Leicestershire and Rutland
Cyclists' Touring Club

(founded 1897)


Editor's Comments
President's Page
Secretary's Report
National Committee Matters
Leicester Easy Riders
South Leicestershire Report
Charnwood Generals
Brenda Randon
Land's End to John O'Groats
Sulley Challenge Rides
Off Road Rides Report
South Leics. CTC Annual Report
The Mighty Zoncolan
Man with no arms rides a bike
WANTED - Your photos
A Summer in France (part 24)

Montsoreau, Loire, France
Photo: Dave Binks

"Editor's Comments"
by Dave Binks

Dave Binks

After the good (if somewhat delayed) summer, comes the reckoning. Am I the only one who thinks it hasn’t stopped raining recently? Not only wet, but cold and windy to boot.

Oh well, if you want a reliable climate, don’t live in Britain. Imagine an Arab in Saudi Arabia asking what the forecast is for tomorrow—he would be laughed out of the room!

No doubt you have had to do the same as me and go searching for those warmer tops, gloves, and overshoes that you threw in the cupboard with relief earlier in the year, only to find they are not as pristine as you thought and certainly not as good as when you first started wearing them. Looks like the clothing racks in the local bike shop will be getting some business soon.

If, like some of the wealthier members, you have a winter bike, make sure you clean the summer one properly before you put it away. A winter in the cold and damp shed will allow any residual dirt and muck etc to slowly attack the bike, making an expensive start to next summer.

This time of year is when we ease off a bit and the social season looms large in our minds. Club Dinners and Slide Shows, lengthy stops in warm pubs and tea rooms suddenly seem very appealing, and I for one won’t be doing that much resisting!

Happy Christmas!


President's Page
by John Allen

John Allen

I have written this on Sunday morning October 20th a few hours before I go into Leicester General Hospital for major surgery to have my bladder removed.The operation is the following day Monday 21st October.Thank you to all those who have sent letters, cards and phone calls. Also offers of assistance during this period, it really goes a long way to helping me through it!

So many deadlines for me have had to be brought forward including Cycle Chat and the photo competition entries.

Despite the rain, wind and cold and depressing weather forecast there was an attendance of 25 on the Presidents Ride on September 15th. This should have been re-badged "The Vice Presidents Ride" as I could not cycle but the VP did us proud. The route followed that published in the previous edition and my thanks go to Sutton Cheney Wharf staff, The Crown Estate farmers on Gopsall Park and the staff of the tea- rooms at Shackerstone Station which operates independently of the preserved railway.

Jean Lakin made a wonderful 116th Birthday cake as it was our birthday! Thanks again Jean. This was cut after lunch in the rooms at the Station and in addition to those participating all surviving previous County CTC presidents will have received a slice, including Dennis Heggs (via Morgan Reynolds). Ken Pepper and Peter Hopkins’ portions are in our fridge! The remainder was devoured by the committee at the meeting on September 30th. At this point I will record my thanks to the committee for their work during a very successful year. The meetings were very easy to chair, thank you all once again.

Registration Officer Peter Witting revealed that County CTC membership has topped 1,000, this is the highest I can remember in my 50 years on the committee.

On a very sad note there is the recent passing of Brenda Randon and Roger Codling. Roger a former president of Notts CTC died aged 70. He was a dedicated CTC “Right to Ride” member and represented us at both the A46 and A453 road improvement inquiries. Roger as Notts CTC president always invited me to chair the Notts AGM when I was on the CTC Council, a task which was an honour to perform.

On a happier note, congratulations to Lyn Dolphin and Pete Gale on their marriage in September.We wish them many happy years on their tandem from us all.

Finally thank you to my wife and pal Ivy without whom I could not have carried out my duties, particularly this year. She played a major part in the Tri Vets organisation and everything else behind the scenes when I was in and out of hospital.


Secretary’s View

by Ray Clay


At the time of writing, our President, John Allen has just gone into hospital for major surgery. *

John wasn't able to lead his President's Ride in September so the Vice Presidents, including me, took over the role. John planned a very interesting 20mile route in the Market Bosworth area. We congregated in the market place in Market Bosworth with some trepidation – the weather forecast was dire. As it happened, the rain held off nearly all day. After a cuppa at Sutton Cheney Wharf we wandered through various villages to view the Gibbet Post and read its gory history. John had secured permission to ride through Gopsall Park where we viewed the Gopsall Temple in the distance. Shackerstone Station was the lunch stop and the staff had set aside a special room for us and the Birthday cake was cut (to celebrate the first Leics CTC ride in 1897). Thank You Jean, it was delicious!

Then back to Market Bosworth via Barton in the Beans.

I'm not an off road rider but I gather Ron Johnson's event went off pretty well. Eileen Johnson again organised the over 60s event at Gynsills. It was very well attended and we signed a card and sang happy birthday for her 80th birthday.

