Leicestershire and Rutland
Cyclists' Touring Club

(founded 1897)


Editor's Comments
President's Page
Secretary's Report
Technical Topics
Leicester Easy Riders
South Leicestershire Report
Charnwood Generals Report
Coalville Car Festival
Algarve Pedalling
How things have changed
The Third Policeman
Challenge Rides
Riding over plums
Environment Day Appeal
How NOT to ride the End to End (part 2)
And finally ...........

Autumn Leaves, Abbey Park, Leicester.
Photo by Dave Binks

"Editor's Comments"

Dave Binks

Dave Binks

As in the previous few years, I have spent a few months in France “working” but with a lot of free time to enable me to get out on my bike.

Unfortunately this meant I missed what had to be the biggest bike event of the year in the UK this year; the starting stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire. However, before I left, I was able to get up into the Yorkshire Dales for a weekend with some clubmates who wanted to see the roads for themselves. French TV shows the Tour live, from start to finish each day, not just the highlights we have to put up with. But I actually had to work when it was on and had no means of recording it. However, I did manage to catch up with some of it later. One thing that struck the french TV commentator and Bernard Hinault, who has been associated with the Tour for 40 years, and myself, was the size of the crowds. During my earlier visit I had noticed how the villages were really getting into the spirit of the thing, with Tour themed shop window displays and yellow bikes everywhere, but on the day it was just massive. I hear Scotland is now trying hard to get the Tour to visit them. How things have changed in the last few years!

Well done Yorkshire!


President's Page

Peter Witting

Peter Witting

Whatever autumn brings, we have enjoyed a magnificent summer for cycling. The combination of three days blanket TV coverage of Le Tour en Angleterre followed by real Summer weather seemed to bring record numbers out on bikes. The main attraction for newbies seems to be Sportives: but some hopefully will then learn that real cyclists ride Audax for a fraction of the cost. From there it’s a short step to proper club riding with the CTC.

Another good sign is the revival of the York Rally. The Knavesmire is booked for mid-June 2015, and we wish well to those planning the traditional weekend. The organisers are from the local CTC Group, surprisingly with little input from our National body. Maybe our National Councillor could clarify whether our Head Office is in touch with the members, or following some other agenda.

Having celebrChallenge Ridesated my 70th birthday this year, I can call upon a lifetime’s experience of cycling. You never know when an old toestrap might be of use – see Technical Topics. Or how the bricks outside the house can help your braking – ditto! But I still find I’m doing things for the first time: Leaving a bike abroad ready for my next foreign holiday, and riding in sandals with the wind between my toes. OK, the latter I did as a young kid in school shorts, now I’m an old kid in Assos lycra!


Secretary’s View

by Ray Clay


I'm pleased to report that the Beaumanor camping rally over the Spring Bank Holiday period seemed to be well received again. We had the usual number of about 50 arrive coming from various parts of the country. We did have some rain but that didn't dampen the enjoyment too much. We were entertained by Alan Bennet's classic film “A day Out” and Ian Hill from Derby put on a good slide show about spring in Dorset and Somerset. I have decided to call it a day though. I've organised the rally, with the help of Jean and Keith Lakin, for about 13 years. So I've handed over the reins to a “volunteer”, Ian Alexander of Derby CTC. Of course, I'll give him support if required but I expect he will have ideas of his own.

I've got to the stage where, at my age, I'm coming to the end of camping in a small tent. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to get dressed and undressed lying down! Having said that, I am having a last fling at cycle camping. I've booked a CTC tour of Suffolk, my home county, in August. I'm particularly looking forward to have a pint in the Bell and Steelyard in Woodbridge.

I've done well for holidays this year. France three times, South Downs and Devon. I think we'll have to tighten our belts next year. Looks like it will probably be a cottage in Norfolk, one of my favourite counties.

I did attend the Meriden cyclists' service this year. Of course, it was extra special remembering the great war starting in 1914. There is now an additional new plaque on the monument. Unfortunately, it appears that the attendance has dwindled over the years. This is a pity. We should honour the cyclists who died.

I'm pleased to report that the Wednesday rides in Loughborough are still going strong. For instance, there were seven of us on a recent ride. We assembled as usual at the meeting place and rode through Stanford on Soar and Normantan. The cChallenge Ridesoffee stop was at Manor Farm, Long Whatton. Then a leisurely ride back home for lunch via Shepshed. We have a core of about six regular riders. If anyone would like to join us for an easy morning ride, please let me know.

Due to holidays, I'm afraid I missed John Allen's Back to the Fuschia ride. I understand that the weather could have been better. But you can't win them all!

It will soon be our President's Ride. Peter Witting has mapped out the route in the Kibworth area and it looks good.

Keith Lakin is putting a lot of work into making the cyclists' carol service at St Botolph's church on 7th December a memorable one. A number of guests have pledged support including Nicky Morgan, the Loughborough MP, now education secretary.

Ray Clay

Technical Topics

by Peter Witting

Shorts Too Long!

What’s the correct length for lycra shorts? You generally get no choice, all designed for those over 6 foot. If you are merely average height, the shorts will leave tan lines just above the knee. Not a good look when you then wear normal casual shorts, with a band of pink skin between shorts and knee! My solution was to use Assos F1 Mille shorts that offered a 4 cms. shorter option, but at some considerable cost! Now Assos have discontinued that option. If I can’t find some old stock I’ll have to give up wearing casual shorts!

(Editor's comment - Decathlon sell a range of good value shorts with padded insert at £20-£30 depending on style. These are shorter than most race shorts. I use them and am happy with them.

SPD Sandals

Chris Juden reviewed the Exustar SPD sandals in the CTC’s most recent Cycle magazine. I’d already bought a pair from Spa Cycles, reduced to £45 as discontinued. The summer heatwave provided plenty of use, and they will certainly accompany me abroad. As they are normally worn sockless, aim for a smaller size than usual as they are generously sized. If interested, don’t wait, as the popular sizes will become unavailable, though other brands make SPD sandals.

Brake Blocks

The brakes on my new bike had been “grabbing” since new. A potentially dangerous feature, especially in the wet. After some months I did what I usually do when building my own bike, while this one was assembled at a shop! I rubbed the brake blocks on the red bricks on the outside of the house, then refitted. That solved the problem.

