Leicestershire and Rutland
Cyclists' Touring Club

(founded 1897)


Editor's Comments
President's Page
Secretary's Report
Technical Topics
Leicester Easy Riders
Charnwood Generals
Max Scott 1936 – 2015
Trip Around the Wirral 2014
Mince Pie Meeting
Iceland Adventure (part 2)
CTC Changes
Awards Winners 2014
CTC East Midlands Region News
How things have changed.

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

January in the Mountains near Denia, Spain
photo by Dave Binks

"Editor's Comments"

Dave Binks

As I write this in mid January, I am looking out of the window and watching the sun shining down from a clear blue sky with not a drop of wind to ruffle the palm trees. No, you didn’t misread that, I’m in Spain for a holiday in the sun, surrounded by other touring cyclists and the general public, all of us enjoying our retirement.

Unfortunately, this trip has coincided with a particularly virulent outbreak of a chest infection that has also hit almost everyone else in the hotel. Whilst most of us have managed to still get out much of the time, the days have been very noisy with all the coughing! This enforced time in the hotel has allowed me to observe the other guests - “civilians” I call them. The difference in energy levels ease of movement between us cyclists and our fellow guests is quite remarkable despite the age range being the same. It’s often said how bike riding keeps you young, but it’s not often you see it so graphically demonstrated. Most of the cycling party use the stairs, whereas the non cyclists nearly always use the lifts. And the bike riders have probably ridden 40-50 miles that day!

I was pleased to see so many local cyclists at the Mince Pie Meet in Belton Village Hall just before Christmas. This really is a popular event, even for the hard riding racing lads and it would be a great shame if nobody takes it over from Loughborough CTC next December. I have heard on the grapevine that two other groups have expressed an interest, but we will have to wait and see what emerges and if the format changes. Fingers crossed we will be there again on 20 th December!

Please have a look at the “What’s On” section and support some of the rides and special events our volunteers are putting on. It’s what makes this CTC what it is - a great club.


President's Page

Peter Witting

Peter Witting

Back in the mists of time I joined the “Cyclists’ Touring Club”. We called it the “CTC” for short. We didn’t mind when those at National Office called our club the “CTC”. But without us realising, they had stolen the “Touring” out of the “CTC”!

They then persuaded us to vote for our club to become a “charity”. We assumed that would benefit us members. Maybe more money would be retained by our club – to benefit us members! After some hiccups with the Charity Commissioners, the “CTC” has now become “CTC: The national cycling charity”. I didn’t vote for that!

A new Chief Executive was appointed by our national councillors, apparently with a brief to concentrate on running our club as a charity. He is a charity professional. Like a cuckoo in the nest - our nest constructed with our subscriptions - the last remaining “touring” staff member was ejected by the new Chief Exec.

Thus we lost Chris Juden and the post of CTC Technical Officer. Several years ago we had lost Mark Waters and the Touring department. Yet Chris Juden was more than someone who simply answered queries - he was a “touchstone” for all aspects of the Touring bicycle. He evaluated kit aimed at us, he spotted kit that would benefit us, and created a database of technical information that surpassed anything a local bike shop might know. His contributions to “Cycle” magazine were consistently top rated by reader surveys. He was our USP (unique selling point) and unique to our cycling club.

The claims that we can get that information off the internet are a sign of the ignorance of those now running our club. We can get half-truths from advertisers, well meant but faulty and sub-optimal advice from forums, and out of date information from the CTC’s database, no longer updated by a Technical Officer. It seems those at Guildford believe that “Touring” is a luxury our club can no longer afford. Our “Cyclists’ Touring Club” has been stolen from under our noses and replaced by a “charity”. Who will benefit most from this charity - us members, or non-members from Government funded schemes administered by our charity Chief Executive?

Editor’s Note - It should be noted that the above are Peter’s personal thoughts only. They do not necessarily reflect those of the Leics & Rutland County Groups. John Catt has sent an item putting the other side of the argument - see later piece.


Secretary’s View

by Ray Clay


I was very sad to hear that our friend Max Scott from Northamptonshire died on the 6th January. He had been in declining health for some months and spent his last few weeks in an hospice. I attended his funeral and it was a testament to his popularity that the crematorium in Kettering was packed out with standing room only. There were close on 200 attending t here.

I got to know Max with his association with the CTC East Midlands Region. We had a birthplace in common, Ipswich. He had been a lifelong cyclist and been secretary of CTC clubs in Suffolk and Northamptonshire. He was always laughing and joking. A learned man who enjoyed classical music and was adept with a pen.

One interesting fact I learnt was that he never got up and went to bed the same day!

We shall miss his attendance at the Beaumanor Rally – camping was one of his favourite pastimes. He is going to be sorely missed.

