Leicestershire and Rutland
Cyclists' Touring Club

(founded 1897)


President's Page
CTC East Midlands Region Annual Report 2010
Technical Topics
Right to Ride
Soar Valley CTC Group
Awards Winners 2010
Written in Stone: a letter from Staffordshire
Charnwood Chatter
General Knowledge
South Leicestershire
Easy Riders
LEhomeJOGhome-An unusual End to End
Whitwick Wheels to Wainwright's Walks
A Summer in France (part 14)


Spring is just around the corner and here's hoping for some better weather. It has certainly been a very hard winter although it appears that it didn't curtail much for you hardy cyclists. Nice to see the snowdrops appearing again.

The Prize presentation is a dinner this year so l hope to see lots of you there whether an award winner or not, it promises to be a good and enjoyable evening organised by President/Secretary Ray Clay.

There are lots of interesting articles this time again so it has become a bumper edition. I hope you all enjoy reading it as I do when putting it together.

It is Charnwood Section's Diamond Jubilee so they are busy organising lots of different items including a Treasure Hunt (Lyn Dolphin) and their Anniversary Lunch (Martin Ayling), both of which promise to be good events.

Good news to hear Roland Smith is home.

Once again a special painting from Penny Clay for the cover. I am sure you will agree she has produced lots of beautiful artwork for the cover of our magazine. Once again many thanks Penny.

If I have missed your article out please don't be offended as I had lots to include and anything missed will be included next time. It is always good to receive too much copy than not enough. Nice to hear from the regular writers as well as some new ones, keep the articles coming.

Thank you all

Ivy Allen

President's Page

Ray Clay

I'm pleased to hear that Roland Smith is making remarkable steady progress after his horrendous accident when a vehicle crashed into him. Phil Allen is another member who is not in the best of health. We said a prayer for Roland and Phil at the Cyclists' Carol Service in December.

On the subject of the carol service, I think, from the feedback, that it went OK. We were lucky that it was held at all. The weather was so bad a few days beforehand that it went through my mind that it may have to be cancelled. Fortunately, the weather picked up a day or two before the event. The roads were still icy and treacherous but some brave souls arrived on their bikes. My thanks go to the readers and other helpers especially Jean and her team who provided the refreshments. Keith was extremely proud of his broth which was very popular and welcome on such a cold day. Incidentally, my apologies go to the people who had the following week in their diary. That should have been the date but it turned out that the Rector had four services on that day and requested that the date be brought forward by a week.

I was involved with the Loughborough CTC Mince Pie Run. Again, the weather wasn't kind to us. Brian Hinners and I have the job of organising the food. But what do you do when the weather is so bad? We usually expect, perhaps, 400 hungry cyclists to arrive. We came to the conclusion that a fraction of that number could be expected. So we cut down the cob order and the food from the cash and carry. In the event, I was quite surprised how many did cycle to Belton. Some food was left over which I took to the Carpenter's Arms Hostel in Loughborough. They were delighted.

The next event that I shall have to turn my mind to soon is the Beaumanor Hall camping rally. It's been going now for about 8 years so it almost runs itself. I've already received offers to lead rides and Ian Alexander has said he will put on another powerpoint slide show on the Saturday night. Last year, the bookings came in very slowly and I thought, at one stage, that the event had run its course. However, as it happened, the numbers were OK and the weather was pretty kind to us. We did use a different pub last year. Instead of a ramble to Woodhouse Eaves, we went to a not so upmarket pub in Quorn. I think we'll do that again this year.

I'm looking forward to the Birthday Rides this year in Framlingham, Suffolk. I grew up in Ipswich. I haven't been back there for years. So it will be a treat for me to revisit the area. Framlingham is a lovely spot and an ideal touring centre. I used to make several visits to the Bell and Steelyard pub in Woodbridge in my youth. Southwold and Aldburgh are picturesque seaside towns within easy reach. I'm not a hill climber, my knees are starting to struggle. So the Suffolk countryside will suit me.

The David Sulley Rides are coming up in March. I really enjoyed the event last year. I'm not sure whether I can make it this time due to some bad planning on my part - I'm leading a walk on the day before. With my level of fitness, I'm doubtful whether I can manage a walk one day and cycle the next. However, I might surprise myself!

It's a bit of a worry about the plan to sell off Forestry Commission land. There have been assurances that access will be maintained but we've heard that before! Public footpaths should be safe but cycle tracks are often on a permissive basis. Today, I signed a petition on the web opposing the sale and I hope that the powers that be will have a change of mind.

I'm looking forward to spending a week in Devon in April (assuming there isn't a petrol strike). Our daughter has recently moved to Dawlish with her family. We shall be taking our bikes for some leisurely rides. I'm told that the railway is a must to visit. If we have trouble with our bikes, we can always take them for a repair to the Braking Wind cycle shop!


Soar Valley CTC Group Information

A New Soar Valley informal CTC cycle group was formed in January and comes under the Loughborough Section CTC. We are listed separately from Loughborough on the national and local websites.

The group meets on Sundays, starting either at the Three Crown/Cotes Road, Barrow upon Soar or The Cross at Rothley with odd ride starting at Quorn. All rides meet at 9.00am for a 9.15am start at the chosen start point. Rides go in all directions of the compass with a coffee stop at 11.00am along the route. Lunch is at 1.00pm usually at a pub where we buy sandwiches, baguettes etc.

In the winter the ride is around 1 to1.5 hours back home. In the summer the rides are longer. You don't have to ride all day you can join us just to the coffee stop before returning back on your own. The Group also organise Car assisted rides to explore new territory usually within a 45 minute drive.

One mini tour is also organised along with 2 weekends away.

