Sunday, December 03, 2023

Ride Report - Sunday 3 Dec 2023


Today was one of those irritating days that start off looking as if they are going to turn out better than you expected, lull you into a false sense of security, then produce a sting in the tail!   Anyway, predictions of snow, ice and below-freezing temperatures followed by freezing rain to start the day proved to be a little wide of the mark and it was dry, well above freezing, and even a little bright as I set off for elevenses.   Still, the weather forecasters had done their best to deter many of us and it was a small but select group (Tony, Diane, Graham and me) who met at Claremont Gardens for a cosy elevenses.

By the time we were due to leave desultory rain had set in.   Tony headed for home but the rest of us set off undeterred towards our planned lunch stop at Woking.  Needless to say, the rain gathered momentum as our ride continued, and I eventually curtailed the route to reduce our exposure to the elements, delicate souls that we are!

Nevertheless, the Cheam and Morden (motto 'Per ardua ad Wetherspoons') made it to lunch.   Skies brightened as we enjoyed our meals and plans to return home by train were hastily abandoned!   It did start to rain again, but only after we had reached Walton Bridge, the end of the ride.  Only Diane stopped for tea but it looks as if she enjoyed a lavish (but well-deserved) spread!

So, a day of mixed fortunes but an enjoyable ride nonetheless.   Many thanks to all for your company! 

Friday, December 01, 2023

Important - Changes to rides on Sun 3 December and Sun 10 December!

Sunday 3 December

Elevenses still at National Trust cafe, Claremont Gardens, Esher, but lunch will now be at the Herbert Wells, Woking.

Sunday 10 December

Elevenses still at the Golden Cafe, Addlestone, but lunch will now be at the Cinnamon Cafe, Windsor.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Cheam and Morden ride to Cheam AND Morden! 26 November

 You have to admit, it's a pretty exciting idea for a ride.   But it was a most unpromising day.

The dawn chorus of WhatsApp messages was strangely silent today.  No cheery "see you soon"s, "what time are we leaving"s.  Could it be the weather?  (Frost now, improving to cold rain later.)  As I crunched across the grass to my bike palace, I ruminated on my bad luck with the weather.  It was 1 degree as I set off for Cheam.

And yet... and yet... it could have been worse.  The sky was clear, there was no ice, and no wind.

Riding past Berrylands, I passed Maureen, riding in the other direction in a chain gang of fit young men.   Your secret's out now, Maureen!

At North Cheam

A surprising number of crazy cyclists braved the extreme cold to come to Cheam.   We welcomed Sue Bellamy for her first C&M ride.  It was nice to see Richard Delamere, whom we persuaded to tell us a bit about his early days in the club.   Richard's first ride was in 1960, as a teenager, when the C&M met under the tree near where we were sitting in North Cheam.  They rode to Cuckfield for lunch, as you did in those days, where after an incident, Richard and another rider had to go to A&E in the local cottage hospital, before riding part way home.  Dave Vine also joined us for coffee and chat before heading home.  Dave V and Richard weren't riding with us, so that left nine of us to follow my off-the-beaten-track route towards Battersea, trying to avoid the main roads or anywhere that you might recognise.   

Frozen cyclists admiring the Petrified Tree
(nobody knows what frightened it)

We passed through Lower Morden, Morden Hall Park, skirted Mitcham, Colliers Wood, Tooting Bec Common, Balham, Clapham Park (or is that just a posh name for Brixton?), before succumbing to the gravitational pull of Battersea Power Station.  It was an ideal ride if you were looking for a different area in which to buy a house, except that we were guessing where we were most of the time.

By now it had warmed up to a toasty 5 degrees.  Battersea Power Station was crowded with Christmas shoppers, so we picked our way along the riverside to Battersea Park and then the London & South Western pub for a slap-up Wetherspoons lunch.   Still no rain!

Chrstina warming up with her 4th coffee,
as Keith finally gets his lunch.

Heavy rain was forecast for 1pm, but we only had light drizzle.   David W and Alex caught the train home, and the remaining "sodden seven" (according to Steph) braved the expected rain, riding through Earlsfield and a diminished number went on to Richmond Park, where we decided to skip tea and head for home before the rain.   In the event, the rain didn't arrive until after 6pm, so barring any isolated showers, I think we will have all got home dry, and perhaps we will all get warm again sometime in the next few days.

A nice day out in good company.  Thank you all for turning out (the hardest part!) and for your company, and special thanks to David W for back marking.