I'm not doing so much cycling as I used to do. Age is catching me up. I shall soon be nearer 80 than 70. I did, however, enjoy a CTC camping tour of Suffolk last year. I particularly wanted to join this trip to visit again my old haunts. It was interesting to see how Ipswich had changed since I left 50 years ago. We cycled through the dockyard area which was very interesting and impressive. I couldn't say that the campsites were all comfortable. One had no hot water. We did pass the road in Ipswich where I was born which was nice. I also visited one of my favourite pubs, The Bell and Steelyard in Woodbridge for a pint and some lunch.

Having been to France three times in the last twelve months, which proved to be rather expensive, I think it's about time to tighten my belt. So I've booked up a holiday in Norfolk, one of my favourite counties and so easy to get to. My wife and I have had several enjoyable holidays there in the past with our tandem. You can get off the beaten track and enjoy very quiet country lanes. Hope we don't meet as many road closures as our editor!

As reported before, David Grimshaw is stepping down from organising the Sulley Challenge Rides. We are grateful to David for all the work he has done over the years. We now have a “volunteer” to run the event this year – our President, Peter Witting.

Ron Johnson treated us to a very enjoyable slide show in November at the Leicester Forest East St Andrews Church Hall. He showed us his and Eileen's exploits on a tour in Russia. I found the slides fascinating. Unfortunately, the attendance was again very poor. Under the circumstances, it has been resolved to dispense with the slide show but keep the photo competition going. This will be held at the same time and place as the AGM.

Another change is that the prize presentation, although being at The Black Swan, Shepshed, again, will follow a lunch and not a dinner. Also, it will be somewhat later in April giving people the opportunity to cycle over to the event.

I thought the carol service at Shepshed in December went very well thanks to Keith's efforts. Keith chose St Botolphs because many of his ancestors are buried there. We had an impressive list of readers, including Nicky Morgan, minister of education, Charnwood's Deputy Mayor, and Kerry Chambers reading from braille.

As reported in the last Cycle Chat, Loughborough CTC will not be organising the 2015 Mince Pie Run. It is still rather up in the air. I'm sure the event will carry on – there must have been some 400 cyclists at the last one. It is possible that the CTC East Midlands Region will step in.


Technical Topics

by Peter Witting

The Good News

The new version of the CTC’s “Fill That Pothole” App is now available. Whether you have an Apple iPhone or Android smartphone, it works by combining a photograph of a pothole or road defect with GPS technology to pinpoint its exact location. It takes less than two minutes. Once a report is logged on the “Fill That Pothole” website, the relevant local authority is informed, so that they can quickly inspect and fix it. That should speed up the process of repair. If it doesn’t, then it should help get compensation for damage or injury. So very important for all cyclists.

The Bad News

Chris Juden has been “retired” by the CTC. His post has been discontinued. No one will be qualified at CTC National Office to deal with technical issues! The “touchstone” for all information specific to the touring bicycle has been lost. We are now left with the half-truths from advertisers, well-meant but misleading help from forums, and the loss of years of accumulated technical knowledge held on the CTC’s website now left to become out-dated and useless. And the CTC’s “Cycle” magazine has also been seriously devalued by the loss of Chris Juden’s reliable contributions.

Shame on all those responsible!

Frame-fit Pumps

A touring bike needs a reliable and lightweight frame-fit pump. Jim Blackburn’s were the best. But they are no more. When I needed to replace my old one, I discovered they now only make track pumps, mini-pumps or CO2 inflators. Chris Juden wasn’t kidding when he declared that cycle- touring was a niche market! So I was forced to buy a 5% heavier, uglier Zefal HPX Vintage pump at £20. At least the 4 sizes will fit just about any frame.

Plastic Bags

In October supermarkets and large stores will start charging 5p for most plastic bags. Many cyclists rely on them to keep kit dry while riding and touring. So stock up now!


Leicester Easy Riders

by David Smith

Well not such a great deal to report this time, as we are all getting on in years so if the weather is torrential rain, heavy frost and ice we don’t go out.

However in October we had an average of seven riders out each week, the last ride of the month was to Wistow and Foxton where we rode along the towpath from Debdale Wharf to Foxton disturbing a lot of anglers.

Only three out on the first ride in November, the following week six of us rode to the Remembrance service at Loughborough. No one out riding the next two weeks, I attended the AGM at Botcheston by car. Again the last ride in November was a fine day and saw seven of us heading for Fleckney, Saddington, Gumley and Foxton,

The first Sunday in December was the Carol Service, four members attended but not on bikes. The following Sunday was our Christmas lunch held at the Cow and Plough Stoughton, fourteen members and friends attended, many thanks to Andy Tokeley for arranging it all. Next was the Mince Pie run two of our riders attended. The last Sunday of the month was very icy conditions so no one went out.

Wishing everyone a happy New Year.