The Runs list WILL NOT appear in the Cycle Chat at the moment as we're only planning four weeks at a time. For further information please visit the Leicestershire and Rutland website www.ctclr.org.uk and click onto the Soar Valley group on the left hand side of the home page for the latest information Or telephone Dave Roche on 01509 560859.

The runs page will be updated with the latest information every week.

Dave Roche

Awards Winners 2010

Photographic Competition (Prints)

Pictorial (Smith Trophy) Ron Johnson, 2. Ron Johnson, 3. John Allen
Clublife (Alan Haywood Rosebowl) Dave Ottey, 2. John Allen, 3. Ron Johnson
Humorous (Sue Greives Shield) John Allen, 2. John Allen, 3. John Allen
Theme Flowers (George Clowes Tray) John Allen, 2. Keith Lakin, 3. John Allen

No entries in the slides section this time.

This year the number of photographs was around 150. The judge was Mr Keith Pare of Whitwick who was impressed with the quality of entries.
Keith Lakin

Cycle Chat Magazine - Best Article (The Domant Trophy) John Allen
"Whitwick Wheels to Wainwrights Walks"
Freewheel winner (The Charnwood Salver) Stuart Jones
Youngest solo rider in 50 miles (Joe Upton Cup) Robert Watson
Family (Bull Family Shield) The Jones, 2. The Staples, 3. The Smiths
Highest placed county rider in
National CTC Tourist Competition
(CTC Trophy) Stuart Jones
Special award
- Highest placed Junior girl in above
(Jubilee Cup) Heather Jones (for second year)
Events medals of Gold, Silver and Bronze none awarded this year
Best All Rounder - Judged on 48 Sundays and Saturday
throughout the year,
local group rides, county CTC events,
Audax and national CTC tourist competition
Junior BAR (Kibworth Cup) Heather Jones
Ladies BAR (Ladies Cup) Betty Naylor
Overall BAR (The Open Road Trophy) Alan Hartshorne
Hames Awardto a lady for services to the county CTC
Bill Seager TrophyClubperson of 2010

Heather Jones of Castle Donington has won the Brooks Trophy for the second successive year as leading Junior girl in the National CTC Tourist Competition (formerly DATC).


Right to Ride

Reluctantly due to continued illness Phil Allen of Whitwick has had to resign as the CTC's "Right to Ride" officer for N W Leicester after many, many years.

He has received a very well deserved sincere thank you letter from CTC HQ for his efforts - so here's one from us.

Fortunately we have an able successor in Martin Ayling - thanks Martin.

We are sure Charnwood CTC members will be as supportive to Martin as they have been to Phil over all those years - thanks again Phil, your work in this area is greatly appreciated.

Whilst we are on the subject, thanks also to Roger Hill of Mountsorrel for taking on the role as County CTC Rights Officer/Co-ordinator at the AGM. Thanks also go to Andy Tokeley for his work as the "postbox" whilst we didn't have a Right to Ride county co-ordinator.


Technical Topics

by Peter Witting

"The Computer Says No!"

Do you recall the Little Britain TV sketch where the customer’s enquiry is met with the above phrase from the shop assistant? That’s what I got when I tried to buy a Jim Blackburn frame-fit pump. I wanted the Extra-Small size to fit my compact frame. I’d seen it on their website when I checked which of the 4 sizes I ’d need. But the UK distributors, Madison Cycles, had decided to import only 3 sizes and ignore the pump needed for compact frames. So no one in the UK could supply it. I contacted Blackburn who suggested a USA online dealer. The price from the States including shipping was no more expensive than UK retail prices - an interesting lesson!

Increasing the Tension

A loud crack from the nether regions worried me as I descended Gumley Hill, shortly followed by a tinkling sound as fractured metal hit the tarmac. It was the tension bolt from my Brooks BI7 titanium saddle. I made it home riding on the cantle plate at the back of the saddle. I contacted Tony Colegrave at Northiam in East Sussex. He’s the expert repairer for leather saddles -· just Google the name for contact details from the CTC Forum (Well House, Hastings Road, Northiam, Rye, TN31 6HY email tony_colegrave@hotmail.com). He was able to send me a new bolt for a very reasonable price. Although the saddle rails and cantle plate are titanium, the bolt surprisingly is steel. It seems likely that the titanium saddles need to be kept a bit tighter to minimise the risk of the bolt fracturing. That’s because the greater flexion in the titanium rails, compared to heavier steel rails, puts more bending stresses on the tension bolt. It was fairly straightforward to tilt the new bolt on the BI7 titanium. For other models you might want to send the whole saddle to Tony Colegrave to avoid the other kind of stress!

Lawyers Lips

If you’ve flicked the quick-release lever on your front wheel and cursed when it didn’t quick-release, then it’s because of the "Lawyers’ Lips”. The front drop outs on bikes that might be sold in the USA have a lip to retain the wheel even if the QR lever is opened. That’s due to the USA Product Liability Laws: Because some USA folk bought bikes and didn’t understand the QR concept , they were getting hurt and resorting to lawyers to sue. Hence the term "Lawyers’ Lips”. So why don’t riders in the Tour de France have this problem? It’s because their bikes have had the retaining lips filed off, so the QR works as intended. I’ve just had to do that on my new Van Nicholas frame. The carbon forks have light metal ends making it an easy job.

Retina Ripper

Have you ever wanted a rear light bright enough to be noticed at a distance by motorists in daylight? With the latest LEDs, that is becoming possible without the need for massive battery power. In the Dec-Jan edition of Cycle, the CTC’s magazine, Chris Juden reviewed the Light & Motion VISISO rear light. He claimed it outshone the foglights on his car! For details read his review. As a rear light, it is very expensive at around £90, but as a lifesaver to protect from being hit from behind, it seems a reasonable investment! When set at maximum output at night, cars move well out to the offside to overtake - but there are lower settings for bunch riding!


