Leicestershire and Rutland
Cyclists' Touring Club

(founded 1897)


Editor's Comments
President's Page
Secretary's Report
Technical Topics
Leicester Easy Riders
South Leicestershire Report
Charnwood Generals
Inappropriate "Peeing"
Barry Whitworth (1937 - 2013)
Belgian Birthdays and Battlefields
30 mile/30 Km Rides and Freewheel
One Thing Leads to Another...
Sulley Challenge Rides
Cycling Shorts
A Summer in France (part 22)

Churnet Valley
Cover courtesy of John Allen

"Editor's Comments"

Dave Binks

There can surely only be one topic of conversation amongst anyone who ventures outdoors for their pastime, hobby or sport; the weather.

As I sit here typing this in early May, the sun is streaming in through the window and I at last am starting to think spring has finally arrived. Or has it? Only time will tell!

After the coldest March for over 60 years and now a prolonged dry spell, the flowers and wildlife are all late in starting their march towards procreation. The daffodils seemed to be about 4 weeks late, and my heating bills have just gone through my bank account like a bike wheel through a deep puddle.

My mileage chart shows I'm about a month behind my normal tally for this time of year. It was so depressingly cold in that bitter east wind that I just couldn't face the thought of being frozen for hours and opted to stay in. We seemed to have a couple of warmer days which tempted us to think better weather was starting, only for it to go cold again.

If there is such a thing as the "Law of Averages" perhaps it means that, in order to balance things out, we will have a decent summer. I do hope so.

Your local CTC Section as it's now called ("DA" to the older members) has a wide and varied programme of events to tempt you out on your bikes for some cycling socialising. Some have a minor element of competition, but most are just a way to get us all together doing what we enjoy; riding our bikes in the country.

This edition has some interesting items to interest, entertain, amuse and educate you, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Finally; The caption for the front cover in the Spring Edition was wrong. It was of course the Clock Tower in Leicester, not Skegness. But as nobody claimed the bottle of champagne for spotting it, I'll have to drink it myself!


President's Page

John Allen

It was a very great honour to receive the Bill Seager Trophy as "Clubperson of 2012" at the dinner and prize presentation. As I said I then I received it also on behalf of wife Ivy without whom I could not carry out those duties. It was a great pity snowdrifts on the higher ground prevented some members from getting to our railway themed dinner at the Great Central Railway and of course thanks go to Ray Clay for the organisation again.

Since the dinner I have had a stay in Leicester General Hospital to have a large tumour removed from my bladder, in a hospital bed it certainly made you appreciate the joys of cycling in wonderful countryside.

Due to the above I missed the 30 mile and Freewheel and Charnwood's 62nd Anniversary luncheon and both events I understand went off well.

Sadly we have lost several more people who have graced our CTC, Wilf Martin, Nancy Kent, Alan Wardle and Barry Whitworth.

Nancy wife of the late Charnwood founder member Stan was always to be found preparing food for the wonderful Charnwood socials, Alan also gave great support when his wife Pauline and children Martin and Nicola were ever present on Charnwood rides in the eighties and Barry was a revered colleague in my early years as a CTC member. Wilf was one of life's gentlemen regularly turning up at social events and county events where he enjoyed the company of others.

Hopefully I should be fit enough to help organise the Back to the Fuchsia rides and the Tri-Vets on June 9th.

The President's ride on Sunday September 15th will start from Market Bosworth Market Place at 10am. Further details to be finalised.

Finally thank you for all the cards, they certainly cheered me up when I was feeling down.

Enjoy and appreciate your cycling.

John Allen


Secretary’s View

by Ray Clay


Thank goodness we have left the snow and floods behind (I hope!) Now the problem is the wind. I decided to try Jim Gerrard's 30k meander ride. Very enjoyable although I found it quite hard with the hills and the wind. 30K? Somehow I managed to do 27 miles. I was too clever. I downloaded what I thought was the route off the internet the night before and transposed it onto a map. I must have used the wrong route sheet since it bore little resemblance to the one Jim issued. Never mind, the tea and cake at Shenton Station went down well.

I also participated in the Sulley Challenge Rides organised by David Grimshaw. This time, I managed to ride the correct route, albeit slowly. I rode my trusty old Falcon, once owned by Les Kirk. David confirmed that I was the only rider with 27 inch wheels! People were whizzing past me on their super lightweight expensive machines. Me, I plodded on with my flask and sandwiches in my pannier. Perhaps I'm an inverted snob? David organised a good day and it was well supported.

In March, the annual dinner/prize presentation appeared to be well received. This time it was held at the Butler Henderson Cafe Bistro at Quorn Station, a new venue for us. Unfortunately, the weather made things very tricky for some. Roads in the forest were closed due to snow drifts. Keith and Jean Lakin made it from Coalville with difficulty but Ron and Eileen Johnson couldn't get through from Bagworth. The event was nevertheless well supported with nearly 30 people in attendance.