Charnwood Generals

Martin Bulmer

Charnwood Generals have continued to ride through most of the winter, although some rides were affected by the weather. Because I play in my local church music group I can only ride on alternate Sundays. November 2nd was one of my music weeks, so I'm not sure whether anyone was riding on that day, but the fact that a tornado blew the roof off Coalville precinct, 2 miles from my house, made me glad that I learned to play guitar all those years ago. The following week we visited the Soar Valley, calling at Cossington Garden Centre for elevenses, then West Leake for lunch at The Star, a pub we have not used for some years. Although very much a dining pub, there was plenty of room in the garden, and the beer was excellent.

Another place we have neglected to visit for quite some time is The Chequers at Ticknall, an oversight we corrected on November 23rd. The pub was already occupied by a number of cyclists from Loughborough, which is always a good recommendation. I'm hoping that we'll be using that one again. We went there by way of Sawley Marina, another cafe we have not eaten at recently. We were rather wet when we arrived, but soon dried out as we enjoyed our breakfast, and the weather behaved itself for the rest of the ride.


The beginning of December found us riding to Quorn Station for elevenses, on our way to the Shepshed Carol Service organised by Keith & Jean Lakin. Unfortunately, on our way from the station a chain broke. It's so long since we've had this problem, and so many chains use the "Magic Link" these days, that we'd almost forgotten how to deal with it! After a bit of fiddling about we managed to fix it, and cut our route short to arrive at the church hall oily-handed shortly before the service. Strangely enough as we rode home we came across another cyclist mending a chain! You wait years for a broken chain, then two come along at once.


The mince pie run was well attended, and we must give credit and thanks to Loughborough for organising this event over the years. I've heard that maybe this popular event will continue under new management. Let's hope it can. After this, the weather started to cause problems. The last ride of 2014 and the first ride this year were both called off for safety reasons. Our new Facebook page is useful for information on such things.

Happily there was a thaw in time for our New Year Dinner at the Charnwood Arms. Thanks go again to the Lakins for organising this.

The following Sunday we were disappointed to find that the cafe at Thurlaston garden centre now finishes serving breakfast at 10.00am, so we'll be looking for somewhere else in that vicinity. Any recommendations? The Jubilee at Newbold Verdon looked after us at lunchtime however, with its free nibbles on the bar. This was our second visit there, and I suspect not our last.

Keith Tilley's "Winter Wonderland" ride featuring the Monsall Trail was cut short because of snow, but I understand that those taking part enjoyed the outing.

We look forward to the next few months, especially to our Spring break in Suffolk, once more organised by Lyn.


MAX SCOTT 1936 – 2015

a tribute by Peter Witting


Max was CTC through and through, like a stick of rock; something of a gentle giant, good humoured with a loud chuckle. And never intentionally early for any meeting! His funeral in January was attended by cyclists from far and wide, wishing to pay tribute to this much loved cyclist.

Max was from Suffolk, where he joined the local CTC in 1957 after National Service (youngsters may need to Google it!). He became joint Secretary with his sister Maureen, also his tandem partner. His route planning skills got him employed by Pickfords, the very large removals company. The job took Max to Luton in the early ‘60s and he became local Bedfordshire CTC Secretary, touring with Barry & Veronica Ruffle.

He organised the Home Counties Rally and the BCTC heat, edited “The Bedpost” and used his calligraphy skills to produce the certificates for award winners. Max later moved to Rothwell in Northamptonshire. His love of trikes led to his home famously being named “Trivelo”! Max held various CTC posts in Northamptonshire, and as Secretary of the Kettering CTC he also took over the “Thursday Club”, turning it into a thriving midweek event.

He was involved in organising two CTC Birthday Rides in Northamptonshire - the 1990 event at Moulton and the 2009 rides at Oundle. Max had been awarded the CTC Certificate of Merit in 1988, and in 2004 he received the Volunteer of the Year award.

Max toured extensively including Scotland, Ireland, the Black Forest, the Normandy Cider Meet, and the Mildenhall, York and Beaumanor Hall rallies, invariably cycle-camping! He contributed to the local council cycling maps and blogged about his experiences, both cycling and latterly about his declining health. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.


Trip Around the Wirral 2014

Jim Gerrard talks us through his recent trip to the Liverpool area.

The Liver Building

Last October saw me at a loose end with my wife away for the school half term with my daughter and grand children. Not wishing to lose out on a chance to cycle, I had prearranged to meet up with John, a friend who I had met at the York Birthday Rides and lives near Chester for a mini tour round the Wirral.

As I have my own caravan which I took with me, accommodation was taken care of, and off I went on the Monday (which enabled me to do the Sunday ride as well). On Tuesday the intention was to cycle around the Wirral collecting a couple of Cycle Quest answers with my friend, catch the ferry from Seacombe to Liverpool, another Quest answer in Liverpool and hop on the train back to Capenhurst and cycle back to the camp site.


However due to the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo arriving on the day and John informing me that dustbins were sailing down the roads we decided to abandon the ride. I spent most of the day in the caravan being buffeted about and trying to hang on to the small awning attached to the van.