Saved by an old Toestrap

After fitting a new saddle to an old seatpost, the clamp refused to secure the saddle. Maybe different saddle rail diameters? Offroad in Yorkshire the saddle constantly tilted backwards. Very uncomfortable! A toestrap through the nose of the saddle and under the top tube saved the day, and more!


Leicester Easy Riders

by David Smith

With half the year gone and at the moment very good weather, we have had good support on fine days.On really wet days we often meet at the destination on four wheels for coffee and chat.

We rode to Thrussington on May 18th. Then on to Ashby Folville for a drink at the Carrington Arms.

Richard Bilston represented us at Beaumanor Hall, early rain put some people off but it did clear up later on.

In early June we went to Catthorpe, unfortunately that nice little lane from Shawell will be a thing of the past due to the massive road works there. We carried on to Church Langton for tea, a favourite of ours.

We also had a ride to Pillings Lock, it started off fine but it rained later on.

In July we had a ride to East Leake Animal Farm I believe it used to be a Donkey Sanctuary, it has now changed its name. July 20th saw us at Thrussington again for coffee then on to Eye Kettleby Lakes for lunch and finally Tilton for a cream tea. Pete Butler rode the whole 35 miles not bad at 83 as parts were very hilly around Burrough Hill and Marefield.

Thank you riders for all your support.


South Leicestershire Spring/Summer 2014

by Tony Davis

As usual, lets get the excuses for why we haven’t been out on every Sunday Club Run out of the way first. May, June and July is peak season for Audax rides and this year I completed two 200kms, one 400kms, two 600kms rides and a 1000kms Audax in those mCharnwood Generals Reportonths. This pales into insignificance when compared with Steve Ralphs who rode one 300kms, then 403 miles in the Mersey Roads 24 hour and a fabulous 1300kms around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland on top of the mileage I covered.

May Bank Holiday weekend

Way of the Roses - Coast to Coast route

I was away riding the Brevet Cymru while Jayne and some friends tackled the Way of the Roses. This is the newest Coast to Coast route across the north of England and they all agreed that it was the prettiest and most enjoyable of the options.

12th May 2014

Three people turned out at Broughton Astley on this Sunday morning, Shane Blower, Dave Mann and Neil Talbot. There was a strong wind blowing so they decided to cycle out into the wind to Brandon Marshes for coffee. No one was keen to go onto Long Itchington for lunch so they did a bit of a loop through Wolston, Lawford Heath, Church Lawford, Kings Newnham and Harborough Magna. Dave left Shane and Neil at Little Lawford to return to Rugby. Shane said it was quite tiring for a short ride.

18th May 2014

I was away riding the Brian Chapman Memorial 600kms Audax. Coffee stop was Greenacres, while Peter Witting braved the poor service but cheap prices of the Bear and Ragged Staff, JDW, in Bedworth as an alternative. The destination for the club run was the Cyclists Memorial Service at Meriden led by the Bishop of Warwick at which a new plaque was inaugurated to commemorate all the cyclists killed in service since World War 2. This was followed by lunch at the Church End Brewery.

25th May 2014

I was back in attendance for this one. Apologies but I didn’t keep a record of who showed up but I do remember I huge turnout at coffee. Peter reported that it was 15 riders in his Facebook post. Lucky we arrived in waves as the JDW at Market Harborough would never have coped with us all at once and we ate them out of carrot cake. We moved on to the Wharf at Welford for lunch where the service is quick and the selection of beers pleases most people.

1st June 2014

Technical Topics

by Peter Witting

Shorts Too Long!

What’s the correct length for lycra shorts? You generally get no choice, all designed for those over 6 foot. If you are merely average height, the shorts will leave tan lines just above the knee. Not a good look when you then wear normal casual shorts, with a band of pink skin between shorts and knee! My solution was to use Assos F1 Mille shorts that offered a 4 cms. shorter option, but at some considerable cost! Now Assos have discontinued that option. If I can’t find some old stock I’ll have to give up wearing casual shorts!

(Editor's comment - Decathlon sell a range of good value shorts with padded insert at £20-£30 depending on style. These are shorter than most race shorts. I use them and am happy with them.

SPD Sandals

Chris Juden reviewed the Exustar SPD sandals in the CTC’s most recent Cycle magazine. I’d already bought a pair from Spa Cycles, reduced to £45 as discontinued. The summer heatwave provided plenty of use, and they will certainly accompany me abroad. As they are normally worn sockless, aim for a smaller size than usual as they are generously sized. If interested, don’t wait, as the popular sizes will become unavailable, though other brands make SPD sandals.

Brake Blocks

The brakes on my new bike had been “grabbing” since new. A potentially dangerous feature, especially in the wet. After some months I did what I usually do when building my own bike, while this one was assembled at a shop! I rubbed the brake blocks on the red bricks on the outside of the house, then refitted. That solved the problem.

Saved by an old Toestrap

After fitting a new saddle to an old seatpost, the clamp refused to secure the saddle. Maybe different saddle rail diameters? Offroad in Yorkshire the saddle constantly tilted backwards. Very uncomfortable! A toestrap through the nose of the saddle and under the top tube saved the day, and more!


Whenever Stephen Lake turns out the sun seems to shine. Please ride more often! Due to the roadworks on the Catthorpe interchange closing a lane which gives access to the village of Catthorpe we have been using the Moorings Café at Crick instead. This is a lovely setting on the canal side with plenty of outside seating which is ideal when the sun shines. From here we wandered via Ashby St Ledgers (home of the Gunpowder Plot) to the Shoulder of Mutton at Grandborough for lunch. We were joined in the sunshine in the garden by Stephen’s wife Judith, who cycles with me on Tuesday’s, work permitting.

7th June 2014

The Heart of the Shires Audax 100kms and 200kms rides were held based at Misterton and District Riding Club. The weather forecast for the day was appalling resulting in a number of non starters.

22nd June 2014

The DA Challenge rides which I still think of as the Standard 100. I’m sure Peter will report on this ride elsewhere in Cycle Chat. Prior to the ride Peter had posted on Facebook that I’d be a steady wheel to follow. Unfortunately I proved to be an unreliable navigator and the group who had planned to follow me thought better off it when I turned the wrong way out of the car park. I’d programmed the ride back to front on my GPS. In the end Jayne and one other rider followed me. Jayne was suffering with her back and headed to home part way round and my companion and I completed the 100 miles in a riding time of about 6 hours.

