Leicestershire and Rutland
Cyclists' Touring Club

(founded 1897)


Editor's Comments
President's Page
Secretary's Report
Technical Topics
Leicester Easy Riders
The Generals go to the Birthday Rides
South Leicestershire Report
DA Centenary Book
Shropshire Weekend
Alf Edwards (1927 – 2012)
Robert Langton (1945 – 2012)
Ray Dring
Bill Duffin (1923 – 2012)
Riding L'Eroica
WANTED - Your photos
Award Winners 2012
Carol Service 2012
Jaki Lowe - your new East Midlands Councillor
The Mince Pie Phenomenon
What’s the Odds on that?
A Summer in France (part 21)

"Roy Damon Memorial" Riders at Leicester Clock Tower prepared to depart for Skegness
Cover picture by Peter Witting

"Editor's Comments"

Dave Binks

In my last Editor’s Comments column, I mentioned how good it is to see so many new cyclists out and about and enjoying this great sport and pastime of ours. I continue in that vein this month, but comment how unprepared so many of them appear to be.

I cannot be alone in seeing cyclists riding in these (currently) sub zero temperatures in clothing that is patently unsuitable such as shorts and bare legs and sometimes even bare arms. I really don’t know why they do that, but perhaps it’s because they think it looks “cool” (literally in this case I think) or perhaps they think because Bradley Wiggins wears shorts in the Tour de France, people will think he is Bradley. But I expect it’s just ignorance of how the cold can affect both your ability to ride and also your long term health. Because they see runners and footballers with bare legs in cold conditions, they must think that’s OK when cycling, but totally overlook the very high wind chill factor we get on the bike, and not just for a relatively short time spent running or playing football, but the many hours we spend in the saddle.

Moving on to mechanical items, I suffered a puncture, which turned out to be a “snake bite” (impact puncture) just before I got to the café recently. I decided to just walk the last few yards and change the tube after I had enjoyed my cuppa and a chat with my friends who were already there. When replenished, I went out to my bike and started the fix. I had just got the toolkit off and unrolled it when another cyclist strolled over to see what I was doing. I explained, whilst carrying on under his watchful eyes. He looked at my two spare inner tubes and puncture repair kit and commented about me being pessimistic. I laughed and explained I had already had to change an inner tube in the garage before I set out that very morning and also do a lot of riding alone, so always go prepared. He gave me a pitying look and said he had Kevlar reinforced tyres on his bike, so couldn’t puncture and therefore didn’t need to carry a spare tube or even a pump. I tried to gently explain there is only one type of tyre that never punctures and that’s a solid one, which is like riding on treacle I’m told. I said I had ridden Kevlar tyres and still punctured, and asked him what he would do when he does puncture, not “if”?. Even if he had a mobile phone with him to ring his wife, and he could get a signal, would he know exactly where he was, would his wife know where that was, would she be able to come straight away and how cold and possibly wet would he get in the meantime? All for the small weight of a spare tube, a pair of levers and a small pump.

Just carrying a repair kit is not enough, because sometimes the bond between the valve and the tube fails and this is irreparable. Always carry at least one spare inner tube, some levers and a pump. One of my club mates had to walk 3 miles home one day because of that very problem. In olden days the valve was clamped onto the tube with a nut, but modern tubes are not like that. When it fails, there’s nothing you can do.

Finally; following complaints that my picture was frightening the children, I have changed it. I hope that stops the nightmares!


President's Page

John Allen

It is now eighty years since the first edition of “Cycle Chat” appeared but the editorial back then is still valid today.

Over the years the magazine fell by the wayside and then re-emerged with different editors – it had its ups and downs.

Up to the present time however, it has had a continuous run of over thirty years and long may that continue.  Thanks to all concerned and particularly our readers for contributing such interesting copy for our present editor Dave Binks.

Over that period we have been indebted to Howard Naylor, proprietor of Beacon Cycles in Loughborough for support and advertising which goes a long way to making the publication viable.  After 42 years Howard, now 82, is closing the business and I am sure you will all join me in thanking him for that support over many years.

Well the AGM came and went and we fortunately still have dedicated officials who multi-task so much for the CTC in addition to their many other commitments – just look inside the front cover.

On now to the photo competition (or exhibition).  What a fantastic selection of pictures were entered this year depicting club runs, holiday tours or just a solo potter.  It must have been a daunting task for the judge Steve Marriott who was brave enough to be with us on the evening!

Derrick Orton of Burton, editor of Derbyshire CTC magazine “Awheel” came along to entertain us with the accompanying slide show or rather an enthralling selection of DVD’s he produced with his own brand of humour – all in all it was a wonderful evening which went so quickly, thanks Derrick and also Steve and all who made the effort submitting pictures and of course thanks to Jean and Keith Lakin for organising it all.

Derrick is the judge for the best article in “Cycle Chat” and his deliberations appear elsewhere.

Our 61st annual Carol Service moved to the south of the county to Great Bowden thanks to organiser Peter Witting and all who helped in so many ways.  The South Leics CTC bell ringing team did us proud accompanied by Robert Sulley (David and Doreen’s son) and his son David.  It was great to meet up with these in the hall afterwards and everyone else who came along for this carolling get together.

Next up was the mince pie run and it was good to see attendance back up after the freeze in the previous year.

Our extended family commitments meant that I could not make the New Years dinner at Sibbertoft which was again a sell out.  Gill Lord is standing down as organiser after I believe 15 years.  Thanks Gill for a job so well done – glad to say that a new organiser has come forward.

Over the Christmas period we heard of the deaths of several more stalwarts – Ray Dring, Bill Duffin, Robert Langton and former county CTC chairman Alf Edwards – our thoughts are with their families and we cherish the memories of these companions awheel.

At the end of January I chaired the annual meeting of the CTC East Midlands Region in Nottingham when our new CTC councillor Jaki Lowe gave us an insight into national matters, ably supported by her predecessor John Catt who readily agreed to continue on the regional team.  Thanks to John for all your efforts as councillor.

 I am also busy sorting all the trophies and certificates awarded for 2012 which will be presented at the meal at the Great Central Railways Café Bistro on March 23rd organised yet again by Ray Clay.

It would be wonderful if all award winners could make it this time to receive our array of heritage trophies – here’s hoping!

 Finally, our Triennial Vets rides will take place on Sunday Jun 9th based on Moira Village Hall.  Apologies for the change of date but this was unavoidable.