Things finally calmed down over night and after some temporary repairs I set off to meet up with the Chester and North Wales CTC Wednesday riders who meet at the well known 'Eureka Cafe' at Two Mills. Arriving in time for a coffee after John met me on the road. After a few introductions and a photo in front of the cafe sign, I felt in distinguished company as the cafe has been visited by quite a few famous cyclists as apparent from the various photos on display. ( I don't think mine will be up, though).

With 22 riders out on the day it was split into two groups to lessen the impact on other road users and we set off for the intended destination being Holt just north /east of Wrexham. With Holt being just inside Wales we had numerous border crossings before reaching the Garden Centre lunch stop. In fact there was a point where we were in No Man's land with several hundred Cycle Chat 8metres between the “Welcome to Wales” and “Welcome To England” signs although the road carried through.

With Holt not being too far away from another Quest location “Stretton Mill” I had indicated that I would leave them after lunch and make my own way back via the Mill. Brian, one of the group riders said he fancied a different route home and offered to ride back with me which I was pleased to accept. After thanking my hosts for the ride and their company we parted at the garden centre in light rain but it didn't persist and we were soon out of rain gear again.


Arriving at the Mill to find it closed we were in an initial dilemma where to find the answer, but after climbing over the fence (and leaving a sample of skin) the answer was located at the rear . (I thought all answers should be readily accessible). With that completed we set about our return via fairly quiet lanes and villages skirting Parkgate Chester before arriving back at the camp site.

With Brian still having a few miles to go he declined my offer of a cup of tea and cake etc. as Liverpool were playing an important football match that evening and he wanted to be in good time for that. After my thanks for his company and directions we parted for our final few yards/miles. I could have found my way back but with many map reading stops.

With the rescheduling due to Hurricane Gonzalo Thursday was now to be a solo trip round the Wirral. Setting off for Capenhurst again I soon picked up the 'Cycle Wirral' route as free map given to me by John. This sheet did not start until Parkgate just north of Neston and I had a pleasant ride over the Burton marshes before realising I was following the wrong direction markers. However it was a very enjoyable ride on a purpose made cycle/walking path over the marshes with a good view to Wales over the River Dee. After ending up next to the Tata Steel Works, I retraced my route back to Burton and on to Neston and then Parkgate to get my first Quest answer for the day and refreshment stop.

After Parkgate the route joins an old rail track, which in my opinion is not so interesting but traffic free and quickly gets you on to Grange and West Kirby, the second Quest for the day, this being a huge red sandstone column at the top of a fairly steep hill. Leaving here back into West Kirby I found myself in the middle of a housing estate with none of the roads going where I wanted to go. However I was soon back on route to Hoylake joining the sea front ride along what's called Mockbegger Wharf for some reason . It appeared to be standard beach sea front to me. Along here in a few places I came to realise that skinny tyres are no good on the soft sand which had been deposited onto the road by the strong winds.


At the end of this section I decided I'd take rest and refreshment before joining the built up areas of Wallasey and Birkenhead, passing the Seacombe ferry terminal and full size model of a very early experimental submarine. A good view of the Liver Building across the river was also possible here.

Sections of the route were now on very busy main roads and I slightly over shot my next Quest, which is a very impressive war memorial in the middle of Port Sunlight village. It's called a village but in effect completely surrounded by the busy roads and built up area.

On leaving Port Sunlight I was briefly on a very busy road during the evening rush hour but soon able to leave for a side road on the cycle route. This passed some very large factory sites, Vauxhall Motors for one and an oil refinery plant before joining the main road again, which fortunately had a dedicated cycle track, and the last mile back to the camp site.

I got back tired and happy to have completed 3 Quest locations as intended and after a quick shower and change managed to get fish and chips from the visiting site van before he packed up for the night.

Although disrupted by the weather the week was a success. The Liverpool Quest clue would have been a bonus but intend to get that next time I'm in the area with the ferry trip. According to John the ferry trip is mainly used by tourists but what the heck, I'm a tourist.

P S. CTC Chester and North Wales Wednesday Riders reports are quite entertaining and funny. Especially the ride to Norton Priory 18th June.

Full report when I joined them is 22nd October

Contents Belton

Mince Pie Meeting 21st December 2014

Another successful gathering of local cyclists in the social season saw hundreds of happy bike riders gathering to chat, exchange seasons greetings and enjoy the refreshments laid on by Loughborough CTC.

The raffle raised hundreds of pounds in aid of “Rainbows” a local charity for terminally ill children.

Our grateful thanks to all the boys and girls, too numerous to mention, who work so hard before and on the day to give us this unique day.

There is a question mark over the future, but let’s hope it does continue in the forthcoming years.


CTC East Midland Region Meeting

At the November meeting in Derby, Brian Hinners the Mince Pie run co-ordinator was invited along to give us an insight into the running of the event.