Written in Stone: a letter from Staffordshire

by Peter Hopkins

I always look forward to the arrival of Cycle Chat, which pops through our letterbox every quarter. It keeps me in touch with what is going on in the area where I lived and cycled for almost 50 years. Even before I open it, Penny's front covers alone are always a delight with their atmospheric feel for cycling. Having also seen her cards and other work, Pauline and I feel that we can now immediately recognise Penny's distinctive style.

"A bit of nostalgia never goes amiss" wrote Eric Neal in last Autumn's issue, and it was indeed nostalgia which hooked me on to John Allen's series Whitwick Wheels to Wainwright's Walks. Starting his account of his first lengthy tour, John refers to his prized new Vox Populi, and this name rang a bell - a bicycle bell - which I had not heard for well over half a century! I was instantly transported back to my own early cycling days.

In terms of age, I come somewhere between Phil and John. Most teenagers of our generation, if they were lucky enough to acquire a new bike, seemed to go for one of three rival models, all costing around "11 to "15. These were the Raleigh Lenton (which was by far the most common), the Phillips Vox Populi

From Cycle Chat Photos
(John's pride & joy) and (in my case) the Hercules Kestrel, acquired sometime in 1950. Of course, they were all mass-produced and, unfortunately for those of us really getting "into" cycling, featured far too much chrome-plated steel - handlebars & stems, rims, hubs, cranks, pedals, seatpin. There was not so much as a square inch of the alloy which characterised real clubmen's lightweight bikes! Chrome positively shouted "heavy steel" to the knowledgeable observer!

At that time, of course, Raleigh, Phillips and Hercules were all independent companies, though later Raleigh was to swallow most of its former competitors. The Lentons were always green and usually had a Sturmey Archer hub gear, as SA was already part of the Raleigh empire.

The Vox Populi had one distinguishing feature which, for me, set it apart from its rivals: hooded brake levers. Although they weren't alloy, like the GB brakes we all longed for, at least they enabled the rider to hook his thumbs comfortably over the levers. (Lenton and Kestrel unhooded levers were the same as those on flat-barred roadster bikes. They were not designed to accommodate the thumb, and also curved outwards - the wrong way for gripping on dropped handlebars!)

All Kestrels were a gold/bronze colour and mine had a 3-speed mech called the "Herailleur" (i.e. a derailleur gear made by Hercules. Geddit ? Clever stuff, this!) At the top of the seat tube, a small transfer boasted "Reynolds 531 frame tubes". The wording misled me. I already knew about the famous 531 but was then too young and inexperienced to realise that on the budget-priced Kestrel it was plain gauge 531 tubing, not butted, and that it applied only to the three main tubes - NOT to the forks and stays..

But that Hercules was my first "proper" bike and it gave me many years of real cycling pleasure, including my early Youth Hostel trips between 1951 and 1956.

John's memorable 1957 Lakes fortnight on his Vox Pop also brought back memories. I had a 5-day tour there (on my Kestrel) in August 1953 with a schoolmate who lived a few doors away. We set off from home on the Wirral and I think we cycled through the Mersey Tunnel to Liverpool - which was certainly still allowed in those days. I had already been hostelling for a couple of years, but it was Gary's first trip away from home and his mother privately urged me to "see that he washes behind his ears!" As the poor lad was only about a year younger, I was too embarrassed even to mention this request to him, let alone carry it out!

Honister YH also rang a bell. I've only stayed there once in my life, and it was less than a year after John - April 1958. This time I was not cycling, but fell-walking and introducing my dad to hostelling (he was not a cyclist). It was probably the same warden as on John's visit. I think his name was Jack Lonsdale, and we got to know him quite well that night as my dad and I were the only hostellers there. He told us that he had formerly been warden of Black Sail YH. As this remote hostel could not (and still cannot) be reached by road, he had at that time used his motorbike to get himself to the top of the Honister Pass, carrying the provisions for hostellers' meals in a rucksack which he then had to hump on his back across the fells. This must have been over Fleetwith or Grey Knotts. A tough nut!

Then there were John's references to the Allen Primus stove for roadside "drumming up", as it used to be called. Another link! It so happens that 1957 was the year I acquired my first Primus. It was the tiny half-pint model and came as a birthday gift from an aunt, who was probably a little surprised that it was what I requested. I had been impressed earlier that year when a friend in Port Sunlight Wheelers drummed up for us somewhere in North Wales. With a Primus, you were independent of caf"s and could enjoy a fresh brew in the remotest of places: wonderful! Later, when Margaret and I started cycle-camping, I bought the larger 1 pint size as well. I even have the Terry's frame clips to attach them to my bikes, acquired in the late 1960s by advertising in the CTC mag (a request to Terry's revealed that they had ceased making them in 1957) I used to love - and in fact still love - assembling and tinkering with these dinky, efficient little pressure stoves. It was an enthusiasm about which Margaret was very tolerant, even though she herself had used the simpler Camping Gaz in her own climbing/camping days before we met. For me the difference between Primus stove and Camping Gaz was a bit like that between steam engines and diesel! (I still have both stoves and they still work, as far as I know. Spares, however, can no longer be picked up at local hardware stores, as Phil did in 1957. If available, they can be found only in one or two specialist dealers and are very expensive.)

But I'm wandering (it's an age thing!)