Mille Cymru 1000kms Audax 26th June 2014

This is a 1000kms Audax event around Wales with 16000 metres of climbing which has a time limit of 75 hours. The event started late morning on the Friday and we had to finish by 2pm on the Monday. The first day passed through the Shropshire Hills before entering Wales for a climb through the edge of the Brecon Beacons via the Gospel Pass. Then down the beautiful Wye valley before climbing out of the valley at Tintern and via Brecon and Mynydd Eppynt to our first sleep stop at Llanwrtyd Wells, 270kms. The second day was a loop round the Pembrokeshire coast, 305k. After this warm up the ride headed for the hills via the Devils Staircase, Elan Valley, Dyliffe mountain road and Snowdonia, 294k. The feature climb on the last day was Bwylch y Groes then past Lake Vrynwy and back to Shrewsbury, 148kms.

In 2010 I started this event but failed to finish due to not drinking enough in the hot weather. I became dehydrated and couldn’t digest any food. This time I was determined to manage myself better.

Rather than giving a blow by blow – I rode for a bit, then eat, rode, eat, slept etc I have provided a few pictures which I hope give the feel of the fantastic scenery – and weather. Oh and by the way, this time I finished!


Charnwood Generals Report

by Martin Bulmer
(Photos by Martin Bulmer & Pete Gale)

May commenced with our annual Easter holiday. OK, by then Easter was long gone, but I haven't yet got into the habit of thinking of it as our "May Bank Holiday tour". I soon will though, as the early May date has been adopted for next year as well.

We were based in a wonderful barn conversion at Bridekirk, just north of Cockermouth, Cumbria. Seven of us shared the luxurious accommodation. There was even a separate games room, with full sized snooker table! The Easy Riders, being much more hardy, were using motorhomes parked on a nearby site.

Joe led our first ride, breaking us in gently by sticking to the flatter coastal plain.

We explored many of the lanes and small villages, and arrived by a circuitous root at Allonby for elevenses, after which we continued up the coast road, then branched off inland before returning to the Solway Firth coast at Silloth for lunch at the Golf Hotel, where we were made welcome, and escorted into a dining room which was rather more formal than we expected. We all decided to have the "Tower of Haggis" starter, which consisted of a cylinder of haggis sitting on a matched cylinder of "neeps & tatties" mashed, in a whisky sauce. Very tasty, and sufficient for lunch. One of our number was able to find a curtained-off part of the room being used as a chair store, which made an ideal rest & recuperation room, in readiness for the ride back via Skinburness, where the road turns inland, overlooked by the sinister presence of a derelict Gothic hotel building. We followed the sea dyke on the seaward side along the edge of Calvo Marsh, then headed south through Aspatria and Blindkrake to return to our barn for a roast chicken dinner expertly conjured up by Jeannette on an uncooperative Aga. Followed by snooker.

The next day I took the lead, once again aiming for the coast, but this time heading further south. A gentle climb over Broughton Moor skirts the northern boundary fence of a disused Royal Naval Armaments Depot, while to the right we caught glimpses of the sea. Descending to Seaton, we picked up cycle route 71 along the bed of the Cleator and Workington Junction Railway past Burrow Walls, (the remains of a Roman Fort), and into Workington for elevenses at the local Wetherspoon pub, named after Sir Henry Bessemer, inventor of the Bessemer Process for manufacturing steel. After refreshment we continued south on the trail - now promoted to 72 - which we followed to Distington where we headed inward & upward to Lamplugh at the base of Owsen Fell, our first view of the Lake District fells. Picking up route 71 again, now a lane skirting the edge of the Fell, we rode past Loweswater (the lake) to Loweswater (the village) where we lunched at the Kirkstile Inn with views of Loweswater Fell and Grasmoor. After lunch a fleeting glimpse of Crummock Water was soon left behind as we cycled north through Lorton Vale and Cockermouth then back to base. Our evening meal was upstairs in a Cockermouth pub, where we joined the Easy Riders on a long table.

On Tuesday, we had a day off. I went to visit a nearby Aunt on her 80th birthday, while the others took a boat ride on Bassenthwaite Lake. Followed by snooker.

On Wednesday it was Keith’s turn to lead us as we headed east where a gentle climb to Uldale was followed by a steep pull up to the top of Green How.This was then rewarded with a 5 mile descent, on a straight, smooth road, where we could sit back and watch the world go by. We arrived at our planned elevenses stop at the Old Smithy in Caldbeck just before the cafe opened, where we met others of our party who had arrived in cars. Then it rained. Proper rain. We quickly got bikes onto and into the cars, and Pete persuaded the cafe staff to let us in early. I seem to remember large scones. We then drove on to Caldbeck Mill craft centre for a look around, and having found our planned lunch pub at Hesket Newmarket closed, we returned to Caldbeck for a pub lunch before completing the ride by car. Back at the barn, Nick mastered the aga to provide a tasty fish pie. Followed by snooker, joined that evening by Roland and Margaret . They were staying in a hotel in Whitehaven in preparation for our Thursday outing.

On Thursday we again rested our bikes, and with the Easy Riders and Roland and Margaret we mounted a train from Whitehaven which took us via Sellafield to Ravenglass, where we changed onto the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. Lyn had booked a carriage which could accommodate Roland's wheelchair, and there was room for the whole party. This is a 15 inch narrow gauge line, steam hauled for the seven miles to Dalegarth station, where we enjoyed refreshments, and watched as the railwaymen employed the turntable ready for the journey back down the hill through bluebell woods. We ended our day with another joint meal at Roland's and Margaret's hotel.

On Friday, Nick, Joe and Keith having left early, Lyn and I set out in rain for our last ride of the week, this time skirting the north of Bassenthwaite lake to the village of Bassenthwaite, then following cycle route 38 across the main A591 to Scarness and back to the main road, where according to the OS map, the route goes off-road. We didn't like the look of the off-road section, especially in the wet, so after elevenses at The Old Sawmill Tearoom, we continued on the main road to meet up with Pete at The Farmers Arms in Portinscale, near Keswick. Lyn had been a bit concerned that her wheel rims could be wearing thin, and she also had been having trouble with her bottom bracket, so when we spotted a broken spoke on her rear wheel we decided that her bike was telling us to go no further. Luckily Pete had the cycle carrier attached to the car, and after a brief moment of consideration, I decided to forgo the joys of Whinlatter Pass and accept his offer of a lift back. In the evening we dined at an Italian restaurant in Cockermouth, and all went our separate ways the next morning.

