Leicestershire and Rutland
Cyclists' Touring Club

(founded 1897)


Editor's Comments
President's Page
Secretary's Report
Leicester Easy Riders
Charnwood Generals
Charnwood Generals Delay Easter
Written in Stone
Triennial Veterans 100 miles
Challenge Rides Report 2013
“To the Fuchsia” rides
A Summer in France (part 23)

Charnwood Generals Easter Tour
Cover courtesy of Pete Gayle

"Editor's Comments"

Dave Binks

This last warm period has seen such a resurgence in the numbers of people out on their bikes, I have been amazed. Having just spent a couple of months in France again, I can honestly say I now see more “sporting” cyclists out and about in the Leicestershire area than I saw in so called cycling mad France!

The numbers of French actually riding may be dropping, but as a nation, they are still mad about the Tour de France. As I was close enough to be able to see it when it came to Tours, I rode over to a nearby village to watch as it passed through. The village had arranged a Festival in the Tour’s honour and the whole of the main square was laid out with food and drink stalls and tables and chairs to enable the obligatory food and drink to be enjoyed (food and drink is compulsory in France!). When I arrived, the local “Entonneurs Rabelaisien” (a wine Brotherhood complete with robes) was in full flow on the stage making presentations of enormous bottles of wine to some of the Tour’s journalists. A band then took over, but this was virtually ignored by everyone as the Tour’s publicity “caravane” swept by. This is quite a sight and actually more enjoyable than the race itself. Dozens of specially modified vehicles in the shape and form of mobile adverts, carrying energetic young men and women, throwing out free samples of the advertised product to the crowd causes great excitement, and despite most of it being “tatty rubbish”, the scramble to get a free hat, bag, packet of sweets or a giant plastic hand to wave, is great fun.

Being tall, I normally have no trouble seeing over the heads of the local French populace, so I wasn’t bothered when more and more got between me and the roadside. However, when the approach of the TV helicopter signalled the imminent arrival of the riders, many of the crowd suddenly jumped up on little folding stools! And those that didn’t all stuck their arms up in the air to hold their cameras above the crowd. So I saw virtually nothing of the riders themselves! However, in the main square was a giant TV screen and we all trooped back to watch the final run in to the finish in Tours. The small breakaway group that I never even saw was swallowed up and Sky’s Mark Cavendish lost by half a wheel. A spontaneous round of applause from the crowd showed their appreciation of the whole event, which I thought was a nice thing for them to do.


President's Page

John Allen

I have now had two stays in Leicester General Hospital, two operations to section the large tumour in my bladder.I was to have a third operation to section the remaining part of the tumour but it has now been decided that it would be better for the long term if my bladder was removed.This will require major surgery followed by intensive care and I will be in hospital for approximately two weeks possibly during August.

Anyway that is the medical bulletin out of the way and despite my problems I have been pretty active although sadly not on the bike. Between the first two operations I helped organise the Back to the Fuchsia rides and accepted the invitation to read the lesson at the 92nd annual cyclists memorial service at Meriden Green.Thanks to Keith Lakin for organising our splendid wreath in red and white, once again made up in Coalville by Christine Jarvis, thanks Christine for your wonderful handiwork.

I chaired the County CTC meeting on May 20th a few days before I was back in the LGH for my second operation.This was over the Spring Bank holiday weekend so I couldn’t attend the 12th annual CTC East Midlands Region Rally based at Beaumanor Hall. This I understand attracted a record number of participants and was again a great success. Ray Clay organises this event in addition to his many other commitments to our CTC, not least of which is being out longest serving secretary! Thanks to all who helped Ray it is greatly appreciated. Fresh out after a five days hospital stay I just could make it to our Heart of the Shires Audax that had a new HQ and was once again organised by Tony Davis. Thanks again Tony and all who helped.

And so it was on to the national CTC event we hosted – one of the Triennial Veterans 100 miles rides. On the day it was a great success.

Our third event was the Challenge rides based this year at Thornton Community Centre. In pouring rain with strong winds the turnout was down this year.I did make it to meet up with everyone – riders and helpers alike – and like a few others I helped to defray expenses by devouring refreshments! Thanks to Peter Witting (easily our longest serving treasurer) for organising this event and to his wife Barbara and Eileen Johnson for the food – not forgetting the riders for braving the elements!

Well, looking towards the future we have the annual Presidents ride on September 15th- a Birthday Ride celebrating our 116th birthday, complete with birthday cake (see elsewhere).

Thanks to Ron Johnson we have the Off Road challenge rides on September 29th followed by a double whammy in November with the photo competition - slide show on the 16th followed by our 116th AGM the next day.

Please make an effort to attend the AGM as we have some important matters to discuss and decisions to make in keeping with the procedures required by the national council of the CTC. And yes you can ride your bike!

Just putting on one of my other hats as chairman of the CTC East Midlands Region, I would like to thank John Catt for deputising for me so ably at the previous meeting attended by our national councillor Jaki Lowe.

I intended continuing with the Presidents Social Rides which were so enjoyable last year but I was simply not able to. These and other long overdue initiatives will be up for discussion at the AGM.

Finally, a new President must be appointed at the AGM as my two year term of office expires then. We also need to vote on our choices for Club Person of the year at the meeting for which I am the returning officer.


