Leicestershire and Rutland
Cyclists' Touring Club

(founded 1897)


President's Page
Sponsored ride to Skegness
Triennial Century Ride - 19th June 2010
Letter to the Editor
Charnwood Chatter
General Knowledge
South Leicester
Easy Riders
Sunshine & Pastures New
Whitwick Wheels to Wainwright's Walks
A Summer in France (part 12)


Autumn has arrived early. The leaves are already falling after turning golden browns, yellows and oranges. The weather has done it's own thing again. I hope you managed to get some good days cycling in sunshine this year. July was pretty good but August so far has been very wet.

Next year Charnwood will be 60 years old. If you have any old photographs, articles etc please let John have them as he is going to produce a magazine. It is a big task so lots of time will be required to get it published in time.

I know that you will all join me with good wishes to Roland Smith who has a cycling accident several weeks ago, he is now improving.

Next edition will be Christmas so please keep you articles coming. Many thanks.

Ivy Allen

President's Page

Ray Clay

We are all very sad about Roland Smith's recent serious accident when he was knocked over while riding his bike. He has been in intensive care but, at the time of writing, I understand he has made a marked improvement. On behalf of all his friends, I hope he makes a continuous improvement.

What can I say about the AGM and dinner held at Loughborough University? I've been to a number of CTC dinners but this was the first AGM that I have attended. To say it was lively would be an understatement. The main item on the agenda was the question of charity status. There followed a debacle with a mix up on proxy votes which took about 45 minutes to resolve. The meeting was constantly interrupted by heckling but I have to say that I was impressed by the chairman keeping his cool. You will find an excellent report by our Councillor, John Catt, on the intricacies of the AGM decisions elsewhere in Cycle Chat.

The dinner was held at Holywell Park. It was my recommendation to hold the AGM and dinner at Loughborough University. I was assuming that the dinner would be at Burleigh Court. In the event, I understand that Burleigh Court had already been booked for a wedding reception. The meal was OK but, to me, the location at Holywell Park had little atmosphere.

Our camping rally at Beaumanor Hall seemed to have been well received again. However, the bookings came in a bit to slowly for my liking. A fortnight before the event only about 20 people had booked and the thought was running through my mind that, perhaps, the camping rally had run its course. Fortunately, we had about 40 campers in the end, which is an ideal number. The weather was reasonable and the feedback on the rides was positive. We were lucky enough to be able to show the film Saturday Night Sunday Morning, the connection with cycling being the Raleigh factory in Nottingham. A walk to a pub at Quorn Sunday night concluded the weekend. I must thank the ride leaders and, in particular, Keith and Jean Lakin for their support.

The Cyclists' Carol Service will be held at somewhere new this year. It will be at St Leonard's Church, Swithland on Sunday 5th December starting at 1.15pm. Refreshments will be available from 12noon at the Memorial Hall and after the service. It's the first time we've been to Swithland. I had a peep into the church recently and it looks a lovely old building.

Our holiday in Norfolk near Fakenham went better this year. Penny and I managed some very pleasant tandem rides. We love Norfolk. So easy to get to. Not too many hills. Lovely round tower churches. Lovely sandy beaches. We also enjoyed the ride on the little steam train from Wells to Walsingham.

Hope to see many of you on the President's Ride on 19th September starting at 10am at Quorn car park. I'm leading it, but don't let that put you off!


Sponsored ride to Skegness

Martin Bulmer

Thank you to those of you who sponsored us for our cycle ride to Skegness. To those who didn't, there's still time....

We took a route which gave us just over 100 miles (102). Until to a couple of months ago my companion Andy Watts of The Pheromones singing duo hadn't ridden a bike for years, except for a mile or two to the shops. We've done half-a-dozen training runs gradually building up to 85 miles last week. We set off at 7.20, stopped briefly for elevenses bought from a newsagent's, and spent a more leisurely hour and a half over lunch at the pub in Martin.

Yes, I didn't know there was a village called Martin until I started planning the route, but it was too good a photo opportunity to miss, and it didn't require a detour. Sadly, I couldn't find a village called Andy.

Jeannette caught us up in the emergency back-up vehicle (my car) for lunch, then drove off for a well-earned rest in a lay-by on a side road somewhere about 5 miles inland from Ingoldmells.

Andy seemed quite eager to get to Skegness, and my computer showed an average 13.9 mph for the trip when we arrived at the clock-tower at 5 o'clock. We then had to get into Heather's (Andy's girlfriend's) car, and search the countryside for the emergency back-up vehicle which had failed to start after Jeannette's nap due to a flat battery. She didn't know where she was, but with her powers of description and a bit of group map-reading we soon tracked her down. Our legs weren't all that keen on pushing a car, but thankfully it started first time, and we were all able to drive back to base at the George & Dragon, Thringstone in time to win the quiz. Except that the quiz-master counted our 17 score for one round as "12", and awarded the prize to another team. We wuz robbed, but I'm not bitter.

