Leicester Easy Riders
A Perfect Ride
A Royal Connection
Congratulations to the Nuneaton CTC Trio
Sponsored Church Cycle Ride
Activating the Archives
A Summer in France (part 16)
It was a very great honour for me to be elected as president of Leicestershire and Rutland Cyclists' Touring Club for a second time at the recent AGM.
The previous time I wore the chain of office included our centenary year of 1997, and what a great year that proved to be - all I can say is that I will do my very best during the two years of this term of office.
Coincidentally the honour comes during the Diamond Jubilee year of Charnwood CTC with which I have a 57year association of which I am very proud.
From the outset of my CTC membership back in 1954 I have also been involved in the “DA”, the objects of which are to bring us together and I will work to encourage that “Association”.
Thanks so much to my predecessor as president Ray Clay who has so many roles in this CTC of ours and who is easily our longest serving county CTC secretary. Thanks also Ray for your kind words in the previous edition thanking wife Ivy for her efforts in editing “Cycle Chat” in recent years in often less than ideal situations.
As president I will take up the option to be chairman to “preside” at meetings if only to give Keith Lakin a break. Thanks Keith for your efforts as chairman including the recent well attended AGM.
Thanks to everyone for making 2011 such a successful year and the programme for 2012 should ensure we continue that success.
At the AGM I proposed we hold county CTC mid-week rides and that we organise one of the national CTC Tri-ennial Veterans 100 mile ride in 2013 based at Market Bosworth once again.
Also at the AGM, we held a minute’s silence for the Leicestershire and Rutland Cyclists' Touring Club members who recently died including John Dickinson, Frank Mackey and Roy Dayman. They were all ardent supporters of the CTC and will be sorely missed.
Secretary’s report for the AGM 6th November 2011
by Ray Clay
We held the usual wide range of events again this year:
- Slide Show and photo competition: Derby’s Ian Alexander put on a powerpoint presentation for us which was a departure from the old slide show format. He showed us examples of his tours around Youth Hostels in the UK and included amusing examples of what is wrong with cycling. Keith Lakin arranged the photo competition in his usual efficient style.
- Carol service: This was held at St Leonard’s Church, Swithland. Although the weather was bitterly cold, ride riders braved the elements. Refreshments were held in Swithland Memorial and Keith’s stew was particularly welcomed.
- New Year Ride: Thanks to Gill Lord, this was again a good event with some 65 people attending.
- David Sulley Memorial Ride: 36 riders entered the event despite the weather being wet and cold. It was agreed that David Grimshaw had done a good job in organising the event
- Dinner and Prizegiving evening: This was held at a new location at the Forest Hill Golf Club. It was agreed that the dinner was very good and should be considered as a location again.
- Back to the Fuschia: John Allen arranged this event which was very well supported by riders, including the Leicester Road Club and Coalville Wheelers.
- Audax: Despite a hiccup with double booking, there was a good turnout and the last rider came in at 7.45pm
- Challenge Rides: A very popular event arranged by Peter Witting. The numbers were up probably due to wider publicity in Cycling Active.
- Off Road Challenge: The attendance was rather disappointing although it was a good day with fine weather. It was a good route around Ketton district using well defined tracks and pretty villages.
- Presidents Ride: Over 20 riders joined me on my ride. We started at Morrisons, Loughborough and rode across the Garendon Estate to Belton for coffee and then onto Newbold for lunch.
It’s sad to report the at least three of our members died this year. I got to know John Dickinson from Coalville pretty well. He was an active member of the Coalville section. A clever man, he worked his way up to be principal of the local technical college and he always made time to give helpful advice. I managed to get to his funeral along with other CTC members.
Roy Dayman was one of cycling’s characters. If you had met Roy you would remember him. Not just by his wild grey beard and matching shoulder-length hair, but by his extrovert personality and aversion to conformity. Roy was always ready to take the Mickey; but he was the first to offer advice, whether on bike maintenance, cycle routes, or pretty much anything! We will always remember his wild escapades while out cycling: Most would be unbelievable had we not been present to vouch for the truth of the story. He died following an accident helping his fellow cyclist Mark at his house in France. Roy will be sadly missed by the South Leicesters, by the Tandem Club, by the Thursday Club and by cyclists far and wide.