Secretary’s View

by Ray Clay


I'm pleased to say that the Beaumanor Hall Rally went off really well this year. As usual, it was held over the Spring Bank holiday period from Friday until Tuesday. Unfortunately, it rained both on Friday and Tuesday so campers had to put up their tents in the rain. As it happened, there were some large marquees on the site so, unofficially, most campers sheltered in there on the Monday night. In between, the weather was really good and the led rides were well received. We had a slide show as usual on the Saturday night about the Outer Hebrides courtesy of Jeff Burton from Nottinghamshire. Sunday night, we were treated to a film show by Phoenix Arts. This year it was a compilation of mainly old classic films including the hilarious Jacques Tati postman. There was a hiccup with two power cuts but it didn't spoil the enjoyment. As usual, I am indebted to Keith and Jean Lakin for all their assistance in the checking in, providing refreshments and general back up duties.

I very much enjoyed the Tour de France this year and I marvelled at the performance of Chris Froome. It amazes me how the riders cope with the hill climbs or should I say Mountain climbs. Even the runners can't catch up. I'm looking forward to next year when the Tour comes to the UK. We haven't got the same challenges as the French countryside but there are some stiff climbs around. It's a real contrast to the Wednesday morning ride that I lead in Loughborough. Just for a laugh, on the last ride, I wore my King of the Mountains jersey. I'm rubbish at hills. I'm not too proud to walk.

I'm sorry to have missed the Leicestershire Tri Vets rides but I was down in London at the time. I've heard a number of glowing reports about the very good route, coffee stop, the Moira Hall venue, food and general organisation. We should thank John Allen, in particular, for taking the lead with the support of Keith and Jean and others.

I've just returned from a trip to the Goodwood racing circuit. Penny and I went down on Saturday and stayed the night at a hotel on Hayling Island. On Sunday we travelled to Goodwood to cheer on our son, Ben, competing in the Brompton World championships. He has done it before but it was the first time I had witnessed it. It was a good fun day out. Riders have to wear a jacket and tie and a crash helmet is compulsory. There were hundreds of Brompton folding cycles in the race and many had been adapted. I saw a recumbent one which I thought unusual. The riders had to complete four laps the best part of ten miles. The forecast was bad but, while it poured in Leicestershire, it was fine at Goodwood. Lots of stands were there selling cycles and accessories. I said “hello” to Julie Rand on the CTC stand.

There are still a number of events to look forward to. The President's Ride on 15th September, the LCA over 60s reunion on 1st October, CTC slide show on 17th November, CTC carol service on 8th December and the Mince Pie Run on 22nd December.

At the time of writing, our President, John Allen, is due to enter hospital soon for major surgery. Of course, we all wish him well and hope for a speedy recovery.


Leicester Easy Riders

by David Smith

I am writing this report whilst on holiday in Yorkshire and summer has arrived at last (mid July) but for how long remains to be seen. Our first ride in May was in sunny weather, coffee in Anstey, lunch at Rothley Station watching the trains go by, tea at East Goscote Nurseries then home via the cycle way to Syston.

Next was the "Back to the Fuschia" rides at Thornton where six members took part.

Six of us rode out to Ullesthorpe Garden Centre, it’s gone a little bit up market now. Two carried on to Catthorpe to the farm shop for a cuppa with our lunch, then back to Countesthorpe for tea.

The following week, five rode out to the Beaumanor Hall Rally, where we ate our sandwiches at a picnic table with the tea provided with thanks to Keith & Jean Lakin.

June saw Jim Gerrard and myself taking the car to Great Casterton where we left it to cycle around Lincolnshire, having lunch at Folkingham which is a lovely quaint place. A grand day out.

The following Sunday Jim Gerrard, Norman Castle, Colin Field and myself entered in the Vets Triennial Rides at Moira. It was my ninth "Vets 100" and Colin Field was the oldest rider to enter at 80 years old, he also unfortunately got two punctures, one in each tyre. All four completed the 100 mile ride. Congratulations.

Jim’s ride to Crick at the end of June was very successful as was Norman’s ride to Wymondham on the first Sunday in July. It's nice to see Andy Tokeley out on our rides again.

Pete Butler and June Mills both in their 80’s are still riding regularly, managing to do about 25 miles.

Finally thanks to Rose Holman for being our secretary for the past 4 years, and to Jim Gerrard for writing all the reports.


Charnwood Generals

Martin Bulmer


At the end of Lyn Dolphin’s last report we were drastically shortening our route due to snow and freezing wind in mid-March. As I write, the weather is hot (29°C) and sunny outside. So far the predicted thunderstorms have not broken, but I’m sure that as you read this you will recall the deluges and flash flooding which will happen later this week. How we got from icy weather to ice-cream weather is all a bit of a blur I admit, and reading the previous Cycle Chat runs list has not helped a great deal, as prior to our May holiday the weather often altered our plans, and I wasn’t taking notes (note to self, take notes).

I do remember an enjoyable meander organised by Jim Gerrard, followed by the freewheel competition in which Stuart Jones beat me by at least one bike’s length. Ah well, back to the track pump and cream cakes! Congratulations Stuart!


Our birthday lunch on April 21st was once again held at the Breedon golf club in Wilson, where we were well looked after by the management. Thanks must also go to Jean Lakin for the wonderful cake. On the 28th of April, the weather finally permitted us to complete our planned ride, in this case via Bunny to Hickling, where we were able to lunch outdoors at last. This longer run came a little too late to get us into tip-top cycling condition for our Northumberland holiday in Alnwick the following week. We were happy to find that our decision to change the spring holiday from Easter to May Bank Holiday had paid off weather-wise.

Back home, the following Sunday was the Back to the Fuschia rides. I was a little late, and had to pedal hard to catch up with Richard who was riding one of the 25 mile legs with the Jones family. Talk about keeping up with the Joneses! Without my Northumberland legs, I don’t think I would have been able to stay with them, never mind catching up with them in the first place!