I would have liked to ride the "Back to the Fuchsia" event in May but I shall be touring round the lovely Norfolk and Suffolk churches. Unfortunately, I shan't be on my bike but with a church coach party. I have had some enjoyable cycling holidays around there in the past taking in the very interesting churches.

Although not a Leicestershire and Rutland event, I'm involved with arranging, for about the twelfth time, the cycle camping rally at Beaumanor Hall. Technically, it's an East Midlands CTC event, and I'm pleased to say that I've got ride leaders from most of our neighbouring counties. I've managed to get better national publicity this year and, in addition to the regulars, I've had enquiries from Sussex and Wales. Local cyclists are booking too. The facilities are excellent and there is a good feeling of comradeship.

At the time of writing, our President, John Allen has just returned home from hospital after an operation. I gather that he is doing fine and in good spirits. We all wish you a speedy recovery John.


Technical Topics

by Peter Witting

Gas cylinder compatibility

Take note if you use small gas appliances for camping or DIY: Campingaz* have recently introduced their "Plus" range of re-sealable gas cartridges. They are incompatible with all previous appliances! So beware if you buy their "Easy Clic Plus" cartridges this summer to use with your old lightweight camping stove - they won't work! You should take care to buy an old-style cartridge if available. It is possible to buy an adaptor to allow an old-style screw-in appliance to work with these new cylinders. But an Edelrid* adaptor can cost nearly £15 by mail order and adds 75gms to your appliance. They also do another adaptor to allow use of the old design screw-in appliances with the cheaper Campingaz* pierced cylinders (like the old GoGas* 2130 adaptor of a decade ago). So far I'm unaware of any adaptor that allows the new Campingaz* appliances to be used with any of the old-style cylinders.

Editor's addendum - it may be cheaper and more convenient to change your stove to one that uses the ISO Screw Thread (EN417). This is a resealable type fitting that screws into the device. You can take it on and off the device as many times as you want. They are extremely popular now (especially in the EU) so there are lots of stoves brands and types to pick from, and as a result the canisters are widely available. Many portable stoves have this type of fitting. The advantage is that this is a European Standard fitting and lots of the major brands now use it (but NOT Campingaz*!). It is now so common that even DIY stores sell the small gas cartridges for blowlamps etc, and being the same butane / propane gas mix, can be safely used on your camping stove.
* Trade Mark
Old Pierceable Cartidge
Old Pierceable Cartridge
New valve cartridge
New "Plus" Valve Cartridges

Waterproof Gloves Revisited

Last year I bemoaned the lack of reliable waterproof winter gloves. Plenty are sold as waterproof, but subsequently fail, leaving hands wet and frozen. Not everyone would resort to a full cape over the handlebars just to keep the gloves dry and the hands warm. I may have re-discovered the solution - Nylon waterproof over-mitts! They were lying at the bottom of a drawer, unused for decades! With today's STI / Ergo gear levers, the lack of fingers is no longer an issue (the reason they were originally discarded). Worn over my usual winter combination of thermal liners and thick horse-riding gloves, the thin nylon over-mitts worked a treat. I just need to find a current source for next winter.

Editor's addendum - when caught out in very wet snow on a club ride recently, I used some thin disposable pvc "inspection" type gloves I carry to keep my hands clean when changing dirty tyres or fixing chains. Because they were inside my already wet gloves, they did nothing to keep the gloves dry, but did seem to limit the heat loss from my fingers. These gloves are available in both latex and pvc. I prefer the pvc type because they are more resistant to ageing and oil.


Leicester Easy Riders

by Jim Gerrard

The extended winter this year now seems to have finally lost its grip although at the time of writing the forecast is again talking of wintry weather over our forthcoming weekend away.

From Cycle Chat Photos

The number of riders out has been fairly good over the last few months but the snow / ice / rain have taken there toll with a wet day out to Pillings Lock Barrow on Soar mid February and Andy's ride mid March to Loddington having to be abandoned due to a morning blizzard although the afternoon turned out to be quite nice but by that time everybody was at home recovering.

My intended ride the following week was cancelled due to over night snow and ice again.

A local lanes ride led by Norman Delves early April turned out to be a good day out with coffee at Sweethedges, lunch at Medbourne and tea at Church Langton which opened for teas again after Easter. 10 Riders enjoyed the day.

6 of our members supported the the Meander rides the following week .

June's ride on the 21st April saw 8 riders enjoying the local lanes round Cossington and out to Woodhouse Eaves before retuning home.

Our mini tour to Derbyshire was enjoyed at the end of April, although due to the strong winds over the week end a few hard days in the saddle were experienced.