Frank Mackey had only just celebrated his 86th birthday when he died suddenly of heart failure when out on an InTandem ride. He was a remarkable man. He travelled all over the world and thought nothing of cycle camping from his home in Quorn through France to Santiago in Spain. He was also an experienced scuba diver.
I did manage to get to the Birthday Rides in Framlingham, Suffolk this year. It was a very enjoyable week for me, particularly being on my home territory. I came across quite a few Leics members which pleased me. I did my own thing during the week and cycled around my old haunts including a pint at the Bell and Steelyard, Woodbridge. Suffolk CTC should be congratulated on their effort. Framlingham College was an excellent base.
So Leicestershire and Rutland Cyclists' Touring Club has had another good year. Unfortunately, it’s the same few members who are willing to be involved in running the club. The committee would dearly like to involve younger members.
We are desperately looking for a new editor for Cycle Chat (or even a coordinator to take over from me). At the moment, I’m grateful to Teamprint for putting together the magazine but, surely, with 800 members in the County, there should be somebody out there willing/able to take on the editor’s job.
My thanks go to the band of members who have supported me, particularly Jean Deacon for the minute taking and Jean and Keith Lakin who are always on hand to do anything from refreshments to putting away chairs.Contents
from Brenda Ottey
Once again we found our numbers were down as some of our group were away. Being a small group two on holiday makes a big difference. Pearl and Soo went to Anglesey and toured the island and then cycled home via Chester. Alan and his wife went further a field and travelled to Poland enjoying some wonderful experiences.
Howard, Betty and Grandson Paul went on the birthday rides and enjoyed a well organised week of cycling. Soo organised a ride which included a train ride from Loughborough. We met the generals at Belton and cycled round the local area and went into Wetherspoons in Loughborough for coffee etc. before making our way to the Great Central Railway. After getting down onto the platform we were helped onto the train by willing volunteers, where we were all transported back in years to the steam age. We had a lovely train ride passing a very empty looking Swithland reservoir. The generals in the group left the train at an earlier stop to meet others in the group. Pearl, Soo and I cycled into Abby Park for lunch and then on through the back of Leicester where we saw an allotment society having an open day. We stopped and had tea with them and were made very welcome exchanging gardening tips.
We went on the cycle trail to Ratby and back home after a lovely day. We will be visiting the Arboretum at Alrewas for Remembrance Sunday, this ride is always well attended.
Whilst out on a ride at the end of September, we met Alex out on his trike. It was lovely to see him after so many weeks when he had not been able to ride. Let us all hope for a mild winter as we approach the dark nights after putting the clocks back.Contents
by Peter Witting
Two years ago I was recommending Cateye’s EL530 front lamp for touring use. Having checked the Cateye website it remains my preferred choice. The LED has been upgraded this year from 1500cd brightness to 2200cd from a 3 watt bulb, but still gives 90 hours from 4 AA disposable batteries. Cost for this waterproof light is around £50. If you wanted 4000cd brightness Cateye make the EL540 costing £80, but it only gives 6 hours light at low power and just 2 hours at high power. You can increase the burn time to 15 hours and 5 hours with NiMH rechargeables, which would be OK for daily commutes, but rechargeables are not best for touring. To my amazement it is not water resistant, hence my preference for the EL530.
My favourite Cateye tail light, the 6-LED LD1100, seems to have been discontinued. But the new LD650 has 5 brighter LEDs with a high-power central LED. That must be a retina-ripper as it can be switched off for bunch riding! It runs for nearly 100 Hours from two AAA batteries. Cost is around £27. It’s only been released this November, so I’ll be testing it by the time you read this.
Last Call for Low Gears
Anyone wanting the benefits of the lowest gears for climbing coupled with Shimano’s STI road levers used with drop handlebars must act now. At present one can buy their 9-speed Tiagra levers and use them with their Deore XT offroad gear mechanisms and 9 sprocket cassettes. These can give gears so low, with 22t chainring and 34t sprocket, that the front wheel will lift before you are forced to a halt when climbing. But in 2012 that won’t be possible due to upgrades that introduce incompatibilities. The Tiagra becomes a 10-speed groupset. But you can’t use it with the 10-speed XT gears; they need 50% more cable pull from their XT levers. I guess the sprockets on a 10-speed cassette are closer together, which makes accurate location of the chain more unreliable in offroad use with the previous 9-speed cable pull. Either get hold of the current 9-speed kit while you can or hope, like Chris Juden, that Itek Engineering will produce a new Shift-Mate to allow the mix-&-match needed by cycletourists. Failing that, we may have to abandon Shimano for SRAM!