Ten fun facts about Battersea Power Station.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Sunday 19th November Ride Report

Sunday saw 16 cyclists descend on our regular elevenses venue, Café Barbera in Stoke D'Abernon. Arrival times covered quite a time span, so in view of the large numbers and a delay on a couple of drinks orders, David kindly agreed to lead a second group out. I went ahead with Dawn, Ann, Sabina and Bernard, followed by our second half of Simon, Terry, Tony and Geoff back-marking. Keith broke away despite the carrot of a 'Spoons lunch, and Ed made his own way directly to Epsom. David's second group comprised Graham, an unfixed Fixie Dave, Steph and Andy. 

I had plotted a route that would be a decent length to lunch, different to my previous routes, flat and exclude any muddy tracks, so we headed out of Stoke D'Abernon on the gravel path to Downside and then on-road through Hatchford, turning south-east at Ockham and then up the beautifully tarmac'd surface of  The Drift and on to Effingham. From there we followed the quieter backroads through the Bookhams Little and Great, Fetcham and into Leatherhead, popped over the railway line at Ashtead and came into Epsom via the drier parts of the Common. 

No muddy bikes or cyclists here

Clean and shiny second group

The Assembly Rooms was quite busy but we managed to get four tables inside near to each other, helped by Bob and Ed being there already. 

After lunch I managed to convince a few to join me for another loopy loop route to Squires at Long Ditton via Old Malden and Berrylands. Tony peeled off near Surbiton leaving Steph, Simon and myself to ensure traditions were upheld and afternoon tea was taken. 

Thanks everyone for coming out on a dry but very windy day, to David and Simon for sub-leading/gapping and to Geoff for back-marking.    


Monday, November 13, 2023

Plans for Sunday 19th November

Everyone is very welcome to join me on Sunday's ride from Cafe Barbera in Stoke D'Abernon to The Assembly Rooms (Spoons) in Epsom. On account of the recent very wet weather and with promises of more to come this week, I've planned a largely on-road flat route of 17 miles going via Ockham  - the only off-road is the familiar gravel track coming out of Stoke D'Ab towards Downside and then a little bit of Ashtead and Epsom Common, both were fine to ride on yesterday. At the moment Sunday's forecast is for dry weather, but if that changes we will all switch to a more direct route (and as usual, those preferring to go direct regardless of the weather are very welcome to do so, we'd love to see you at elevenses and/or lunch). The gpx file for Plan A is here  

Afternoon tea with be at Squires in Long Ditton, about 9 miles or less if preferred.  

Have a lovely week and hope to see you then.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Sunday 12th November 2023

I'm glad I came with two panniers today.

Thanks to Dave W (Sou'Wester jacket), Graham (unwanted - all 14 London Cycle maps circa 2007) & Dave V (a favourable Cycling Plus review 9/10 of a Condor Heritage).

Diane also gets a mention as she manages to include 11's today....before heading off in the opposite direction to recce a future ride. 👍

Seven - Dave W, Geoff, Jennie, Steph, Keith, Alex + me left Morden Hall Park to follow the yellow brick road.......well, blue & made of tarmac actually but still heading north to the "Emerald City"......of London that is.

To me at least, Cycle Super Highway 7 is a joy to ride along & deserves a bit of history.

Constructed in 2010, its completion was timed to coincide with the closure of the Northern Line (LU) which it follows, so TFL were able to promote it as an alternative.

Although nowadays, it looks quite dated compared to the more recent schemes in London but it remains a fast route into London for many commuters.

Beyond Colliers Wood into Tooting Bec, it's fairly narrow going past the London Sewing Machine Museum (now you know) !

You're never far from a cycle shop on CS7 (I counted at least 3 in 13km). 😄

Past Stockwell & Oval tube stations the road widens considerably & is probably the best part.

Elephant & Castle is avoided entirely (St Mary's churchyard/Elliots Row) to join quiet side roads to emerge on Southwark Bridge. 'em or hate 'em, they're a part of many Sunday rides and today is no exception. 

The Crosse Keys originally was an inn from the 1550's, burnt down in the Great Fire, & its replacement burnt down in 1734.

Rebuilt again, it was more recently the home of the Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) from 1913 & 'Spoons aquired it in 1999.

Inside, the building is stunning, with marble columns & huge lighting rigs in a cavernously airy room.

Apparently, it's "rammed" full of suits in the week, but today it felt barely half full.

The rear entrance (which we failed to find) in St Michael's Alley.