It was agreed the region could organise the event as Loughborough CTC was no longer in being.

This would also allow the transfer of CTC funds. Thanks were given to Brian and his team for the highly successful event.

CTC East Midlands Region Annual Meeting

At the annual meeting held in Nottingham in January there was a minutes silence in memory of Max Scott, Northants ctc secretary, who's funeral was only a few days before. Max was a founder member of the region back in 2000 and never missed a meeting.

Jacki Lowe our ctc councillor for the region along with Matt Mallinder the CTC membership director from national office attended the meeting.

After the formal business of the meeting there was ample time for questions and answers on the policies and future direction of CTC.

John Allen, Chair.


Iceland Adventure

Part one

Part two of the story of a tour in a very different location, as described by Jeff Burton, Colin Gray, Caroline & Tim Smith, Ged Talty and Derek Willans.

Day 9 provided a harsh, but relatively brief reminder of what an Icelandic summer can be like. After a latish start Jeff tried to take us the wrong way. He was working off the first draft of the GPX tracks. Fortunately Colin was awake (unusual for 10.00 am) and saved us from a fate worse than death. Jeff’s route would have taken us to the Hotel Hunavellir but we would have missed the only shop on our route for three days and worse still we would have missed the only state run liquor store for miles. Clearly hunger and a lack of alcohol are not a problem for a hard rider like Jeff. After an interesting just rideable ‘short cut’ on the old main road courtesy of OSM we joined tarmac and were soon putting on waterproofs.

A light shower or too became persistent rain just a few km before Blonduos. When it rains in Iceland it is very cold. On arrival at the supermarket we were freezing, and three of us had lost all feeling in our hands. After warming up in the café opposite the supermarket and the obligatory visit to the liquor store it was a cool, wet and mucky ride to the hotel. They were rebuilding the gravel road and the surface was very soft (black 'sand') so it felt like riding through treacle.

The Hotel Hunavellir, completely staffed with Albanians, was interesting; normally a boarding school it doubled as a pretty smart hotel in the long Icelandic summer holiday. On the plus side the rooms were large with plenty of space for drying all our wet kit.

The next two days were the shortest, but not without incident. Day 10 started fine but Jeff and Caroline soon put paid to that by applying sun tan lotion. For the next 3 hours we watched heavy rain fall all around us, whilst luckily staying reasonably dry. Tim had found another ‘Cultural’ detour via an old fort built on the remains of a small extinct volcano. In fairness it only added a few kilometres to the route plus several hundred metres of climb, some of it very steep, which did for Ged’s back wheel as he broke a spoke. We were not far from Osar hostel, where our mobile mechanics, Colin and Jeff, replaced the spoke and trued the wheel. A short walk to the beach gave a view of the seal colony on the sandbanks (again black in colour) opposite the hostel.

The next day's ride was lengthened to provide a ride round the peninsular on which Osar is situated. This was almost entirely on gravel, but generally well surfaced and only gently undulating. Fine weather and lovely coastal scenery made the day pass quickly and there were more seals. The added bonus of the diversion was that in Hvammstangi the supermarket was open on a Sunday, but, unfortunately, not the liquor store. This was the only shop open in 5 days! Shortly afterwards the route joined Highway 1, Iceland’s ring road where mid afternoon we encountered our first significant traffic. A turning to the left showed a gravel road on the map running roughly parallel to the main road. Even though shown on the locally produced map this soon degenerated to a somewhat boggy track.

Derek and Ged took a right and headed back to the busy main road. Colin, Jeff, Caroline and Tim pressed on with the track becoming less distinct, even though it was clearly the route of the old main road, until finally they were sharing the edge of the fields with sheep and horses. Apart from a couple of stream crossings it was all rideable and there was a great off road descent almost to the door of Saeberg hostel.

We departed fairly early on Day 12 as there was 50 km along Highway 1 to start with; the holiday makers in cars tended to appear only later in the day. By the time we reached the top of the day’s big climb at 400m it was raining heavily; an hour later we dived under a road bridge to find some shelter and eat lunch.

Definitely no cafés on the rough stuff route that Jeff and Colin had plotted, and no traffic either. After some discussion Derek and Ged opted for a different route entirely by tarmac, but with a long section down Highway 1. Their reward, a café stop complete with ice cream. The rest of us stuck to the planned route. Our reward some of the best off road cycling possible with a full load. Admittedly it was very steep in places with lots of large loose and now very wet stones and a very demanding descent.

Isn’t this what we are here for; ‘An Adventure’? We arrived at Nes Guesthouse, Reykholt soaking wet. Fortunately there was loads of space and very soon all the electric radiators were working overtime. Thank goodness we were not in the previous night’s hostel where the six of us shared a very small room.

Day 13, lucky for us, could have turned into a real epic. It started easily enough with no sign of the previous day’s rain.