The Northerly wind on the Friday made our last few miles up to Parsley Hay on the Tissington Trail the hardest I have ever had on this route nearly being blown of the track a couple of times before enjoying the final down hill on the Long Rake and into Youlgrave to our B & B.

From Cycle Chat Photos
Jim Gerrard, Norman Castle, Dave Smith and Pete Steer outside the B&B in Youlgreave

Saturdays intended ride to Ladybower / Derwent Reservoir proved to be a little bit over ambitious with the still strong wind and terrain so we enjoyed a easier day in the Bakewell area before our return to Youlgrave again for our second night.

Sunday saw the wind change to a Westerly. Unfortunately we were heading into the wind again with a overnight stop in Lichfield which we reached via Ashbourne and Sudbury.

Monday at last proved to be wind assisted for our return to Leicester via Alrewas and the National Memorial Arboretum with a final coffee break at the Twycross Zoo Tibet Cafe where the snow leopard provided interest while we enjoyed our coffee.

A dry week end was enjoyed but the cold wind prevented the wearing of shorts as we had been able to over the recent spring trips.

Editor's Note. This is Jim's last report, and I would like to thank him for his contributions to Cycle Chat over the years. The good news is Dave Smith has taken over the keyboard, so reports will still appear. Without someone putting digit to keyboard, the magazine would be very small indeed.


South Leicestershire Spring 2013

by Tony Davis

The weather has given us some interesting challenges over the last quarter. On Sunday 10th February the wind and rain prompted me into sending the message "We ride for pleasure. I'm hardy but not a masochist". This provoked two responses, one from Neil asking "are you sure?" and one from Peter suggesting that the weather was "what sou'westers and capes were invented for!" Despite these helpful comments Jayne and I decided to light a fire and stay in.

The following week was the rescheduled Welland Valley Reliability Ride. Jayne and I tend to leave the house on a "just in time" basis so I got the bikes out ready on Saturday night. However when we were ready to set off I discovered a rear wheel flat. This short delay meant that by the time we arrived at Husbands Bosworth everyone else had left. So we stopped for our first coffee, cake and chat of the day at Husbands Bosworth with Nick and George Barnett. From there we headed for the planned coffee stop on the route at the Buddhist Centre near Kelmarsh. On the road near Sibbertoft we were caught by Shane Blower, Dave Gair and Richard Gorman. I had only seen Richard once since sharing a room with him before and after Paris-Brest-Paris in 2011. The group was joined at Kelmarsh by Peter Witting and Diane, Dave Gair's fiancée. This easy day out was topped off with lunch at the Red Lion at Sibbertoft where Neil and Judy arrived as we left.

February was rounded off with a ride out to Hallaton for Coffee followed by lunch at Bridge 61 Foxton, one of my favourite lunch stops. Fortunately the weather had not encouraged the Sunday strollers onto the canal towpath so we were able to get seats in the bar.

Late March saw the return of winter. The ride on the 17th started dull. This was followed by drizzle which turned to sleet then snow. Each deterioration in the weather was followed by another rider peeling off to head for home. No-one made it as far as the coffee stop.

The following week we had real snow with local roads unsafe for riding on a road bike. Jayne and I drove to Catthorpe in very slow traffic on the A5 due the motorway being closed. We called at Manor Farm to see if anyone had been mad enough to ride but fortunately we were all alone.

On a very windy Sunday in April the usual suspects plus Dave Mann and Judy rode out via Kilworth and Sibbertoft for coffee at Waterloo Farm near Great Oxendon. After this we were very disappointed to find that the Royal Oak in Naseby, one of our regular lunch stops, had changed hands and the pub no longer had a wide range of beers and was not serving food.

We had a proper winter, fingers crossed for a good summer.


General Knowledge

Lyn Dolphin

I have just looked through the last quarter rides, only to discover that due to weather conditions, sickness and riding with the Tandem Club, Pete and I have only been out with the section six times. One of those was our Sunday lunch ride, which had to be done in automobiles due to torrential rain, and one where we met the section for 11's whilst I was struggling with laryngitis, so only four on our bikes. I apologise now therefore for the somewhat abbreviated report of our exploits.

The first was with Joe at the beginning of the year, with 11's at Twycross Zoo where the snow leopards came out to play whilst we were there, followed by lunch at Carlton. The next one saw us go to the Farm Park at East Leake, with Keith posing as Nick for the leader, and after a very cold ride lunch was at Quorn.

The first weekend in March saw us at Stenson Bubble after following the Cloud trail from Worthington and the cycle route between Chellaston and Sinfin, we cycled on to lunch at Willington via the Sustrans route from Mickleover to Hilton.

Our final journey out was with Martin, but this was a very curtailed route, it should have gone to Hinckley, but due to bitter winds and snow ended up at Shackerstone station and then home.