UK Specs for cycling
My old non-prescription cycling specs needed replacing in the late summer. The indifferent weather often found me swapping lenses from dark to clear and back again. Then I spotted the Tifosi Tyrant being given away free for a subscription to a cycling magazine. On checking the Tifosioptics website I learnt that the Tyrant model was for small to medium heads, so OK, and used their Fototec lens to adapt to sunlight. The “Light Night” Fototec lens was clear, but darkened in sunlight, so perfect for our UK weather. You could pay £70 for these specs, or you might get them free! I have found them excellent.Contents
A Perfect Ride
by Peter Witting
A perfect ride? Was it Andy Tokeley’s route for our CTC Offroad Ride last July, or a comment on the new bike I used for the event? The answer was “Both!” I’d had a Van Nicholas Amazon touring bike built up for my son, who needed offroad capability. It combined Shimano’s offroad XT gearing with their STI road levers; and our Offroad ride provided the ideal chance to test it.
Riders from Yorkshire, London, and Hampshire were assembling at Ketton for this DATC event. This was fresh territory for us all. None had ridden any of the four sections of rough-stuff. But I had downloaded Andy’s instructions from our CTC website, and then used GoogleMaps to recce in advance. Streetview showed where to leave the road, while the satellite view allowed you to peer down to see where the tracks went. The Rutland Water Explorer map was then marked up ready for the ride. I was looking forward to getting out on the new bike. Twelve months earlier I’d prepared my 1970s bike for its annual offroad outing, only to suffer a vertigo attack hours before the ride. This time the prospects were better. My son had lent me his new bike, which only needed me to fit my Polaris mapholder and swap the saddlebag using the Carradice SQR quick-release fitting.
We set off downhill from Ketton Scout hut after fuelling up with tea and bananas. Those on fatter tyres were slower riding through the village, dropping back before the first climb past the old windmill. I found myself alone at the top of the hill where the first track began. This was a hard surfaced track to the woods, where it split. I followed Andy’s route, passing a Scout encampment; but I could have followed the old more direct track through two fields of grain which I’d spotted on GoogleEarth! I stopped at the first gate to take a drink and remove my Gamex jacket; it was warming up. Maybe the others would catch me up by taking the short-cut; but no sign, so I continued. The gate opened onto a grassy track following the perimeter of the limestone quarry used by Ketton Cement. Surprisingly there was no sign of the nearby industry, but then it was Sunday!
I entered some trees at Tinwell just ahead of a pair of fit lady joggers [I think this needs rephrasing, Ed]. My emergence caused a horse to take fright, but luckily it was being led, not ridden. The joggers arrived in time to advise me which track ahead led to the level crossing. They warned of the climb to Easton on the Hill. I assured them my gears could tackle anything, with 22t inner ring and 34t biggest sprocket (that’s a 17.3 inch bottom ratio!). The climb was long rather than steep, but I still needed to remove my arm-warmers at the top and refuel with a Power Gel.
The Sunday traffic was light on the short sections of A43 and A47 leading to King’s Cliffe. The expensive and over-engineered Continental Top Contact tyres rolled well on the tarmac, being quite narrow for the quoted 28 width. But the dry rutted tracks through Westhay and Fineshade Woods were a good test of the Van Nicholas frame and wheels. I was grateful for the titanium frame, Brooks B17 titanium saddle and Marsas handlebar padding for absorbing the worst of the bumps. I passed the Forestry Commission cafe at Top Lodge without needing to refill my water bottles, then set off for Barrowden. I was greeted by a small lizard on a fallen tree trunk in Wakerley Woods when I stopped for my last refuelling; but it wasn’t interested in my banana. The final offroad section led from the A47 on a hard track that I had always wanted to try, to return to Ketton via Geeston.
This had been an offroad ride to remember: No mud, no rain, no thorns or punctures, no bike carrying, all new routes with clear instructions – thanks Andy, and a perfect bike for the job.Contents
Leicester Easy Riders
Early August we enjoyed a car assisted to Northamptonshire which included visits to Stoke Bruerne and Sulgrave and passing through the village of Silverstone. This proved to be a very nice quite village and not as envisaged with the race track association.
Richard's ride to Great Easton also in August ended up in Rockingham with tea taken on our return at Church Langton.