The Pheromones are appearing at the George and Dragon on Saturday 14th August, and again at the all-day "Thringstone Live for Charities" (TLC) festival which they have organised for the third year running this year, and which this ride is in aid of, supporting Cancer Research and Rainbows children's hospice. There will be many other bands appearing, so if you're in the area please drop in.

Thanks again to all who supported the ride.


Triennial Century Ride

19th June 2010

This year's event attracted an entry of thirty three riders, ranging in age from 51 to 80 years and coming from as far afield as Wiltshire, Surrey, London, Doncaster and Milton Keynes. However, there was particularly strong representation from the organiser’s club, the Ratae Road Club. Many of these latter had never ridden 100 miles before and regarded their entry as a great challenge.

The route chosen was very roughly circular around the county, starting and finishing at Age Concern in Wigston. It passed through Mowsley, the Langtons, `lilton on the Hill (the highest point of the ride), Rearsby (for the morning coffee stop), Wymeswold, Griffydam (for the lunch stop), Packington, Twycross, Market Bosworth (for afternoon tea), Broughton Astley, Peatling Magna and home. The total climbing for the day was calculated to be 1,490 metres, and the mileage (calculated using Google Maps) came out at almost exactly 100 miles.

Vets Climbs

The generally fine weather which had been ordered for this event was duly delivered apart from that nagging north wind which made the hilly ride out to the morning coffee stop at Rearsby much more challenging. There were 2 non-starters due to health problems and both of these had been notified to the organiser before the start. On the day, 3 riders failed to complete, 2 of these going off course having opted to ride alone, and the remaining one aborted due to dissatisfaction with the road conditions. So there were 28 finishers from the 33 entries. The first riders departed at 08:30 and the last riders finished at 18:30 which, in view of the marked reluctance by some to leave the excellent lunch and tea stops, was a remarkable achievement. The event was well supported by members, friends and families of the Ratae Road Club and the only difficulty experienced was sore legs!

The organiser, Bob Perrett, would like to acknowledge the assistance given to him by Bob 'Tinley of the Coventry & Warwickshire CT C whose event he had ridden on the previous Sunday in order to get first-hand experience of such an event. Bob Tinley kindly prepared the course altitude profile for us. All the feedback from the riders has been positive and the excellent refreshments provided by the catering support teams at the Rearsby, Griffydam and Market Bosworth stops have come in for particular praise. The generosity of Coalville Wheelers CC in lending their Clubhouse for the lunch stop is gratefully acknowledged, the many cycling posterson the wall lending a welcome ambience to this stop.

Congratulations go to all those who successfully completed this epic ride.


Letters to the Editor

Dear Fellow-Cyclists,

Some of you have seen me recently on the Tuesday and Thursday rides: the guy in the St Ives kit riding the Airnimal!

Having now recovered from my broken femur and able, once again, to ride reasonable distances without discomfort, I will be venturing out on my first long distance cycle trek on August 29th, following the ancient Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome, a total distance of 1300 miles to include a crossing of the Swiss Alps. I am using the venture to re-focus some attention on the plight of the people of Haiti, especially the children, whose situation six months after the earthquake is still desperate.

Do follow the ups and downs of the journey on my blog at http://wwwfrankburns.wordpress.com/ and if you would like to make a donation to this deserving cause you can do it safely at http://justgiving.com/frankburns.

Thank you in advance.

Frank Burns.

Dear Ivy,

Factual evidence of my first stint as the Secretary of the Hinckley Section, booklet of the Leicestershire & Rutland DA - Runs Programme Jan - Mar 1954. What distances we covered 56 years ago on our Sunday runs, frightening now - but we always made it come rain or shine.

I was living at home in Earl Shilton and the late George Halford was our Runs Secretary, he lived in one of the steel houses in Moore Road in Barwell which was constructed to house the working classes shortly after the end of the Second World War. Differences in ages did not matter, he was older than me but he was a keen biker and that attitude still applies today and he could be relied upon. He lived with his aging mother so was glad to get out on his bike as a break from household chores.

I had left my term of National Service in November 1951.

I was to learn later that Harold Williams (father of John Williams who later married Phyllis) was looking for someone to take over the running of the section - although it was called the Hinckley Section only the odd one or two people came from the town, most came from the surrounding villages. I went out once and was immediately approached if I would like to take over the reins.

More fool I - I said yes!

Officially I was the secretary from 1953. I was still single and not really looking for girls, the bike was the most sensible thing as it doesn't answer back!

Maybe you could print our first quarters runs starting from either the Regent Cinema, Hinckley or Earl Shilton Hollow. The cinema is still there today but is now a bingo hall. We struggled to get leaders at times, nothing new even today.