John Allen


Secretary’s View

by Ray Clay


It makes a change to see some sunshine out of the window. The snow and ice has made my trips on a bike lately very limited. The roads have been so treacherous and even regular cyclists have come to grief. A case in point is poor Reg Tuckwood, our friend from Nottingham, an experienced cyclist, slipped on some ice and finished up in hospital with broken bones.

Then there were the floods. Because of the floods in the Soar Valley, our Wednesday group in Loughborough found the choice of the routes quite a challenge. Incidentally, this group is aimed at trying to get new people introduced to cycling. We only travel at a leisurely pace to a coffee stop and return for lunch. Being a CTC member is not a prerequisite. Getting more people on bikes is the aim. Details of the rides are on the Leicestershire and Rutland website.

The AGM in November was reasonably well attended but there is nothing sensational to report. A draft list of events for 2013 was agreed. Also we are trying a new venue for the annual dinner. This year, on 23rd March, the dinner/prize giving will be held at the Butler Henderson café bistro at Quorn Great Central Railway Station. Some time ago, John Allen and I met the GCR general manager who seemed quite keen to host us. Please see the insert for the booking form, which is also on our webpage.

Unfortunately, I missed the annual slide show organised by Keith Lakin. I hear that Keith’s effort was well up to his usual standard and the show was well received. A shame that it wasn’t better supported. My excuse is that I had a commitment down in London.

I enjoyed the carol service down in Great Bowden. It is quite a while since we had a carol service in the south of the county. The church was pretty full and my thanks go to Peter Witting who took on the organising. Thanks, also, to the bell ringers and the caterers. Keith’s soup was appreciated. It was good, too, to see our friends from Northants supporting us.

Just before Christmas, the weather was miserable. But on the day of the Mince Pie Run the weather was glorious. This led to a massive turnout of riders. So much so, unfortunately, we ran out of food. It’s a difficult decision to decide how much food to provide. In previous years, I’ve taken left over food to the homeless charity in Loughborough. On the plus side, the raffle made a record amount which we donated to Rainbows Children’s Hospice in Loughborough.

I’m hoping to make the Sulley Challenge Rides on 3rd March. I’ve only tried the event once but really enjoyed it. The countryside in the Lutterworth area is lovely. Unfortunately, I shall miss the “Back to the Fuchsia” rides this year. I shall be in Suffolk. Sorry John.

We welcome our new Councillor, Jaki Lowe. She hails from Nottinghamshire and takes over from John Catt. We should thank John for all the hard work he has done on our behalf. I’ve only met Jaki once when she attended the recent CTC East Midlands Region Annual Regional Meeting in Nottingham. I look forward to working with her and I’m sure she will do her best on our behalf.

I shall soon have to turn my mind to the Beaumanor Hall camping rally at the end of May. I’ve lost count of how may years it has been running. I’ve been told that this year will be the twelfth time.

I’m sorry that Beacon Cycles in Loughborough has finally closed. I hope that Howard will enjoy his well deserved overdue retirement. Where am I going to get spares now for my ancient Falcon, I ask?!!


Technical Topics

by Peter Witting

SealSkinz Belgian Style Cap

This new waterproof peaked winter cycling cap from SealSkinz has proved its worth this winter. It’s available in 2 sizes and costs around £25. The Belgian style has a ribbed ear-band that covers the ears when cold; but if warmer it can be folded up out of the way. For more extreme blizzard conditions I use a Lowe Alpine Mountain Cap with a strap under the chin, but is overkill for normal winter cycling.

Lighting Updates

If you want a very powerful front light, don’t need a long burn time, and are happy to recharge the light at home, then check the new Cateye Nano Shot Plus. The twin LEDs put out 5,000 candlepower, that’s 600 lumens, with 4 hours on low or 1.5 hours on high beam. This is the first lamp I’ve used that fully illuminates the inside of the tunnels on the Brampton Valley Way! At 160 grams it’s a lightweight and powerful lamp to get you home on Winter clubruns. I love the flashing mode that switches between high & low to attract attention. This “HyperConstant” mode lasts 2 hours. Cost is around £90, but this flashing mode could be a life-saver!

Threadlock or Not?

It’s always advisable to coat the threads of nuts and bolts to ensure they can be removed for maintenance. Grease is usually adequate. Where they may work loose then thread-locking compound is wiser. But when I tried to replace the worn chainrings on my Shimano XT chainset I ran into trouble. They had been factory-assembled using a threadlock. Had the nuts and bolts been steel I’m sure they would have freed. But the bolts were made of an alloy for lightness. The alloy was recessed for an Allen-key fitting. But the threadlock was too firm and the Allen-key rounded the alloy recesses of half the bolts that needed removal. I’m left with the option of buying new bolts and drilling out those that are stuck solid. So I’ll stick with grease on all alloy threads in future!


Charnwood Generals’ Report

Martin Bulmer

While preparing this report I have been looking back at the runs list, which has served mostly to remind me of the overall wetness of 2012. Some of the runs were cut short, or diverted from trail to road. I don't think any of us enjoys riding in the rain; enduring it, however, we have been rewarded by spectacular sights of flooded fields around Willington and Swarkestone where the worst of the downpours held off for a couple of Sundays.

Our other Autumn and early winter rides continued as planned, and although we have not covered fresh territory to any extent, there is always something new to see on our more familiar rounds. Increasingly our elevenses have been taken at one of those large inexpensive pubs, often housed in redundant bank buildings, where a bacon cob and cup of tea can be had for a very reasonable price. These have become reliable ports of call when passing through a town. The Mince Pie run was well attended this year, I'm told, probably due to the fact that the weather that day was dry and sunny for the first time in weeks. I didn't make it to Belton - I had to divert homewards because I'd forgotten to take my Christmas cards with me on the ride. So, to all those hundreds of people at the hall who were expecting a card from me, but didn't come to the pub for lunch to collect it; I apologise for my forgetfulness. I hope you managed to have a jolly time despite the absence of my hastily scrawled missive.

Our first ride of 2013 saw us breakfasting in the café at Twycross Zoo; my first visit there for many years. The café is accessible without having to pay for zoo entry, and the long glass wall looks out onto the Snow Leopards’ enclosure. We were lucky enough to see two Snow Leopards exploring their grounds while we had ours (of the coffee variety). If you haven't been there it is worth a visit: even if you don't get to see the leopards, you will find plenty of wildlife in the (clean, well maintained and hygienic) loos!

Charnwood section’s New Year's dinner was held at the Charnwood Arms for the first time this year. This was a very successful event, and our thanks go to Keith and Jean Lakin for organising it, and to all those who turned out on a night when the mist was closing in and ice crystals were visible in the headlights. I don't think anyone cycled there. I certainly wouldn't on a night like that!