We still have some events to look forward to this year. Jeff Burton from the Nottingham CTC is giving us a slide presentation at the St Andrews Church hall to include the Outer Hebrides. It will be complemented by a display of members photos to include this years theme “Reflections”. Then on the 8th December, it's the turn of the CTC Carol Service which is being held at St Mary the Virgin Church, Congerstone starting at 1.15pm. (see separate advert).

Loughborough CTC will be arranging the annual Mince Pie Run on Sunday 22nd December at the usual venue of Belton, near Shepshed - not to be confused with other Beltons! If the weather is fine, we could see over 300 cyclists arriving to enjoy refreshments.

I've just come back from a lovely holiday in Provence, sadly without a bike. This may be just as well. While I was there, a German cyclist was killed by a bull that had escaped from a field. It was a holiday that had been in the pipeline for years. The weather was glorious and I even had a paddle in the Med. It was my first time on the Eurostar. After a stop at Lille, it was the TGV to Aix-en-Provence near Marseille. Then four days touring the haunts of famous artists, exploring the beautiful countryside around the Camargue and marvelling at the 2,000 year old Roman bridges and viaducts.

Back to reality, the weather is foul here at the moment. Its off to Devon shortly to see the grandchildren. The forecast doesn't seem any better there. But there's plenty to do there. I'm looking forward to riding on the Brunel railway by the beach and savouring the famous cake shop!

*John had his operation on 21st October and all went well. He is now back home receiving treatment from the local nurse. He hopes to be well enough to be at the Carol Service on December 8th.


Leicester Easy Riders

by David Smith

Well what glorious weather we have had for the last 3 months.

Richard’s ride to Hallaton was well supported as was June’s ride to Cosby, they arrived at the cafe to find it closed as the owners had gone on holiday, so carried on to Ullesthorpe and Church Langton for tea.

Our trip to the Monsal Head Trail did not go ahead.

Beginning of August saw Andy taking a ride to Desford Bird Sanctuary then on to Market Bosworth.

Richard took a very hilly ride to Oakham via Tilton. The following Sunday saw us having coffee at Medbourne and on to East Carlton Country Park for lunch, then via Wilbarston and Stoke Albany to Church Langton for tea.

Bank Holiday Sunday was a morning ride to Countesthorpe . I carried on to Saddington alone then called in at Church Langton for tea where I was joined by Pete and June.

Our first ride in September saw a record 14 people out, Cosby for coffee, (owners back from holiday) then on to Stoney Cove for lunch then via Sapcote, Leire and Dunton Bassett to Saddington where we had tea in the churchyard.

Next week Norman Castle and myself rode out to a coffee stop in Hallaton, then on to Barrowden where we had lunch with Norman’s cousin. We then carried on via Wing, Preston and Riddlington and over the fields to Launde Abbey where we had tea in the courtyard.

Five members went to Market Bosworth to go on the President’s ride, very enjoyable.

Our weekend away near Driffield in Yorkshire was in lovely weather with rides to Flamborough Head, York and Beverley.


South Leicestershire October 2013

by Tony Davis

Due to disorganisation on my part there was no report from the South Leicestershire Group in the last Cycle Chat. My previous contribution ended with the wish “….. fingers crossed for a good summer.” Well after a damp spring and a slow start we did have a good summer and we have been lucky so far this autumn. Consequently we have continued to get a good turnout on our regular Sunday club rides though summer time is probably when we get the least riders due to family holidays.

Our club rides are supported by the usual suspects plus regular “guest appearances” from people like Alan Hartshorne and Rob on his trike and Andy on his Sunn. In recent weeks David Mann has had less band commitments and a new winter bike so he has been out more regularly. We also have a new regular, Rachel from Kibworth. She has committed to riding an organised Land’s End to John O’Groats next year and is making a determined effort to increase her regular mileage, and all on a heavy hybrid bike. The group is a bit worried that she may turn up on a lighter bike one Sunday and leave us for dead.

On the first Sunday in October it was warm enough for shorts and the ten riders from Broughton Astley were joined by three more for Coffee at the Sugar Loaf in Market Harborough. Ten went on towards lunch at Welford Wharf via Haselbech and Naseby. Gill Lord and Neil peeled off for a direct route home just before Rachel had a flat. Unfortunately the valve was stuck in the rim and took a significant amount of brute forces and ignorance to shift. Jayne lent a spare and after a short delay we sat down we had drinks in hand and lunch ordered.

The pre-planned programme of rides is frequently disrupted by changes of ownership of pubs and cafes though we are always pleased to hear about new ones opening. I have recently heard about a new café at Naseby which we have yet to try on a Sunday.



As winter comes upon us it is worth remembering how nice a summer we had, once the showers of June left us. All of our published runs took place, though with varying levels of attendance, distance and destinations. The local rides tended to revisit our local favourites, but the car assisted rides took in new places.