It is nice to gander through what the Melton, Photographic, Loiterers, General, Loughborough and Charnwood Sections got up to and the names of the people who led, a few of us are still around to tell the tale but alas not many, they were looked upon as characters - few remain today.

A bit of nostalgia never goes amiss.

Yours sincerely,

Eric Neal


Leicester Easy Riders

with Rose Holman

Since my last write up, we have had Judith Castle in hospital. Judy is now well on the way to recovery.

Dave Smith, Norman Castle and Jim Gerrard completed the 100 miles Tri Vets rides. Well done all. With Dave being super fit he led the ride to Barrowden the following day.

Due to other commitments and it being the season of the NGS open gardens, I have only been to the coffee stops on some of the rides. I have let the rest of the section do the hard work.

Some of the section nearly had a heart attack as I had bought a new front tyre, instead of getting 26 patches on the inner tube.

With Jim unable to lead the ride to Greenacres, it was decided to do a shorter ride to Thornton. Ian, Dave, June and Pete arrived on their bikes whilst Nancy and I arrived by car.

It has been lovely being able to sit outside at our various stops this summer.

Dave, Ian, June, Andy and Pete had another ride to Thornton from Braunstone cross roads with Norman and I making our way there.

Going through the Burroughs, June came off her bike, just missing some nettles, so only received a scratch.

The week before, 4th July, Barrats bike slid into the canal, unlike Andy, Barrat stayed on the towpath, luckily John Moon rescued the bike so he was able to continue.

We cancelled Nancy's ride to Carlton to go and give Andy our support at the Off Road event at Illston.

Dave's lunch will be held at the Steam Trumpet at Thornton on the 3rd October at 12. 00 noon. Any cyclists wishing to go contact me as soon as possible or by the 3rd week in September. There will not be a raffle. If anyone would like to make a donation to Loros on the day, it would be much appreciated.



Lyn Dolphin

This quarter has been a tale of two halves for our section. We have had a mixture of interesting car assisted rides, excellent AD events and good Iocal rides all helped by some very nice weather. However all of this is tempered by the serious accident which Roland Smith was involved in on the 25th June. He was very badly injured after being hit by a car whilst cycling through some road works near Knowle. After being air lifted to Walsgrove Hospital he has spent some time in intensive care and is now improving very slowly in the neurological ward. We all wish him well, miss his company and hope by the time you are reading this he is well on the road to recovery and wanting his GPS so that he knows exactly where he is.

The car assisted rides this year started with Joe leading us along the canal paths of Birmingham. We started from Sutton Pork following cycle paths and canals. After Joe hod been knocked off his bike by a dog, had two punctures and stepped in a message left by a dog, we arrived at Broad Street for I I 's. Broad Street looks so different on a Sunday morning compared to 1am on a Friday morning! We then continued past Smethwick New Pumping Station and underneath Telford’s Galton Bridge, once the world’s longest single span bridge, and out to Dudley to arrive at the Crooked House pub. I had heard of this pub but the reality is really something to see for yourself - and l understand that the beer is pretty good too. We finished by following more canals through Walsall and back to Sutton Park.

The second car assisted ride was led by Keith, who followed the route used lost year, visiting Ironbridge. I wasn’t out on this ride, but l don’t believe they were accompanied by the Red Arrows this time.

Finally the most recent car assisted was led by myself, with only Pete for company due to holiday commitments for most of the section and car trouble for Joe. It was a day of gated roads, byways open to all traffic, hills that the map (yes that paper thing!) marked with chevrons and canal tow-paths. We started from Lutterworth, visiting Gongoozlers Rest at Braunston marina for I I ’s (a converted narrow boot) and The Plough at Everdon for lunch. Whilst it was only 55 miles, after having to lift the bikes over a stile and a footbridge on the canal tow-path, negotiating many gates, and the increased afternoon headwind we were pleased to see the car at the end (and grateful that there was only the two of us to witness our worn out state!).

The holiday season hos even caught out the regular local runs, with Martin B being the only one out on his ride the week before.

The DA events have been well attended by the section, there has been the Back to Fuschia rides organized by John Allen where Roland, Keith and Stuart all clocked the 100 miles, along with the challenge rides organized by Peter Witting where Martin A, Richard, Pete and l did the shorter 25 mile route. Both of these events were blessed with good weather making the rides a very enjoyable experience.

By the time this article is read Martin A is going to do Lands End to John o’Groats, well he is actually doing Lands End to Belton, then John o’Groats to Belton, but why be the same as everyone else! Martin B will be doing his charity ride to Skegness, Keith has done the coast to coast charity ride, and Pete will have been on his first cycle touring holiday, no wonder attendance on the Sunday rides is low!


Charnwood Chatter

with Betty Naylor

It was around mid-May before the strong cold winds abated and we were able to really enjoy some summer weather.