As I write, the rain of last year seems a distant memory, frozen under the blanket of snow which has led to cancellation on safety grounds of the last two planned rides. I don't think the temperature has risen above zero for the last ten days or so. Nevertheless, we trust that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

We have a full programme of Sunday rides planned, with a slight departure from our usual pattern. This year, in order to accommodate more of our members, we will be having our "Easter" holiday a month late, in the first week of May. We are going to visit Charnwood member Soo, who moved to Alnwick in Northumberland last year. We hope to explore the joys of the surrounding countryside and coast, and enjoy the local amenities, although I have been told that I can't cook kippers for breakfast as they smell too much. Philistines!

It has been good to see Keith Tilley back on the road following his industrial injury, and we wish him a speedy return to full fitness.


Leicester Easy Riders

by Jim Gerrard

We may have the busy Christmas season behind us but it seems we have missed a few rides for various reasons mainly due to the weather again.

Looking back to November last we did manage to get to the Loughborough Remembrance Service where we joined the general public in the Queens Park by the Carillon on a cold but dry day before having a warming drink in the adjacent John Storer House. We rode back together via the old A6 through Quorn before dispersing at Mountsorrel for our final routes home or lunch at the Stonehurst Farm Cafe.

Middle of November saw us out to Charlton although the coffee stop was moved to Green Acres Garden Centre as the Mallory Park Cafe now closes on Sundays during the winter months. After a hard overnight frost a sunny bright (dry) day was enjoyed.

The following week we turned out for our annual pre Christmas lunch at the Steaming Trumpet Thornton. This was the morning when over night torrential rain had caused local flooding in all sorts of places not normally affected plus the usual ones. Perhaps Technical Topics could offer advice how to dry out a bike that’s been approx 90% under water!

Early December saw us in the Quorn area again which was followed by the Carol Service at Great Bowden. After good intentions we all attended this by car.

A couple of us enjoyed a crisp ride out passing over Agar Nook and by Mount St. Bernard Abbey on a beautiful sunny morning to Belton and the Mince Pie meeting where difficulty was experienced in finding space for bike parking due to the numbers attending.

On our return via Coalville we called for a pint at the local Weatherspoon's and we were joined by Keith and Jean Lakin with Leila and enjoyed an unscheduled extra Christmas lunch together.

With Christmas over our January rides have been affected by snow and ice but we did have a good turn out on our ride to Tilton and Illston before the snows arrived.

Norman and myself missed this however as we attended the New Year lunch at Sibbertoft which turned out to be the last one arranged by Gill. Good news though, as it has been taken on by another South Leicester group rider so hopefully will continue.

We are looking forward to the spring which doesn't seem so far away as the late afternoons are lighter but it may be all this snow which is about at the time of writing.

We have already arranged our April weekend which will be to Derbyshire. This will be a mini tour instead of the usual car assisted. Its years since we visited Derbyshire for a weekend and it will be good to go again. We are planning to reach the head of Derwent Water / Howden Reservoir for the BCQ question before our return via Uttoxeter.

With this in mind we need to get a few miles in beforehand. The David Sulley Rides should be a good early season indicator of progress or lack of it! This can be followed by the 30 mile/km rides in April although these are a gentler outing.


South Leicestershire Winter 2012 Report

by Tony Davis

I headed my last piece with the question – Summer, did we have one? Well we definitely seem to be having a winter, but we had an autumn where we could keep on riding up to Christmas even if it was a bit wet.

A combination of weather, illness and a succession of family birthdays have kept me off the road since the new year but I managed to get out and ride my monthly 200k Audax last week.

The last week in November was particularly wet but that didn’t prevent the usual suspects from riding out for coffee at the JDW pub in Market Harborough. Peter Witting arrived from Kibworth at the same time as the group from Broughton Astley. We were met inside by Dave Gair’s partner Diane. It was a good job we weren’t in a hurry as we formed a patient crocodile of waiting customers. We performed our usual trick of changing lunch venue and headed to the Red Lion at Sibbertoft where we received a warm welcome despite the pub expecting the imminent arrival of a large group booking.

On the second Sunday in December the annual Cyclists' Carol Service was held at Great Bowden. This year it was organised by Peter Witting. Four members of the South Leicestershire group, Jayne, Jill Stocks, Shane and I, joined two local ringers to ring the tower bells before the service. The church was almost full of cyclists from around Leicestershire and Northamptonshire when the bell ringers left for lunch at the pub opposite. After the service many riders gathered in the church hall for tea and socialising.

The New Year lunch at Sibbertoft provided another opportunity for the Leicestershire and Northamptonshire groups to get together. The hall was full as usual and to my taste the food was even better this year. Gill Lord announced that she was not going to organise this event again but Dave Gair offered to take it on.

On the 20th January the only South Leicestershire members who ventured out on two wheels were Peter and Shane. They met in Rugby for coffee. After coffee Shane headed to the Wood Farm brewery but Peter headed closer to home, the Chandlers Arms at Shearsby.

The last weekend in January was wet and windy. Neil, Judy and Shane met at Broughton and had a wet ride into a headwind. The ride to Brandon Marshes was made even slower when they were held up by a puncture. Dave and Diane were waiting in the café. Instead of a slog into the wind and rain to Long Itchington the riders opted for lunch at the Denbigh Arms in Monks Kirby.


DA Centenary Book

John Catt writes:-

Many members will recall that the DA produced a book to celebrate "A Century of Cycling 1897-1997" on a limited print run. The book is now out of print and, bearing in mind the hard work that went into producing it, it was decided that it would be appropriate for the text to be made available on the world wide web. It can be found by going to our website www.ctclr.org.uk and clicking on the "History" link that can be found on the left hand side of the home page.

Unfortunately the quality of the reproduction of photographs in the book was very poor, due to the limitation of the printing technique used. If any readers have access to relevant photographs (whether or not they were used in the original publication) please can they either send high quality scans to history@ctclr.org.uk (with confirmation that they are free for use without copyright restrictions) or simply let us know at the same address if you would be happy to arrange for the photograph(s) to be scanned.

It would be good if another book could be produced in 2017 to reflect on one hundred and twenty years of activity by the CTC in Leicestershire and Rutland. This is now much easier with the ability to self publish using services such as www.lulu.com.

Incidentally if anyone undertaking a role for the CTC would like an @ctclr.org.ukaddress for forwarding email ( to avoid having to publish their personal email address), I'd be happy to set one up if they contact me.