Since then we have gone pretty much to programme, visiting old favourites like Kirk Ireton, The Brunswick at Derby and Ridge Lane.

Spaghetti Junction

One departure from the norm, at Richard’s suggestion, was a car-assisted ride from Sutton Park into the centre of Birmingham for Birmingham University’s public open day. Outside we were treated to a short recital by a saxophone ensemble (1), and a very enjoyable concert by a 50-strong University Orchestra in the new concert hall(2). There was also a short recital of electronic music which was very atmospheric, following which we joined the more culturally stunted riders in the bar, then returned via the cycle route which runs beneath Spaghetti Junction (3) to Sutton Park.

I have tried a couple of new-to-us tea stops; one at the Markeaton Park Heritage Farm, which gave us a good staging post for the Kirk Ireton run, and another at the Hackwood Farm tea rooms just north of Mickleover, on our way to Makeney. Each is well worth a visit.

We look forward to our full programme of summer and autumn rides, and would be delighted to welcome anyone who thinks they would enjoy a non-competitive day out with (mostly) friendly cyclists. We don’t go too far or too fast these days, but we have an enjoyable time in the great outdoors!

Finally, best wishes to Lyn Dolphin and Pete Gayle for their wedding in September.


Charnwood Generals Delay Easter

Martin Bulmer

Photos by Pete Gayle & Martin Bulmer Road Closed

At the end of last year’s Easter tour, Pete announced that Lyn would not be available at Easter 2013 because it was April 1st, the day on which accountants turn into pumpkins or something. We decided there and then to postpone Easter for a month, to give us a chance of better weather, and to allow Lyn to continue to use her amazing organising skills. We thought it would be good to visit Soo Underwood of the Charnwood Easy Riders who was then in the process of moving to Alnwick, in Northumberland.

Lyn found us a marvellous cottage with spacious rooms upstairs and down, tucked in behind the shopping street in the centre of Alnwick, just a minute’s walk from the shops, but away from the main road. The first evening we met up in a local hostelry with the Easy Riders who were camping nearby, and with Soo who we assumed would know the area like the back of her hand by then . That turned out not to be the case. On two separate days while trying to visit our lodgings, Soo knocked on the door of the wrong house. It was the same wrong house each time, so at least she has made a new friend!

Anyone who knows Joe knows how much he loves his dog,*,so on our first morning Keith volunteered to be “substitute dog” and accompany Joe on his customary early-morning walk. I think he enjoyed it, but it took us the rest of the week to wean him off stick-chasing, and if you could see the state of Keith’s slippers you might wonder if perhaps he had been a little over enthusiastic with them in a game or two of “Fetch”.

Road Slip

We were there for a week, and had four rides planned. For the first we headed inland. We usually do a bit of off-road riding on our spring break, so I thought we could get that particular tradition out of the way on the first day. It turned out that the track was not quite as well defined as it seemed on the map, and we had to walk for about half a mile on ground that was pitted with cattle foot-prints inches deep. Thankfully the land had dried and we were not wading through mud. On regaining the road, we were just settling in to riding on the wonderfully smooth recently applied tarmac, when we were confronted with a “Road Closed” sign (A). As we all know, few closed roads are impassable to cyclists, so we pressed on. However, instead of encountering the expected road-laying gang, we were surprised to see that a large part of the road had fallen down the slope into the River Coquet’s valley below! (B)There was enough of it left for us to pass, and we rode on into the wind for a late elevenses at Rothbury.

From there it was onwards and upwards and into-the-wind-wards to lunch at the Star Inn in Harbottle, a tiny pub-cum-shop. This was about 28 miles from the start, though it felt more like 50, and we were all very tired. In fact one member (whom I promised not to name) managed a little nap by the fire. Not curled up on a mat, you understand, but in a conventional chair, having shaken off his earlier canine tendencies. The ride back to Alnwick was easier, with the wind behind us and our destination for the most part below us, to end a fifty mile ride.

The next day I was in two minds about venturing out on a bike again. Ever.

Tea on terrace

But Lyn had planned a route to Craster and the coast, and promised it would be a fairly flat forty-miler, which it was. We had our elevenses at Craster, and lunch at Beadnell, then on our way back we passed a rather exclusive looking country hotel, where we enquired about afternoon tea. Duly installed on their terrace, overlooking gardens which were just coming into bloom, we enjoyed cream teas all round.

The next day Joe led us southwards to Felton, where the restorative power of beans-on-toast was demonstrated in a very pleasant tea-room near the River Coquet, after which we rode to the coast at Druridge, taking the cycle route northwards, just behind the dunes. At one point we were near enough to the North Sea for some of our number to go for a paddle. Lunch was at Amble, after which we continued northwards to Alnmouth before returning to base.

Paddling in the North Sea

In the evening we met up with the Easy Riders again for a meal at a local Italian Restaurant where we helped train the local non-Italian waiters who had just started that day.

The following day we left our bikes behind for a visit to Cragside, and the next day we also drove, this time to Lindisfarne for a look around the castle.

On Friday we were back in the saddle for Keith’s ride northwest to Wooler. Unfortunately after elevenses it was found that Keith’s back wheel had a broken spoke, and was quite out of true. As luck would have it, Soo Underwood, ex of Charnwood, now living in Alnwick, had ridden out to meet us, and my wife Jeannette had driven out to meet us also. Soo generously loaned her bike to Keith, and his bike was loaded into the car and transported to a bike repairer in Alnwick who had it fixed by the time we returned. Lyn had helped with the planning of this run, so we duly rode down a river and over some fields and rubble tracks to lunch at Wooler, then via a much easier lanes route back to Alnwick.