It was a very enjoyable holiday, and our thanks go once again to Lyn for choosing and booking our cottage. If the weather had been better we might have spent more time cycling than we did eating, but we knew before we went that we were going to the Lake District, and all that water has to come from somewhere!

Back home our club rides have continued pretty much as advertised. Some of us took part in the Back to the Fuscia rides, and the Challenge Rides. One highlight was the ride to Meriden on a beautiful spring day for the annual Cyclists’ Remembrance service. We haven’t done this ride for a couple of years, but as it is the centenary of the start of WW1 we decided to attend this year. Monthly car assisted rides have provided a bit of variety during the summer, taking advantage of the long days, and the good weather that we are enjoying as I write (that's done it now)!!

We look forward to the full programme of rides which has been carefully planned for the next few months. Gratitude (or blame) goes to Lyn for coordinating that.

See you there!

Haggis Towers
"Haggis Towers" - The Golf Hotel, Silloth. (Photo by Peter Gale)
Looking towards Crummock Water
Looking towards Crummock Water-Photo by Martin Bulmer
Ravenglass & Eskdale Locomotive
Ravenglass & Eskdale Locomotive -Photo by Martin Bulmer
at Ravenglass
At Ravenglass (Photo by Peter Gale)
On the train
On the train.-Photo by Martin Bulmer

Challenge Rides – Sunday 22nd June

Peter Witting reports

With near-perfect weather we had a near-record number of riders complete the 100 mile distance. Congratulations to Tony Davis, Mick Gould and Tom Hardy of our CTC Group, plus Duncan Hopwood, Stephen Preston and Richard Hine. Tony Davis set off to ride the first loop in the opposite direction from the route sheets, causing confusion to those using pre-loaded GPS data!

A dozen riders started the 50 mile ride, including CTC members Jim Gerrard, Keith Tilley, Colin Field and Robert Houghton, plus our only junior, Bradley Symonds. Jayne Davis bailed out near home having not fully recovered from a bug.

All four local CTC members successfully completed the 25 mile ride: Pearl Thompson, Alan Hartshorne, Robert Maddocks and John Cooper.

The 22 entries were down on the 24 riders in 2013, when conditions by comparison were atrocious. Maybe there were too many competing events taking place in National Bike Week! With our low entry fees and publicity in Cycling Weekly, and on the NBW and Cycling Active websites, we should have expected a larger field.

Thanks to those who did take part, and to caterers and helpers Eileen Johnson and Barbara Witting.


Environment Day Appeal

John Catt reports on a joint venture by CTC and Sunday Assembly Leicester

As an element of its community outreach initiatives CTC, supported by Leicester Sunday Assembly, offered help with learning bike maintenance by "doing" and appealed for old bikes to be donated at Secular Hall on Saturday 7th June. The donated bikes, after refurbishment, were given to StreetVibe (for young people in Braunstone) and to Leicester City of Sanctuary (for refugees and asylum seekers).

Elizabeth Barner from the CTC reported that "More than 20 bikes were donated and most of those were repaired on the day to be passed on to people who will need and love them at The Grove and Leicester City of Sanctuary. We also repaired bikes for members of the public, including some in dangerous states. Nice to have people leaving with working brakes!"

For those who haven't heard of it the Sunday Assembly is a congregation that celebrates life and is fully inclusive in that it is indifferent as to people's belief in the existence or non existence of deities. Its motto is "live better, help often, wonder more". It meets monthly and has a website at http://leicester.sundayassembly.com.

Photos by Armajeet Bhumbra

Technical Topics

by Peter Witting

Shorts Too Long!

What’s the correct length for lycra shorts? You generally get no choice, all designed for those over 6 foot. If you are merely average height, the shorts will leave tan lines just above the knee. Not a good look when you then wear normal casual shorts, with a band of pink skin between shorts and knee! My solution was to use Assos F1 Mille shorts that offered a 4 cms. shorter option, but at some considerable cost! Now Assos have discontinued that option. If I can’t find some old stock I’ll have to give up wearing casual shorts!

(Editor's comment - Decathlon sell a range of good value shorts with padded insert at £20-£30 depending on style. These are shorter than most race shorts. I use them and am happy with them.

SPD Sandals

Chris Juden reviewed the Exustar SPD sandals in the CTC’s most recent Cycle magazine. I’d already bought a pair from Spa Cycles, reduced to £45 as discontinued. The summer heatwave provided plenty of use, and they will certainly accompany me abroad. As they are normally worn sockless, aim for a smaller size than usual as they are generously sized. If interested, don’t wait, as the popular sizes will become unavailable, though other brands make SPD sandals.

Brake Blocks

The brakes on my new bike had been “grabbing” since new. A potentially dangerous feature, especially in the wet. After some months I did what I usually do when building my own bike, while this one was assembled at a shop! I rubbed the brake blocks on the red bricks on the outside of the house, then refitted. That solved the problem.

Saved by an old Toestrap

After fitting a new saddle to an old seatpost, the clamp refused to secure the saddle. Maybe different saddle rail diameters? Offroad in Yorkshire the saddle constantly tilted backwards. Very uncomfortable! A toestrap through the nose of the saddle and under the top tube saved the day, and more!


Coalville Car Festival June 28th.

Keith Lakin reports

Although mainly a motoring event the cycle stand illustrated the ways cycles can be transported safely on cars to distant destinations.

It is often overlooked that the majority of cyclists also drive cars-using cycles for healthy exercise and recreation. Over 7000 people attended on the day.

Elizabeth Barner Aileen Andrews and John Allen all provided magazines and literature for the event.

Director was Paul Tallet of Caymen Reef Outfitters

People in photograph, (left to right) John Catt (CTC), John Merrison (Town Traders Committee), Keith & Jean Lakin (CTC), Adrian Thomas who owns a cycle sales and repair business in Coalville Market.

Algarve Pedalling

By Peter Witting

I was based at Praia da Luz, a large village on the southern coast of Portugal. Routes would therefore be east or west along the coast, or inland to the north. I’d invested in the Portuguese military maps of the area which were the same scale as our Landranger. As each covered much less area, I needed four, with three being mainly sea! At £10 each, my cut & paste composite map had cost me £40; only worth it because I would be returning for future holidays.