Due to where Easter fell this year we have moved our usual break to the May bank holiday week, whence we will be awheel in Northumberland whilst staying in Alnwick for the week. Martin, Jeanette, Joe, Keith, Pete and I are in a cottage, Brenda, Dave and Pearl in motor homes, and of course Soo in her home. Lots of lovely countryside, hills and sea air should set us all on the right path back to fitness (or finish us off once and for all!), not to mention tea and cake. The war of the GPS v maps will be back amongst us, will those hills play havoc with the gadget men? Soo has been given the task to find pubs with quizzes to keep us entertained in the evening and for us to upset the locals whilst we all hide behind Jeanette's amazing powers of recall.


Inappropriate "Peeing"

Avril Eyre tells us of some embarrassing moments in her life.

Toilets are a bit like policemen, you can never find one when you want one. Out on the bike finding a pee stop is easy for blokes - they simply face into the hedge and relief is immediate. For us ladies it is slightly more complicated. Full cover is necessary and not always easy to find. A pressing need often affects judgement and leads to bad choices. Here are some of mine.

Under a railway bridge into the lee and shelter of blue bricks, I was in full flow when I heard whistles and laughter, looking up I saw above me on the bridge a row of workmen getting a full view. I quickly straightened up and, in an attempt to brazen it out I called 'you've seen it all before', a voice floated down -'Yes, but not yours.'

Beware the false lay-by and hedge. This turned out to be the bottom of a drive up to a rather posh house. I realised this as I stood up and looked upwards, there in an elegant bay-window, seated around a table were some people having brunch. A hasty retreat was called for.

Beware also the completely deserted lane where no traffic has passed for ages but the minute I stopped and stooped every man and his dog appeared from miles around to get a good look.

Fenland roads are a minefield for the frantic pee-er. With no hedges for miles I thought to make do behind some tall reeds. The ground opened beneath my feet and I was knee deep in water in a narrow but quite deep dyke.

Even when you think you've picked the perfect spot behind a thick hedge suddenly, on a railway line you've failed to notice, a passenger train chugging slowly past not twenty yards away. A face at every window takes note of your underwear. I did the End to End on a shoestring budget staying in Youth Hostels, cooking my own food and picnicking along the way. On the few occasions when I had to do B & Bs, I tried to mitigate the expense by eating every scrap of food provided. After an overnight B & B on the Queensferry Road in Edinburgh, I ate a full English and consumed 6 slices of toast, all washed down with 5 cups of coffee. For good measure I drank the remaining milk. I'd not got far before I started the frantic search for a pee-stop. Houses lined the route and the traffic to the Forth Bridge was nose to tail, I was desperate. Getting onto the cycle path over the bridge I noticed I was gaining height, up and away from the motor traffic. Seizing my chance as the traffic passed below me, I stopped, stooped and made my contribution to the mighty river.

AND FINALLY you might think motoring would be trouble free in the pee stakes but on a memorable occasion when motoring through the Everglades with not a tree or bush in sight, I thought to make use of the dry ditch running alongside the road. I jumped down and took cover. Almost finished, I heard rustling noises and there coming along the ditch with a purposeful look in its eye was a large alligator. Somewhat to my surprise, I was able to execute a perfect vertical take off and was back in the car in "two shakes".

Contents Barry Whitworth 4th December 1937 - 22nd April 2013

Barry Whitworth
(4th December 1937 - 22nd April 2013) Aged 75 Years

by Keith Lakin

Barry was a quiet man who had two great passions in his life, firstly football, his nephew Steve Whitworth who lived about a mile down the road, he was a full back and captain of Leicester City FC, who also played five times for England under manager Don Revie, Barry was so very proud of him.

Barry was a life long supporter of the City and was addicted to all of the club's history.

Secondly cycling with the Charnwood Section from 1953 to 1970, when he stopped riding to look after his father and later his mother.

In these seventeen years he missed very few Sundays rides in the countryside he loved, particularly in the Lake District when, staying at Black Sail Youth Hostel he nearly caused a riot when he knocked over a primus stove alight with methylated spirits. It was a wonder he did not light up all Wastwater. The Easter Tour of Wales was a surprise, the morning after the first night in a Y.H.A. we were all greeted with a foot of snow.

In later life he joined Ellistown W.M.C. where he served on the Committee for many years, he also played dominoes in the league and I was pleased to be his partner in the pairs competitions.

Barry will be missed by his family and particularly by his younger brother Paul who cycled with him. After cycling all this number of years he will be greatly missed by many and I am proud to have known him.


Belgian Birthdays and Battlefields

words & photos by Anne Taylor

Nearly 100 years since the outbreak of World War1 and we decided to fulfil a long held desire to visit some of the Battlefield Sites and War Graves of that conflict. The trip had another purpose as we were invited as surprise guests to Chris's nephew's birthday celebration near Brussels.