Although John's articles set these memories going, there were several features of that Charnwood tour which I cannot match, and which I view with a kind of retrospective envy! No doubt it had much to do with Phil's experience and organising foresight, but they managed to cram so much variety into their tour. There was rowing on Coniston Water, a demanding 'rough stuff' trek via Black Sail & Scarth Gap, climbing the Langdale Pikes, meeting the legendary Stan Mortenson, visiting Blackpool Tower, watching the then youthful Morecambe & Wise (live!) It wasn't just a matter of cycling from place to place and admiring the countryside on the way. Wonderful!

Thank you, John, for re-living that tour and triggering my own memories. I suppose the downside is that it also reminds me How Time Flies when I reflect that this year is the Diamond Jubilee of my first YH bednight - at Ilam Hall in April 1951.


Leicester Easy Riders

with Rose Holman

Twenty one of our members, their wives and partners, enjoyed a splendid Christmas Lunch at the Steam Trumpet in Thornton at the end of November, with everyone winning raffle prizes.

Considering the inclement weather lately, most of our rides have been completed without any broken bones etc.

Dave has been extravagant and bought a helmet, though he is still going to wear his cap underneath. If they made them so that woolly hats could be worn underneath I would invest in one myself!

Dave Smith has completed the most rides for 2009/10 with 34 rides in all, I was second with Nancy third.

We wish Jim Gerrard a happy belated 65th birthday and hope to see him out a bit more on Sundays now that he has reached retiring age.

Alan has decided to relinquish the librarians position after many years. We all thank him for doing an excellent job.



Lyn Dolphin

The last quarter certainly took its toll on the December runs, with three out of the four Sundays being too cold, icy and in some cases snowy, for the run to venture out. However those runs that avoided this weather were well attended and aimed for those public houses which still welcome cyclists.

Back in October we started with my lead, and a visit to the Wetherspoons pub in Derby for our 11's and then onto Tutbury, via the cycle track along the old railway bed between Mickleover and Hilton. The Railway at Tutbury (or it may be Hatton as it is "the other side of the tracks") is always welcoming and let us enjoy our sandwiches alongside their ale.

A week later Martin A took us to Cheney Wharf, where we arrived quite early only to be met by Mick as we were about to leave. After climbing the hill out of Atherstone up to Baxterley we went on to Kingsbury. Here we visited a pub with a rather strange atmosphere, little beer, fewer people and a WMC across the road doing a roaring trade. Not 100% sure we will be revisiting this one, but if you don't try you don't know.

At the end of October Martin B led the run out to Fradley on a lovely sunny day. Many cyclists were here, and lulled into a false sense of security by the sun, we opted to sit outside. It didn't take long to decide that it was likely to be the last time we sat outside this year (and in fact, as Richard pointed out, we shouldn't have done this time), so we set off to Whittington. Here again, whilst we don't visit often, we were made to feel welcome.

Joe then took us to Burton Bridge Brewery and a week later Pete took us to Barton Green, both pubs providing splendid hospitality, especially now the weather was dropping colder. Finally, just before Christmas and between the snow, Keith brought along his landlord Nick, and we went to Willington Marina (a lovely cafe getting more and more popular with cyclists each time we go) and to Aston on Trent where the dog decided if we were eating he wanted a piece to!

Finally, just before Christmas we received the good news that Roland had been allowed home permanently. Whilst it is unlikely that he will ever cycle again he is progressing well with his physio and is in good spirits.

From a personal perspective I would just like to say how lucky he is to have Margaret, who has been there by his side every day whilst he was in hospital, and who is now adapting his surroundings to ensure that he continues to improve as much as he can.


Charnwood Chatter

with Brenda Ottey

Sadly attendances have been down on the easyriders runs at the end of last year due to heavy snow falls and severe frosts, we were all taken by surprise at the severity of the weather.

Not many of our group were able to attend the carol service but those that did enjoyed a bowl of soup supplied by Jean and Keith Lakin. The service afterwards was very nice with Ray Clay leading some of the prayers.

Whilst the weather was so bad some of the members got together and enjoyed walks in their local area.

The mince pie ride went ahead with members from further afield using the main roads although Pearl and Soo both cycled there.

One of the most enjoyable rides was in late October when Soo led us from Belton along the cycle trail and round the back of the airport to jokes about being on the radar etc (the week after there was a major incident at the airport). We continued on into Castle Donington along a track and into Hemington where we went to a fisherman's café. As there had been a big match on all the teacakes had gone but they were able to rustle up a very nice bacon sandwich, and of course a large mug of tea.

Leaving the café we made our way to the A50 island and on towards Sawley. We then found a much improved track on the canal bank past Cranford Lock to Attenborough nature reserve and then after crossing the railway track we visited the Railway pub and were able to sit outside in the sunshine for our lunch. We then cycled onto the Nut Brook Trail to Trent Lock back past Sawley Marina and up Long Lane to Kegworth. As we crossed over the motorway bridge there was a minor clash of wheel and this resulted in a few bruises and bent mudguards. A very nice if eventful day.

The first ride of the New Year is often a problem as the coffee stops are not always open. This proved to be the case at Shortheath but we managed to get some coffee at Conkers Youth Hostel. The ride had not got off to the best of starts as I had a puncture as soon as we set off, but Howard, instructed by three lady riders, soon mended it. We met up with the Generals at Lullington for lunch so we caught up on the news from their group.

The next week was a Heather start so we went over to see Mary at her invitation for coffee. She is progressing well after her knee surgery. We went to Warton for lunch and were made very welcome in a pub we had not been to before.

On our first Wednesday ride the weather was not good and my eldest grand daughter was with us so we only went as far as Shortheath.

The week after we decided, as it was sunny, to go to the Arboreatum for lunch so this gave us an excuse to do a few more miles.

Plans are well on the way and maps are being bought for the Easter Tour of the Delamare Forest. This is being organised by Lyn and with Easter being late we are hoping for some hot sun so that we can wear our shorts.