My first trip was to the local bike shop. That was in Lagos, the nearest small town. I needed some CO2 gas cylinders and lube, which might have upset the authorities if packed with the bike! They threw in some replacement spacers for the bottle cages which had gone AWOL in transit. I was ready to roll.

The 120psi tyres on my old aluminium frame Giant were not at all at home bouncing along the stone setts of my holiday resort. Should I have taken a fat tyre ATB to deal with the hostile road surfaces? Once on the open road I was sure the Giant was the ideal steed to explore this south-western corner of Portugal.

Barbara had taken the bus to Lagos, so I was free to seek out any quiet alternatives to the main road. A lane used by locals led to a golfing holiday complex and then into town. While Barbara shopped, I enjoyed a coffee overlooking the beach with its spectacular rock erosion. I crossed the harbour by the raising bridge to reach Linda’s Bar overlooking the sea and claimed a table before it filled up. A jug of Sangria was swiftly delivered.

My ride inland took me away from the populated coast, along quiet lanes and with unbroken sunshine. I passed smallholdings with piglets, the occasional orange grove, and hamlets too small for a café. I was glad I’d got two bottles with isotonic drinks. After much low gear working into a headwind I reached the reservoir north of Odiaxere, which serves the tourist resorts. Looking south from the nearby hilltop reminded me of the view from Leith Hill tower in Surrey; the land sloped away to the south as far as the eye could see. A switchback road led me to join the main road south, and downhill!

I turned off the main road before it became a Motorway near Bensafrim. A few miles further at Barão de São joão, the smell of fresh fish cooking wafted across the road. Was this a café for lunch? Alas no! Fresh sardines had been brought from the coast and were being communally barbecued in the village square, before the elderly ladies took them home for lunch after paying at the local shop.

On another day in this same village I had stopped at a café where a number of ATBs were parked. They belonged to some English ex-pats so I got chatting. They warned me to ensure I kept some form of Id with me when cycling, as it was a legal requirement. Police were liable to check cyclists and extract fines!

Another planned ride had to be abandoned when the tarmac ran out! I’d used the main road to reach Budens, The improved main road had a very wide strip at the edge which was ideal for cycling, while traffic levels were sparse. The signpost at Budens pointed to Pedralva about five miles away. Yet on the exit from the village the road became unsurfaced. My Giant was not shod for off-roading; so I turned south for lunch at the coastal resort of Salema and the Atlantic Restaurant overlooking the beach.

Burgau was the nearest resort to the west, and within walking distance for Barbara on a coastal path. But I discovered a route for cycling that avoided almost all traffic, making it ideal for family cycling. It made use of a lane running parallel with the main road to the north and the coast road to the south, leaving it only used by locals. It linked to a similar road from Almadena to Burgau just used by locals. And Burgau has an excellent restaurant right on the sandy beach. More sangria please!


Riding over plums

By Martin Ayling


You have probably heard of the book ‘Driving over Lemons’, well my version this year in a quick tour of the Tauber valley in Germany is over this other fruit. Last winter was so unusually mild that plums, mirabelles, and apples, have gone crazy. Some parts didn’t even get a frost, and the boughs are so heavily laden they are breaking unless a baulk of wood is propped under them. Hazel nuts etc are also in abundance and the commonly held view is that this is a sign of a harsh winter coming.

The Tauber and the Main from Rothenberg to Wertheim is part of the famous Romantische Strasse, and is almost entirely tarmac cycle path. I did a circular trip in 5 days of 50mpd by going west from Wertheim to Freudenberg and Miltenberg, then south through Boxberg for some hills, then back north from Rothenburg through Creglingen and Tauber Bischoffsheim.

Accommodation in Gasthaus, Fremdenzimmer or Youth Hostel is plentiful and good, yet not expensive. I paid just €39.50 for half board and my own room at Creglingen YH. One day I called ahead to my planned stop at a Stuppach Gasthaus and was incredulous to hear they were on holiday (this was the first week in August!), so decided to just ‘wing it’ and started looking when I arrived in the area, but early. Got a nice room straight away and only €25 B&B, and then she brought me afternoon coffee and cake as it was only 3pm! After that I saw rooms free actually within the old walled town part of Rothenberg.

The route is indescribably delightful. Only photos can do it, so look here on the internet for more.

So instead of a run report, have you ever wondered why so many old houses in Germany look like they do?

Well it is called Fachwerk, and is their version of our timber framed, or half timbered, buildings, with infill in the Fach, or compartment, of whatever the area could best supply. For example our ‘wattle and daub’ as used in English Heritage listed buildings. The timbers, rough cut from the forest with axes, are left on show. There are still so many of these houses left because, well, it’s a big country and we Miltenberg Marktplatz didn’t manage to bomb all of it.

Like our listed buildings, Fachwerk is closely regulated by the association, and planning departments, for quality, and to be correctly in keeping with the style for the area. And the skilled workers charge for it, because they know they can.

The construction is basically the best you could do in the days before P&R Supplies would drive to your site with nice regular machine sawn 2x4 timber and bricks.

You can get there by flying to Hahn and then the Frankfurt shuttle bus or train and on a bit from there. Of course direct to Frankfurt would be easier, and with Ryanair charging a mint for bikes now it may be cheaper. Or it’s a 2 day drive comfortably. You can also easily hire a bike or electric bike when you get there, from a Mietstation.

I’m going again, and allowing a full day for the Schloss at Weikersheim. If anyone wants, I could put together an organized tour next year, get in touch. ayling.martin@gmail.com .


How things have changed.

 Dave Binks looks back

On a clubrun recently, one of the youngsters asked me if there had been many changes in cycling kit since I started riding back in the 1960s. I gave him a few top of the head thoughts, but realised there had been quite a lot really, so I thought it might be of interest to share my thoughts and memories with you. So, not a comprehensive list, and in no particular order :-


When I first started, shoes were only available in black leather (you could get brown but they were rare) and the soles were quite flexible. In an effort to stiffen them a piece of wood would be built into the instep running from the heel to the ball of the foot. However, I used to get cramp in the underside of the toes if I was pushing hard, probably because the foot was bending over the pedal. When the rigid soled shoes came in, the problem disappeared. These were initially solid wood soles, rather like the "Scholl" sandals that had become fashionable amongst the ladies, but this later changed to plastic, and now to carbon on some top end shoes.