Apart from the difficult weather on the first day we had warm sunny weather most of the time, which justified our decision to celebrate Easter a month late this year. Many thanks once again to Lyn for organising this holiday.

For anyone thinking of joining us on our Sunday runs, we would be delighted to see you. We don’t bite. Well, most of us don’t. One member could just revert to his time as a stand-in pooch, so I can’t vouch for him!

¹*Probably not all that much. Make him an offer.

Evening Meal Soos Bike Pushing Bikes

Written in Stone

(a letter from Staffordshire)
Peter Hopkins

Having left Leicestershire in 2008 after living there for nearly 40 years, I’m starting (at last!) to get out on my bike a bit more round here. Stone is barely 50 miles west of Loughborough, so the gently undulating, pastoral terrain is very similar. There are even a few nostalgic verbal echoes in the names of some of the places I cycle through. There’s a Croxton without the Kerrial, and we have a kind of abbreviated Woodhouse Eaves in the village of Woodseaves. Barlaston and Darlaston make me think of Thurlaston and Thurmaston, whilst instead of Coton in the Elms and Far Coton, there is Coton Clanford: quiet, pleasant hamlets in lanes similar to their Leicestershire counterparts. As for Stone’s larger neighbouring towns, Derby/Nottingham to the north are replaced by the Stoke/Newcastle conurbation, while instead of Leicester to the south, there is the small county town of Stafford.

In Loughborough, Margaret and I lived only a few hundred yards from Sustrans National Cycle Route 6 (London to Keswick). Here, Pauline and I are a similar distance from NCR 5 (Reading to Holyhead), which at this point uses the towpath of the busy Trent & Mersey Canal. I’ve cycled the latter as far as Alsager on my ATB, and am looking forward to penetrating further into my native Cheshire by that route. There are branch canals to explore, too: the Staffs. & Worcs. to the south, the Macclesfield to the north, as well as the Caldon, which I’ve already followed for 25 miles round to Cheddleton. Not far to the west is the Shropshire Union Canal, linked to the Llangollen and Middlewich branches. It’s obvious why Stone subtitles itself ‘The Canal Town’!

But most of my cycling is still on the road. To use modern CTC-speak, there’s no ‘CTC Stone’ or, perhaps more surprisingly, no ‘CTC Stafford’, so I’ve done a couple of runs with the Oldies group of Stafford Road Club. They meet on Wednesdays and are about the right vintage for me!

Not having topped 100 miles since 2005, I entered the Chester & North Wales CTC Tri-Vets’ 100 this year, which took place during that July heatwave. Two days before it, I rode my own 100 locally as a test-run, just to make sure I could do it! The Chester event attracted 106 entrants, the oldest being 84 (and, yes, he DID finish!) Groups and individuals came from as far afield as Hereford and Lancaster, and some had already ridden Tri-Vets events this year in other areas.

We were split into nine pre-allocated squads of 11 or 12, each with a leader, and departing at ten-minute intervals from 8 a.m. I was the oldest in my group (though only 7th oldest overall) and what really surprised me was the pace, especially in the heat. We caught two earlier groups, and our leader (a mere 54-year-old!) negotiated permission to pass. This was in accordance with the very sensible rules, so there was no embarrassing shambles on the road.

Those who had more sophisticated bike computers clocked our group’s average riding speed as 14.4mph, though of course the overall time was inevitably lengthened by the three official stops for elevenses (25m), lunch (50m) and tea (75m) plus one puncture hold-up. By my calculation, this pace would have qualified us for the old 100 in 7: quite a thought when you remember that the Tri-Vets official time-allowance is 12 hours! On the plus side, after seven rather slack years on the bike, doing it was a great boost to my morale. All the same, if there’s a Next Time, I’ll make sure I’ll ask to be included in whichever is the most elderly group! (Choice was possible if you entered early, but I was a last-minute entrant.)

And what of Pauline and the tandem ? Our main trip this year was supposed to be three weeks in France during May. We certainly spent three weeks there, but unfortunately they were part of the wettest May in France since 1944 and the coldest since 1870! At times the temperature in the Charente/Limousin, usually around 25°, barely reached double figures. Day after day, the icy rain beat on the windows of the campsite chalets we had booked, while we sat inside, reading! We managed only a couple of days cycling and a couple walking. Back home, we ride locally, usually heading for one of those garden centres or farm shops which – up and down the country – have been welcomed by hungry cyclists as one of the few beneficial spin-offs of universal car ownership. Sometime this year I’m hoping to take Pauline off for a short tour of three or four days, probably in the Shropshire area.

So at long last I’m more active! My 2008 mileage was a dreadful Lifetime Low of 256. Then, annually, it was 566 (2009), 1215 (2010), 2006 (2011) and 2502 last year, so I’m hoping to go well over 3,000 this year. Even this is less than half my annual post-retirement mileage a decade ago, but at least it’s heading in the right direction!


Triennial Veterans 100 miles

By John Allen, Co-ordinator

On Sunday June 9th we hosted one of the seventeen CTC Triennial 100 miles veterans rides held across the uk from 1st June to 7th July. 45 riders took part with ages ranging from 50 to 80 year old Colin Field of Leicester, the oldest rider.

For another Leicestershire rider, 77 year old David Smith this was his ninth consecutive tri-vets.The youngest riders was 13 year old Heather Jones of Charnwood CTC helping her dad Stuart lead one of the groups.This was the first time that she had completed a 100 miles ride and enjoyed the camaraderie of the event.