CTC East Midlands Region Annual Report 2010

The region - division ‘E’ of the CTC national council has now been established ten years following the unanimous decision at the CTC National A.G.M. in Coventry back in 1999. "That CTC division boundaries be re-aligned with the regions of the country."

We are unique however in that we are the only English Region to have a committee, organise events, hold an annual meeting and indeed to have a constitution. Due to membership numbers we are only entitled to one National Councillor representing the region and since our inception, that councillor (we have had three) has been very much part of the committee, keeping us updated on National CTC issues.

2010 was the first year on council for John Catt of Loughborough and his predecessors John Cutler of Northants and myself are still very much part of the “tearn".

Two CTC “Cycling Champions" Elizabeth Barner (Leicester) and Amanda Salt (Derby) have done great work with community groups and have also worked with local CTC groups.

Most of the committee have completed ten years as part of the team, yet somehow they still carry out sterling work as officials at both County and local level.

The previous year (2009) the region organised the CTC Birthday Rides in Northants led by Max Scott and this year another two national CTC events were held in the region with the AGM and Dinner being held in Loughborough University in May thanks to Loughborough members and our secretary Ray Clay along with councillor John Catt.

Our own regional events have once again been the camping rally at Beaumanor Hall (Spring Bank holiday weekend) organised by Ray Clay and the “Forests of the Region” Audax/UK 200K in September organised by lan Hill - both these stalwarts have organised these events for eight consecutive years and the proceeds go a long way to ensuring our financial stability.

Once again during the year Jonathan Challis (Notts) organised a “Rent a Hostel” weekend this time at Woodys Top — enjoyed by all who took part.

John Cutler has again been our regional "link" on the Right to Ride front including those LTP 3’s but government cut backs have caused some highway projects we have been consulted on to be "shelved".

Special mention here to Roger Codling (Notts) for his efforts on cyclists behalf with the A46 improvement consultations.

Council cutbacks have led to funding withdrawal from the long established Nottinghamshire "Rural Rides" programme and we agreed to make a grant ourselves to “Roadwise" who are taking the “Rura1 Rides" on board.

Terry Scott (Nottinghamshire CTC secretary) has maintained and updated our website which is linked to other CTC group websites across the region.

Keith and Jean Lakin have represented us at National Forest meetings and we are also represented on other organisations such as EMTAR (East Midland Transport Activists Road Table) - John Cutler, CPRE, EMA, East Midlands Cycling Forum, YHA and British Waterways.

There have been many changes to the CTC during the past ten years and no doubt there will be others forthcoming.

Thanks to all the team for their support, efforts and dedication, it really is greatly appreciated.

On a iinal note, do we still need a CTC East Midlands Region committee whilst other English regions apparently do not — food for thought!

Thanks again.

John Allen
Chairman 2000 - 2010 Contents

South Leicestershire Report

South Leicestershire The prolonged period of very cold weather during December kept some people off their bikes for a while. On the last Sunday before Christmas our group agreed to go for walk on the Sunday morning rather than risk our limbs on bikes. It was a cold bright morning when we met for mince pies in the car park of the Queens Arms in Leire. We headed along the old railway towards Ullesthorpe before returning to Leire over the fields. It was ideal walking weather with the snow frozen hard under foot, a clear sky and hardly any wind. Coffee and cake were taken at Neil’s house -— we’re a cycling group, we’d have withdrawal symptoms without coffee and cake.

The section Christmas meal was held at a different venue this year. We strayed over the border into Warwickshire. The meal at the Denbigh Arms at Monk’s Kirby was very well attended. All the essenti al ingredients for an excellent night out were there, good food, good beer and the company of good friends.

The New Year meal at Sibbertoft filled the Reading Rooms as usual and raised money to support the local church. Riders were there from many of the cycling groups in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. The team providing the lunch had a new leader this year as Mrs Burton had decided to hand over to someone younger. We took a moment to remember Peggy, one of the stalwarts in the Reading Room team, who had passed away during the year.

Neil Dixon and Gill Lord went to the Veterans dinner at Long Eaton so that Neil could collect his plaque for achieving his time trial age standard at 10, 25, 50 and 100 miles. Congratulation - Neil. The same weekend Jayne, Shane, Fergal and I met Gill Stocks on the road between Monks Kirby and Pailton. We had let Gill know that we would be at Church Lawford for coffee and meeting on the road was just fortuitous. When we arrived at Wyevale we recognised Peter Witting’s bike outside but there were two other unfamiliar machines. They turned out to belong to Alan & Claire Parfrey from Pailton. Claire is keen to improve here time trial performance this year and has been spending time on the Watt bikes at Lutterworth Cycle Centre. These are a sophisticated form of indoor training bike, which monitor a range of performance metrics including power produced as well as speed. Peter, Shane, Fergal and I rode on to the Shoulder of Mutton at Grandborough for lunch, via Lawford Heath, Bourton on Dunsmore and Birdingbury. We were joined from Lawford Heath to Grandborough Fields by a lone member of Rugby RCC out for a training ride.

This Sunday it was the Welland Valley CCs reliability ride from Lubenham Village Hall organised by George Barnett. Our group met at Broughton Astley as normal. We were joined for a second time by Phil from Hinckley but holidays and illness reduced the regulars down to Gill Lord, Alan Hartshorn, Jayne Davis and myself. Neil had ridden direct to Lubenham to ride the event. The rest of us headed over towards Lubenham to show our support by drinking coffee and eating excellent chocolate biscuit cake. We rode through Willoughby Waterleys before seeing the first of several groups of riders on the event going in the opposite direction. It looked like a good turn out for the event. Phil turned for home before we got to Lubenham to return through Laughton and Mowsley as he is just building up his mileage and knowledge of the area. Alan headed for home after coffee while Neil, Gill, Jayne and I headed up the hill to Sibbertoft to lunch at the Red Lion.