Mary, Alex, Howard and myself returned to the camp-site at Fiskerton for five days in the vans and spent an interesting week touring around the cycle tracks alongside the River Witham. Our older companions were only able to cycle on alternative days, but spent the others exploring Lincoln. Howard and I cycled each day, admiring the wild flowers and birdlife along the Water Rail way (the Water Rail is a native bird, which is rarely seen). The many trails were most interesting with notices detailing incidents in history, with many animals, sculpted in wood and metal along the way.

Mary picked up on a very interesting incident that occurred towards the end of the First World War, when the driver of a steam train travelling from Skegness to Lincoln, spotted a Zeppelin flying towards Lincoln with his load of bombs. Being a quick thinking man, he stopped his train under the bridge at Washingborough to hide the steam, and the pilot of the Zeppelin immediately dropped his bombs in a field nearby thinking he had arrived at Lincoln and the train was in the station., However, this was not the end of the tale, because next day the local ferry took a load of local sightseers out across the river to view the damage, when the boat being overloaded, capsized and a man and boy were drowned.

We found Bardney itself quite interesting, with its ancient abbey ruins and Heritage Centre/café at the old railway station.The town was quite industrious at one time with its sugar refining plant and vegetable canning factory. The cycle trails continued from there to Woodhull Spa, famous for its memorial in the shape of a wall, to the Dam buster 617 Squadron, which had its mess locally. Another cycle trail from there continued down Boston on the coast - a distance of some 27 miles.

During the week, Mary had noticed a pair of blackbirds taking an interest in her van. This was confirmed by some people in the van opposite, who had noticed the birds f`lying underneath carrying nesting materials. On opening the van bonnet, it was discovered they had built a complete nest on top of the engine, which was immediately removed in case of fire, but next day, on returning to the van, there was yet another complete nest, and Alex has photographs to prove it! This was quite amazing, as the camp-site was surrounded by large hedges. Anyway, a good week was had by all, especially I, having successfully driven our small camper-van for the first time.

Another achievement was driving up to Colwich near Ashbourne for a weekends cycling with Pearl and Howard. The weather was gorgeous the whole time. On the Saturday, Pearl led the ride out through Okeover Park, then taking the road from Mapleton to Thorpe and up over a field road to meet the A515. There were splendid views over the Derbyshire hills, but the large farm vehicles were a real danger, as some of them came at us at speed, and we had to jump out of the way, to avoid being mown down on this narrow track. A left turn was taken from the A515 down the steep hill beside Shining Tor, crossing the River Dove at the valley bottom, then climbing up the steep incline to Alstonfield for an alfresco lunch outside the George Inn. The return journey was via Hope, taking another track to Stanhope before dropping down to Ilam, where we enjoyed an ice-cream and a breather before crossing the River Manifold and continuing uphill to Blore, past the Hall and taking another winding track down to meet the A52 just above Mayfield. Here we crossed the busy road, taking the B5032 back to the camp-site at Calwich. Once back, a well-earned cuppa was enjoyed, sitting outside at a picnic table overlooking the lovely landscaped garden above the brook. On Sunday, we had a short ride down to Ellastone, then back through Norbury on the south side of the Dove to Clifton and down into Ashbourne for coffee, before returning home in the afternoon. A most pleasant weekend thanks to Pearl.

The Section have enjoyed the usual Sunday runs, making the most of the good weather. Also we have been well represented at all the DA events, especially by the Jones family. We older member took part in the Fuschia Rides, but declined to ride Peter’s Audax Rides due to the heat. However, we did turn up at Bagworth for refreshment before enjoying our own leisurely ride out to Sutton Wharf for coffee then back through Market Bosworth to Carlton for an alfresco lunch at The Gate Inn.

Since the beginning of July, we have all enjoyed our holidays, which included some cycling. Pearl and Soo have been island hopping in the North Sea for almost a month ie visiting the Orkneys and Shetlands being but a few, and at the time of writing, are only just about to start their journey home. Dave and Brenda, also Alan Witty have been touring in the Dumfries area. Howard, Paul and myself had a very pleasant holiday in North Norfolk, cycling around the pretty little lanes and making the most of the good weather.

However, we all send our heartfelt best wishes to our friend Roland for a complete recovery after his nasty accident.


Sunshine & Pastures New

Peter Witting

Seldom Seen Farm, near Billesdon, has a seasonal café with magnificent views plus value-for—money refreshments. It’s only open during the pick—your-own season, but it allows the South Leicesters to use it for coffee and reach Oakham for lunch.

Neil Dixon was first to join me at Broughton Astley on llth July. He was closely followed by Shane Blower, Roy Dayman and Gill Stocks. Gill told us to wait for Tony and Jayne Davis. They had returned home when realising they hadn’t watered their plants before departure. Yes, it was to be a hot summer Sunday!