There was yet another following breeze as we picked up the start of 50 km of continuous gravel to a height of 350 m. The first problem was trivial; the local snakes had another go at Derek’s back tyre.

Towards the top of the climb low cloud moved in and it became quite cold at about the same time Ged broke another spoke. Mobile mechanics to the rescue again and if promises were anything to go by Ged would soon be running out of beer money, especially at Icelandic prices. Lunch was quickly consumed and we warmed up quickly as the top of the climb was steep.

Then we encountered gale force winds from the side and on a steep rough gravel descent Derek crashed twice. He had only minor gravel rash but his front brake and rear gear lever were wrecked. With the aid of a toestrap and two pieces of elastic he managed to get his gears working; a regular fix for someone who falls off as often as Derek. The gale then blew us towards Lake Þingvallavatn.

There was just one section of 500 m into the wind when we all came virtually to a standstill, just grateful we had not faced 100 km of riding the other way. After stopping briefly to look at the earthquake fissures, the 16 km to Laugarvatn was none too easy. The gale was from the side but at least it was tending to blow us off the road rather than into the path of the overtaking traffic. Tonight’s accommodation was a luxury apartment; very nice but undoubtedly Jeff would not have allowed us to stay there if he had realised there was a hostel across the road.

The following day we retraced our route to Lake Þingvallavatn and circled round the south of the lake past two of Iceland’s many HEP stations. Nearly all the country’s electricity is produced from HEP and Geothermal sources. The gravel road towards Reykjavik was another gem for scenery, especially when the mountains were viewed over the lake, which is an almost fluorescent blue due to the glacial deposits carried into the lake. Fortunately it became tarmac before rearing up at 15% gradient for most of a kilometre. Our night’s accommodation at Gunnarsholmi Guesthouse was notable for the best breakfast of the tour; eggs, meat, cheese, fish as well as cornflakes etc and 6 plates of waffles and pancakes.

Such a huge breakfast on the last full day in Iceland was alright for Derek and Ged who had elected to take the flat route to Keflavik via Reykjavik rather than the interesting gravel road option. Ged said that he was keen to visit the National Soccer Stadium, but the rest of us suspected that their real destination was the Penis museum in the capital. The rest of us set off past a road closed sign onto possibly the most difficult tracks we had seen; steep and often with a very soft sandy surface.

We skirted round the suburbs of Reykjavik and then headed towards the south coast amid a dramatic change in scenery; whether it was the lumpy surface of the lava fields or the steep terrain as we passed beside a large lake nearly everything was black. With many interesting patterns in the rock it was amazing to the eye, but strangely the photographs do not bring out its real beauty.

After a bit more ‘Rough Stuff’ to avoid a long detour and 20 km along the coast we turned north and into the first real headwind of the whole trip. A detour took us past the famous Blue Lagoon, but we were not tempted to pay the £50 admission fee to paddle in a smelly sulphurous pool. The hotel in Keflavik was just a short ride from the airport; no bad thing with an early flight. We walked down to the harbour and had a final night meal before returning to do some packing.

The departure from Keflavik was pretty chaotic. Hardly room to wheel a fully loaded trolley anywhere and no clear indication of how to check in or pay for our bikes. Icelandair has no online booking system for cycles. After eventually getting a boarding card and luggage label out of a machine we queued again to pay for our cycles. When Derek eventually got to the front of the queue they only took Credit Cards so he had to join another queue in order to pay with a Debit Card. Fortunately we made our flight, but only just.

Manchester welcomed us with typical Manchester weather. Less Ged, who headed for the railway station, Jeff took us on what felt like a complete lap of the airport in pouring rain before piloting us over Audley Edge to Cathy and Ashley’s in Macclesfield. After a session in Weatherspoons; decent beer at a decent price at last, Rosy took Derek and Colin home in the car, whilst Jeff, Caroline and Tim cycled back to Nottingham on Saturday.

In conclusion we all felt that we had been extremely lucky with the weather and the relative lack of mechanical problems. We only experienced one of Iceland's frequent gales, on Day 13, and relatively little rain; a major mechanical in bad weather would have been a nightmare. Jeff’s bike with a steel frame and rack, a Rohloff hub with 26 inch wheels and Marathon tyres was the only one really suited to the Island's harsh roads. Anyone contemplating a similar tour would be well advised to consider this option, preferably with disc brakes, despite its relative expense. Bearing in mind the reliability, reduced maintenance and little need to replace parts, the additional outlay is relatively small compared to say, just two weeks anywhere in Scandinavia.

Finally thanks are due to Jeff for organising the holiday and for booking all of the accommodation in Iceland and also for arranging a following wind nearly every day. How did you manage that Jeff?

Caroline, Colin, Derek, Ged, Jeff and Tim.