Shropshire Weekend

by Tony Davis

Jayne and I occasionally ride with a group of friends from Worcestershire who are runners who cycle for the cross training benefit. They are planning to ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats next summer. At the end of September Jayne, Jill Stocks and I joined them for a long weekend to try riding back to back days with a loaded bike. The weather forecast was promising after a week or so of heavy rain and floods.

We parked in Chaddesley Corbett at lunchtime on Friday to head for a B not a B&B (Bed with no breakfast) in Ludlow. I had planned a route for the weekend using a combination of local knowledge and pieces of Audax routes I had ridden in the area. The area is great training for the southern end of Le-Jog as it has lots of hills and river valleys, the main roads tend to follow the river valleys and the quiet roads cut across. This means that you are constantly climbing and descending.

We crossed the River Severn at Stourport then headed out in the countryside turning off the main road at Dunley in the direction of Clows Top. We joined another main road at Clows Top but after a short coast downhill we turned off to drop to Neen Sollars where we would cross the River Rea. At the turn there was a sign saying Road Closed which I confidently ignored. It was a about a mile and a half downhill to the bridge with recurrent reminders saying Road Closed. The more we descended the more concerned I became that we may have to retrace back to the main road. When we reached the bridge it was swathed in scaffolding. The brickwork had been damaged in the floods. Fortunately a gap just wide enough for a bike loaded with panniers was left at the centre of the bridge so that we could ride through and climb the other side of the valley. The lane met a B road on a ridge. As I arrived at the junction a car passed then slowed and began reversing towards me. I was horrified and was cursing under my breath when the rear door opened and a teenager leaned out and shouted “Hi Tony”. It was an amazing coincidence but one of Jayne’s old school friends had just picked her son up from a work placement to take him home.

We descended towards Tenbury Wells before turning North west to follow the Teme valley to Ludlow. There was a very brief shower near Caynham but that was the only rain of the weekend.

Saturday morning was surprisingly cold. The first members of the group to get moving checked out a café near our accommodation but we met them coming back so I led them into the centre of Ludlow to the Buttery Café opposite Ludlow Castle. The temperature had crept up a bit by the time we finished breakfast and we followed lanes roughly parallel with the A49 to the elevens stop at Acton Scott, famous as the Victorian Farm on TV.

On our way to lunch we seemed to end up on the same route as a Sportive with lots of riders flying along but struggling to navigate. We ate lunch at the Royal Oak at Cardington which was busy with a mix of walkers, cyclists, family groups and locals. There was good food and an interesting selection of beers and ciders.

The route rolled up and down through a couple of villages before climbing onto the ridge of Wenlock Edge. From here it was a short fast descent to an early finish in Much Wenlock. Much Wenlock is an interesting village, with the claim to be the birth place of the modern Olympics. We all had a walk around follow a marked trail which helped us explore before returning to our pub B&B for dinner.

We had descended for a couple of miles to Much Wenlock on Saturday morning but the first few miles on Sunday drove home how high we had climbed earlier on Saturday. Most of the first six miles was downhill. I hadn’t planned a coffee stop for Sunday morning but by 10.30 the natives were getting restless. As we rode though Highley I spotted a sign for a café at the Sports/Community Centre. The coffee was nothing to write home about but it was good to sit on a comfy sofa in a warm room for a while. We dropped out of Highley towards a pedestrian bridge across the Severn into the country park near Alveley, where we passed another café with great views over the Severn valley. After a long climb out of the valley we descended again to cross the River Stour. The next long climb was the last followed by a gentle roll through the lanes back to Chaddesley Corbett. We celebrated a successful weekend with lunch at the Swan Inn. This is one of Batham’s eleven pubs. The Swan is a proper traditional pub with sensational beer and simple good food.

The weekend was such a success that route planning and booking of accommodation is under way for next summer’s ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats.


Alf Edwards (1927 – 2012)

by John Allen

Alf Edwards (1927 - 2012)

Former county CTC chairman Alf Edwards died on December 23rd aged 85.  He was our chairman during the 1980’s when the “DA” meetings were held at Copt Oak Youth Hostel when Janet Cooper was warden there.

For most of his working life he was employed at Whitwick Colliery becoming a National Union of Mineworkers official and later an area NUM vice president. He was also chairman of Charnwood CTC and with his wife Eileen were ever present on club rides, in 1984 they were jointly awarded the Joe Upton memorial trophy as “Club persons of the Year”.  The couple also enjoyed several continental tours.

His love of gardening ensured that members were never short of tomato plants etc! Alf earned the respect of all who knew him and his funeral service in Whitwick parish church was well attended.

Our thoughts are with Eileen, Caroline and James and grand children and great grand children.


Robert Langton (1945 – 2012)

by John Allen

Another former “section/DA” stalwart, Robert Langton of Glenfield and formerly of Ibstock and Markfield collapsed and died of a massive heart attack in Leicester just before Christmas aged 67 years.

In the 1970’s, he organised many cycle camping trips and hostel weekends for Charnwood’s younger members and got wife Viv on club rides after purchasing a tandem and later equipped this for daughter Fay so that she could join in.

He worked at Caterpillar in Desford, cycling there every day-whatever the weather.

He also enjoyed rambling, organising many walks in the Peak District for Caterpillar colleagues.

Our thoughts are with Viv and Fay.


Ray Dring

by Dave Binks

Ray Dring

There are not many people that can be described as a one off, but one such person was Ray, a truly larger than life character. A builder by profession, he was a legend amongst his work peers and had a life long passion for both climbing and cycling. Even as a youngster he was well up for a laugh, at one time exploding a tin bath in his back yard with some WW11 explosives until the Military Police raided his house and took it all away!

His climbing exploits included some of the famous climbs like the Matterhorn, and although never a top line racing cyclist, he was always keen on the more sporting side of the game. In later life he organised many races and still had a stable of bikes (his “babies”) which were kept in immaculate condition. He could be very blunt, but the twinkle in his eye meant you knew he didn’t mean to be cruel, it’s just the way he was. And he was loved for being himself.

His funeral was a fun affair, totally unreligious and the Loughborough Crematorium was packed out, with people jammed into the hallway, unable to get in.

He leaves his wife Eileen and also Ian, Toni, Craig, Helen and Joanne and all the grandchildren.


Bill Duffin. 15/8/23 – 7/12/12

by Dave Binks

Bill Duffin (15/8/23 - 7/12/12)

Bill, was born in Humberstone, Leicester in 1923. He was an engineer by trade.

Aged 20, he joined the East Midlands Clarion CC for whom he raced the track, very successfully, and where he met his wife Sheila. He was proud of the fact that he rode against Reg Harris who was a multiple World Champion track sprinter at that time.

