog block remover tool") he emphatically replied that he did not sell tools!

A very different attitude to the cycle shops I frequent in the UK where they'll sell any tools to anyone. I suppose he wanted people to bring their bikes in to him for repair. Had he been able to supply, or even if he simply didn't have one, I would probably have stayed and browsed, probably buying something, but with that attitude, I was straight out of the door.

I was rather disappointed with my dinner. I thought for a two course meal and one beer, 31€ (£22) was a lot to pay. That same price had got me a three course meal, beer and coffee at Bassac a few weeks earlier, and the portions at Bassac were also greater.

The first (main) course at Cognac arrived on a great big plate, but with a small centre portion recessed into a small bowl shape. Only the bowl part was filled! At least the sweet trolley allowed for a decent choice and I was given three portions but I still bought an ice cream in the town later. I made it back in time to see the end of the day's TdF stage when it appeared the pre-race favourite, Alexander Vinoukorov had cracked and seemed to have accepted this would not be his year to win.

I made use of the warm evening to do some food shopping then made up for my poor lunch with a good tea.

69 miles

Wednesday July 18

I was offered the chance of a free lunch in the kitchen with the rest of the staff so accepted with thanks. Giant prawns and carrots for starters, fish and/or meat with a green vegetable and a white looking paste that turned out to be creamed potatoes, and when I say creamed, I mean creamed - it almost ran off the spoon! And for afters - cigarettes.

I still can't get used to how many of them smoke in the kitchen, and they are young people mostly, so have been well educated as to the dangers. I said nothing. (Since writing this story, it is now illegal in France to smoke inside a workplace, just as in the UK.)

Despite feeling a little tired, I still went out with the local club in the afternoon. We went in a southerly direction thus into a hillier area, and as usual, it turned into a bit of a race at times. I was a bit cold at first, so put a vest on, but soon wished I hadn't and at the first opportunity took it off. Unfortunately, opportunities don't come very often as they stop only very rarely.

A van driver asked for directions at a junction and whilst the ride leader was speaking to him I seized my moment. My legs were starting to ache with the continual attacking up the hills and I was pleased when we got back to the point where I was able to leave them and make my own, slower way home. After a shower and something to eat I fell asleep in the chair; a sure sign of my fatigue.

67 miles

Thursday July 18

I felt pretty weary today, so did little other than to go into Angouleme after lunch.

I had been chatting on the club run to one of the ladies and she said she ran a gift shop there, so why not call in next time I was in town? I had to go into Decathlon and the hardware store anyway, so carried on the extra few kilometres to find her.

It was a pretty warm and sticky day so I tried a different route into Angouleme to see if I could avoid the worst of the rather long hill that goes up on my usual route. I did find a different route, but it took very little off the steepness of the climb, despite bringing me in at the other end of the City Centre. By the time I got there, I needed a cold drink so popped into a bar first.

Nicole ran her shop with her husband and advertises it as a "Marriage List" shop where people getting married go in and choose something and then get their friends to buy it as a wedding present. No doubt it must work, but the whole of the twenty minutes or so that I was there, no-one else came in, not even to browse. I asked which was the busy day, expecting her to say Saturday but she said it was totally unpredictable, and if the weather was good at the weekend, the young people were out enjoying the weather, not in her shop. During July and August it was always quiet due to the holiday period.

Having cooled down in the air conditioned shop (I should have gone straight in instead of buying a drink!) I made my excuses and left them to it. I called into the Tourist Information Office and picked up some more leaflets about the area and also the route of the Tour de France when it arrives in Angouleme and made my way home.

17 miles

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


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