Our first car assisted ride in July took us to start at Blithfield reservoir. It was an extremely hot day, one of those days when the tar pops under your wheels as you ride over it, with Keith, Nick, John, Pete and I out. Our route took us via Tixall into Stafford to have 11’s in the converted cinema, now home to Wetherspoons. If you have never been, it is worth going just for the atmosphere. We then left Stafford using the Way for the Millenium, and after a very rough track, that John was not that keen on (in fact I would go so far as to say he definitely moaned about it!), we arrived into Stone for lunch. Leaving Stone we did a bit of hill climbing around the back of Milwich before stopping for tea at Amerton and then back to Blithfield. John cycled on home, the rest of us got in our cars and enjoyed the bliss of air conditioning.

The second car assisted in August saw us start near Kinoulton, next to the old canal. It was not as hot as the last car assisted, and saw just Nick, Richard, Pete and I out. We started off in the sun and after passing a slightly strange cycle event near Aslockton, we followed cycle route 64 into the centre of Newark-on-Trent, where we had elevenses (in the local Wetherspoons ... spotting a trend here?). We had had the wind with us on the way to Newark, now we turned back into it, and it was strong. Whilst the published lunch stop was Brant Broughton we actually went to Dry Doddington, which has a church with a distinctly leaning tower, and a very nice pub for lunch. Jill joined us here, to collect Richard, who, very wisely, got a lift back. I say very wisely because the wind had now really got up and the journey back to Langar, to the wild flower centre where we had tea, was very hard work, with rain in the wind too it made a quite unpleasant time. Once we had finished at Langar though, the wind seemed to die a little, and by the time we got back to Kinoulton the sun had reappeared.

The third car assisted, which Keith led, was only attended by Nick too. I know they had a very good time, using the Monsal trail and going through the tunnels and over the viaduct, and I was upset to miss it, but a hen party had been arranged for me which meant I was in Stratford upon Avon at the time. However we now have this run appearing again in January. I am hoping that it was one of those sunny, clear, cold and crisp days, so that all of the trees are well defined and the sunlight seems to pick out all of the details in the surrounding countryside.

As you will know Pete and I got married on the 13th September, and I would like to thank everyone that sent us cards and wished us well. It was a lovely day and our “sponsored” tandem rides like a dream. We are now planning a tour in Denmark next year on it. Of course the planning of the day and the honeymoon meant we weren’t out on that many rides, but now that is behind us we are looking forward to being part of the regular attendees again, excluding our Sundays with the Tandem club of course.

* Lyn Gale is, of course, Lyn Dolphin’s new married name.

Brenda Randon 1927 – 2013

John Allen Pays his Respects

Brenda Randon was our Membership Officer in the 1970’s and 1980’s. She passed away in a Bournemouth nursing home in August aged 86 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. She lived in Markfield and lost husband Bill to a heart attack back in 1976. After Bill died she rode his bike on several Charnwood CTC tours, the CTC Birthday Rides, and Charnwood’s Easyrider runs.

Intent on keeping active Brenda readily undertook the job of county membership officer for about 10 years. She then moved to Ashby to be near her great friends Frank and Nancy Holden, also stalwarts of Charnwood CTC and the County CTC. Some years later she moved to Bournemouth to be near to her daughters Margaret and Kathleen and their families.

Her late husband Bill was a long serving secretary of the Coalville Wheelers and a member of the CTC and Charnwood Section. Charnwood Section had a unique trophy made in the profile of a chain drive complete with two very old CTC filigree badges which were donated after an appeal in the CTC national magazine.The “Bill Randon Memorial Trophy” is still presented annually to the leading veteran Charnwood member over 52 Sundays in the year. It therefore follows and with the consent of the family that the award now becomes the “Bill and Brenda Randon Memorial Trophy”. Brenda was also a great club person, certainly not a “high miler” but always ready to help out when required.


Land’s End to John O’Groats - September 2013
Part 1

By Tony Davis

Five years ago as part of celebrating my 50th birthday I rode from Land’s End to John O’Groats within Audax time limits. In the Youth Hostel at Canisbay near John O’Groats I met another cyclist who had also just completed the ride. He was called Toby Hopper. We were on the same train to the midlands and talked about cycling, cycle touring and Audax. Toby had heard of Audax and fancied giving it a go. Over the last five years I have regularly seen Toby on the start line of various Audax rides.

Earlier this year Tim Haslam, a bell ringing friend, mentioned that he planned to ride LeJog to celebrate his 50th birthday and to raise money for charity as a member of his family is on the long path of recovery after having a brain tumour. Tim asked if I would like to ride with him. The plan was to complete the ride in 15 days with two short rest days.

The group eventually leaving Land’s End Youth Hostel was six riders and a support driver. The group was Tim, his wife Jane, Andy and his children Lucy and Will plus me. Andy’s wife Julie provided support in the first week.