A very early Monday morning start in heavy rain saw us arrive in Dover, and almost miss the ferry due to the late arrival of the shuttle bus. Arriving at Dunkerque the weather had improved, and we set off on our bikes to follow a recommended cycle route intending to arrive at Ypres in the afternoon. The best laid plans soon went awry and we realised our route map was inadequate when we came full circle after 10 miles cycling. A puncture added to the problems, and the weather took a turn for the worse, soon we were being lashed by gale force winds and horizontal rain.

A well meaning local re-directed us along the coast route, but a brief stop at a French border duty free shop alerted us to the fact that our ETA was wildly optimistic. After a few more miles and the unpleasant experience of Chris being blown off his bike, Anne threw the towel in and started searching for a railway station. Several hours later, sustained only by a bar of chocolate, and having travelled in a tortuous route around Flanders we arrived in Ypres cold, wet and hungry. Fortunately, on finding our pre-booked B&B things improved dramatically. A hot bath and cuppa was bliss, and soon followed by an excellent meal and a few drinks and songs with a jovial group of Scottish old soldiers.

Flanders Fields Museum

After a good nights sleep and generous breakfast we took in the sights, particularly the magnificently rebuilt Cloth Hall, now the Flanders Fields Museum, a truly impressive and fitting memorial to the war dead. Armed with an excellent map of the Battlefield Circular Tour we set off in sunshine and soon found what a pleasure it is cycling in Belgium. Dedicated cycle paths, considerate motorists and brilliant signage made for a great days cycling. The route took in many War Cemeteries, including the former dressing station of Canadian Dr John Mcrae, author of the famous Flanders Fields poem. No-one could fail to be impressed by the poignant sight of the graves, whether in a very small cemetery in a farmer's field, or one of the larger ones with hundreds of graves and all are kept immaculately by the War Graves Commission.

At 8 o'clock we joined a large crowd for the daily memorial service at the Menin Gate. This moving service has taken place every evening since the Gate was built just after the War as a monument to thousands of soldiers with no known grave.

Meeting up again with our Scottish friends, we were treated to more songs, this time accompanied by bagpipes (which necessitated a move to another bar). Exchanging shirts and addresses we parted with fond memories of Ypres.

Now familiar with the excellent waymarking system of cycle routes in Belgium, we set off for our next destination - Oudenarde. En route we visited the beautiful house and gardens which house the Paschendale Museum with its replica trench system, and the largest War Cemetery, Tyne Cott, a name bestowed by the Durham troops as the shape of the German pill-boxes reminded them of cottages at home. The size and scale of this site are difficult to grasp, and the plain granite visitor centre is truly moving with a constantly changing picture of a fallen soldier, many looking like boys.

Tyne Cott Memorial and Cemetery

Arriving in Oudenaarde we were again impressed by the beautiful architecture and the hospitality at our B&B. Next morning we were able to enjoy a bustling market in the Grand Square, before setting off on our last leg to Brussels. The first few miles proved that there are some steep hills in Belgium, and that roadworks tend to take out whole sections of road with no alternatives, (except in one case to literally walk the plank!)

We wove through miles of quiet lanes, pretty villages and impressive market towns, our only disappointment being to arrive unexpectedly at the Leffes Brewery and Visitor Centre on their closing day. Our destination to the north east of Brussels took some finding, but eventually we arrived via a combination of cycle paths, main road cycle lanes and woodland tracks. "Birthday Boy" Clive was astonished to open his door to two surprise guests looking somewhat dishevelled, but soon made us welcome in fine style. Two days in the lap of luxury was just the ticket to set us up for the return journey to Calais.

The very tight schedule was made much easier when Clive gave us a lift back as far as Oudenaarde. From here we enjoyed a flat ride alongside the huge canal, which took us almost to Lille with only minor detours. Again, excellent cycle lanes led right to the city centre, where we booked into our last night's accommodation before setting out to sample the local favourite - moules frite.

Next morning we were able to explore more of this lovely city including the famous Citadel and the Old City before catching our train for Calais and the return ferry to Dover. A varied and enjoyable trip which left us determined to make a return visit.


30 mile/30 Km Rides and Freewheel

by Jim Gerrard

This year's meander rides and free wheel again enjoyed a dry sunny morning although very windy with some downhill sections requiring pedalling downhill into the wind.

Twenty riders completed the 30 mile route with only one from further afield, Alan Wratten from Herts. CTC who also took part in the freewheel. Looking back Alan has supported this event several times over the years.

The Jones family again did well with dad Stuart, mum Teresa and daughter Heather and Sadie (juniors) all completing the longer ride in difficult conditions.

The 30 km route was also well supported this year but numbers were a bit down on the freewheel with 10 taking part.