HQ was Moira village hall in the centre of the National Forest from where three separate routes radiated to make the 100 miles. The morning route of 55 miles was an anti clockwise tour of the National and Needwood Forests with the morning break halfway round enjoyed at the Old Bakery Café in the village of Newborough.The Red Lion across the road was also used.Then it was on via Hoar Cross, Kings Bromley, Fradley Junction and the Mease Valley to arrive back at the Moira village hall for lunch.

A 30 mile route the followed in glorious sunshine via Appleby Magna, Norton-Juxta-Twycross, Austrey, Chilcote and Netherseal to finish back at Moira for tea.

The final leg of 15 miles was by way of Grangewood, Botany Bay, Rosliston, Coton-in-the-Elms, Lullington and Donisthorpe to finish back at Moira for further refreshments before the presentation of certificates. 20 of the riders were visitors from Edinburgh, York, Winchester, Sleaford, Peterborough, Peak District, Coventry, Newark, Derby, Nottingham and Staffordshire.

Many letters of appreciation have been received from riders who had a great day a wheel that really made it all worthwhile.

Thanks to the organising team – Tom Bailey for the marvellous route planning, Jean and Leila Lakin, Aileen Andrews and Ivy Allen for the wonderful meals served all day and Keith Lakin who was “everywhere” during the day and did a fantastic job on the run up to the event. Thanks also to Andy Hawes our contact at CTC national office, that side of things also went very smoothly and promptly.

An addendum of appreciation.

In my report of this very successful event I would like to include my thanks and appreciation to all the leaders, both official and un-official for the way they looked after our visiting cyclists and made their day so enjoyable.Special praise is due to Mike Gould, one of the first to offer their help. Mike was sweeper for the day, making sure that no-one was left behind.

Also to our Cycle Chat editor Dave Binks for the publicity he gave the event and our pleas for assistance.

Last but not least our webmaster John Catt.He put the national CTC entry form with our dedicated information on to our web site.All I believe except one of the entries downloaded this along with the routes, although we did download a supply should anyone have needed a hard copy.

Due to other commitments John could not ride our event but rode the Coventry event the week before, cycling to/from his Loughborough home plus the 100 miles route.What a star!

Some feedback from the riders:-

Dear John

A quick note to say many thanks to you and all your helpers for all your time and hard work organising a really enjoyable Vets ride on Sunday. aspect of the day's ride was enjoyable from the route, perfectly split 50;35;15, to the food and drink provided at the stops and including the very much appreciated "water stop" half way around the second leg by which time the sun had well and truly come out. surprisingly the company was excellent, as all CTC rides are, and I was amazed at the distances people had travelled to take part.

I appreciate that for an event to run as smoothly as it appeared to (you may know better) comes only as a consequence of very careful and thorough organisation so congratulations on such a successful day.

Many thanks once again for running the event and all the very best for the future.

Andy Cox

Hi John,

Just a quick message to reinforce my heartfelt thanks to you and all your team for a quite splendid piece of organisation on Sunday. From the moment Keith strode across the car park to welcome me and the other riders, to the moment a departed into the evening sunshine, the organisation could not have been faulted.

Particular mention should be made of the excellent catering arrangements, no queuing, plenty of choice, and ingredients with nutrition in mind - delicious. I clearly was with friends, and look forward to joining you again in three years time.

Well done all.

Brian R.West. (Sleaford)

Just a note to say big thanks to everyone who organised the wonderful ride on Sunday. A reminder of how relaxed CTC events are, what a good group to cycle with, excellent organisation and arrangements, fantastic food arrangements (particular thanks to everyone involved with these) and thoroughly enjoyable day. And, what beautiful countryside, first time riding around your area, may go back again soon.

Am off to the Dolomites on Saturday for a week’s cycling up the big hills, but will take the memory of an excellent day from Moira with me.

Thank you.

David Molesworth

Good Morning John

Just a quick email to say how Ian and I enjoyed the ride on Sunday.It was our first CTC ride and first time for 100 miles for many a year.The route was enjoyable down quiet roads and through pleasant villages.

Many thanks for a well organized event both to yourself and your helpers - and of course a special thanks to the ladies doing the catering who kept us well fed and watered.

Ian and Geraldine Perkins

Dear John

My thanks to the Leics & Rutland DA - the Tri-Vets was a wonderful experience. It was a very great pleasure to spend a day out with Jim [Gerrard] & Norman [Castle], and the route sheets and hospitality were top notch. As well as wishing to thank all who contributed before, during and after to the smooth running of the event, I would like to pay tribute to the warm welcome extended by the L&R DA - as well as the satisfaction of having completed a century ride, the weekend has left me feeling quite inspired and uplifted.

Rona Wightman. (St. Albans)


“To the Fuchsia” rides - 12th May 2013

By John Allen

34 riders took part on a fine but breezy day with ages ranging from 10 year old Sadie Jones and her big sister Heather (13) not forgetting Mum and Dad Teresa and Stuart to three lively octogenerions June Mills, Betty Naylor and Pete Butler who all completed a 25 mile route.

Longest distance recorded on the day was 100 miles by visiting Alan Wratten of Stevenage CTC, completing four routes to record points for the national CTC competition.Other visitors came from Coventry, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Leicester members Alan Hartshorne and Mike Gould recorded 91 miles and 85 miles respectively, three routes plus distance cycled to and from the event whilst Norman Castle clocked 73 miles and Jim Gerrard 64 miles.

60 miles were cycled by Tony Noble, David and Rebecca Allchin and Tony Davis, the latter only riding one 25 miles route, the remaining 35 miles cycling to and from the event.