Unfortunately we were not represented on the Presidents ride this year, sorry Ray.
David Smiths ride to Eye Kettleby discovered a new refreshment stop at Asfordby Sports and Social Club on the Hoby road just outside the village.
Shorter rides have occurred on most Sundays and new Café located on Station Road Countesthorpe which made us very welcome.
Our weekend trip late September ended up in Flintshire/Denbighshire North Wales which provided great cycling and good weather. We did however experience our first golf club refusal of refreshment at ‘The Prestatyn Golf Club’. The refusal was apparently due to the fact that we were not wearing ties!
Norman and myself recently had a trip to the Isle of Man. Leaving the car at the ferry port we went over as foot passengers with no cost for the bikes. We circumnavigated the island with an overnight bed and breakfast in Peel. Our return to Douglas to our first nights hotel the next day proved to be very arduous due to strong winds and the climb over to Port Erin and Castletown. Once these were achieved we had the wind behind us back to Douglas albeit on the main road with heavy traffic which was a bit hairy in the gusting wind. On our return to Douglas we discovered the ferries had been cancelled due to force 10 winds on the Irish Sea. As we had another day we rode the Marine Drive round to Port Soderick which was very picturesque and traffic free due to parts of the road being subject to land slip and closed to motor traffic.
Although a windy few days both crossings were smooth with the wind abating for us.Contents
It's my turn to write our report, and glancing through the summer runs list, I find that I didn't actually attend many of the rides, what with holidays and other commitments. We do allow our members time off for good behaviour and holidays, so quite a few of the summer rides were depleted, and a couple didn't go ahead through lack of riders. Those that did were very enjoyable, and a wide variety of destinations was visited.
Once again, the car-assisted rides have proved popular, some of them covering areas which we otherwise couldn't reach, for example rides south of Birmingham and beyond Daventry broke new ground, and a hilly ride in the Peak District took the participants up gradients that we haven't tackled for many years.
As well as the new destinations, some of the old favourites were visited: the brewery at Ridge Lane, the brewery at Old Dalby....hang on, weren't they both led by me? Got to watch the reputation! The latter, the Belvoir Brewery, was patronised on what was probably the warmest October Sunday for many years, but as I write only six days later, the weather has broken, the temperatures have fallen by over 10 degrees, the clocks go back in a couple of weeks, and winter commences. Speaking of breweries, the one at Wood Farm just north of Monks Kirby is also worth a visit - thanks to Joe for finding that one.
Some of our number attended the Birthday Rides this year, and came home impressed - mostly by the food.
Thanks must again go to Lyn for coordinating the Charnwood runs list for us and for the Easy Riders.
On a personal note, my blue Cannondale T800 tourer was stolen from outside the Brunswick pub in Derby at the end of August - the lock didn’t offer much resistance. The landlord has said we can park inside or in the garden in future, and I urge you all to accept his offer. If anyone sees my bike - and I haven’t seen another the same since I bought it 7 years ago - please contact Derby police, but realistically I don’t expect to get it back.
Someone from the Easy Riders tells me that because my report is printed so small she doesn't read it; so,HELLO BETTY, THIS BIT’S FOR YOU!
Activating the Archiveswith John Allen
A few months after "Cycle Chat" first appeared in January 1933, the very first ride of the Tandem Section took place on Sunday April 8th to Lichfield Cathedral, led by Cis Redfern. 81 miles were covered that day and those taking part even had a game of cricket!
Here is the account of that ride from the section's runs book penned by the leader.
Hello! Tandemites. Here is the first report of our new venture "The Tandem Section".
Our meeting place today was WPTT, arriving there we found one couple waiting for us. After a while more turned up, then came Stan and Olive, having won on the sheets this week. [Ed. Football Pools?] Stan bought a camera which he wanted to try out on us.
We were lining up to have our photo taken when up turned Nellie and Eric. When the photographer had finished fiddling about we made our way to Kirby Muxloe, then came Thornton Reservoir. Our next port of call was Bagworth turning left we then reached Carlton, making our way on we passed through Congerstone, Twycross turning right again we came to Austrey. Shortly after we passed through Thorpe Constantine, Haselour, arriving at Elford about 1.0pm for dinner.
After having our lunch we made our way to visit the small but lovely church, getting our cameras out we atempted to take a photo of the tomb of the boy who was killed with a tennis ball.