Charnwood section again completed a 1-2-3 in the Freewheel but with new kid on the block (to this event) Nick Tudor-Jones managing to hold off Stuart again on Roland Smiths old bike for first place. Roland's bike has featured almost every year in the free wheel, always to my memory, being amongst the leaders with both Roland and Stuart riding it. Martin Bulmer was unable to retain his first position of last year taking third place but I'm sure he will be back.

The hill used to decide the "Demon Descender" is Stanton Lane as it leaves Thornton and the winner is who gets the furthest (without pedalling) before they stop.

Thanks again to the Lakin family for the well organised free wheel with Keith both organising and making up the numbers.

Results Of Freewheel.
  1. Nick Tudor-Jones
  2. Stuart Jones
  3. Martin Bulmer
  4. Alan Wratton
  5. Alan Hartshorne
  6. Jim Gerrard
  7. Richard Shanks
  8. Heather Jones (Junior)
  9. Colin Fields
  10. Keith Lakin

Sulley Challenge Rides

By David Grimshaw

For once the day broke dry and bright - a bit `nippy - but not like last year.  2012 was still a topic of conversation in 2013 by the riders who were there and I think I have some clothes still drying out!

We changed the start time this year to 08.30, mainly because most riders turned up early anyway and were wanting to be away and I guess that most were away before 09.15.

The final total of riders was 71, which is about as many as we had once before - I think that was 70, and this year had to be the good weather forecast which was absolutely `spot-on`.

As I mentioned in one of the previous bits in CC, the venue changed for this year and we were under cover in the foyer of the Wycliffe Hall. It did include toilets, which was always a problem with Morrisons (our previous venue) not opening until 10.00.  The building was shared with a car boot sale starting at 2pm, but this didn't present any particular problems other than our lot being mixed up with their lot at the rush to gain car boot entry (that's them, not us).  I was asked prior to the event how they would be able to distinguish the cyclists from the punters in the foyer and I had to point out that clothes might be a giveaway.  Myra, the car boot organiser, then produced a hand stamp for the cyclists which entitled them to free tea or coffee on their return - so thanks, Myra, who went out of her way to ensure that all ran smoothly.  At times the cyclists around the tea bar well outnumbered everyone else - so what else is new. The hall came free courtesy of the local Freemasons, so thanks to Clive Weston for the offer and arranging this.  The venue should be unchanged for 2014.

On their return most cyclists remarked on what a good day it had been, especially those for whom it was a first time and also a first time in Leicestershire. 

This year I placed an advert in Cycling Weekly in their diary and the DS rides came out in the "Sportive*" section.  It was not a problem but the DS rides looked a bit strange at £2 entry - the cheapest - compared to others 10 and 20 times the price. 

I had some e-mail enquiries and had to explain: -

  • No it's not way marked.
  • No, we don't have a support vehicle.
  • Yes, you would be advised to use the route sheet.
  • Yes, you would be advised to carry a map and some tools.

I wasn't asked if we had celebrities, but was asked if there were showers!  My first thought was to say "only if it rains" but I thought I had to project the image of responsibility and organisation, then thought "to hell with it" and told them "only if it rains". Stunned silence, but they turned up to ride!

Very few CTC members turned out so I think that adverts in the diaries of cycling magazines are the way forward.

Many thanks to my co-workers - Jean, Leila and Keith Lakin, who again did a magnificent job despite being full of cold.  Keith lost the marshalling job this year as we believed that it did not now serve a useful purpose and we had a car park adjacent to the hall to manage, so he took that on as well as CTC PR and generally keeping things jogging along.  Jean and Leila kept all of the paperwork and money in order, which took a bit of doing when things got busy.

Thanks also - as usual - to John Catt and Peter Witting - and I'd like to report that the computerised version of events is becoming easier to manage!

Next year is the 25th anniversary of the rides and the local CTC committee have accepted that this will be a charity ride, with all of the profits, less expenses, going to Glenfield Hospital Heart Unit.  Both David and Doreen Sulley were closely involved with this charity and it seemed a befitting way to celebrate the occasion.

The start fee will go up to £3 or so - I haven't yet discussed this in any detail and  with riders able to donate any amount in excess of this.

We're hoping for a good turn out  - the 2014 date is March the 1st - so it's early! I could do with a couple of extra volunteers just in case we are overwhelmed with entrants.  It would fit in well if these helpers intended to do the shorter rides as there would be time enough.  Think about it and let me know.

I will not be organising the 2015 Sulley Challenge Rides so someone needs to make an offer.  Everything is now on computer and the job is not onerous and good fun on the day, but it's time someone else took over.  Please feel free to contact me for a chat if you are interested.

So finally, thanks to all of the helpers and especially the riders who took part and I'm really pleased that you enjoyed your day - just tell others and come back next year!