The route we planned was structured around accommodation using a combination of Youth Hostels, B&Bs and hotels. Our aim was to use the quietest roads we could but without missing some of the scenic highlights of the UK. The first day set the pattern for the rest of the ride. We had a steady ride from the hostel down to Land’s End then turned north east and rode through Penzance to Marazion for our coffee stop. We had arranged the location of coffee with Julie and she had driven ahead to set up our picnic stop. Each day Julie tried to buy local specialities to go with our coffee. So the first day it was saffron cake. After several miles on quiet lanes the traffic in Truro was a shock but didn’t last long before we were back on quieter roads. The first stop was at Golant youth hostel which is a grand house in a stunning setting overlooking the River Fowey. We cooked in the members kitchen and celebrated an enjoyable first day on the bike. At the end of each day Tim and Jane sent updates to the Brain Tumour Organisation.

The second day was the hardest day of the whole ride. Tim had chosen the option to ride over Dartmoor. The weather was superb and the skies were clear giving amazing views on the climb up from Tavistock and on the rolling moors past Princeton and Two Bridges. The run into Exeter was mainly downhill though we did arrive in the middle of rush hour. The GPS lead us easily to the Premier Inn.

The following day was a gently rolling route skirting round the Blackdown Hills to Weston Super Mare. We were met by Tim’s cousin who is recovering after operations for a brain tumour and is now active in fundraising for the Brain Tumour Organisation.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

The fourth day started with a drizzle and unexpected hills before crossing the Avon on the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The sun was shining by the time we had our coffee at the Severn View Services before crossing the Severn on the old Severn Bridge. The route then followed the beautiful Wye Valley with a picnic lunch at Redbrook before continuing through Monmouth to Hereford. After two nights in Premier Inns we were booked into a Travelodge, which did not have a restaurant so we headed into the city for a couple of beers and a very good meal at the Grapes, near the Cathedral.

The fifth day was a rest day where we only covered 25 miles to Ludlow. This gave us the time to stroll in the sunshine around Ludlow as tourists rather than taking a fleeting look as we passed through.

The sixth day was through Shropshire to Chester. A relatively easy day with lunch taken in the town hall at Wem before covering some of the roads used by the Mersey Roads 24 hour time trial. This was the first night when we didn’t eat as a group; I was suffering spice withdrawal and sought out an Indian restaurant before getting an early night.

Day seven, 6th September, was the day the weather changed. It was considerably cooler and rained on and off. We rode a combination of tow paths, quiet roads and well surfaced bridleways as far as Birkenhead where we took the ferry across the Mersey, complete with cheesy musical background. The waterfront in Liverpool is stunning seen from the river. Tim and Jane had both worked in Liverpool when they finished University so we were treated to reminiscences as we passed through the city. The suburbs of Liverpool were rundown and seemed to drag on for ever and it was the first time our coffee stop was taken sheltering from the rain. The tedious flat land between Liverpool and Preston was made worse by a navigational error by the ride leader (unfortunately that was me so I couldn’t blame anyone else!), a puncture and a broken spoke. By the time we stopped for lunch on the northern outskirts of Preston my hands were so cold I couldn’t change gear. Things improved after lunch as we headed into the countryside climbing Longridge Fell on our way into the Forest of Bowland. Julie drove the long way round to pick a couple of spare spokes for me on her way to our stop that night at the superb Slaidburn Youth Hostel.

Click here to continue


Where was the mud?

Peter Witting is puzzled

It’s been traditional for our county CTC Offroad Rides to find mud. We moved the date from Autumn to Summer and back again, but still we had mud - until this year! Even Ron Johnson’s final track across a ploughed field was dry. It was a ride to savour on 29th September!

Our group of about half a dozen set off from Groby for Bradgate Park. They included several of my fellow Thursday Club riders plus some CTC members who don’t ride with their local groups. The Bradgate stags had herded the deer together making them easily spotted. We kept the speed down through the Park to avoid conflict with the other natives! On exit a quick right and left should have put us on the bridleway; we discovered it was the footpath, which made things tricky! But soon it joined the intended track.

Turning right at the T junction took us to a staggered road crossing and onto a track being used by runners. We let them pass before we reached Swithland to pass the notorious Griffin Inn! After some confusion our next track reached Kinchley Lane and familiar territory. We had been caught by a faster moving group of Leicestershire Road Club riders.

Mick Gould was unconvinced as we set off down the side of a corn field to reach Woodhouse Eaves and welcome tarmac. A surprisingly steep climb up Mill Lane took us over fields to cross Beacon Road. An equestrian ride was using the same tracks as we headed uphill to the Beacon Hill car park. The racing crowd had visited the Beacon Hill viewpoint, giving us the chance to catch up!

We never found Ron’s orienteering sign 64E, but we did find some obstinate equestrians who insisted we didn’t pass ‘til reaching the road! A welcome downhill swoop took us over Woodhouse Lane and onto the track through the Out Woods. Here we met Mick Gould who appeared from the opposite direction. I think we agreed to differ on our interpretation of Ron’s route, continuing in opposite directions!