With time getting on we made our way to the tit-bit of the run, Lichfield Cathedral. The outside of the place is marvellous, the statues cover the whole front of the Cathedral. After inspecting the inside of the church we found that it was 4 o'clock so we made tracks for the tea place.
Passing by Whittington Barracks we came to Coton, then on the main Tamworth to Ashby Road, then turning right we came to Newton Regis.
This being a new tea place to us we were a bit dubious of what sort of tea we should have, however it turned out to be a very nice repast, for the hungry mortals.
After a game of cricket and 7 o'clock arriving, we made tracks for home, passing through Twycross, Market Bosworth, then Desford. Shortly after came the parting of the tandems.
This finished our first run.
Thank you all for your support.Cis
South Leicestershire Report
from Tony Davis
On the first weekend in August I was riding a 300k audax in Wales on the Saturday but I was very keen to be out on the club run on the Sunday. It was the first Sunday since we got the news about Roy Dayman’s death. Neil Dixon, Gill Lord and Peter Witting were still on their way back from the Federation Francais de Cyclo-Tourism Semaine Federal but most of the other regular faces were there. We started off up Cottage Lane and through Ashby Magna and Gilmorton. Shane Blower turned for home at Gilmorton as he was still recovering from falling off his bike and injuring his knee. There was a little debate about our route as we cycled along but we settled on Kimcote to Kilworth followed by Sibbertoft then straight to Kelmarsh. The Buddhist centre coffee shop at Kelmarsh was shut for the second time this year when it was the listed coffee stop. On both occasions we have rolled back down the hill to Kelmarsh Hall. Each time we have been lucky with the weather and been able to sit outside. Gill Stocks was on her way to Heathrow to pick up her sister but went via Kelmarsh so that she could join us. Everyone noted a significant improvement in the quality and size of the cakes on offer at the Hall.
The whole day was peppered with riders sharing stories about Roy. Tales of Roy’s exploits and his infamous coaching tips don’t need embellishment to make a good story. Roy lived life to the full and while some of the stories sound unbelievable many of us were there at the original incident and can vouch for their veracity.
Shane Blower, Gill Stocks, Jayne and I are all bellringers at Monks Kirby church in Warwickshire. On occasions we have split loyalties on Sundays but when the ride is on a South Westerly direction three of us usually ring and one goes to Broughton Astley in case there are unexpected riders. This precaution is needed during the summer months as so many of our regular riders are away at events like the Semaine Federal and the Mildenhall Cycle Rally. We try to avoid new faces arriving with no one to greet them.
During the last week in August I was in France to take part in the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200k audax. There were seven riders from Leicestershire taking part and I shared a room with one of them at the hotel before the event. This was only the second time I had met Richard Gorman despite him living just down the road in Countesthorpe. Rob Gray, Roy Cook and Steve Ralphs all got round in under 70 hours whereas Richard, Jon Worters and I got more value for money. Commiserations to Mark Bigam who had to abandon at Carhaix-Plouguer
After an indifferent summer, autumn has arrived with a vast improvement in the weather.
On the last weekend in September we made one of our rare visits to East Carlton Country Park. Peter Witting met us there but after coffee Dave Gair turned for home Neil, Peter, Shane, Jayne and I went on through Gretton and Lyddington to the Horse and Jockey at Manton. The pub garden was packed with people who had arrived by bicycle though mountain bikes predominated. October and it was warm enough to sit outside. We rarely venture as far as Manton at this time of year. Shane Blower had clocked over 90 miles by the time he got home.
I got out on my bike to make the most of the glorious weather last weekend with a 200k audax through the Cotswolds on Saturday as well as the club ride on Sunday. The sunshine brought a bumper crop of riders on Sunday. As well as the South Leics regulars we had representatives from other parts of the county, Ivan Waddington, Larry Cross and Alan Hartshorne. Larry is rebuilding his fitness after a long stint working abroad without any time on his bike. Gill Lord was just back from a very warm week in Majorca. The ride went through Claybrooke, Pailton and Harborough Magna to our coffee stop at Blooms on the Straight Mile just of the A45. The group caught up with Gill Stocks about 1k short of the coffee stop. Lunch was originally planned for Harbury but in recent times it been increasingly difficult to find a reasonable pub lunch in the village. Our route took us through Birdingbury and Long Itchington so I suggested the Green Man. This was only a short run from coffee to lunch so we took a detour up Snowford Hill then back down Stonebridge Lane. I had fond memories of a sunny afternoon spent at the Green Man in Long Itchington with touring friends many years ago when our friend Graham tried to teach us how to hypnotise chickens. The pub still had a chicken run but the chickens looked very alert so were probably not the same ones we had practiced on. The pub had a good range of beers, even a draught cider to keep Peter happy and provided us with a platter of freshly made sandwiches for a very reasonable price. After an hour or so of rest and refreshment we headed for home up the hill to Barby and on through Crick, Yelvertoft and Swinford. Members of the group peeled off along the way as we got closer to home.