The weather seems to have settled into more normal British winter weather which has encouraged Jayne and I to cycle to work recently. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ve seen off the worst of winter


Whitwick Wheels to Wainrights Walks Part Five

by John Allen

In parts one, two, three, four , five, and six, 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 to the Lake District - and Wainwright's Walks.

In the previous episodes 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 August 1957 to the Lake District. The last couple of days of the holiday for part of the group anyway were spent in Blackpool (thanks mainly to John’s influence in twisting big brothers arm).

Alter our theatre visit the previous evening, Friday morning dawned on Blackpool still overcast but at least it wasn’t raining. The wind had eventually dropped and the Irish sea was calm.

We cleaned and oiled our bikes, fitted the saddlebags once again and after breakfast at our CTC handbook listed B & B on the South Shore ,we went for a spin.

Crossing tram lines without incident we headed out to the magnificent Stanley Park for a short visit and then on into "The Fylde" where seemingly every village had a café complete with cycles parked outside.

Elswick, I think it was - also in Phil’s well worn CTC handbook - where we had lunch, simple cyclists fare, at very reasonable cost - important this as funds were now low!

I remember, however, that I was very subdued that day, just turned seventeen, not only that the end of our holiday adventure was nearly upon us but the dreaded City and Guilds exam results in a brown envelope would be waiting for me behind the clock on the mantle piece at home.

I don’t know who I would be the most scared of my dad or Mr Griffiths, the works manager at Pegson Engineering works in Coalville who would have an audience with each apprentice the first week back to "discuss" the exam results and the lads future with the company.

"Must get back to Blackpool Station before 5 o’clock to pick up our tickets for the train home tomorrow", said Phil and so we did.

We were never out of sight of the tower, not surprisingly as on a clear day you can see it these days from the M6 motorway near Leyland.

Ridi ng through the busy streets was not a problem, also occupied by trams, buses, delivery vehicles and cars, there seemed to be a mutual respect and empathy for each other - that was l957!

This of course was forty years or so before the Internet but Phil’s resourcefulness and a letter and stamp (plus SAE for confirmation) had ensured reservations on the train.

Blackpool Central Station was a busy many platform terminus station in the shadow (when the sun is out) of the famous tower, where locomotive classes such as "Jubilees", "Royal Scots", "Patriots", "Black .Fives", “‘Compounds", 2p`s and others could be seen arriving and departing with loaded trains.

This provided me with a pleasant interlude whilst Phil and Barry collected the tickets all duly ready for collection.

Blackpool Central is no more, succumbing to the Beeching cuts of the l960’s, as it occupied a vast area of prime real estate adjacent to the Golden Mile, I suppose that this was inevitable. There is one bit left however, the public toilet block which is still patronised!

Part of the Blackpool end of the M55 motorway follows the extinct route and if you come into Blackpool you can follow the road with adjacent car and coach parks now built over the old track bed.

There is another large terminus station in Blackpool, "Blackpool North" - the other side of the tower but away from the front - another reason why the Central Station is no more.

For railway buffs, this is one of the last stations in the country to have the old semaphore signalling (arms on the top of posts).

Our last night in Blackpool back in 1957 was spent accompanying Phil with his 8mm movie camera - "Best results before it gets really dark" — the lights were marvellous, even before the famous Autumn llluminations were switched on.

Our train departed about 10. 00 am the following morning (plenty of space in the brake van again) and Phil was leaning out of the window "panning" with his camera covering the tower and the Central Station as we pulled out of the station hauled by a grimy “Black Five" with its train of corridor coaches on this summer Saturday only service to Burton-on—Trent — no changing trains this time.

This was a holiday stopping train and after arriving in Burton we cycled home by the "scenic" route by way of Swadlincote, Woodville and Ashby where Barry left us to cycle to Ellistown.

We arrived in Whitwick Market Place to turn down Vicarage Street past the City of Dan (and Stanley’s chip shop) before climbing up the long steep Leicester Road, which posed no problem compared with the passes of the Lake District and right onto our council estate and along St Bernards Road.

It was good to be home again but that dreaded brown envelope would be waiting — would 1 be shot or sacked next week — I made some mistakes in the exam back in June and these were now compounded in my brain.

As always Mum had been looking out for us from the window and that always wonderful welcome home transcended anything else — but Dad was in his armchair by the coal fire smoking his obligatory "woodbine" and the brown envelope was sticking out from behind the clock on the mantle piece.

“‘Aren’t you going to open it" he said, so 1 opened it under his watchful eyes - l had passed! despite my lingering doubts - I could relax again.

After tea — or rather one of Mum’s special dirmers — we watched a couple of Phil’s films — he had posted these on to Kodak for processing whilst we were still on holiday and two had arrived back home.

So with the old projector whirring away, the moving scenes of our holiday on the bedroom wall brought back these very recent memories of my first "big" cycling holiday.Phil later bought a screen and his productions were enjoyed on many clubroom evenings.

Did we have a leisurely day off the bikes the following day - Sunday'? Not a bit of it. The traditional Sunday ride for Charnwood CTC after the "August Fortnight" was a ride to Wollaton Park, Nottingham.

Coalville and Ashby area members met up at the Bondgate Café, Castle Donington for a brew before moving off en-masse via Long Eaton and Beeston to Wollaton Park were we exchanged tales of our adventures on various holiday tours.

The following week I did make the long ascent up the stairs to Mr Griffiths office and he welcomed me with a smile and a hand shake. "Good morning Allen and well done!" so all was alright with the world — for the time being anyway!