The LRC folk successfully followed Ron’s route from the Rainbows and around the back of a new housing development. We lost the signs so followed plan B - along the roads - to catch the LRC as they entered Mucklin Wood towards Beaumanor Hall and Woodhouse. Familiar for those at the Beaumanor camping weekend wanting to reach the Wetherspoons in Loughborough!

After several more tracks we reached Kinchley Lane again, skirted Swithland Reservoir and climbed to the T junction. We waited for the LRC but, as we learned later, they had suffered a puncture so we continued to Rothley passing the golf course. The track to Thurcaston seemed to have eroded badly since I had last used it; but that was over 30 years ago!

New-to-me tracks led from Thurcaston to Cropston, and past the Reservoir to Anstey and the final section over the ploughed field and back to Groby. 25 miles in 3 hours 20 minutes of challenging riding over mixed terrain. We all enjoyed it. Thanks Ron.



David Grimshaw tells us about next year’s rides.

You will see elsewhere in this edition of Cycle Chat the details of the 2014 event of the Sulley Challenge Rides on March 2nd.

As this is the 25th anniversary of the first ride – which were then called The Star Rides, organised by David Sulley – it has been decided that all proceeds, less any expenses, will go to a Cardiac Unit charity at Glenfield hospital where David was a patient and given to the memory of David and his wife, Doreen.

Now I know that the event is very early in the year and yes, I know it's likely to be a bit nippy at the least and I know that it means an early start, but these are good rides and for a good cause.

Please try and make the effort to come!

Club Run organisers – please put the date down in your runs list.

You can enjoy the luxury of booking on in the dry and almost warm, with indoor toilets and your own car park for those arriving on more than 2 wheels. I'm again trying to negotiate free coffee when (and I mean when, not if) you return and in the high finance of a car boot sale!

The entry price has been increased to £3; £2 for 32km and vets; and £1 for juniors in view of the charitable nature of this ride and probably will revert back to 2013 prices in 2015, but that will be decided then.

All the routes and details are on www.ctclr.org.uk and these will be checked and updated as necessary in January for the 2014 ride. Route sheets will be available at the start but you would be advised to print one off. Whilst you're doing that print an entry form and complete it which will save you a possible longish wait at the start if it's busy.

A volunteer helper or two would be more than useful in March, especially if we get the numbers I would hope. Over 70 rode in 2013 and it would be great to have more this next year, so it might be a bit of a rush for the existing team. Anyone wanting to ride the 32 or 50 kms would have the time to help out and then ride. Think about it – AND THEN VOLUNTEER!

Talking about 2015 as I was, can I remind you all that a new organiser will be required for the event then as I am giving up my stint. I've done a few years - firstly as an apprentice with Morgan and then as organiser and it's now time for someone else to carry the event on. Please contact me if you would like to discuss this through.

I hope to see many of you on 2nd March 2014.


Reader’s Letters

Dear Sir

I have received the below:-
“Dear John,
Would you please accept a donation in memory of Sid Standard on the 10th anniversary of his death.We had such a great time cycling in Leicester and I remember so many of you and thank you for sending me Cycle Chat, a great read.
Cathy Standard.”

I have replied to Cathy thanking her for the donation.Sid and Cathy were guests of honour at both our 90th and 100th anniversary dinners in 1987 and 1997.

John Allen

Dear Sir
I recently decided to buy a pair of traditional leather touring shoes and eventually decided to a pair of Exustar SRT707.

Looking through the CTC magazine, ‘Cycle’, I found these on sale at Spa Cycles for £85. I then went on the web and found the same shoes available very much more cheaply in the USA. At Nashbar Cycles (www.nashbar.com) they cost just £40 and even after paying for carriage from the USA I still paid only £55, a saving of £30 on the UK price. Since the shoes are made in China they have to be imported into the USA just as they have to be imported into the UK, so that cannot explain the price difference.

I subsequently wrote to ‘Cycle’ describing my experience and suggesting the CTC should ask Spa Cycles why US shops can sell the shoes for £40 when Spa charge £85. However, they chose not to publish my letter or (I assume) to ask for an explanation from Spa, possibly because they were afraid to upset one of their major advertisers. I am disappointed in the CTC’s lack of response and think we are just being ‘ripped off’.

However, Cycle Chat readers might like to know that these shoes (and many other cycling goods) are available much more cheaply in the US. Nashbar Cycles now regularly send goods to the UK and now even price goods in sterling. So if you want to avoid being ‘ripped off’, look to the US!

Ivan Waddington

Editor’s Note
Bear in mind that buying goods from outside of the EU can attract various taxes such as Import Duty and VAT which are not included in the advertised price but for which you are still liable. Delays at Customs can also occur and warranty issues can also be problematic. Ensure you take these into consideration when making your decision.