The weather this weekend while warm didn’t quite live up to the long range forecast, but there were still nine riders at Broughton for the ride to Catthorpe for coffee and the Wetherspoons at Daventry for lunch. Unfortunately I wasn’t there as I was inside studying for exams.
I hope the winter isn’t too treacherous but I’m already looking forward to warm weather next year with a week in Majorca booked and last details for next years Heart of the Shires audax to be sorted before publication.Contents
Sponsored Church Cycle Ride - Saturday 10th September 2011
from Janet Neal
This year I managed 10 churches and sent £39 to the Historic Churches Trust. I think I slowly cycled around 25 miles.
Starting off at Stoke Golding Methodist Church (my usual Sunday morning worship place) where a coffee morning was under way, 3 or 4 people gave me £5 each!! No one else was doing it this year. One lady came off her cycle on the canal bridge with a car behind her last year.
At the church I picked my lunch from their usual excellent buffet – lots of gooey cakes. Also I made sure that I had cheese and tomato baps, not ham as last year. No charge but, of course, I always give a donation. Then it was up to Dadlington and then Sutton Cheney. It was the same gentleman at Carlton (I have seen him and his wife shopping in Hinckley). He knew my aunt and uncle, when a boy, who farmed at Barton in the Beans (my mum always warned me about getting near the bull!!).
Then on to Congerstone and the 2nd year not open. Well, I will hopefully get up to Twycross!! Quite a windy day which was head on going from Bilstone up to the main road (A444). Trees were blowing well. I didn’t meet another vehicle. I was pleased to arrive at this lively church which always has a lovely heritage weekend display of past times, which of course in Edward V11 time was quite an active area. The ladies there were pleased to see me and had a photograph of the last time I visited in September 2008. It was the last photo of my green Stallard hand built bike. It is now “retired” to the garage. Onto Sibson on the A444 – no other choice! Wind head on again and had to hold on tight. Such an open road. Man at church said I was very brave. Ate my cobs at Upton by the lovely pondContents
Congratulations to the Nuneaton CTC Trio
from Ray Clay
What do Bert Pearce, Eric Neal and Morgan Reynolds have in common? Of course, the answer is that they all have recently celebrated their 80th birthdays.
They had a joint celebration by taking part in a 50 mile ride to the Market Bosworth area followed by a party at the Ambleside Sports Club in Nuneaton. An impressive special cake was made by Joy Reynolds.
After the party, they were each presented with an engraved glass tankard, a souvenir photo and a gallon of cider.Contents
“A Royal Connection”
from John Allen
The CTC East Midlands Regions annual rally, in the grounds of Beaumanor Hall over the extended Jubilee spring bank holiday weekend next June, is to be entitled “The Jubilee Cycle Rally” as her majesty the Queen is patron of the CTC.
A “Jubilee Trophy” presented at a previous Jubilee Rally in the East Midlands at Donington Park in 1935 to mark the silver jubilee of King George the fifth who became the first royal patron in 1910 will be on display. The silver cup has been in the custody of Leics and Rutland CTC since 1938 when it was won by the Loiterers section at the very last Donington Park rally - the second world war ended the four year history of the event.
To conclude on another royal note, both Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire CTC District Associations were formed in 1897 - The Diamond jubilee year of Queen Victoria’s reign!Contents
A SUMMER IN FRANCE- By Dave Binks Continuing the story.
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 settled into his accommodation and is now involved with both his job and the local cycling scene. The story continues…..
Sunday August 19
I awoke to a grey, windy and dull day, but nevertheless got up, breakfasted and dressed to go out with the local cyclists, but a few minutes before I was due to leave, a torrential downpour started and looked set to continue for quite a while. I didn’t have to go out; I didn’t need to go out; I didn’t want to go out and get wet, and so I didn’t go out. I went back to bed instead, waking an hour later when the rain had stopped, but it was still dull and windy. I could see no point in going out alone in “iffy” weather like this, so wandered over to the workshop for a while whilst I waited to see what the weather was going to do.