They lived in Canada for a while where they discovered religion, which was to become a large part of Bill’s life. They ran a Fruit, Veg. and Flower shop for seven years in Market Harborough until they retired.

Bill took up cycling again as a veteran, this time with the Ratae RC. In Veteran’s Races he twice won his age group in their National Championships, setting a 10mls 87 yrs old Age Record. Many of the local cycling events saw (and heard!) Bill, often accompanied by Sheila.

After Sheila’s death some years ago, Bill spent his remaining years riding his bike as much as he could. He would often ride 40 miles to hospitals in the early days of his treatment for cancer, much to the astonishment of the medical staff. He seemed to have got the better of the cancer, but an altercation with a car in 2011 got the better of him and the cancer returned before he could get his strength back.

Bill enjoyed a full and varied life and his family and the many friends he had in both the cycling and church worlds will miss him greatly.

Thanks to Glencroft Church for much of the content.

Riding L’Eroica (part 2))

Words and photos by Ivan Waddington

(Continued from the Winter Edition)

Ivan and his wife have travelled to the Tuscany region of Italy so that he can take part in a classic cycles (pre 1987) ride. He has spent the previous day signing on and sightseeing the area. Today he is due to do the ride. The story continues…..

Riders on the 75 km route could leave between 8.30 and 10.00 and I arrived in Gaiole about 8.15 on the Sunday morning to be met by a long queue of perhaps over a thousand cyclists, all waiting to start, with the queue stretching right around the town. I joined the end of the queue and slowly moved towards the front as groups of a few hundred cyclists set off at regular intervals. The queuing was itself an experience as the whole town seemed to have turned out to see us off, with a local band playing and spectators lining the cordoned off starting area. Finally I got my card stamped and set off in a large group of riders at 9.00, to the cheers of the crowd.

The weather was ideal – it had been sunny and about 26 degrees for the first couple of days but on the day of the ride it was a little cooler, at about 22 degrees. The first ten kilometres were on good fast roads. The route was clearly signposted throughout, with local police marshalling all road junctions and holding up other traffic to allow us through. And then, after about ten kilometres, we hit the first section of strada bianca! And as we hit the chalk road we also hit the first real hill, a steep climb which had everyone reaching for their gear levers. It was clear that many riders had got their vintage bikes out of the shed for this event – many of which had probably not been ridden for a long while – and that, having used Shimano STIs or Campag Ergopower levers for many years, they had forgotten how to change gear using down tube levers! The result was a crashing of gears and, as gears jammed, several riders fell off, making it difficult to focus on climbing a steep hill whilst avoiding falling riders! And as we climbed on this first stretch of chalk road, we were also overtaken by service cars carrying spare bikes with sirens sounding and official photographers sitting on the back of motor bikes and taking photos of the riders, Tour de France style! As we reached the top, the vista opened up and we had a beautiful descent along the dusty chalk road, with the castle at Brolio forming a perfect backdrop for photographs.

As we went round I joined up with and chatted to various riders from England, including one remarkable guy who, having ridden the event for the first time when he was 77 was now riding it for the third time at 80!

We rejoined the tarmac for a few kilometres into the small town of Pianella and then it was onto three long stretches of chalk roads, amounting to about 20 kilometres or so, interspersed with occasional short sections on tarmac. When we came off the long section of chalk roads we had only a few kilometres to go to Radda in Chianti, which was our first check point at 42 km and also the first refreshment stop. There was a long climb up to Radda but this was on a good road surface so was not too difficult. We got our cards stamped in Radda and had a cold drink and sandwiches – the Chianti was saved for later refreshment stops!

From Radda there was fast descent on tarmac for a few kilometres into Panzano, where there was a second refreshment stop. I had eaten a little earlier so was not hungry but I felt that I had earned a small glass of Chianti for my efforts! Thus refreshed, we began what was the toughest part of the course.

The next section of chalk road began immediately outside of Panzano with a three kilometre, very steep climb. The gradient was around 20% for a long stretch and the road surface was deeply rutted with lots of loose gravel, so if you climbed out of the saddle your rear wheel simply slipped on the surface. Probably 80% of riders walked part of the hill, which made it even more difficult for those who did ride it to pick their way past cyclists pushing their bikes up the hill. And my most vivid memory of the hill – apart from the pain and sweat – is of a magnificent old Italian rider, dressed in splendid retro kit and with a wonderful handlebar moustache, who pushed his bike over the top while shrieking in mock pain for his “Mama, Mama”! At the top of the hill there was a second control but also some real goodies – delicious Tuscan bean soup, Italian cheese and ham and (of course) more Chianti! But not too much, for we still had another 21 kilometres to go.

We continued on the chalk road for another six kilometres before rejoining the tarmac for a series of steep climbs which gave us wonderful views of the hills of Tuscany. By the time we came to the final section of chalk road we had completed all the major climbs, a fact for which I, along with, I suspect, most other riders was very grateful. All we had left now was three kilometres of relatively flat chalk road which took us to the very edge of Gaiole before a swift descent into the town.

As we crossed the finishing line, we were generously applauded by local people who still filled the town in celebratory mood. As we had queued to start the ride, so we had to queue at the finish as riders lined up to get the final stamp on their cards and to receive, as a nice touch, a wedge of parmesan cheese for our efforts! I had completed the 75 kilometres in 6 hours and 10 minutes, a time with which I was quite satisfied since we had climbed 1800 metres, much of it on rough road surfaces.

And my final reflections? This is a superbly organised ride through wonderful countryside – the landscape of Tuscany really is quite distinctive and very beautiful – along historic roads which make for a unique experience. But the real achievement of L’Eroica is that, although there were almost 5,500 riders, every rider is made to feel special! It was a simply wonderful experience.


Ivan at the start

L'Eroica riders and walkers

L'Eroica walkers

"Mama, Mama"

Refreshment Stop

WANTED - Your photos

by Dave Binks

As I hope you have noticed, more photos are appearing in Cycle Chat but we constantly need more. The advent of digital photography has made taking, manipulating, distributing and reproducing the images so easy these days there is no excuse for not giving your work a wider audience.

If you have some cycling related shots that would be suitable for publication and you would like to share, email them to editor@ctclr.org.uk

Images must be in .jpg format (virtually every digital camera does that automatically) and I must have both the name of the photographer and his/her permission to use it. I am particularly keen to see work that has been shot in vertical format because then it can be used on the front cover!

To keep costs down, only shots printed on the outer covers are in colour, but I can convert any others to black & white.