Velcro hadn't been invented, so every shoe used laces, but if you were really stylish there was an extra long tongue that folded forwards over the laces, but it was purely cosmetic.

Cleats, where there have been massive changes, are covered later.

Plus 4s


There are some big changes here. There was very little specific cycling clothing and as a young lad I couldn't afford what there was.

Plus 2s (long trousers cut off just below the knee) with long socks were the normal wear in cooler times of the year. The old guys still wore Plus 4s which are the baggier version and can still occasionally be seen on the Golf Course.

If you were young and fashionable, you rode in jeans with toe straps at the ankles instead of cycle clips to keep them away from the chain. If you were really "flash" you also had another toe strap done up just below the knee!

Cold weather wear was in my case, a US Army combat style jacket. This was a (more or less) waterproof drab green coloured cotton jacket with what was basically just a blanket sewn inside for a lining. Look at any WW11 film and the chances are you'll see the Yank soldiers wearing them when in action. They were actually OK.

Close fitting French berets, similar to those worn by Special Forces soldiers, were very fashionable on the head but did nothing for keeping the ears warm.

Hard shell helmets and the fear of head injury had not been invented but amateurs in UK road races and all track racing riders had to wear head protection because the rules required it, but the helmets were basically padded hair nets. None of the riders in the Tours de France, the local clubs or the man in the street wore crash helmets. Yet the roads weren't littered with brain damaged cyclists.

There were no technical base layers except cotton vests that got cold when you sweated into them. I shudder now at the thought of them, but I did thousands of miles like that.

Lycra hadn't been invented, so nearly everything flapped in the wind.

Race jerseys were knitted wool, with additional pockets on the front, at chest level. To stop them billowing open, a button was fitted to each of the two pockets. In the UK, race clothing in the very early days was very different from today. On the road, shorts were not allowed, and the rider had to wear a jacket. Henry Ford style, the colour was "Any colour you like, so long as it's black." This was to prevent the race drawing the attention of "large crowds" who the Police then had to control! The photo shows a pre-war rider in race clothing, actually in the race. It wasn't until the 50's that the severe clothing restrictions were lifted.

To be continued .

The Third Policeman

 by Flann O'Brien


If you have ever possessed, or otherwise had access to, one of those collections of 'cycle clips', ie. passages from literature pertaining to bicycles (sometimes tricycles) and cycling, you will be familiar with The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien. I suspect O'Brien is one of the most quoted authors in such collections, along with Jerome K Jerome and H G Wells. I recently got around to reading The Third Policeman, and, with the holiday season approaching, thought I would use my Chair's piece this time to review it.

It is often said that the Irish tell the best Irish jokes. The Third Policeman is a novel-length joke by its Irish author. The joke centres around the scholarly naivety of its hero and narrator, whose name we readers never learn. This naivety is played out in his responses to the increasingly strange things which happen in the course of his own journey, and to the increasingly outrageous ideas and antics of the 'savant' de Selby and de Selby's assorted admirers and detractors; indexing these characters' works has been the life's work of our hero.

And the bicycles? The first of the three policemen whom our hero meets along the way is completely obsessed with bicycles. This is a reflection both of their central role in the crime of the area and of his jealous fears for the morality of his own, sensuously female, bicycle, about whom we hear a lot more, quite delightfully, later on in the story. Underlying his fears is the 'atomic theory' much quoted in the cycle clip collections: specifically that people who spend much of their lives riding bicycles get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycles due to the interchanging of atoms between them, with the result that the people eventually become half bicycle and the bicycles half human.

I have already mentioned the strangeness of the proceedings in this story, and indeed it has been compared to Alice in Wonderland. From a particular point things are just so odd that you cannot help but realise that something really weird is going on, but I was still profoundly shocked when I learned the truth about where the hero is and how he got there. However, the Irish are not a dark people, and I found the ending highly satisfying, feeling that it represented a victory for our hero on more than one level.

Reading the various documentary notes in the book afterwards, I was saddened to learn that The Third Policeman was published posthumously; during O'Brien's lifetime it was rejected and lost by so many publishers that eventually he feigned having lost the manuscript himself. However, he did recycle some of the material in The Dalkey Archive, which promises plenty more bicycles, policemen and de Selby. That one is now on my reading list for sure. If you need more than two books for your summer holiday and have not read it already, the third one, I suggest, could be the totally awesome Automatic Lover by Ariadne Tampion...

Ariadne Tampion

How NOT to ride the End to End (part 2)

- Peter Lee continues with some of the (mis)adventures on his ride.
Part 1

The story so far...
Peter has embarked on a solo End to End (Land’s End to John o’Groats) ride, with back up from his wife Mary and son Leon who are nominally following him in their car and caravan. He has just spent the night at Bude, Devon, having arrived late and tired the night before.

The next day was fortunately more rolling through Devon to Taunton. I soon developed a routine. I would take sandwiches and an apple and a water bottle with me and after about 3 hours I would find somewhere to eat them. This was often a park bench or piece of grass. The later in the day I would find a café or more often a supermarket to get a coffee and cake. I soon discovered that supermarkets were my best friends. Unless you know where the cafes are or have spent time researching the, you will not find them en route. However, supermarkets have all you need: food and water to replenish stocks, often a café and often a toilet. And they are everywhere, even in the wilds of Scotland. I usually only carry water in my bottle, but I soon found out that this was not enough and took to buying Powerade to drink as well as the water. I suppose it must have something in it which gives your body what it needs for 100 miles every day.

The last 20 miles into Taunton were a problem. The only road was a very busy A road, and then I spotted a Sustrans route. I also discovered the problems with Sustrans routes. The signposting is haphazard, the routes are not really suitable for road bikes and when on a canal path a young child stopped dead in front of me with no warning, I decided to get off the Sustrans route and back on the A road. I did not last long on the A road and found some minor roads to finish the day off, including the only hill that I had to walk up.


From Taunton I did some long days through the Midlands. The least said of these the better and they were very forgettable. All except Bath. I had decided to try the A road from Bath to Gloucester and set out from Bath city centre to find it. When I got to the road the approach was like a motorway slip road and I could see that it led to a very fast two lane carriageway. This became a common theme throughout the fortnight; the motorway-isation of the cities of Britain. I decided to try to find another route, and after wandering for ages along farm roads I finally got back on to the A road to Gloucester, which was fine. It was in Bath that I nearly decided to give up, but after that the thought never crossed my mind again. When you get to half way, you know you can make it.