In future editions of Cycle Chat I will endeavour to cover our Charnwood CTC 1958 tour of the Isle of Wight and New Forest, our 1959 tour of Scotland and our 1960 tour of Devon and Cornwall. All recorded on Phil’s movie camera, the later two with overnight trains to Edinburgh and Exeter direct from Leicester, London Road Station.

John Allen



- 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
Part 12
Part 13

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. He has been joined by friends Gil Lord and Bernard Bailey on holiday from England. His story continues..

Sunday July 29

As usual, I went out with the local club, but this time there were two crashes, fortunately neither of which involved me.

The first was a silly one. The French cannot just say"Bonjour" (hello), they have to shake hands, and the fact that you are both riding bikes at the same time doesn't stop this. Most riders adopt the common sense approach of offering the hand nearest, which means your left hand if you are riding on the right. Unfortunately common sense is not as common as it should be, and in this instance the rider on the right used his right hand, thus crossing his hands across his body. I watched from a few yards back as he first started leaning into his companion, who was having none of it and managed to retain balance, before he slowly toppled to the right and into the grass ditch at the side of the road. He wasn't hurt, but was embarrassed.

The second was more serious and occurred after the group had split into two."Chico" who I had nicknamed the"Pocket Rocket" due to his small size and sprinting ability, touched the rear wheel of another rider. Chico fell off, buckling his front wheel and hurting his hand, but also breaking the rear gear of the rider he had collided with. The wheel was rideable, but the broken gear was a problem. Had it been me and my bike I would have simply removed the gear, shortened the chain and carried on, but the rider rang his wife to come out and collect him in the car.

Shortly afterwards we went up one of the few climbs in the area worthy of the name, and it is always a race to the top. As I had previously found out, the longer climbs don't suit the locals who like to just sprint up the short hills. Normally that's OK as the hill ends before the lactic acid in your muscles builds and you have to ease off, but longer ones need a different approach.

The last time I had been up this particular hill I simply rode away from everyone, but these chaps were fitter, so I wasn't sure what would happen. At about a mile in length, it's too far to sprint up and one guy was already a few lengths ahead as we hit the bottom and settled in for the climb.

I settled into a pace I knew I could hold without distress and soon realised the rest couldn't follow me, so it was just me and the lead rider. Before too long I caught him and went by, but he raised his pace and tucked in behind me. I just held my pace for a while to see what would happen. He came past me again, trying to go too fast for me to get on his wheel, but I managed to get on and followed him for a while. I then made the mistake of trying to go past him again, but at that point I was on my limit, so failed. However, he also was on his limit and neither could drop the other, so when we reached the top, were effectively side by side, but both in pain. We looked at each other, grinned and shook hands.

69 mile

Monday July 30

I washed some of the client's bikes and my own before lunch, and then went for a short ride along the River Charente, stopping at one point to watch some lads swinging out over the river on a rope and occasionally falling off into the river. I remember thinking to myself how unthreatening they were, unlike in the UK where any group of young men has an air of menace about them, or is it just me? On my way back I called into the campsite, but no-one was there. I returned later after I had eaten my dinner and we all spent the evening chatting.

44 miles

Tuesday July 31

Today promised to be a nice day, sunny and warm but with enough breeze to keep it cool so we all rode to Cognac using the signposted cycle route along the river valley. Coffee was taken in a pleasant bar beside the park in Jarnac, and lunch at Cognac. The last time I had been to Cognac I had seen a little restaurant bar just outside the main centre and with tables outside under the trees, so suggested we went there. It met with their approval, but unfortunately all the outside tables were taken, but our meal inside was still good.

After a short walk around the tourist areas, we returned via the southerly route through Chateaubernard (where Bernard boasted it was named after him!) and Segonzac. Later that evening, the local Mayor held a"Soiree" (welcome evening) at the campsite for the campers, but by that time I was back home eating my evening meal having had a nice day.

63 miles

Wednesday August 1

I lay in for a while as I was feeling tired, but having eventually emerged was pleasantly surprised to find how warm the day was from the start, becoming hot and sunny all day. With 10 holidaymakers due to arrive next week, I needed to make a start on getting their bikes ready so went into the workshop for a while.

For the first time this summer it was warm enough to take my tee shirt off when working at the workshop.

After a light lunch I went on the usual Wednesday clubrun, which was a very warm affair in the sunshine. At some point there was a shout and we all stopped as someone had a mechanical problem.

I have no idea how it could have happened, but his front brake had worked loose and only the cable, which was still attached, had prevented it from falling off altogether! On inspection, the nut holding the brake in place had dropped off. I suggested taking the nut from the rear brake, which is not as effective a brake anyway, and would still stay in place due to the forces acting on it but I was ignored and having tied the front brake up out of the way, he simply carried on regardless with just a back brake!

In the evening I met my four friends in a nearby restaurant and we enjoyed a very good meal together.

65 miles

Thursday August 2

Today was the last full day in the area for Gil, Bernard, Roger & Sylvia and we had arranged to go into Angouleme so that they could see the City.

It was a warm and sunny day and by the time we all got up the hill that leads up past the Ramparts, we were all a bit hot and sticky. Not having left very early, it made sense to have lunch first then have a wander around.

Angouleme is one of the few places hereabouts where there is a good choice of restaurants where you can sit outside and we chose one right in the centre. We then spent an interesting couple of hours walking around before freewheeling back down the hill for home.

We split up halfway back, which meant I could do a bit of shopping on the way home. Later on I went down to the campsite for a few drinks and nibbles before bidding them all farewell as tomorrow they were moving on to the big cycling rally at Perigueux some 50-60 miles south. I felt a bit sad at losing their company as it had meant a lot to me that they had come out of their way to see me.