The seven of us took the quiet Cottage Lane and Cosby Lane route to Willoughby Waterleys and Peatling Magna; then the gated Barley Lane led us to Foston. We passed the maize maze at Wistow. At road level we couldn’t spot the Spitfire pattern commemorating the 7 0th anniversary of the "Battle of Britain". We passed the single-arm clock on the church at Gaulby before reaching Billesdon and Seldom Seen Farm.

Waiting for us at the café at the end of the long downhill gravelly drive to the farm were Mick Amold and Paul Sharpe. Both were welcomed, Mick recovering from a recent operation and Paul on his bike for the first time in 18 months!

Six of us set off for lunch at Oakham via Tilton-on-the-Hill. The direct route to Owston involved a section of rough-stuff at the end of Red Lodge Road. As it was dry and largely downhill, we gave it a go! After a mile of new tarmac the brakes were applied. Care was needed on the unsurfaced track and all dismounted to use the stepping stones over the stream. We avoided the ruts hidden by the long grass to safely reach tarmac again.

Our route from Owston followed the lumpy National Cycle Network route 63. We swooped two miles downhill into Oakham to reach The Grainstore by the station. As this brewery tap does not provide food on Sunday, a quick visit was made to the nearby store for a packed lunch. We sat outside the brewery in the sunshine. The bitter drinkers discussed the merits of the Grainstore "Ten Fifty” and "Triple B", while others stuck with the award winning "Rutland Panther" mild. Eventually we moved inside to avoid an excess of sunshine — yes, really!

Tea was to be taken at Medbourne which meant more lumpy back-lanes to Uppingham, starting with the climb out of Oakham. There were further stiff climbs out of Brooke, up to Ridlington and up to Ayston. The descent of King’s Hill from Uppingham was quite a relief The old school at Medboume was attracting record customers for their teas, and extra tables were being brought out to the old playground. Among other cyclists were several from Loughborough CTC.

Finally we set off for home, and a chance to wash the thunder-bugs out of our hair and sunscreen. This had been a memorable 67 miles on some fresh roads on a glorious summer day in good company.


South Leicester Report

Tony Davis

As usual for this time of year, what with audax rides and family events, I have not been out with the section as often as I would like on Sundays. But here are some edited highlights.

The Skeggy ride (the tour of Wetherspoons) in May got the weather which had been forecast. A strong wind from the east and showers. Jayne and I drove over to Roy Dayman’s where we met up with Roy, his daughter Kate and her boyfriend Simon. Kate and Simon were going to ride Roy’s 1930’s tandem with 3 speed dérailleur while Jayne and Roy were on the Jack Taylor tandem. I was riding my Pompino fixed. On the ride into the clock tower I realised that the headwind and touring saddlebag made the 72" gearing hard work.

At the clock tower I managed to keep the assembled group, which had grown to include Mark, Kevin and Peter Witting, amused with my incompetent attempts to flip the wheel round to the side with a lower gear. I gave up as the combination of tyre diameter, mudguards and chain length made it impossible. By the time I gave up the comedy value had worn off and the group had retired for a coffee.

Once I was cleaned up we set off following a gentle roller coaster main road route to Melton where we stopped for breakfast at the Wetherspoon’s pub. The section from Melton to Rippingale, just north of Bourne, was the best part of the ride on quieter roads and with some variation in the scenery. The B road to Boston was a steady slog into the wind. Boston brought another Wetherspoon’s stop, this time for lunch.

We stayed as a tight bunch to ride the last bit into the wind from Boston to Skegness along the A52. After the compulsory lap of the clock tower at Skegness we went in search of a B&B. Just a couple of attempts found one which could not only accommodate all of us but also had a shed for the bikes.

The day was rounded off with a visit to the Wetherspoon’s pub in Skegness for an evening meal and a bit of refreshment. It had been a hard ride there particularly for Simon and Kate on the old tandem and me on fixed.

Sunday started off with an excellent breakfast and looking outside the sky was looking better. The weather was pleasantly warm but the wind had not dropped. We followed the lanes roughly parallel with the A52 to Boston. After elevenses at the Wetherspoons at Boston where we cleared them out of muffins, we used our outbound route in reverse.

We enjoyed an excellent lunch at Irnham along with some of the other riders doing the same route. Tea at the Wetherspoons in Melton and then we were blown back all the way to meet up Mark’s partner Gill and others at the Globe in Leicester city centre.

On a couple of Sundays in the early part of the Summer we were joined by Carole Birch, a regular with the Thursday group, when her husband was out racing. There have also been a few new faces on days I haven't been out. I look forward to meeting them.

Three weeks ago we had a ride out through Great Glen to Seldom Seen Farm for coffee. If I ever have a huge lottery win I’ll pay to tarmac their drive. The group which left Broughton Astley included Neil, Gill Stocks, Shane, Roy, Jayne and I. We were joined at coffee by Mick Arnold and Paul Sharpe. It was a nice surprise to see Paul whose busy job and growing family has kept him off his bike for a while. We went on to the Grainstore Br

ewery in Oakham for lunch. It was a hot day and pleasant to sit outside in the sun. We rode back through Brooke and Uppingham stopping for tea and cake at the village school in Medbourne. It was a long hot day out with over 70 miles covered by Jayne and I and even more for those with a longer ride to our meeting place.