Everyone I believe had a good day selecting routes of their choice, thanks for the support.

Thanks go once again to the proprietor of Thornton Nurseries (the Fuchsia Centre), John Smith and his family for the hospitality.It is fifty years this year since John and his wife founded the business and John, now in his eighties and a former CTC member once cycled 142 miles in a day.


Challenge Rides Report 2013

Peter Witting reports

The event on Sunday June 23rd was held on a day with miserable weather. That reduced the number of riders even from last year’s rain affected summer. Nevertheless all 24 riders were successful.

Only 2 riders completed the 100 miles challenge – Alan Hartshorne and Mick Gould. 17 riders completed the 50 miles, and 5 rode the 25 miles.

We had no junior riders, so no “Olympic Effect” for the CTC! There also seemed to be an absence of DATC entrants; maybe another event on the same day proved more convenient?

Our event was listed by Cycling Weekly, and no doubt in Cycling Active, and on the IPC website. The £3 & £1 entry fee was the lowest on the two pages of rides: Adjacent events charged £15 and £24. Perhaps as a consequence of the low entry fee, we had some inexperienced riders who got lost and phoned the organiser for assistance. Good job the mobile number was on their route sheet!

Special thanks are due to John Catt who revised not only the route instructions and route maps for the website but also the GPS information, to reflect the change of venue from Bagworth to Thornton. John had to advise one rider on the use of GPS data for loading into his wife’s Sat-Nav. In a few years time printed routes and maps will be as outdated as a handwritten letter today!

The change of venue was decided after a steep rise in the hire rates at Bagworth. Instead of a reasonable all-day figure last year, we were paying £7.50 per hour at Thornton, but still cheaper than Bagworth. After 8 hours, at 3.30pm, there were still 4 riders yet to arrive. The two 100 mile riders had left for their second 50 mile loop at 2pm, so would be finishing after 6.30pm. They had agreed to phone their information control answer when they finished, allowing us to close the hall at an earlier time. The other 2 riders had already exceeded 6 hours to complete 50 miles, so they were phoned to check if they had a problem and needed assistance. Again having riders enter their mobile numbers on the entry form was of value! They explained that they had been dodging the rain and agreed we could close the hall. Their ride was validated as they were able to confirm the Info Control question and had to return to the hall for their car. Had we kept the hall open ‘til 6.45pm for the 100 milers it would have wiped out all profit on the event!

Thanks are due to Eileen for booking the hall and to Ron for opening up on the Sunday morning. Thanks also to the catering team, led by Barbara Witting. She was very grateful for the assistance of Eileen who helped throughout. The catering produced a profit of £20, while the profit on the rest of the event was only £3.85!

The profit on the event in 2011 was £143.37, when we had a hot day and 61 riders. Last year with 31 riders the profit was £68.68. This year with 24 riders the profit was only £23.85. With increasing hall hire costs and reducing numbers it will be necessary to increase the entry fees to avoid making a loss next year. At £4 entry fee we could have still made a surplus after keeping the hall open ‘til all riders had finished. The popularity of the “Sportive” events at 4 or 5 times the entry fee suggests that we would not lose riders by an increase. For comparison, the entry fees for our Audax event were £6 and £5.50.

Apart from an increased entry fee for next year, I envisage revising the route sheets: Each 50 mile loop would be printed on a separate double sided sheet. One side, printed landscape, would contain the instructions printed in larger print in 2 columns. This would allow the sheet to be folded in half, then again for convenience. The reverse of the sheet would contain a colour marked route map, which would be of use to novices when lost! The increased entry fee would defray the extra printing costs.


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!

Dear Sir

I agree with John Catt’s idea of another book to be produced for the 120 anniversary year of Leicestershire and Rutland Cyclists' Touring Club in 2017. A couple of years ago we were asked by Alan Tyrrel if someone could collect the record books of the Loiterers and Photographic sections back to the 1930’s and latterly the Leicester Easy riders group.

I duly collected these and catalogued them before taking them to Bernard and Rhona Brittain.There are wonderful photographs including our centenary year of 1997, our hosting of the Birthday Rides etc, a fantastic year.

I also have a big box full of photographs covering 1997 which could help provide a centenary feature in the new book.This would provide a fitting tribute to all those members whose efforts made our centenary year such a success.Sadly many of those who helped in so many ways are no longer with us.

We have much to be proud of since 1997 (and a few lows).Is it really 16 years ago?

John Allen,

Dear Sir

I took part in my 1st Tri-Vets 100 ride earlier this year and I would like to write and think everyone for making me feel so welcome. There was a good camaraderie – so much so that the 100 miles went by a lot quicker than I expected! Also as I’m based in the Peak District (I live in Over Haddon) I don’t usually ride any further south than the Churnet Valley on my day rides – so it made a pleasant change for me and I enjoyed riding your local lanes. Thanks to everyone involved – especially to the ladies in the kitchen as it must have been a very long day for them.

I thought I would also take this opportunity to let you know about the 1st Peak District Cycling Festival 7 – 15 September this year. The list of events can be viewed at www.visitpeakdistrict.com/pdf

We are aiming to have something for everybody, all abilities and ages throughout the 9 days!Annie Last– the Olympic Mountain Biker, has agreed to be Patron of the festival. There will be camping, stalls, food etc at Thornbridge Outdoors Centre near Bakewell over the weekend 13 – 15 September.

Carol Parsons

Dear Sir

I refer to your earlier editorial which recounted your experience with the man who thought he had no need to carry spare tubes or puncture kit.