Whichever route you decide to take, at some point you will have to cross the industrial heartland of northern Britain. I decided to cross the Manchester/Liverpool line at Bolton. Here, as you can imagine, the roads were at the worst for cyclist. Even on B roads there were heavy goods vehicles passing all the time. Roundabouts were 3 lane monsters with no provision for cyclists, and that’s not to mention the bleak architecture and crumbling towns of the cotton belt. I was glad to get out of Bolton and onto the moors around Rawtenstall, and did not even mind the hills and the first rain I had come across.

I arrived at the caravan site near Burnley to discover that my wife had had the first mishap with the caravan. She had misjudged the gate at the entry to the park, and had knocked over the fence post. This cost us an extras £30. But worse was to come.

I set off the next day for Carlisle with no worries, and checked my phone at the lunch stop in Kirby Lonsdale. Now I had worries. The clutch on the car had gone just outside of Burnley, and my wife was waiting for the AA to arrive. What was worse was that the battery on her mobile was low and I would not be able to contact her again all day. I could do nothing but ride the bike and get to Carlisle and hope.

I had another brush with a horrible A road on the way to Kendal and then started to climb Shap fell. The climb over Shap fell goes on forever, but the drop down to Penrith is wonderful. A shopkeeper near Penrith told me that they close Shap fell to lorries in the winter because of the ice and snow. I can believe that. In Penrith I tried to phone my wife, but her mobile was dead, so I pressed on. I got to the caravan site in Carlisle about 8pm and they still had not arrived. I was cold, hungry and had no shelter. I tried phoning again but her mobile was still dead. I asked the site owner if there was a B & B that I could stay in and if I could get some food nearby, but he could not help me. After a while he became more friendly and invited me into his house for a cup of tea and biscuits.

Fortunately the tow truck arrived at 9 pm with the car on the truck and towing the caravan. Mary had had to wait for 6 hours for the AA as they originally sent a van that could not tow a car and caravan. Fortunately she had managed to arrange with a garage in Carlisle to replace the clutch the next morning, so I set off for Edinburgh and she set off later once the clutch had been fixed. We arrived in Edinburgh more or less at the same time, whereas normally she had been arriving at the caravan sites some hours before me. Unfortunately, the End to End is hardly a holiday for your support team and my wife spent the time when she was not pulling a caravan in buying and cooking food for us all.


And so in to Scotland. A word about Scotland first. It is cold. Whereas in England all the way to Carlisle I had worn shorts and a short sleeved racing vest with no undervest, as soon as I hit Scotland out came the undervests, legwarmers and long sleeved tops. For summer in Scotland think Autumn in England. Don’t even go there in Autumn or Winter. And it rained. A lot.

I got to Hawick at lunchtime and did not even think about eating sandwiches on a park bench. I looked for a nice warm café. The first café I found told me that they were closing. Closing at lunchtime when it was full of customers. I don’t think so. The next café I found let me in and I ordered food. Then they asked me where I was going to sit. I got the impression that they didn’t mean “where are you going to sit so that we can bring you your food” because the café was so small they could not have missed me in bright lycra. What they meant was “you’re not sitting on one of our nice dry chairs in your wet shorts.” So I sat outside, in the pouring rain.

The only good thing was the umbrella. I was so cold my legs were turning blue, and when the tea arrived I could hardly drink it for shaking. I did not hang around for long as I reckoned that riding the bike was better than sitting still in terms of warming me up. I was beginning to get seriously concerned, but fortunately the rain stopped, and it warmed up and I didn’t die of exposure.By the time I got to Edinburgh it was sunny again.

We had a rest day in Edinburgh the next day, which was in full festival swing. We stocked up with food and set off the next day across the bridge and on to Dunkeld. If you ever go to Dunkeld be sure to visit the chip shop on the main street. The chips are the best I have ever tasted and they have won awards. The caravan site was also our favourite. Very quiet and next to a little highland (clean) stream.

The next day was on to Inverness. Once you get into Scotland, the choice of roads is far less than in England. The main road from Dunkeld to Inverness is the only road and it is a death trap. I rode it 30 years ago and it was OK, but not anymore. Fortunately the powers that be have realised this, and there is a well signposted bike path all the way. It may be better signposted than English ones and geography means that it is more direct and largely follows the main road at a short distance, but the surfaces are just as bad. At some points it was little more than a gravel track across very bleak moorland. The road to Inverness crosses Drumochter pass, which is very high and bleak. I had chosen to do 100 miles that day on this sort of track and over the pass. Not really a good idea. I also had my first and only puncture, presumably due to the nature of the track I was riding. Still, that was the only problem I had with the bike in two weeks, so that wasn’t too bad.

The next day was perhaps the best day on the bike. For a start it was the shortest (60miles) so I could afford to press less on the pedals. The roads were very quiet and mostly along the Moray Firth, with some lovely views. At lunch I found another chip shop with a small park with benches next to the Moray Firth, so lunch was sorted. It was on this road that I passed the family who had taken over two weeks, but they must have passed me as I ate my chips, because I caught them up again at the ferry.

This part of Scotland is cut into by firths. Many of the larger ones such as the Firth of Forth have bridges, but if you are on smaller roads the ferries are the only way across. I had taken the precaution of checking times, so I arrived at the ferry and waited. The whole area around the ferry was a ship repairing area. Very industrial, which was unusual for the rest of the very scenic landscape around. A few short miles from the ferry brought me to Tain, which was where the caravan was for the night. As we were preparing dinner the family of bike riders I had earlier arrived and started putting up what was a very small tent for four people. The mother was in charge of driving the support car and finding accommodation for the night. Unfortunately she had been unable to find anything and they had had to resort to the backup plan of the tent on the campsite.

We made them all a cup of coffee and wished them good luck. Make sure your accommodation is sorted and preferably paid for before you set out.


The last day was from Tain to John O’Groats. I had been reading about the road I would be taking (the A9)and it seemed as if it would be very busy with lorries and caravans. It was pretty much the only road to John O’ Groats, so I didn’t have much choice. The only other route would have been about 140 miles, which I did not fancy. Normally we would get up about 8am, have breakfast and sort out the caravan ready for towing. As this is not the easiest of jobs for newcomers and can be quite time consuming, I always helped until my wife had finally got in the car and turned on the engine. When I could see that she was moving off, then I would set off. By this time it was usually about 10am. I would have preferred to set off earlier, but you have to do your bit. The last day however was different. We were leaving the caravan in Tain. I would cycle to John O’Groats and my wife would drive the car, pick me up and drive us back to Tain.