Mille Cymru 2010

My major target for this year was a ride which caused a considerable stir in audax circles when it was first mentioned. This ride was a 1000km ride to be completed to Brevet Randonneur Mondial standard which allows a maximum of 75 hours, including feed and sleep stops. The route was made up of three loops. The first loop of 360km went over Bwlch y Groes, through Bala to Mlgnelnt, Capel Curig to Penypass, Bwlch Oerddrws and on to finish the day at Llynwrtyd Wells. The second loop was 300km up and down and around the coast of Pembrokeshire. The last day and night was made up of a ride over Mynydd Eppynt, through the lywi forest, over the mountain road to Tregoran via the coast at Aberystwyth and returning through the Elan Valley. The total amount of climbing was around 13750m.

You always start a ride of this length and scenic value with a bit of trepidation counter balanced with a bank of similar rides in the memory which tell you that you can succeed. My anxiety was added to by a lingering knee problem and having had Monday and Tuesday off work due to sickness.

I had a relaxed start with the third wave of riders at 6.30am. I only stayed with the bunch for a short while until we got spilt by a set of traffic lights. It didn’t seem to take long through the gently rolling countryside of Shropshire before we were at Llyn Vyrnwy. I was Lanterne Rouge at The Old Barn Cafe but caught a few on the next section. From the café we skirted round the quiet side of Llyn Vyrnwy before the steady climb up to the Bwlch y Groes. The view off the col towards Dinas Mawddwy is stunning with the valley bottom seeming an impossible distance away. I love the descent from there to Bala. You can just let the bike roll, apart from the short steep section near the top.

I stopped to help Chris Wilby just before Bala. He had dropped his dérailleur into his spokes. The dérailleur was completely borked, though that wasn’t the phrase he used. We cut his chain short so that the bike could be used as a single free, which enabled him to get to the bike shop ln Bala. This was the same bodge repair that I had used on the 2003 Paris—Breast—Parls ride which lasted 900km, so I knew he should be OK.

I mentally kicked myself as 1 rolled down into Penmachno for not counting how many cars had passed me since the start. It certainly wasn't many.

The descent from Penypass to Llanberis was surprisingly quiet and I was pleased with the speed I achieved, only to be passed by Gareth Evans (an Australian) who made it seem like I was standing still at 80 km/hr. At Pete’s Eats the food portions were their usual (huge) size. The steep climb out of Llanberis through the middle of the quarry was cruel on a full stomach, but I should have known better having covered the same ground on the Snowdon and Coast 400. The effort made it difficult to digest the food and my stomach dldn't really fully settle again after that.

The A470 after Dolgellau was busier than I'd ever seen it with packed cars rushing to the coast. I guess that's what happens on the day the schools break up for summer holidays. Due to the amount of traffic I actually used my brakes on the descent off? Oerddrws. On a previous descent there I’ve seen speeds of over 90km/hr.

I thought my stomach had sorted itself out as I was going well from Dolgellau to Llanidloes. But on a climb shortly after Llanidloes I had to stop to be sick, subsequent to that any significant effort had me retching. I tried eating but my body was having none off it. This resulted in me riding 40 hilly k with no energy. I was walking the hills and dldn't change off the granny ring all the way to Llanwrtyd Wells.

Usually on a multi-day ride I get to the end of the first day tired but looking forward to getting out on my bike again in the early hours of the next day. I couldn't face eating at Victoria Hall, all I wanted to do was sleep. My decision was already made that my ride was over.

When I got up I found out what arrangements had been made for collecting bags and went to the Drovers Rest for a Welsh brunch. I followed this up with a liquid lunch at the Neuadd Arms and took the train to Shrewsbury. Its a good thing that Shrewsbury is the end of the rail line otherwise I would have slept past my stop.

There were 19 other riders who took the same decision as me at roughly the same point. The finish control back at Upton Magna welcomed 53 successful, exhausted but happy riders.

The ride left me feeling mentally battered but physically OK. I’ve only DNF’d 4 rides since starting audax riding in 2002. However the good news is my knee has now been fully tested and passed with flying colours.

I hate unfinished business so I hope that the event is run again so that I can exorcise the dragons. I have a very nice new jersey that I can't wear until I’ve conquered the red beast.

Despite the fact that I didn't finish, the thing that stood out about this ride, apart from the mountains, was meticulous preparation before the event and superb organisation during the event. For those of you not interested in the longer events I would highly recommend any of the rides organised by John Hamilton around Shropshire (and beyond).


Whitwick Wheels to Wainrights Walks Part Five

by John Allen

In parts one, two, three and four. 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.