I’ve had similar experiences with people who claim that their tyres are what they insist on calling ‘puncture proof’. I usually warn them that, though some tyres may be puncture RESISTANT, there is simply no such thing as a puncture proof tyre.Those gunge/slime systems work only for pinhole punctures, and kevlar reinforcement wouldn’t resist something really sharp and hard, while even smaller things can gradually work their way through anything after thousands of wheel revs.In any case, if there’s a foreign body in my tyre (piece of glass, large thorn, sharp chipping) I don’t want it ‘masking’ – I want the puncture to tell me it’s there so that I can remove it before it eventually damages the outer cover!

Peter Hopkins



An amusing anecdote from Dave Binks

I was trying to explain to a Frenchman recently that I had changed my handlebar stem for a shorter one, but couldn't remember the word for "stem" in French.

"Potence" he told me, but it wasn't the word I was expecting, so I looked it up when I got home.

Potence has two meanings in my French/English dictionary:-

  1. "bracket", which seems OK, or
  2. a word that seems strangely appropriate considering the number of times I've "died" on my bike whilst holding onto the 'bars; "gallows" !



- 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
Part 22
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…..

Sunday September 16

It was cold at first on the clubrun and I had to don my warm vest, gloves and windproof top to keep out the chill. There seemed to be more people than normal at the start and so I took a few moments to count the heads; thirty. There may have been one or two headless people there, but if so, I didn’t see or count them. Not a bad turn out for a suburb of Angouleme.

As usual it was a gentle roll out with the speed held down until about 15 miles into the ride when the split into “premiere” and “deuxieme” (first and second) groups took place. This was a feature of the club rides that I particularly liked as it gave everyone a chance for a “Hello” and time to see if the legs were working before deciding which group to go with. Rather unusually, we headed south, into the hillier areas they normally avoid, but it became rather fast later on, but no-one was dropped. The speedometer on my bike computer bike registered the average speed as 18.4mph by the time I got home, quite something for me these days. Despite the chilly start to the day, it became very hot later; an enjoyable day indeed.

63 miles

Monday September 17

I had been hosting a party of six holiday makers and today saw them leave for home which meant I had to spend time in the workshop cleaning and checking their bikes before an early lunch in the hotel kitchen. I had already arranged with Richard, my butcher friend, to go out for a ride together. He took me somewhere I had never been before, to look at Chateau Beauregard, a large Chateau apparently owned by an Englishman. It wasn’t open to the public, but a public footpath went right round it and we walked through the long grass for a look. Someone, it seems, still has lots of money!

It was a nice ride, but despite my saying I only wanted a slow ride, Richard “half-wheeled” me (pushed up the pace) all the way round except up one or two longer hills where his weight is a severe penalty for him. He had forgotten, or chose to overlook, the fact that the day before, when he was riding with the deuxieme (slower) group, I was battling it out with the premiere (faster) group! We had to ride through a short storm on the way back which made a nice mess of me and my bike (no mudguards!). To say I was very tired at the end of the ride is an understatement.

66 miles

Tuesday September 18

I expected I would be very tired and a bit stiff from two hard days’ riding and so deliberately didn’t even switch on the alarm for the morning, meaning I slept in until nearly 9.30. So it was some time before I emerged into the world from my hut to do a bit more in the workshop.

I later called in to the photo printer’s and ordered some hard copies of some of the photos of people I had cycled with in the local club, ready to give them when I shortly left for home. I caught some of the national weather on the TV and it confirmed what I already knew, temperatures were falling now. Whilst it had been a chilly 6°C here overnight, it had been down to 1°C in Central France, but by the afternoon had gone up to 20°C. Further proof that autumn was on its way were some of the tree leaves turning colour and starting to fall.

10 miles

Wednesday September 9

Another sunny, but cold at first, morning was filled with workshop time before going on the usual midweek afternoon clubrun. Whilst getting the bike ready to go out, I noticed the front tyre was showing severe signs of the miles it had covered since leaving home in the UK. Fortunately, I had a spare tyre in the workshop and had time to quickly change it.

The run was more sedate than usual as butcher Richard’s wife Joelle, was out. There were some really old guys, who must have been in their late 70’s also at the start, but we soon split into two groups and the pace picked up but still stayed steady. Our direction was west and north, through boring vineyards (once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all), but it was also flat so made for an easy ride.

A day or two earlier, Susi Madron, my boss, had asked me about having a look at a potential new link in her chain, an upmarket (she only does upmarket) B&B + evening meal Chateau about 45 – 50 miles away, but I realised I could only do this by stopping there overnight which would have put the cost up considerably. I rang the office and spoke to her and between us we decided it wasn’t worth it, which suited me fine this late in the year.

57 miles

September 10 – 25

The next few days and weeks were spent effectively winding up my time in the Charente area, and this included giving prints of the photos I had taken, to Richard, my butcher friend, and also stocktaking in the workshop and preparing the whole thing for a winter without attention, which included wrapping anything delicate in plastic bags. I was aware that the floor in the workshop was prone to flooding after a period of heavy or persistent rain, so ensured everything was stored at least 3-4 inches off the floor, either on tables, or shelves, or by the simple expedient of filling some plastic bottles with water, laying them on their side to act as spacers and then putting boxes etc on top of them.

I made sure I gave my own bike a thorough check over as I would be riding home on it and didn’t want any problems en route. It was as well I did, as a bald patch on the rear tyre showed signs of the canvas coming through! My very last holidaymakers were a party from Aberdeen, and I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to eat with them, at their expense, on their last night. Naturally, I accepted and the evening was most enjoyable.