So I got up very early and set off at 6am. I reasoned that there would not be too much traffic around and I could get most of the ride done by 11am when the cars would start to build up and there was an alternative route then that I could take if needs be. I also didn’t have much breakfast as I thought I could find a café at about 9.00am. It wasn’t really light when I set off, it was raining and I had no lights, but there was no traffic. I was making good time and keeping an eye out for cafes.

The road hugged the coastline most of the way, so the scenery was superb, when you could see it for the mist. Not for the first time that day I wished I had lights. Then I came to it. The Ord of Caithness and Berriedale Braes You know you are in trouble when the road has poles at either side to mark where the road is when it snows. Fortunately it was not snowing. It was however misty and got worse as I climbed. This is another pass which goes on forever, and the top was one of the bleakest roads I have ever seen. By now it was about 8 o’clock and I was beginning to feel a bit desperate.

The descent off the tops was worse than the climb as the bends were very sharp, the roads were steep, and the mist was so thick you could hardly see in front of you. And I had no lights. Somewhere along the top was the village of Badbea. This was a village that some of the highlanders were forced to flee to when they were cleared from the homes to make way for sheep. The village clung to the cliff edge which was so steep and the winds were so strong (did I mention that I had a block headwind all day) that the children had to be tied to posts while their parents worked in the fields in case they were blown off the cliff edge. The village is now obviously y deserted, and can be visited, but the path was over a very boggy moor, and in cycling shoes I decided to give it a miss.

Coming off the hill and onto more suitable roads (flat and I could see where I was going) I started to look for a café. The first village I came to did not have one. The next café a few miles down the road was closed. Then I saw a sign “café 4 miles” Possibly the longest four miles of my life, but eventually there it was. Then my heart sank. As I approached the café a large tour bus pulled in to the car park. “I’m in for a long wait “ I thought. But it was worse than that. The entire café had been booked by the coach party of OAP’s and there was not a seat left. I was turned away by the owner.

As you will have noticed this was not the first time I had been turned away from a café in Scotland, and it would not be the last. I ate a sandwich outside and rode on. I finally came to another village about eight miles on, which after asking around did have a café, but it was by the harbour. A very pretty little harbour, a lovely café, the owner was from Yorkshire so very hospitable. BUT… the harbour was at the bottom of a very steep hill, which I knew I would have to climb out of. Still, being desperate, I went down anyway.

Suitably refreshed I rode on through Wick and on to the last twenty miles to John O’Groats. The landscape up until now had been rolling, fairly empty except for a few crofts and sheep grazing. Now it became pancake flat moorland, virtually no houses or anything. Very deserted and very eerie. The feeling of the end of the world was all around and you knew that you were coming to the very top of Britain. I sometimes look at the map of Britain when the weather forecast is on and think” God, did we really go that far up”

Whether it was the flat roads or the realisation that it was nearly over, the last twenty miles just flew by. My wife and son caught up with me with about three miles to go and took a photograph Approaching John O’Groats I apologise for not wearing club colours, but on a two week ride you have to use every bit of clothing you have got. You can see from the picture how empty and deserted the place is.


On a shelf in our kitchen sits a conserve pot that used to belong to my grandma. It depicts a grey, lonely building and bears the words “John O’Groats, Scotlands Northern Outpost” For years I pictured John O’Groats like this. Just one lonely building, hopefully a hotel and very little else. How disappointed can you be? The reality is a tourist trap of trashy souvenir shops and a tea and chips van (which we nevertheless frequented). I had imagined being able to get a pint and something to eat in this most gothic of Scottish hotels as pictured on my preserve pot,but it was totally changed. It would perhaps have been better if it had not been there at all, but now the grey façade has been rendered and painted white and it is a private block of flats. You can’t even get anywhere near it for a security fence.

The other big disappointment was the signpost which gives the distance to Lands End. Ihad always assumed that the signpost was provided byt the Council and was free to all to have a photograph taken, but no. It is the property of a photography agency and you have to pay the man to have a photograph taken. Still, here is the photograph with the block of flats in the background. You can perhaps see from my face how disappointed and how tired I was. So, feeling suitably deflated I climbed into the car and we drove back to the caravan in Tain. It was a very strange feeling to sit in a car again after 11 days riding.

When we got back to Tain my wife suggested we go for a meal to celebrate finishing the journey, so we looked for a restaurant/café/pub/anything in Tain. There wasn’t much, but we found quite a nice hotel. I was sent in the see if we could have a table for three and if it was OK to bring the dog with us. So for the third time in Scotland I was refused entry to an eating place. They said it was because of the dog, but my wife blames me for looking degenerate. We were advised that there was a pub just down the road, which we ended up in. Possibly the worst beer I have ever tasted, definitely the worst food ever made anywhere on earth and possibly the worst pub ever.

So that was it. The following day we packed up and drove home, stopping at the caravan site at Hexham racecourse to break the journey. I lost 3kg on the ride, probably due to the fact that I couldn’t get into a café in Scotland. If you want to ride it yourself, don’t tow a caravan, do plan your routes better than I did to avoid wasting time, do take lights, and go in June/July when the nights are light until 10.00pm as you may well find yourself riding until quite late. I did.

Lands End
At the start with Leon.
Leon by stream
My son Leon by the stream in the campsite at Dunkeld.
Approaching John O'Groats
Approaching John O'Groats. You can see from the picture how empty and deserted the place is.
The End
The disappointing view at the end.

And finally ...........

by Dave Binks

> Whilst in France recently, I noticed that some keen Tour de France fan had modified the “man on a bike” signs painted on the road surface. These are the graphic outline of someone riding a bike to show the part of road reserved for bikes. They had over-painted the rider’s jersey in the race leaders’ colours of yellow, green, white and polka dot - Nice touch !

> Still in France, the local "8 a Huit" (which refers to the opening hours of 8am to 8pm) was closed, but it was still only 7.35pm, so I checked the opening hours which were listed as :-

Mon-Sat, 8.30-12.30, 1.45-7.30, with a half day on Sunday.

So much for 8-8!


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


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