Award Winners 2012


(Smith Trophy)
1. Dave Binks
2. Ron Johnson
3. John Allen

Photo by Dave Binks

(Alan Haywood Rosebowl)
1. John Allen
2. Ron Johnson
3. Barbare Elliston

Photo by John Allen

(Sue Greaves Shield)
1. Ron Johnson
2. Dave Binks
2. Dave Binks

Photo by Ron Johnson

Theme - Waterways
(George Clowes Tray)
1. Eileen Johnson
2. John Allen
3. Barbara Elliston

Photo by Eileen Johnson

Cycle Chat - Best Article

(Domont Trophy) 1. Brenda Ottey 2. Dave Binks 3. Ivan Waddington


Freewheel (The Charnwood Salver) 1. Martin Bulmer 2. Stuart Jones 3. Alan Hartshorne
Family (Bull Family Shield) The Jones's - Stuart,
Teresa, Heather & Sadie
Highest placed
National CTC Competition
(CTC Trophy)
Mike Gould &
Alan Hartshorne (joint)
Oldest successful lady rider 200km (Ethel Pickering Vase) Gill Lord
Oldest successful lady rider 100 miles (Moulds Cup) Gill Lord
Oldest successful gent rider 100 miles (Moulds Tankard) Ivan Waddington

Medals of Gold, Silver or Bronze

Bronze Alan Hartshorne
& Peter Witting

Best All Rounders
(48 Sundays and one Saturday)

County CTC events and group rides
Gentleman Open Road Trophy Alan Hartshorne
Lady Soar Valley/
Dennis Heggs Cup
Gill Lord
Junior Kibworth Cup Heather Jones

The Mince Pie Phenomenon

as seen by Lyn Dolphin

On the last Sunday before Christmas each year a strange phenomenon befalls the small Leicestershire village of Belton. Over a two and a half hour time window the village hall sits beneath its own guiding star and cyclists migrate from across the county and beyond for the annual Mince Pie gathering.

Just prior to the scheduled 10.30 start, the hall waits with an expectant air, the silence is almost palpable. Tables are laid out and seats are spaced with near military precision. Sandwiches, cakes and of course mince pies are piled high on the counters. Large pots of tea are made. The cash tin is ready. And the Loughborough section members are poised, ready for the invasion.

How many will come is dictated by the weather. Snow, ice and rain make the numbers fall, but a little sunshine brings out many – will there be too little or too much food is a constant thought prior to the start.

The hands on the clock move to 10.30, and, as if a gong has struck, the cyclists start to enter the hall. Racing clubs in their resplendent, sometimes vibrant, colours and touring cyclists in black lycra, coloured clothing or tartan plus-fours. Tall cyclists, short cyclists, young cyclists, old cyclists, seasoned cyclists, novice cyclists, recumbent cyclists, tandem cyclists and car assisted cyclists, they all come, one and all. The tables fill up, the seats are moved randomly, noise and temperature levels rise. Clothing, helmets, hats and gloves are abandoned to any spare space, tea is drunk, sandwiches and cake are eaten, raffle tickets bought, Christmas cards swapped, long lost friends reunited and stories of the past year, plans for Christmas and aspirations for the following year are shared.

The hands of the clock move on. As they approach noon the raffle tickets are folded and the draw commences. Whilst none of the prizes are expensive, all are donated and the joy of winning, or the disappointment of not, is all part of the experience.

And then, in the same way as it started, everyone just disappears, off to their own rituals of Christmas. The volunteers from Loughborough section tidy up, clear away, count the profit for the charity and switch off the lights for another year. The hall returns to silence.

I have looked in the dictionary for a collective noun for a gathering of cyclists. The nearest one is a peloton, but this really relates to the chasing pack in a road race. So I think the next time you see a group of cyclists, on the road, in a cafe or pub, or just gathering by the roadside, you should think of them as a “belton” of cyclists - in a tribute to this annual spectacle and the hard work that goes into staging it by the unsung volunteers of the Loughborough section.


Carol Service 2012

by Peter Witting (Photo by Ron Johnson)

Carol Servie

The event was a success, despite the location in the furthest South Eastern corner of our area. We had around 60 attending, with a fair number from over the Northants border, plus some from over our Northern borders.

Thanks are due to our readers, with special mention of Gerry Boswell who had travelled from York for the event.

Thanks also to Ray Clay for setting up the event at the funeral of Doreen Sulley, persuading the Rev. James Shakespeare to take the service at his church at Great Bowden. Doreen’s son Robert co-ordinated a team of bell ringers from the South Leicesters.

The caterers, led by Barbara Witting and the Lakins, did an excellent job which resulted in a surplus of £28.28.

The collection at the service was shared with the church and with the Shelter Housing Aid Research Project, each receiving £75.


Reader’s Letters

We welcome relevant Reader’s Letters, but if a letter is intended for publication, it should be made clear that this is the case. The author’s name and contact details must be included, together with the date, but the full address will not be printed. Handwritten letters are fine, provided they are legible and not too long - the Editor is a volunteer and not a copy typist!

Cycle Chat – point of view

Articles are interesting to read but what has happened to the CLUB Runs. Interested newcomers would surely welcome this kind of input into the magazine.

Answers please.

Eric Neale L8798, Hinckley

* Editor’s comment; The Section Reports include news from the clubruns.

Dear Dave,

I was very interested to read in your Winter Editorial a reference to the many cyclists you had come across who were kitted out in the very latest gear but seemed to know nothing about bikes, because I too have been noticing this kind of thing for some years.

Of course, the tremendous successes in the 2012 Tour de France and Olympics, plus two successive Sports Personalities of the Year* in Mark Cavendish & Bradley Wiggins (after Chris Hoy in 2008), have recently played a very large part in stimulating a welcome surge of interest, but I think a change has been going on for quite some time.

When I first moved to Stone four years ago, I was pleased to spot a young man from down the road occasionally setting off on an obviously expensive bike in full racing gear: smart trade top, slick helmet, wrap-around sunglasses, track mitts, and of course no mudguards or bags. One day I managed to hail him as (I thought) a committed fellow-cyclist. “What club are you in?” I asked, assuming him to be one of the fit young stallions from Stone Wheelers or the Stafford RC. “Club?” he asked, obviously puzzled.

Our subsequent conversation soon showed that he knew nothing at all about the British club world – and in fact very little about cycling in general! He was completely unaware of such things as Sunday morning time trials, midweek evening 10s and local road races. As for touring, although he didn’t say so, I had the impression that bags and mudguards would have been considered very uncool. Our chat clearly showed that almost all his knowledge of cycling was derived from TV coverage of the Tour de France. His top-of-the-range kit had been acquired with advice from a large bike shop. I don’t think he really understood the gearing.