I wanted to fit the new tyres and tubes onto the few spare front wheels I had, but as I had suspected, the tubes were too fat for the tyres. I tried different tyre/tube/wheel combinations, but they all pointed back to the inner tubes being just too big. I had just finished making up my mind when I had a visitor from one of the other Susi regions. Adrian was the Susi assistant based at Condom, in the Gascony area and had been visiting friends nearby. He had taken the opportunity to return two of “my” bikes he had acquired last year. I used his visit to get a second opinion on the tubes and he agreed with my opinion, so I would have to speak to the office tomorrow.
We then went back to my accommodation for a chat which I really enjoyed. He and his wife had been with Susi for a couple of seasons and he told me lots of things about the operation of which I was unaware. He said their accommodation in Condom had been dreadful when they first arrived, complete with pigeons occupying part of it! They had told Susi they wouldn’t stay unless she agreed to pay for somewhere better, and she had done so. They were now in a city centre flat with private garden only a few minutes away from both the workshop and the base hotel which housed the guests. He also said he had spent some time in the area that I had been first offered but that I had rejected due to the very flat cycling (Mayenne, in the north, not far from Rennes). He said the accommodation there was much better than the one I was currently in, which to be fair, did reflect what Susi had said during my job interview.
By the time he left it was lunchtime. The weather continued to be very unattractive with strong and gusty winds, occasional bright sun then dark and threatening clouds with short little showers. It got so dull and cold that I had to put a jumper and long trousers on – in mid August in central France! I sent a few emails and mooched around a little, then joined mum and son on the lakeside whilst they did a bit more fishing. In fact, the lad did the fishing whilst mum spent most of her time untangling his line and baiting his hook! Nevertheless, mum pulled one out within seconds, but as soon as it was lowered onto the grass it unhooked itself and slid back in again. Son said that didn’t count, but as “referee” I said it did. Son then managed to pull one out and I quickly took his photo as he proudly showed it to the camera, only to have mum score her second a minute or two later which meant another photo. Later on I showed them their photos on my computer and then emailed them to her email address so that she could print them out if she wished.0 miles
Monday August 20
Note the date above. Today was cold and it rained very nearly all day, often quite hard and the weather forecasters were issuing “Severe Weather” warnings for the north east of France, and snow in the Alps! I should have gone to the post office to send off my weekly report, but decided my health was more important, so the furthest I went all day was the workshop where I spent some time.
My “mum and son” guests actually went out on their bikes, in the rain, and even hired a boat on the river, also in the rain. They said the man thought they were mad; I can’t think why. The taxi to take them home came at midday and they said they had really enjoyed their short break, which was satisfying to hear. During the afternoon my other two couples returned, both having got soaked, but also having enjoyed themselves overall. It finally stopped raining at about 7.30pm.0 miles
Tuesday August 21
It wasn’t actually raining when I woke, but only because it had only just stopped, nevertheless the trees were still bending in the wind and it was very dull and threatening. However, after breakfast it brightened sufficiently for me to dare to ride into the village to post my weekly report and buy some fruit but only after I had to put on long trousers and a fleece jacket!
I was a bit puzzled as to the whereabouts of two of my bikes, as four people had returned yesterday, but with only two bikes as far as I could see. Two had been left outside my workshop, but the other two bikes were nowhere to be seen. Surely they hadn’t taken them into their room? It turned out the young couple had set off in the dry, but had returned to their hotel as soon as it started raining, and got in the same taxi that brought their luggage back. Their bikes had been brought back in a van this morning!
After lunch a family group arrived, dad, son and daughter, and were very keen to get out, so I quickly set them up on their bikes and they were off on one of my suggested routes.
By now the day had settled as windy but dry and warm with short bursts of sun, good enough to tempt me out on my bike. Susi wanted to know the shortest distance between some of the hotels, so I rode over to the closest one and clocked 9 miles, getting there in 37 minutes. Some clients regarded this as a day’s ride! From there I went to the other close one, but hadn’t brought the correct map, so guessed at the shortest route, which worked out at 11.3 miles, although when I got back and consulted the correct map, I realised there was an even shorter way which could take another 1-2 miles off. Another long day in the saddle for some!44 miles Contents
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