South Leics. CTC Annual Report

Peter Witting

Our Sunday clubruns have regularly attracted double figures during the year. We continue to attract new members, making use of Facebook and Google + to publicise our activities. Our members also play a significant part in the County CTC Group’s events:

  • The 2012 L&R Group’s Carol Service was hosted by the South Leicesters at Great Bowden. Despite being far from the usual centre of activities, it proved a popular event. The South Leicesters even provided a team of bell-ringers for the service.
  • The New Year’s Dinner held on the 1st Sunday of the year at Sibbertoft continues to be oversubscribed, with many Northants. CTC members joining us. Thanks are due to Gill Lord for running this for many years, and to Dave Gair who has taken over the event for 2014.
  • The Audax event, organised by Tony Davis, has also proved important for the L&R Group, attracting riders from around the UK and contributing significantly to our Group finances. This year we had 79 riders, slightly down from last year’s 85. A double-booking by the Rugby club caused a late change of venue and some headaches for the organiser!
  • The Challenge Rides proved challenging both for the organiser, Peter Witting, and for the riders this year. The weather was as dismal and damp as any English Summer can deliver. 24 riders braved the conditions, only 2 tackling the full 100 miles. The reduced entry and higher charges for the hall nearly resulted in a loss being made.
We look forward to another year of enjoyable cycling in 2014.


Tales from the Bike Shed
The Mighty Zoncolan

Alan Staniforth tells us about an epic climb in the Dolomites

Monte Zoncolan is located in Alps
Monte Zoncolan
Monte Zoncolan

Weeks before I set off on my Raid Dolomite, organised by Marmot Tours, in July 2013, my cycling acquaintances asked me if I was “going to do Zoncolan”. I’d noticed it mentioned in the itinerary for the tour but took little notice since we were scheduled to ride up and down about 30 Cols as we rode the 730 miles (1179 km) from Geneva to Trieste across the Dolomite range in eight back-to-back days of cycling.

The “Zoncolan” or to give it its full title Sella Monte Zoncolan, is situated in the north east corner of Italy on the south side of the Dolomites. Wikipedia describes it “as one of the most difficult climbs in Europe”, usually compared to the Alto de El Angliru. It climbs 1,120m in 10.1 km with a summit elevation of 1,750m.

As we approached the departure date I was more worried about the first day’s ride of 123 miles which included Pas de Morgans (1371m) and towards the end of a long day, the Simplon (2006m). The second day wasn’t any easier: Druogno, Piano di Sale, Forcola and San Bernadino (2065m).

Climb profile

As our group of 20 riders go to know one another the subject of the Zoncolan came up more and more frequently in conversations. What emerged were fearful myths and folklore of tales passed on from cyclist to cyclist about the most horrendous climb you might imagine. Kilometre sections with an average gradient of 16% about (1 in 6), relentless straights with no hairpins for brief respite and so on and so on. As the days went by the growing folklore amongst the group was only outstripped by the quiet trepidation of those who thought they would be cajoled by their mates to attempt this infamous climb.

Bike on Dolomite Road

Day eight of our Raid required us to ride from Lago di Lanore to Tolmezzo. It wasn’t going to be the longest day at 137 km (85 miles) but the route already had five Cols on it ranging between 1400-1800m. Our itinerary showed the Zoncolan as an optional sixth climb for the day adding another 17km to the day’s total.

I rode most of the Raid Dolomite in the company of David Stead, known as McDave because this Yorkshireman lives in Aberdeen. McDave and I are veterans of other Raids and have done plenty of climbing together. On departing our overnight stay at Hotel Tre Cime we’d agreed that we’d give the Zoncolan a go!

Late in the afternoon we reached a major junction in Villa Santina only 4-5 miles from our hotel in Tolmezzo. We needed to turn left at a roundabout but overshot by about a mile. As we retraced we saw several other riders from the 20 making their way directly to the hotel – no Zoncolan for them. We reached the roundabout and took the road up to Ovaro. It was here that Dave casually mentioned that he had ridden the Zoncolan once before with an Italian cycling friend, Igor, but what he realized later is that the previous ride had been up the main road designed for cars and buses heading for the ski resort of Ravascletto close to the summit.

He also mentioned that we had about 11km of gradual climbing before we reached the foot of Zoncolan in the village of Ovaro. As we rode up the steady incline I checked my pockets for food and shook my drinking bottle to see if I had enough rations to get me over the top and back to the hotel in Tolmezzo. Things were looking grim.

We reached Ovaro and turned sharp right and saw our first sign that the mighty Zoncolan lay ahead. We stopped to check our bearings. No sooner had we stopped when an elderly lady broke off from her gardening and asked if we wanted water. She had no doubt watched as many cyclists had passed her little house destined to experience one of the most character-building climbs of their lives.

We thanked her for the water, nibbled on what few rations we had left, taking care to keep a bit back for dire emergencies later on. The following numbers represent the average gradient over each of the 10km from where we took on water to the summit: 8, 7, 12, 16, 16, 15, 15, 13, 8 and 9%.