In my own racing days – admittedly well over 50 years ago – to go on a club run, or even chain-gang training – dressed in racing gear like this young men would have been seen as posing. On an ordinary Sunday club run you dressed as a cycle tourist, and when out training you wore older clothes which you didn’t mind sweating into heavily! Of course, greater prosperity since those days fortunately means that a young racing cyclist nowadays doesn’t have just one precious outfit – a kind of “Sunday Best” – which he or she saves for the actual race. Furthermore, it is no longer easy to distinguish the racing man from the tourist – or even from someone who isn’t really a cyclist at all in the traditional club sense but who can afford all the latest kit and is just “out for a bike ride”!

I discussed the proliferation of this new kind of cyclist with a friend in Solihull CC, who pointed out an advantage I hadn’t thought of. Their taste for top-of-the-range up-to-date gear is very good for the bike shops – and so is the fact that they need all their equipment changes and mechanical adjustments doing for them!

On the other hand, I’m concerned that such cyclists may not be interested in the bike as a handy means of transport. For getting to work, or shopping, they are still likely to use their car – even for short distances.

Best wishes.

Peter Hopkins, Stone

* Editor’s comment; After receiving this letter, Peter and I had a chat re who was the first recipient. Peter thought it had been Reg Harris in 1949, but I told him that was not correct. Peter did a bit of research and came back with:-

“I don’t think SPOTY existed back in the 50s, before popular TV.With regard to the Sportsman of the Year award, it was organised by the Press, but I don’t think they (or their journalists) picked the recipient.Reg Harris’s autobiography (1976) says it was “by national ballot” and the 1950 biography of George Pearson (Editor of “Cycling” at that time) says that 22,000 people voted for him. My memory of it is that there was a bit of complaining about how voting was allowed 1949, which resulted in a change to the rather loose “rules”.Apparently, cycling clubs got together & sent things like exercise books full of members’ signatures, which at the time the newspaper running it had to allow.I believe that, following this, only individual votes sent in separately were accepted.”

Contents Jaki Lowe CTC

Jaki Lowe - your new East Midlands Councillor

You may not realise that the CTC Nationally is controlled by elected members, who make up the National Council.

We in the East Midlands get to elect a member to represent us and Jaki is taking over the reins from our own John Catt who has served us well for the last few years and for which we thank him.

A full background for Jaki can be found on http://www.ctc.org.uk/about-ctc/ctc-national-council/who-on-council/jaki-lowe

But for those without the ability or time to read that:-

  • She has been a CTC member for 17 years and lives in Nottingham, where she works as Human Resource Director in the local NHS.
  • She has in the past cycled with a local group, commuted, attended rallies and has completed road and MTB tours.
  • In recent years she has cycled locally with friends and whilst away camping and has completed the Great Nottinghamshire Bike Ride and Tanya’s Challenge.
  • She has a custom made Mercian bike but is currently considering purchasing an electric bike and thinks this area will open up cycling to a wider audience who still want to be “out there”.

Jaki can be contacted on jaki.lowe@ctc.org.uk or on her mobile telephone number which is 0787 3335516 .


What’s the Odds on that?

by Dave Binks

We were out for an afternoon ride that was turning into a “chain gang”. There were only three of us and we were gradually going faster and faster, taking it in turns to ride at the front into the strong headwind. The lead rider was pushing hard and the other two were lined out behind, sheltering in his slipstream before moving round in rotation to share the time on the front.

We had just climbed quite a long drag and I was getting very warm and “into” the ride. We had just entered a small town and I knew there was a set of traffic lights we would soon have to go through, so was looking forwards to, hopefully, a short pause in the pain. Yes, thankfully the lights were red and we slowed down and rolled up to the stop line. The lead rider waved his hand to indicate he was stopping and at the same time reached into his pocket and pulled out his mobile phone. I hadn’t heard it ring, but with the wind in my ears that was not surprising. Not being sure which way we would go after the lights, and not wishing to stop and have my legs seize up, I simply turned around and rode back down the road again until he had finished, as did the second rider. “He’ll be done in a few moments and we can carry on again.” I thought to myself whilst trying to get my breath back and my heart rate down from heart attack speed.

I came back again and he was still looking at the screen, obviously not finished, so I turned back down the road again for another loop. However, this time I looked back to see what he was doing and he was still just looking at the screen. I had a sudden thought that perhaps it wasn’t a phone call, but he was looking up on his all-in-one electronic gizmo for the directions from an on-line map. So when I got back to him again, I stopped and looked at the screen, expecting to see a map, but instead something else that left me speechless.

It seems that he had at some time earlier placed a bet on a horse and was looking at the racing results to see if he had won!



- By Dave Binks
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18
Part 19
Part 20
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. With a few “free” days without customers in his area, he has ridden up to see a colleague in the next region to help him out.

The story continues…..

Tuesday September 4

I helped in the garage for a while, and then we cycled back across to his Logis to see off his departing holidaymakers and collect their bikes. On the way back I rode my bike whilst at the same time wheeling one of the others beside me, effectively riding two bikes at once, and something most cyclists can do. However, this was something Andrew had never seen done, so had been wheeling bikes backwards and forwards on foot all summer.

Seeing how much time it would save him as it was about 10 minutes walk, he attempted to copy me, but after a few failed attempts gave up and just walked them both back as usual, much to my amusement.

After lunch, taken sitting in the sun in the garden, something I couldn’t do at Roullet, I rode into the city of Niort. I had soon spotted that Andrew was very short of good general purpose tools, some of his specialist ones were in very poor condition and he also had no general spares, so I made it my business to get them for him. Unlike my set up, where there are good stores less than 5 miles away and on my side of Angouleme, Andrew had at least 10 miles to go, and to cross Niort to get to them.

I got a little lost in the lanes on the way, and a lot lost in Niort itself. I knew the shops I wanted were on the east side of the town, but the obvious way of getting to them was on the main N11 – a nightmare road on a bike but all the road signs kept steering me onto it. After a few swear words and unnecessary miles I eventually stumbled upon the massive out of town “Centre Commercial”, but even then had to stop and study the large map helpfully erected at the entrance to show the exact location of the various stores.

By the time I got back I had done far more miles than I thought I would have to, it had been hot, and I was getting tired. We had already agreed Andrew would cook tonight, with my turn next day, so I was grateful to hear the words “Dinner’s on.” when I got in.

37 miles

Wednesday September 5

During the next week, Andrew’s area was to host a Group Holiday for anyone wanting to ride in company, and another Susi employee, Marion, was due to arrive today to lead it, so I had to move out of my bedroom to another not quite such good one, but no problem there.