In the previous four parts 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 Wainwrights Walks.

This episode should really be titled "Whitwick Wheels away from Wainwrights Walks" as we were now south of the Lake District and the clue to our destination was given at the end of Part 4 - although the rest of the party were still in the Lakes, three of us, Phil, Barry Whitworth and I were heading along the coast road from Glasson Dock towards Knott End and Fleetwood - with a typical Irish sea gale on the starboard side of our well laden cycles.

Why did we separate from the others? Well, dear reader, if you are not interested in football history look away now, but if you are interested in public transport hang on in there.

Back in the 1950's, in football parlance, I was a "Glory Boy" - not with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool though, but Blackpool, who back then were probably second only to Manchester United in the top flight of English football.

This followed their losing in the 1948 cup final to Man U, the 1951 final loss to Newcastle United and their "third time lucky" - winning the FA cup in Coronation Year of 1953 by beating Bolton Wanderers 4 - 3 at Wembley - "The Stanley Matthews Final".

Blackpool also had a first class public transport system - another of my interests which I wanted to see first hand - so that is why it was my influence that persuaded brother Phil to organise the alternate bit of our holiday.

So there I was at 17 the youngest of the party arriving at Knott End and the cycles were easily loaded onto the ferry that carried us across the mouth of the River Wyre (Fleetwood Harbour) across to the then very busy fishing port of Fleetwood.

This was the northern terminus of the Blackpool tram system (and still is) and I saw my first of the famous high capacity "Balloon" trams. When most other towns and cities had dispensed with their tram systems (including Leicester), Blackpool kept their faith with theirs and with dedicated sections of the promenade, the trams could make rapid progress in the busy summer season and at the crowded autumn "Illuminations" when other vehicles were gridlocked.

Today Blackpool has invested in a brand new fleet of trams but some of the 1930's iconic "Balloon" trams still run on sections past the famous tower - good old nostalgia eh? Most of the others have been retired but have found good homes far and wide with preservation groups after over 70 years of service.

Incidentally, the "Balloon" trams were entirely British built as were the superb motor bus fleet of Blackpool Transport, back in 1957 both pre-war and post-war Leyland double deckers (chassis built just down the road at Leyland, near Preston) could be seen in profusion with their Blackpool built bodies by Burlington (long since gone) in a similar style and livery to the balloon trams. Anyway our main mode of transport of course were our bikes and as we came in sight of the tower, the waves were crashing over the sea wall and the strings of coloured light bulbs were looping the loop.

As I recall, none of us got our wheels in the tramlines where the trams shared the road, and a grey stormy Blackpool that August day 53 years ago did not look much like it's post card image - but it had atmosphere - as did our dirty clothes, sheet sleeping bags, towels etc, packed into out voluminous saddle bags! Remember, we had already been on tour for 12 days in some awful weather.

Ever resourceful Phil had booked us into a CTC Bed and Breakfast somewhere on the South Shore (the good old CTC handbook) until Saturday morning so on that Wednesday evening we arrived after cycling the whole length of Blackpool sea front in a gale (8 miles?) and from Ambleside in the Lake District.

After introducing us to the proprietor (landlady) Phil Asked if our parcels had arrived - clean clothes posted to the address from our wonderful Mum back in Whitwick - and we had a bath.

First job next morning was to parcel up all the dirty washing, go to the nearest post office, and post it all back home. Also back home I was still getting that wonderful "Eagle" comic and once you got past Dan Dare, the Treens and of course the Mekon on his flying saucer, there was a wealth of wonderfully illustrated technical drawings on how seemingly everything worked and a fantastic sports section.

I recall in late April 1953, there was a preview of the forthcoming FA cup final between Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers at Wembley and a freeze framed photographic sequence of Blackpool and England centre forward Stan Mortenson taking a free kick with the prophetic caption "Stan Mortenson - who if fully fit could win the cup for Blackpool" - he scored a hat trick in the final, the only player ever to do so.

On our council estate we were one of the first to have television (on HP) and many of you out there will recall that cup final when Blackpool were 1 - 3 down and won 4 - 3 with only minutes remaining - forever named the Stanley Matthews Final but fellow international geordie Stan Mortenson also had a hand in it! He had also played in the two losing finals.

I knew he had retired and kept a sports shop in Blackpool so after posting the washing back to Mum our next objective was to find my football hero. We duly found the shop - "Stan Mortenson Blackpool and England sports outfitters" and went in. His wife was at the counter and Stan was out! "He could be back soon" she said, so having come this far I was not to be denied meeting the great man.

Eventually, a car pulled up outside. "That's him now" said his wife - and this shorter man that I had imagined came into the shop carrying shoeboxes piled high. After he put them down, his wife introduced me and he autographed a picture of him in his cup final strip for me - baggy shorts and all - a photograph that I still treasure.