It was always my intention to cycle all the way home, and I was still of that mind, so I bought a motoring atlas, but one with a large scale that showed the quieter roads I preferred. I ripped the appropriate pages out of it to save having to carry unnecessary weight and bulk and laid them out on the floor and marked my proposed route on them. This meant I wouldn’t have to keep fiddling with discontinuous map sections to ensure I was going in the correct direction. I have found over the years that this is a much cheaper way than buying individual maps, and a lohttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/La_rochelle_de_nuit.jpgt less bulky. I intended to stop at Youth Hostels wherever possible, and cheap hotels when not, but my first stop would be with my colleague Andrew in the next area north. This was far enough for a day’s ride and he had a spare room.

Wednesday September 26

This was my last day at my base and it seemed to take forever to gather together everything to take over to the workshop and/or the waste bin and I seemed to be walking back and forth for ages. It’s amazing how much clutter you can acquire in 5 months! I had hoped to be away by about 10am, but by the time I had been to the post office and swept out the accommodation it was gone 11am. I then had to go via the bank to get my last lot of expenses out before I actually set off, and it was 11.20 before I hit the road for real.

The day was grey and very cool and I had to wear leggings and my windproof top for the first time since leaving home in May. After a short stop at Hiersac to buy a baguette for lunch, I continued, following the same roué to Vallans as I had taken only a few weeks earlier, even stopping at the same village to make and eat my http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/La_rochelle_de_nuit.jpgsandwich, seated on a bench in the square. By now the sun had come out and it was quite pleasant and I bared my arms and legs. Later I was to have to don waterproofs for the final few miles to Andrew’s accommodation when it started to rain.

I was pretty tired when I got in, because the headwind that had been present all day seemed to get harder at the end. Of course, I was also loaded with all my bits and pieces, and my panniers were bulging. I was due to spend two nights with Andrew but as nearly all his bikes had been removed to another region earlier in the day, and he didn’t really want me around for his final shutdown, he asked if I would move on a day earlier than planned, to which of course I had to agree.

My ferry ticket from St. Malo to Portsmouth was already booked, so an extra night would have to be spent somewhere before I could cross the channel. I later found out I could have simply taken an earlier crossing, space permitting, at no extra cost.

I had already posted some heavy and bulky items home, but decided I could post some more and got them sorted them out ready for a trip to the post office tomorrow.

73 miles

Thursday September 27

Whilst riding up the day before, I had noticed a clicking coming from the chain, so changed the joining link before it failed on me. This is a messy job, but I did it before leaving Andrew’s house, so his hand cleaner came in very useful.

I had already identified more items that I could post home, but had to buy some parcel wrapping tape and sit in the park to wrap them before I could actually do so. Of course, whilst doing this, the PO shut for the mandatory lunch break, so I bought same cakes and sat in the park eating them before carrying the parcels on to the next PO. Although it set me back a total of €23.60, it saved some 4kg of weight and a lot of bulk. I had already decided the contents were worth more than the postage, or I would have simply binned them.

I had wanted to visit the seaside town of La Rochelle for some time, but had never done it, and as it was very much in the right direction, I swung my route across to the Atlantic coast to do so. All day was spent riding into either a headwind or a less troublesome side wind, and it was also fairly cold, so I was pleased when I found the La Rochelle Youth Hostel and even more pleased that they had room. I booked in for 2 nights and had a wander around, but it was still cold, so I didn’t stay out long. Back at the hostel I enjoyed a good value two course meal with a beer for only €8.


Friday September 28


Having booked myself in already for another night at La Rochelle Youth Hostel I knew what I was going to do today and that was sightseeing. The day started sunny and bright but cool, but that didn’t mean anything as that is what it did yesterday. However, the weather turned out to be much better, being sunny all day and actually warm enough to bare my legs from about midday. After the YH breakfast – a disappointing affair of Coco Pops cereal, a bit of bread and a coffee, I walked into the old harbour, enjoying the change that sunshine on the water makes. After a few photos I paid my money and went into one of the two ancient towers that guard the entrance to the original harbour. In times of trouble, a heavy chain would be stretched between them to keep out unwelcome visitors of which there were many over the years.

There is a lot of history here; mostly revolving around the English it has to be said. La Rochelle was a bastion of Protestantism in the Middle Ages, supported by a strong trading link with the English, and for some time was not regarded as part of France at all. Much fighting, including a siege by France’s Cardinal Richelieu, in which 15,000 of the 20,000 inhabitants starved to death before they surrendered, eventually brought them back under French control. England’s efforts to supply the town during the siege were thwarted by a sea wall being built on the seaward side of the entrance to the harbour to stop their ships getting through. I only went into one of the towers, but this was the larger one, and includes a decided tilt where the foundations sank whilst it was being built – Tower of Pisa style!

After a light lunch I sat in the sun and read a book for a while before visiting two museum boats in the harbour. The first was a decommissioned fishing boat, complete with a film showing how hard a life it must have been on board. The other, much larger vessel was “France 1”, a weather ship. This was one of several that used to be positioned in the Atlantic with the sole purpose of taking weather readings, and to do that, it had to remain in the same very small area all the time, irrespective of storms or anything else, although life saving was an acceptable reason to move away. Nowadays these vessels have been replaced with satellites and all sorts of other electronic wizardry, so the boat was now redundant. These were both very interesting and I spent probably 2 hours on these two vessels.

Floodlit towers

After a return to the YH to recharge the camera battery and grab some food and I was back into the harbour again to capture the scene as the light fell on the floodlit towers. A very enjoyable day spent in a nice location and under a blue sky. If you’ve never been to La Rochelle and get the chance – go, you’ll enjoy it.

2 miles

To be continued


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


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