I did some more work in the garage whilst Andrew went off to do his hosting at the Logis, returning in time for lunch. I wanted to have a ride around the area to see what it was like and he pointed me in the direction of the area called “Venise Verte” which translates as “Green Venice” due to the many streams and rivers and small waterways traversing this pancake flat area.

Where the river is, it’s nice, but move away and it’s like being in the Fens in Lincolnshire – flat and very open, with enormous fields growing crops. The only thing missing is the black soil found in that eastern county of England. It is obviously very popular with sedate cyclists (hence Susi having a presence there) and there were many to be seen cruising slowly along the flat roads and stopping at the little restaurants in all the touristy places. I enjoyed my little ride, but was very glad I wasn’t based there as I would have seen it all in a week and just got bored.

One thing that is rather unusual is the way the locals can create fire on the water, and postcards show this being done. They stir up the mud at the bottom of the canal bed and this releases the methane gases caused by the rotting vegetation on the bottom. The gas rises and erupts onto the surface of the water; where a match is struck and the gas ignites with a lazy yellow flame – most curious.

When I got back Marion had arrived and she explained she had previously worked there until illness forced her to return home for treatment. She was now recovered* and planning to lead the Group Holiday next week. It was my turn to cook and we all gorged on a pasta, bacon and tomatoes concoction I knocked up, followed by fresh fruit.

* Sadly, since writing this, her illness returned and she has since died.

35 miles

Thursday September 6

I wanted to return back to my base today, but only needed half a day for the journey, so spent more time in the garage until an early lunch, after which I set up the camera to record our happy faces. I was happy to have spent some time in company and also to have seen a different area. I was also happy that I had made the right choice way back in March when I said I didn’t want to come here. Yes the digs were fantastic, but that was all. The cycling was boring, the area was not interesting (to me) the shops were a lot further away, and the workshop was very poor.

My return route was the same as the outward, except that I stayed on the side roads to Villeneuve la Comtesse rather than the N150. I had the benefit of a bit of a tailwind, sometimes fully behind me, but was still pretty tired by the time I got home. Despite it having been a warm day, my digs were freezing in the shadow of the overhanging trees when I got back, and the heating was switched on immediately.

67 miles

Friday September 7

I felt really tired this morning and even ached a bit, presumably the ride home had been harder than I thought, but as the day went on, felt better. A leisurely breakfast and some paperwork still left me with time before lunch to take the mudguards and carrier off my bike and put some panniers on the bikes ready for my next guests.

A little shopping in the warm sunshine was as much as I wanted to do in La Couronne before coming back. The wind was very strong indeed and on the weather forecast over the last few days they had mentioned the Mistral running down the Rhone Valley. This is a weather phenomenon peculiar to the central area of France which when conditions are right, creates a warm, but strong, wind blowing southwards, and I reckoned we must have been on the edge of it. My tailwind yesterday would have been much stronger, but I pitied anyone trying to go the other way.

8 miles

Saturday September 8

As yesterday I didn’t rush out of bed and it was nearly noon before I made my way to the Post Office and Bank. I carried on into Angouleme just for a wander around in the sunshine, but again, as yesterday, the very strong wind kept things cool unless you were out of the wind, when it was very hot indeed.

I found a little local snack bar and treated myself to a steak and chips dinner followed by lemon tart, washed down by a soft drink, all of which only came to 11.90€ (about £8.30) and that included waitress service.

Ever since I had been in Angouleme there had been two building projects underway in the City. One was a general tidying up of the area surrounding the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall) which included laying a new pedestrian area, and also a massive retail development in the shopping area. At last both of these had been completed and it was nice not to have to negotiate the builders fencing and get dust blown on me as I walked by. The pedestrian area looked nice but the shopping development seemed to me to have been done a little on the cheap. The stairs leading between the two shopping levels were simply galvanised steel such as would be found in an industrial complex. Whilst perfectly functional, they did look rather out of place. I would have expected to see them at least painted or made from stainless steel or have some sort of decorative coating, but the locals thought it was wonderful, and it was very busy on the opening day.

The French are particularly fond of strip cartoons (remember Tintin and his dog?) and Angouleme prides itself on housing the National Museum of Strip Cartoons and they also have some large cartoon murals painted on walls and buildings around the City. Armed with a booklet from the Tourist Information Office, I went in search of them, but having only spotted about half of them at their locations, soon gave up. The ones I did see ranged from “very good” to “so what?”

On returning to base, I was involved in welcoming my next holidaymakers who had just spent a couple of days in the Loire Valley with its numerous Chateaux before carrying on down to me. A quick chat and bike demo and I still had time to go into the hotel kitchen for my free evening meal.

20 miles

Sunday September 9

It was cold and the sun was only just up at 7.45am when I set off to meet the clubrun.

There was a major cycling event not far away that I had thought about riding, but at 28€ (about £20) entry fee decided it was more than I wanted to pay for a ride that would be similar to one I could do for nothing with the club. Also the 8am start 10 miles away requiring a ride out in the pre-dawn cold with lights on, and no licence or crash hat made the decision an easy one to make.

Due to the low numbers at the start of the club run, we stayed together in one group, which was pleasant as it kept the pace down and allowed some conversation.

I had taken my small camera and caused some amusement by taking their photos whilst riding along beside them, and sometimes simply pointing it over my head at those behind. I got the impression no-one had ever done that before, but I didn’t actually ask.

Today was the opening day of the hunting season, and the fields were busy with men in camouflage clothing armed with guns and accompanied by dogs. At times it sounded like a battle going on, there were so many bangs. I asked what they were killing (“hunting” doesn’t seem the correct word to me unless the prey also has a gun) and was told rabbit and game birds. However, soon afterwards someone in the group spotted a deer running for its life across a field beside us, away from the guns. I wished it luck as it ran down between the lines of vines and eventually into a wood. I reckoned it would be OK for today, but tomorrow…?

At first the wind was almost non-existent, but as we neared midday, we could feel it on our backs, and when we stopped at a roundabout to watch a bit of the cycling event, its presence was very obvious.

I had assumed the event was a mass leisure type ride similar to last week’s, but it turned out to be a race in all but name. There were evidently 800 entrants taking part over three distances varying from 30 to 100 miles. I was at first suspicious about that figure, but certainly I saw many hundreds pass by, so it must have been correct; eat your heart out, British Cycling!

Before continuing with our own ride home we waited long enough to see some of the people who normally ride with us flash by on one of their laps.

63 miles

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


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