All photos by Colin Gray
Photographic Competition
Pictorial, Smith Trophy
  1. Ron Johnson
  2. John Allen
Clublife - Alan Haywood Rosebowl
  1. Gill Lord
  2. Ron Johnson
  3. Jim Gerrard
Humorous, Sue Greaves Shield
  1. John Allen
  2. John Hartshorne
  3. John Hartshorne
Theme "Shadows" - George Clowes Tray
  1. Ron Johnson
  2. Eileen Johnson
  3. David Ottey
Best "Cycle Chat" article - Domont Trophy
  1. Alan Staniforth "The Mighty Zoncolan"
  2. Dave Binks "A Summer in France"

Judged by Peter Hopkins

Events - Year’s Record Certificates for County CTC events
Freewheel, The Charnwood Salver
  1. Tim Young
  2. Steve Ralphs
  3. Nick Tudor-Jones
Family, Bull Family Shield
The Ralphs family- Dad Steve, Amy 11, Jasmine 9
Highest Placed Rider in National CTC Tourist Competition - CTC Trophy (circa 1919)
Mike Gould
Oldest successful gent in 100 miles, Moulds tankard
Mike Gould

How things have changed.

Dave Binks continues his looks back at the old kit we used to use.

Gears (continued)

Many were still riding, racing and winning on a single fixed gear all year; the first ever sub 4 hours ride for 100 miles was on a single fixed gear.

Hub gears were still pretty common, and only Nottingham based Sturmey-Archer made these. The usual was a 3 speed wide ratio version, but other types could be had including a close ratio one. There were lightweight versions with an aluminium shell, and a 4 speed one was available. There were a few hub gears of the fixed type i.e., no freewheel, but these were not common.

The very early gears were of varying designs, but the modern parallelogram type beat all the others into submission and the number of gears increased from 3 to 4, then 5, then 6. However, indexed (notched) gears had not been invented and the levers were still of the friction type, mounted on the down tube. You just had to learn how far to push/pull the lever to change gear, but this didn't take long. The early front changers ("clangers" in the slang of the time) had a rod that went up the seat tube and you changed the front ring by twisting the rod.

Shimano then invented the indexed down tube lever, but most riders thought they were "only for beginners and women" and never changed over.

Some riders had gear levers fitted into the end of their dropped handlebars and they had the advantage that you could change gear without letting go of the bars, but you still had to move your position a bit to get your hand on them, and they weighed more due to the extra cables. They were very popular with cyclo-cross riders.

Bar end levers had the advantage that it was more difficult for your opponent to reach across and flick your gear lever into top gear before he sprinted away from you!

None of these early gear change levers allowed you to change gear while out of the saddle - a boon when climbing or sprinting.

The gear cables were not as exotic as those used in indexed systems today. As the inner cable was only used to connect the lever to the gear, it didn't matter if the outer cable flexed a bit, because the rider just moved the lever more, or less, to suit. Modern indexed systems take that away from the rider, so no slop is permissible, hence a more rigid outer cable had to be developed. Cut an old outer and you'll find it’s the same as used on brakes, just one square section wire would tightly into a coil. Cut an indexed outer and it's very different, comprising multi strands of much thinner wire running in a very lazy spiral.

On a safety note DO NOT use a modern outer indexed gear cable as a brake outer cable - it's not designed to take the braking force and could "burst" open under pressure.



This has been a big change. The early freewheels were an assembly that contained all the freewheel components (springs, pawls, bearings) and the cogs on a common body. This body was assembled off the bike and then the whole thing was screwed onto a threaded shoulder on the wheel hub.

A good bike shop would specialise in a particular manufacturer's range and would stock a large variety of cogs, thus allowing you to get exactly the cog sizes you wanted, and if a cog wore out, you could replace just that cog, or change the sizes to suit your next ride (if you could get them off - they screwed onto the body and got very tight!). You could use any combination of gear mechanism, lever and hub, so weren't locked into one supplier's kit. However they had a width limitation and the greater numbers of gears demanded by riders meant a problem in keeping the wheel strong enough due to the extra dishing needed. It was also quite heavy.

Cassette assemblies that slide onto a combined hub/freewheel have enabled greater numbers of gears to be fitted without compromising wheel strength. Unfortunately, you have to accept the cog sizes the manufacturer is selling as a set, there is no freedom to choose your ideal sizes. But with greater numbers of gears over a wider range, the difference between what you want, and is on offer, is not much and the whole lot is lighter.

The big downside is incompatibility between manufacturers; you have to buy the same make of hub (and thus wheel) and cassette and then the gearing mechanisms and changers to go with it. You have to decide which manufacturer you're going with and stick with it on that particular bike, or have a very deep pocket!



These were all steel for many years, attached by a cotter pin. These were reliable, but heavy. Aluminium rings were soon introduced and were successful in saving weight.

The weight of the steel cranks was the next target. The use of aluminium cranks meant a different method of attaching the crank to the axle had to be found because the cotter pin wasn't suitable on soft aluminium. Early types used a serrated axle, but the aluminium was too soft and they quickly failed. Then the square tapered axle came along and that was a very satisfactory solution for many years and is still to be seen on lots of bikes. The search for weight loss has lead to the latest hollow axle versions.