The first two kilometres were now run-of-mill after seven days of climbing although, both of us were feeling the cumulative effect of fatigue. We could see the 12% section ahead as we passed the village church in Liariis. The road narrowed dramatically and it was immediately apparent that if a vehicle came up behind us or down from above we would either have to stop to let it pass or exercise precision steering and balance whilst straining up hill at 4mph. The third kilometre had us in our lowest gear. I can remember that we were both still chatting at that stage. We entered the tree line and the meadows disappeared as we ground our way up a narrow channel on potholed tarmac.

The appearance of the first kilometre of 16% was shocking. Here we were crawling upwards when the road ramped up again. The shock came from seeing the thin strip of tarmac travel in a straight line. We were looking up a kilometre or more of 16%. The talking had stopped. McDave attempted to zig-zag across the road but it was so narrow that no sooner had he zigged when he had to zag back. I tried to follow his technique but gave up just about when he did, realizing that we were travelling further and the sudden and frequent sharp turns at low speed were probably going to result in us riding off the road. We just gritted our teeth and kept the pedals turning. As we entered the second 16% section, following straight on from the first 16% section in another straight line, we thought we could see a bend ahead. Our last seven days of cycling up Cols had reminded us that the rider can get a few revs of respite as he gets onto the less steep outer section of some hairpins. Alas, this wasn’t a bend when we reached it, just a slight kink in the road shrouded by bushes to prevent the ascending rider from seeing the next straight section.

Click here to continue


Man with no arms rides a bike

A truly uplifting storys

Michael Brown who modified the bike, with Michael Trimble

In the October 11th edition of "Cycle Clips", the CTC online newsletter, there was the story of an amazing young American man born without arms who is doing all he can to live as full and active a life as possible.

He particularly wanted to ride a bike, but this obviously presented a considerable problem and he couldn't find anyone able or willing to help him. Until he found a specialist bike builder who set out to help.

By wedging it against his shoulder, Michael Trimble is able to use an extension to the handlebar to steer the bike and thus balance. Braking is achieved via the pedals using a back pedal brake.

The full story can be found on : - http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/recreation/pittsburgh-bike-maker-builds-one-for-armless-man.php Contents

WANTED - Your photos

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

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

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

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



- 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
Part 23
The story so far.

During the summer of 2007, Dave was working in France as a cycle mechanic and local assistant to a cycling company. His contract now finished, he is cycling home. He has just spent a couple of nights at La Rochelle, a historic port on the Atlantic coast.

The story continues…..

Saturday September 29

I continued my coastal route northwards, but as is often the way in large towns, I got a bit lost going out of La Rochelle, but soon found the correct route. You would think all you needed to do was keep the sea on your left and that was it, but roads don’t always run as expected, and often leave the coast, so can be confusing.

Unlike the previous few days riding, today there was a tailwind nearly all day and it became warm after mid morning. A short stop for a coffee in a roadside bar, then a picnic lunch, bought from a small supermarket, sitting at a table outside a closed café kept the energy levels up.

One of the ex-Presidents of France, Georges Clemenceau, had a house on the coast and although not open to the public, it can be seen from the road, so I stopped and had a short rest before moving on. My destination for the day was the seaside resort of Les Sables d’Olonne, and I was approaching it along the coastal road when suddenly my name was called out! It was two of my summer holidaymakers on their second holiday! I remembered them, but had to admit to them that I couldn’t remember their names. No problem, they completely understood my dilemma, having had dozens of folks through my hands, and only spending an hour or two in their company. They were interested enough to suggest we meet later for a meal as they were also staying in the town. Because I had no idea where, or even if, I would get a bed, I had to say I would leave a message at their hotel as to where and when to meet.

Unfortunately there was no Youth Hostel and so I had to pay €65 for my 2 star hotel but it did include a reasonable breakfast. Having had a shower and snooze, I located their hotel and was just about to go in and leave a message when out they walked – another coincidence. We did have the meal, in a small restaurant beside the still active small harbour, but it was typical French restaurant food – tasty and fancy but not much of it for a hungry cyclist. It was over dinner that I found the 3rd coincidence of the day. Their daughter had at one time lived in my home village! The light was still good when we had finished eating and we strolled around the harbour area looking at the activity and enjoying the evening warmth.

69 miles

Sunday September 30

A large buffet style breakfast was just the ticket after what had turned out to be a rather disappointingly small dinner last night. I was away a bit later than I had intended, but the sun was out (just) and the tailwind was still helpful as I made my way out of Les Sables d’Olonne.

I had planned to go to the Youth Hostel on the coast just south of the Loire at St. Nazaire, but this assumed I would then be able to cycle over the massive bridge that spans the estuary of the Loire at that point. I had begun to wonder if this was practical or even legal and could get no definitive answer from the internet. I also started to question if I actually wanted to ride over it if I had to use the main carriageway as opposed to any cycle path that may or may not exist. One thing was for sure, if I got there and for whatever reason didn’t go over it, the detour was very lengthy indeed. So I opted for the safety of heading north westwards and inland towards Nantes, where there was another YH and cross the Loire on one of the many bridges in the big City.