*Editor's Note.
A "Sportive" is basically a mass participation road ride, over sometimes quite challenging terrain and distances, aimed at riders who want a tough challenge, but short of a full race. Many of the events are run on a commercial basis and charge upwards of £20 (sometimes up to £60 or more) to enter. Many entrants are not club cyclists, are relatively new to the sport and thus not very experienced, so require more support than most regular club and CTC riders.


One Thing Leads to Another...

One quite well known local CTC member had an embarrassing and ultimately painful experience recently.

He had nipped to the Post Office on his bike to post some letters and locked his bike whilst he was inside. When he emerged, he realised he had forgotten the key, so had to walk the one mile home. Being lazy, he then rode back on another bike, unlocked the bike and returned home again with both bikes.

Whilst manoeuvring them in his back garden prior to locking them in the garage, he got them tangled up and ended up dropping them.

Trying to stop them falling, he lost his balance and fell on top of them, cracking a rib in the process!


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!


Cycling Shorts

by Dave Binks

Quite a few years ago I bought a book entitled "Great Sporting Eccentrics" by David Randall, published in 1985 by WH Allen & Co., but never actually got round to reading it until recently. It's a collection of short stories all about the eccentric characters and events sport (in all its guises) produces. There are not many items with a cycling basis, but there are two that I thought might interest you.

Mrs Billy Dovey
An American housewife who developed the habit of going for lengthy cycle rides between her morning and evening household chores. In 1938 she got rather carried away with herself and covered the alarming distance of 29,604 miles - an average of 81 miles for every day of that year.

Our older readers, may know that for men, there is a fantastic record of prolonged riding.

In 1939, Tommy Godwin, from Birmingham, rode 75,065 miles in a single year to set an endurance riding record that some believe will never be beaten.

In fact, he kept on going until 14 May 1940, setting the record for the time taken to ride 100,000 miles.

Imagine spending every day in the saddle for 18 hours, covering over 200 miles, repairing any mechanical failures, picking yourself up after crashes and then riding even further the next day to make up lost time.

He often slept in fields, or not at all if he was down on schedule.

The distance is the equivalent of three times around the world in a single year, or riding from John O'Groats to Land's End and back every week.

It was all achieved on a heavy steel bike with only four gears. Yet more than 70 years later, the record still stands. After the feat, Godwin had to learn to walk normally again and uncurl his hands. Yet within weeks, he was serving his country in the RAF in WW11.

Modern racing cyclists can do 500 miles in a day now. But to do over 200 miles, every day for a year, on a three-speed bike made of steel, is almost unbelievable. It's highly unlikely anybody could match his record. Even if it was broken, the conditions between then and now just aren't comparable.

I recall someone living in the south of London attempting to do it during the late 1960's but failing to do so by quite a long way. It wasn't just the physical effort that was so difficult, it was also the mental effort and the loneliness of all that time spent alone. I recall one of the reasons for his failing was the guy just got so lonely he kept stopping to talk to people and thus losing time it was impossible to get back again.

Monty Holbein
An adventurous old devil. At the age of 75 he swam the River Thames from Richmond to London Bridge, a distance of 16.5 miles. It was the culmination of a remarkable sporting career which he had begun in the 1880s as a pioneer race walker and continued in spectacular fashion as a cyclist. In only ten years he broke no fewer than 32 national cycling records, a quite absurd total, achieved, just for good measure, on four different types of bicycle. He was the first man to ride 20 miles in an hour on the road, the first to clock under six hours for 100 miles and, in numerous demolitions of the 24 hour record, he was the first rider to pass both the 300 and 400 mile marks.

A broken leg suffered in 1897 put paid to the pedaling and Holbein took to the water as a swimming enthusiast. Once he even attempted to cross the English Channel but having got to within 500 yards of Dover beach, the tide turned, he was swept out to sea and had to give up. Nevertheless he persisted with his swimming and eventually, after he had been drawing a pension for ten years, Holbein was able to go for his triumphant dip in the Thames.



- 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
Part 21
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 well ensconced with both his job and the local cycling scene.

The story continues…..

Monday September 10

After a very cold start first thing in the morning the day warmed up until it was really pleasant. After some paperwork, I went to the post office to send my weekly report and also some spares to my colleague from the Venise Verte area who was desperately short of spare parts. After lunch I had a gentle and slow ride out along the Charente River to Vibrac, just to loosen my legs and enjoy the warm sunshine.

35 miles

Tuesday September 11

The last time I had been to Nontron for lunch I had really enjoyed both the ride and the lunch so decided today would be an appropriate day to repeat it, so after making sure my holidaymakers were OK, I hit the road. The day was warming up nicely right from the start as I made my way out on similar roads to the last time I had made this enjoyable ride.