Next stop was Bloomfield Road (Blackpool ground) and we still had not met Morcambe and Wise - next time I promise.

Footnote - When I started this story Blackpool were favourites to be relegated from the championship, but instead they gained promotion back to the top division after an absence of some 39 years.

And Yes, I also supported Leicester City going to Filbert Street on many occasions, seeing Johnny Morris, Jack Froggatt, Arthur Rowley, Derek Hines, Johnny Anderson, Mal Griffiths, Jimmy Baldwin and many others including Matt Gillies and Gordon Banks making their debuts. Thought I would get this bit in quick before the letters come in!

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- 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
Part 11

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..

Friday July 20th

After going to collect my expenses, I thought that I was going to get a soaking on the way back, but it was just a very black cloud.

After a lazy lunch, I realised I had time to go out and add an alternative detour on one of my local routes. One of the routes goes up quite a steep little hill to see the view at the top, but I realised not everyone would want to do that, so wanted to describe a way of avoiding it.

I took my video camera and tripod to force me to stop and take my time and enjoy the sunshine and fluffy white clouds and consequently made frequent stops as I set up the video and tripod. This seems to take ages, but it does make me slow down and see more.

I was expecting a family of four holidaymakers to arrive today, so got back in time to shower before meeting them, but they called to say they were going to be later than expected, so I had tea as well.

When they arrived, they had driven all the way down from Hertfordshire that day, having set off at about 5. 00 a.m.. No wonder Dad looked tired! The older daughter was desperate to get to a pharmacy and when Mum asked her why, Mum was told some fake was tan was needed! When I said she didn’t need the fake kind as she would soon get a real one, her younger sister said that all she would get was pink!

27 miles

Saturday July 21 st

I had arranged for my new arrivals to meet meat 10. 00 a.m. for a bike fitting session and introduction, but only Mum and Dad were there, the two girls choosing to stay in bed - so much for my magnetic attraction.

For some reason the session took longer than I expected so by the time we had finished, it was nearly lunch time, so I had an early lunch then watched the Tour de France solo Time Trial at the town of Albi on the tv. It was raining so hard that one of the Gendarmes fell off his motorbike, but fortunately without any injuries to anyone.

After falling asleep halfway through I went out for a gentle potter on my bike. I really did take it easy and ended up at Chateauneuf where I had a beer, wandered around the street market, then wandered into a park.

My mobile telephone went, which could only mean that my clients had a problem. But no - it was from my friends Gill and Bemard from Leicestershire to say that they had arrived at the local campsite a week earlier than planned and would I like to come over? As they site was only a few miles from Chateatmeuf I was with them in 20 minutes and I was mighty glad to see some friendly faces from home. We had a good chat, and despite me still being in cycling kit, had a campervan meal with them, leaving at 9. 45 p.m., just as it was getting dark.

31 miles

Sunday July 22nd

It was a nice morning, bright and sunny, but chilly when I left at 7. 45 a.m. to meet the clubrun, so put a thermal vest under my top and a light wind-proof j jacket over them both. After the last couple of tough rides, I had told myself that I was going to try to take it a bit easier, so when the slower riders set off I went with them.

Not long after the start, the faster ones caught us and we all rode together for about 25kn1s, at which point the group split in two. I stayed with the slower riders but realised they would be too slow, so chased off and caught the faster group before they got too far away.

I was hoping that the group would split, but it never happened, we all just stayed together for the rest of the ride. I did however avoid the front of the group, preferring to stay hidden from the headwind at the back and thus have an easier ride.

The ride went South, into the hillier are, and it was brisk, too brisk at times, but when we got near to home and they all turned right for La Couronne, I stayed on the road to Mouthiers and home.

My clients were moving today and I needed to get back to ensure the taxi came for their luggage as they had paid for it to be moved rather than have to carry it themselves. I only had time to get through the gate and check the bags were in reception before the taxi arrived, so I was glad that I had come straight back.

After lunch and a bit of a sleep, I went down to see Gill and Bernard again and spent the rest of the afternoon watching the Tour de France on the tv in the campsite bar. We ate a salad tea together and chatted until nearly dark when I had to ride back before I needed lights on my bike.

69 miles

Monday July 24th

I fiddled around in the morning at my base then went down to the camp-site to meet Gill and Bernard at about 2pm, just beating the rain.

Just like yesterday we watched the TdF on the big screen in the site bar. Gill needed to know where the big shops were, so after the stage finished, we jumped on our bikes and rode to Nersac and its small supermarket them on to the sports superstore Decathlon where Gill was very interested in the clothes, then finally the hypermarket named Auchan for a really big store.

We were rather lucky with our timing because there was a torrential rain downpour whilst we were in Auchan, coming out to flooded roads and a very dark evening. Time and weather were against us, so after pointing them in the right direction for their camp-site, I went straight back to my place.

11 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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