I was making pretty good time and had bared my arms and legs not long after setting off. I stopped for a picnic lunch, but before then had stopped at a bar for a coffee. However, the tobacco fug in that bar was so dense you could have cut the air with a knife so I came straight back out again. Soon I saw another bar in a very small village and was surprised to find it open. As I pulled up outside I could see a motorcycle parked inside, actually in the bar – strange, but perhaps the bar was very big. When I went inside, I found the front half of the motorcycle had been cut away, leaving the seat and rear wheel in place, but all bolted “front end on” facing the bar. It was thus a seat for the “rider” and “pillion” to sit astride whilst seated at the bar! I was so taken by this I went back outside for my camera and took a photo. The bar owner obviously saw my delight and pointed to the pumps on the bar. Then I noticed the very large motorcycle engine bolted on the bar, and this was acting as the bracket to hold the pump handles when pulling beer! As there was only one other customer present, I asked her to pretend to pull a pint whilst I took a photo of her doing just that. I drank my coffee and admired the rest of the décor, which was totally dominated by the motorcycle theme.

The road into Nantes became slightly hillier as I approached, and of course more traffic and houses started to appear. As is usual, the maps that are great in the countryside are not much good in large conurbations, so despite making good use of my inbuilt sense of direction, mine was a rather wiggly route in through the suburbs, but I soon reached the really busy part. Then my troubles began. I had no idea of the layout of the City, and as the sun wasn’t out, couldn’t use that as a navigation aid, nor could I use the river, as I didn’t know where I was on my map. The Youth Hostel details I had printed off the internet gave a local map, and vague references to the Paris route from the City Centre. Unfortunately, the City Centre is not one point; it is an area, and the word “Paris” does not appear on the road signs. It also mentions the Hostel is 500m from the Rail Station, but does not say if it’s Nantes North, or Nantes South Station! I stumbled upon the Tourist Information Office, but this was shut, although they did have a small map on the door. I could relate my map to it, but was really none the wiser. After riding around for a while in the traffic (at least there are a lot of cycle lanes to make cycling a bit safer) I spied a better map outside one of the train stations. This gave me the reference point I needed and before too long I found the Hostel.

It was full -and I had wasted an hour trying to find it! There were hotels, but most were 3 and 4 star, more expensive than I wanted or needed. I did find a 1 star “Auberge” but this was opposite a massive fun fair and the bass beat from the music was making my body shake, so didn’t bother with that. By now I was sick of the whole thing and not at all taken with any of Nantes. So as it was still only 5pm, I abandoned the City Centre and headed northwards in search of a road out and a quieter hotel. By a process of elimination I began to locate roughly where I was, but then became concerned that I may not find another hotel for a long way. I reluctantly turned around and headed back towards the City again. My luck had changed a bit by now, and I managed to find a 1 star hotel down a side street that was a bargain at only €37 for a double room with shower and WC en suite and a TV. No, it wasn’t luxurious, but was as good as the room I had just been living in for 5 months.

A major international rugby tournament was being held during this period and Nantes was hosting some of the games and many fans from across Europe were in the city to watch. Enormous electronic TV screens had been erected in strategic locations throughout the city centre with large numbers of boisterous fans “oohing” and “aahing” as the players strutted their stuff for all to see. It didn’t interest me in the slightest. A meal in an Italian restaurant set me up nicely for tomorrow, but the salad, which I thought was just a starter and so ordered a second course before it arrived, was enormous. I couldn’t finish either serving!

77 miles.

Click here to continue


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


Part of
Cycling UK

Facebook link

Report Potholes


Minutes of Cycling UK Council Meetings

Are your
details correct?

Cycling UK Members,
please help Cycling UK
and us stay
in touch with you
by updating your
contact details.

Cycle Journey Planner

Tandem Club

Rough Stuff Fellowship

Audax UK icon

Cyclists' Touring Club East Midlands logo
Cyclists' Touring Club East Midlands

image from www.pixabay.com
Leicestershire Road Club
(affiliated to Cycling UK)

CTC Holiday & Tours

Commercial Offers
Businesses with products and offers that may be of interest to cyclists.

tumblr counter

View site Stats (since25/7/12

Coffee Cup Icon
Map of Tea Places

Easy Riders

Cyclists' Touring

Cyclists' Touring

Soar Valley Cyclists' Touring Club

Wednesday Cyclist Logl

Nuneaton Cycle Club

Northants Cyclists' Touring Club

CTC Winged Wheel
Cycling UK is a trading name of Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no: 25185. Registered as a charity in England and Wales charity no: 1147607 and in Scotland charity no: SC042541. Registered office: Parklands, Railton Road, Guildford, Surrey GU2 9JX.