Ever since the direct drive “penny farthing” days, these have been indispensable. They’re not very glamorous, but even these have changed.

The early ones had an additional roller inside them to assist in their task of transmitting power, but in the interests of cost and weight reduction, this has been removed. I suppose the hardness of the steel and thus wear resistance has improved, but I can't quantify that. When we only had 3 and 4 gears, chains were easy to shorten and re-join, and I can remember doing it (engineers look away at this point) with a nail and a piece of metal with a hole in it. Provided you took a modicum of care on the re- joining, they never failed.

However, when the number of gears started creeping up beyond 5, the chains got narrower (actually the length of the rivet that holds the side plates together got shorter) and more care had to be taken when re-joining them. The use of a proper chain tool became essential.

When 8 speed and more became the norm, failures became common, leading many not to venture out without a chain tool in their toolkit. The simple "Quick link" (a pair of matching half links that slot together to form a new link) has proved an absolute boon and chains are now back on the list of bike parts classed as "pretty reliable".


Sidepull brake

The standard brake for many years was the calliper type of rim brake, it was light but unlike today's it had just one pivot and wasn't brilliant at stopping you quickly.

In an effort to improve this, the centre pull brake famously championed by Mafac, was sold to sporting cyclists in vast numbers. It was good, but heavy and difficult to set up.

GB, a UK manufacturer of brakes, introduced the GB Synchron, which was one of the first double pivot callipers, but it wasn't fashionable (probably just because it wasn't from a continental supplier!) and never really caught on. However, many years later, Shimano and Campagnolo etc "invented" the double pivot brake again and the combination of their advertising clout and its light weight, ease of set up and effectiveness meant it soon caught on again.

Heavy tourers and old tandems had drum brakes, but they were heavy, not very good, had to be built into the brake wheel and made wheel removal difficult but did always work, even in snow and wet, unlike the rim brakes of the time. Disk brakes were nowhere, not even on cars.

The cables stuck out from the top of the levers, just flapping around in the wind, waiting to catch your hand if you weren't careful. In engineering terms, they were good, because the cable was in a very smooth arc, unlike some of the tight bends some modern bikes expect them to follow. Smooth bends equal less friction.



Steel tubing ruled the world for over 100 years. The best was Reynolds 531 double butted tubing, made in England and exported all over the world. The top Tour de France riders insisted on it being under them and it took many to the podium.

In the search for less weight, different steel mixtures were invented and the weight came down because they could use thinner tubes for the same strength. Early aluminium frames were not very good, but eventually aluminium technology became better and for a while were regarded as very good, many still be used and made today.

Early trials of using carbon fibre tubes bonded into aluminium lugs saved more weight, but the bonds didn't last long. I can recall one clubrun where we had to get a blacksmith to drill a hole through the lug and tube before putting a long nut and bolt through the hole to enable the rider to get home!

Nowadays we can choose between carbon steel, stainless steel, titanium, aluminium, carbon and sometimes even a combination of at least two of them!


bottom bracket

I can't think of any early bearings being other than the "cup and cone" type i.e., having adjustable inner and outer races and loose ball bearings, that you had to grease liberally and keep adjusted and away from the wet.

A short lived bike company called Lambert was the first to use a bottom bracket with sealed (cartridge) bearings in the 1970s. Since then there has been a gradual shift to the sealed type all over the bike, and a good thing too in my opinion. It used to be quite common to have to clean and adjust or re grease the BB and wheel bearings, particularly if you had been out in heavy rain. I can remember trying a sealed BB for the first time and it being in the bike for years without any attention, only coming out when I wanted to get the frame re-sprayed. I was a convert from then on.


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

by Dave Binks

Cyclists. like fishermen and others. are prone to tell “porkies”.

Here are some I have heard and also used over the years :-

  • I have done no training.
  • It's not far now.
  • It's just around the next bend.
  • I never stop in cafes.
  • The cafe's always open.
  • I'll buy the teas.
  • I never use the granny ring.
  • You'll be fine. I'll only go slowly and will wait for you.
  • It's all downhill from here.
  • It's only a short climb.
  • It's not steep.
  • You won't need low gears.
  • Oh. this old thing is only my winter bike.
  • I promise I won't drop you.
  • I didn't pay much for it.
  • I never get punctures.
  • I know a short cut.
  • I would have beaten him if I hadn't punctured/broken the chain/gone off course. etc
  • I was really fast when I was your age.
  • When I was your age I used to train twice as hard.
  • I'll just ride slowly until you catch me up.
  • No. I won't be late and make you stand around in the cold waiting for me.
  • My other bike's a Pinarello.
  • And the biggest lie of them all - "I'm not fit"

A boxful of, not frogs, but kids. France 2014
photo by Dave Binks

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


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