Thanks to Dave & Geoff (backmarkers) & the rest for joining me. 😊

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Sunday 13/04/03 Wisborough Green (revised)

For what it's worth I dug out the 2003 Attendance record. I led the ride and 31(!) rode that day.

But only 23 at lunch:

From L to R in the photo : Pete C, Richard D, Daphne S, Bob E, Simon Legg,Matt S, Pete F, Pete B, Lisa C, Keith R,Pete M, me,Crystal Sheldon,Chris Jones, Jen M, Andrew H, Simon M, Jake D, Ed S, Irene N 
Lurking in the bushes (?) : Ian Burt, John Mason, Norman G.

Our current Runs Secretary was last seen at Shere (11s) 



Monday, November 06, 2023

Cheam & Morden Sunday the 5th November

To the Fox at Hanwell, eventually

I had planned a route of about 18 miles to lunch with a fair bit of off road, great I thought, 11's was at the Pheasantry Bushey park, which was very crowded, even at 10am. I settled down for a coffee with 4 or 5 already there, but soon the number began to swell until there were 21! Luckily a few were not going to lunch, still, 18 assembled in 2 groups, Dave, backmarking the first group and Simon leading the second group and without the route and satnav! I had my Garmin but forgot I had taken its mount off my bike, still, I knew most of the route, just a couple of side roads, to keep off main roads that I wasn't sure off, but any worries were unfounded.

Buhey Park

Off out of Bushey at Hampton Hill and through roads of Hampton, and under the A316 to the edge of Feltham. We were soon cycling through Heathrow Airport, at times with a really strong headwind, and through Harlington and the M4 underpass, at which point the puncture fairy struck my back wheel. Many helpers and 20 minutes later we were off again (couldn't find a puncture in the tube?). As we were 2 groups, it meant a slow ride trying to keep the other group in sight, and with the puncture delay, I decided to shorten the route to lunch and use more of the canal towpath, one look at the thick mud at Southal changed my mind.

Photo call while I mened the Puncture 

So after 2 deadends and a couple of oneway streets, we were on the Norwood road heading to Norwood Green and back on the canal, down past the Hanwell flight, arriving at the Fox ¾s of an hour later, 1.45. The pub had still kept our tables.

The pub was very busy and considering we added another 18 into the mix, we were fed reasonably quickly. Some have chosen a child's roast, which included an ice cream dessert. So we decided to split the return in dessert and no dessert groups.

The Fox

As the towpath was very muddy in places I decided to head back to Bushey all by road. It was roughly 10 miles back to tea at Bushey. But on the way, people turned for home at different intervals. When I got to Bushey there was just Liz and I left in my group, We both decided to head directly home.

The Canal at Norwood Green

Simon led the ice cream dessert group and a few of them stopped for tea in Syon Park. Not the best day on the bike but we had a good crowd, it was nice to have such a big audience while mending a puncture.

Thank you to all who joined the ride and a special thanks to Simon for leading the second group and Dave etc for backmarking.


Monday, October 30, 2023

Ride Report for Sunday Oct 29th - Director’s Cut

On a gloriously sunny Autumn day, a lucky 13 cyclists gathered at the round tables of The Vineries Garden Centre. No-one had been soaked through on their journey from Ealing, not even to their under garments, and all were served promptly. 

While Niall, Carolyn and John stayed back to feed the unicorns, the fellowship of 10 set forth towards the majestic Greene Dean. No floodwaters blocked our  paths, and all sailed effortlessly up and down the other side.
Roads as dry as old bones
Pranksters at large!

David, Terry and Tim enjoying the sunshine

Here dear reader there was a small occurrence, but fear not, for our knights with their special powers fought back with great determination, while muttering about multi-tools and cycle smiths who do things up too tightly. 

Heading into Shere a yurt appeared on the roadside, bedecked with fairy lights and with a warm and cosy interior. David and Keith went in search of more adventures, so the remaining 8 dined inside where it is rumoured that The Ducks do go Dabbling.
Nice yurt! 

Time passed swiftly in this enchanted place, hence once everyone was refreshed Andy went to collect some pots of gold from the many rainbows all around us, while Terry returned home to his castle. The depleted fellowship of 6 opted for the flatter lands of Albury and Chilworth, before coming into Shalford and Guildford. From here Alan continued the quest alone, ensuring no dragons were being troublesome in all the realms he passed through. 

For the rest of us, golden carriages awaited. As leader it was behoven on me to throw my gauntlet under the first golden carriage as a token of respect, before it whisked myself, Ann, Martina, Simon and Tim back to our homelands. 