Nontron is the town where the hotel I eat at is slap bang in the town centre and usually serves a good lunch. I wasn't disappointed; the meal was well balanced, with plenty of vegetables. As before, I was on the terrace overlooking the pool and pleasant gardens and the service was friendly and helpful. My starter was Salade Nicoise, with veal as the main dish, followed by a very fancy ice cream. The total bill, with drinks came to €28, cheaper than some less enjoyable meals.

After the necessary stroll around to let the food find the way to my stomach, I set off on the slightly downhill route home. It wasn't just warm, but positively hot on the way home and my homeward route was a little different to the outward one until I got to Rougnac when I joined my earlier roads. It was a comfortable ride all the way home, with the slight headwind I had pushed through on the way out, becoming a tailwind to help me come home.

78 miles

Wednesday September 12

Being Wednesday it was afternoon clubrun day, so I fiddled around in my digs and the workshop until it was time to go, but despite having nothing better to do, I still managed to arrive only in time to see them setting off - in two different directions!

I was undecided who to go with, as were two other late arrivals, but quickly decided I should chase after at least one of the groups. One other chap started with me, but I somehow managed to lose him in the suburbs. Then suddenly, there he was again, but coming from the other direction! Soon there was a chain gang of four of us going flat out chasing what seemed to be the biggest group. After a lot of effort, we did eventually catch them but only after about 5 miles.

Once I had my breathing back under control and looked around, I could see lots of new faces and their ages seemed older than normal and just by looking at them, definitely not as fit. I was right; as it soon became apparent they were going pretty slowly. I realised that these were the senior members of the club, probably out for their possibly, annual ride, with the club. This wasn't what I wanted, and after soft pedalling for another 5 miles or so, I left them and went on ahead following my own route.

I found myself at the little café in Rougnac, where I stopped for a cold drink and then carried on, still alone. I don't know why, perhaps I just had not eaten enough in the morning, but I then "blew up" and lost all my energy. Fortunately I had a chocolate bar for energy with me, and also by this time I had the wind on my back and it blew me home through the lanes to the east of Angouleme. It was a nice warm day, but I was shattered when I crawled in. It reminded me that although relatively fit, I can only go as far as the fuel inside me permits.

54 miles

Thursday September 13

After yesterday's "blow up" I felt an easy day to recover was acceptable and spent the morning in the workshop until nipping out for some shopping after a late lunch. On the way back I passed Richard the butcher's shop and he came out and we chatted for a while as there was no-one in the shop. This turned out to be the longest conversation we had ever had as he was usually either busy cutting meat or making sausages, or we are both gasping for air on the club ride. I was pleased that we managed to jump across the language barrier a bit more than normal.

It became a very warm and sunny day after the usual cool start. There was a very agreeable couple from Scotland in the hotel, and we seemed to enjoy each other's company, so when they invited me to dine with them in the restaurant, I was pleased to accept. A pleasant evening passed in conversation and they asked to see some of the photos I had taken during my time in the area, so I popped back to my shack and brought the laptop computer back and we looked at them on that. They didn't fall asleep halfway through, so they must have found them interesting!

9 miles

Friday September 14

Another hot day saw me in the workshop until after lunch, and then I biked out to have another look at the Roman Amphitheatre at Rouillac.

Unlike last time when, due to the preparations for the open air festival about to be held, there was only limited access, this time it was totally open. I took the opportunity to go onto the stage and pretend to be a famous actor in front of an assembled throng. I nearly hadn't got to the place at all as I was "creeping" on the way out, but got going better on the way home.

There were four new arrivals at the hotel today, two arriving early, and two later - all friends to each other, but travelling from different locations and via different routes.

37 Miles

Saturday September 15

My new arrivals were old hands at Susi holidays and needed no bike or puncture demo so were soon underway on their trip. Some time in the workshop took me up to lunch, taken in the hotel kitchen. I thought my troubles with the local bank had ended, but no. I needed some money out, but I was told there were insufficient funds due to a "Susi" cheque not having yet cleared!

A seemingly well kept secret, or at least one of which I had never heard, is that in September every year since 1939, the City of Angouleme hosts a classic and vintage motor rally and also a race through the City streets - Monaco style. It is amazing that they can close the streets and allow these old cars to race around the ramparts and up and down the hairpin bends at very fast speeds. A large grandstand is erected and seats must be purchased to see the main action, but there are other areas where you can watch for nothing.

However, I wasn't too bothered about going to see the main event, but I did go along and stand at the roadside taking lots of photos as the cars made their way from Cognac to Angouleme in a leisurely drive. It was quite a nice sight watching the variety of cars pass by, many of them carrying UK registration plates, and I took lots of photos. Bugattis, Bentleys, Jaguars, and lots of other famous names were all represented. I am no "petrol head", but it was nice to see these old cars in such good condition, and their owners out enjoying the late summer sunshine.

15 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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