24 miles

Friday August 3

An easy day for a change, spent on domestic duties and completing the last of 10 bikes ready for next week's rush.

I wanted to get a haircut, but have always resented the time and money spent in barbers' shops, so repeated my earlier efforts and cut my own hair with my beard trimmer set at a long setting, and was pleased with the results. Being much warmer now, I simply sat outside in the grounds and cut away, letting the hair simply be blown away, stopping now and then to check on my progress in the mirror. Perhaps it would win no prizes in a contest, but it was now short, neat and would take no time at all to dry after a shower.

After eating in the kitchen with the staff (steak and chips!) I wandered back to my accommodation, only to notice some hot air balloons taking off in a rally over Angouleme so stopped to watch as a total of 42 of them rose over the city. I was a bit surprised at how low they were flying, but assumed this was because they had been told to do so, but later found out that due to very warm air on this hot day they were in fact having problems gaining any height, and one actually ended up tangled in trees with the local fire brigade being summoned to go and rescue them!

Hot air balloons need a big difference in air temperature between the inside of the balloon and the surrounding air, so the hotter the day, the more they struggle, that's why they always fly so well in mountain areas where the air is always very cool.

2 miles

Saturday August 4

After the usual cool start to the day, the day became hot and sunny all day.

The most southerly hotel in my area was at Bourdeilles, on the River Dronne, and I wanted to go there for my lunch, so set off at a reasonable time. After a rather boring route through open and gently undulating countryside I got to la Tour Blanche which was just over halfway, and there I stopped for a Coke in a café.

The"Tour Blanche" (White Tower) which gives its name to this little town (village really) is just a large house, not even a Chateau, in which is a small museum, but very nice for all that. The town was pleasant, and the café even had some tables and chairs outside.

The scenery then improved as I approached the Perigord area, which is actually a National Park a little further to the north east. A little climb over a wooded hill and a short drop down to the river valley and I was at Bourdeilles. I was enchanted. The setting was lovely, with a narrow and ancient bridge over the clear river, complete with paddling children in the warm sunshine. I was pleased to note my restaurant was literally at the end of the bridge, but didn't rush in as I wanted to cool down and enjoy the place a little.

The river is bordered to the south by overhanging limestone rock faces, immediately below which is the quiet road. I had a lovely lunch in the 3 star Hostellerie des Griffons and could see why Susi had chosen it in her brochure, but couldn't understand why no-one had gone there. It was no doubt that it was a bit far and into a hillier area, but they don't know what they're missing.

I had to let my dinner go down before setting off again, so strolled around for a short while but chose not to go into what looked like a very interesting Chateau.

I then went on with my ride, following the"Tourist Route" by the river to Brantome. I had stumbled on Brantome in 2001 when I was cycle camping in the area. It was just as lovely as I remembered it from then, and I can honestly say it's the best place I had been to this year. The river wanders through the small town which has a Chateau, Monastery and delightful cafes and restaurants to keep the eye and palette entertained. The clear water allowed the many fish to be clearly seen.

Leaning against a wall was a lightweight bike with mudguards and some luggage and sporting a badge proclaiming its makers as"Mercian Cycles of Derby" - the same as mine. I knew this had to be an English cyclist, so when I saw it being wheeled away later I spoke to the owner. He was indeed from Derby and with his friend from Burton on Trent was in the area for the large"Semaine Federale" cycling rally. I asked them to say"Hello" to Bernard Bailey at the Rally for me as they knew him.

By now the time was getting on and it was also getting very hot, so instead of heading back into the lanes and having to keep stopping to read the map, thought I would try the D939, which would be an easier route to follow and also easier gradients. In fact it was also the route the Tour de France had taken on its way into Angouleme a week or so ago. I was concerned it might be unpleasantly busy, which it would have been had I been travelling south as what seemed like the whole of France headed southwards for their holidays, but my northbound side was almost deserted.

By the time I got to Mareuil I was getting a bit bored - the road was just too flat and straight to be enjoyable on a bike and although I was making good progress, I wanted to go into the lanes again, so struck off onto a side road. I got a bit lost on outskirts of Rochebeaucourt, so when I eventually arrived in the village centre stopped for a Coke in a bar.

A few weeks earlier on one of the clubruns, we had passed along a lane with an overhanging limestone cliff and I realised it was on my way home from here if I could find the right road. After one or two abortive attempts I found the road and stopped for some photos. I also saw something I had not seen on the earlier ride - a lump of limestone standing separated from the rest of the cliff and looking like a tooth stuck in the ground, an unusual site hereabouts.

I was home for 7.20pm having had a really great day out.

88 miles

Sunday August 5

Today was an extremely hot day, reaching well over 30 degrees in the afternoon, and it was warm even at 7.45am when I set out to join the clubrun.

I was feeling tired from the week's riding, and yesterday in particular, so went with the slower group when the clubrun headed north east of Angouleme into the forested area around la Rochefoucauld. This was an area with which I was not familiar, but realised I should return for a more leisurely look one day as it was very nice.

On the way back, my legs seemed to start working properly and when a bit of a race developed later I couldn't resist it. We had picked up a stranger on the route and he was quite strong, so when I managed to"drop" him later, it was to the great delight of my clubrun mates.

I really did feel exhausted later in the heat and lay around all afternoon in the shade of the hotel grounds.

Much to my embarrassment, I had got my days mixed up and some clients arrived when I was asleep under a tree, and Christine, the hotel owner, had to welcome them in my absence. My"punishment" turned out to be having to miss my free evening meal in the kitchen as I had to go through the welcome procedure with them later. I changed my diary system so that this would not happen again as it was pretty poor of me.

71 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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