Inside the golden carriage 

A grand day out, with the kind and caring souls from the Cheerful & Merry. With special thanks to David, Keith and Simon for their mechanical assistance,  to Tim for back-marking all day, and to all for being flexible and upbeat throughout all the adversity which apparently didn’t happen. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Scam email purporting to come from Graham Hill . BEWARE

 I have received a scam email purporting to come from Graham Hill, with the email address nicolas marcel etc claiming to evoke memories. This is  from some pathetic scammer. Stay alert and please delete pronto.  My paranoia level is rising to stratospheric levels. The men in white coats are at my shoulder!

Please let me know if I am losing the plot.


Monday, October 23, 2023

Sunday October 22 2023 Windsor

With other parts of Britain under water, (at least!) 19 enjoyed perfect autumnal weather at Shepperton Nauticalia for my first e-bike lead. A few went no further and we split the rest into two groups; the second ably led by Tony assisted by Simon, Dave, and Ray.

It didn't start well - on Chertsey Road a loose pannier strap and cassette came to blows but were soon separated. We continued to Chertsey Bridge before turning north beside a fast flowing Thames to Laleham. The next obstacle was the Crocked Billet roundabout where a one time grotty subway has been replaced by five(!) sets of traffic lights. To compensate we now enjoyed the car-free between the reservoirs path to Stanwell Moor (Junction 14) where one metal barrier and eight concrete blocks can't keep out the bikers.

Just after noon saw us in Horton so I added an impromptu diversion into Datchet via Colnbrook, and an embarrassing "It's behind you" moment on "old" London Road. From Eton we ascended to a very busy Cinnamon Cafe; somehow all found seats for a leisurely lunch.

We left well before two. After Home Park came Datchet, Wraysbury and Staines. In Commercial Road and after a prolonged though inconclusive pow-wow I led a "we're not stopping" group to BP, Hampton and Bushy Park. They said Kingston Bridge. I opted for Teddington. Along the way we'd met Tony's group on a slightly different course and more surprisingly Ray twice!    

Now for those all important stats: 302 feet ascent in 27.4 miles from Nauticalia to south Ashford. This  includes four bridges and short sections of three roads (Staines Worple Road, Datchet Horton Road, Windsor High Street) used in both directions. Door to Door 44 miles.  

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Sunday 15th October 2023

A select group of three joined me at Boxhill NT café on this cold but sunny morning.

Rather busy too, even with the servery open as well but at 11.04am we left the mass of walkers/cyclists/motorists for the relative tranquility of the nearby stepping stones.

There used to be a ford here serving the Burford Lodge (built 1776) & the original stepping stones were destroyed during World War II as a security measure.

The ones you see today were dedicated by PM Clement Atlee in 1946.

The climb of Ranmore Lane was free of cars, just speeding cyclists coming the other way & we all rode at our own pace with the leader having to zig-zag near the top.

What's zig-zag I hear you ask?

Courtesy Rehook website.........

A climbing switchback is a type of route often used by cyclists to ascend a steep incline. It involves a series of tight, zig-zag turns that allow the cyclist to gradually climb the hill without having to pedal too hard. 

Statistics show that the use of a climbing switchback can help cyclists use up to 30% less energy when compared to riding straight up a hill. This makes it a great option for cyclists who are looking to conserve energy and make their ride more efficient.

Except this only works on hills with little or no other road users coming the other way. 😀

The plunge down to the A25 via White Down was followed by a slow incline to lunch at The Abinger Hatch where the likelihood of being served food was precisely zero.

I knew it's a popular pub..........but a party of 300?

But the story is similar at any country pub in Surrey on a Sunday. 😞

Having being tipped off by a WhatsApp discussion, I alerted Diane & she purchased sandwiches at Boxhill & Terry raided his saddlebag so we all had something.

Not ideal but it sufficed.

Leaving Dave, we briefly climbed then descended to Coldharbour where I noticed the shop next to the Plough serving cakes/coffee.

Monday - Friday 9 - 2

Weekends - 9 - 3

Right turn & the next photo opp at the top of Anstie Lane.

A mile of the A29 to Ockley to arrive at Capel where we sat in the sun whilst waiting for the church to open.

The lady serving the cakes/taking the money appeared very amused when a £1 coin I'd dropped disappeared down a metal grate in the floor.

"You've lost that I'm afraid" she said with a smile.

Doesn't she know there's a cost of living crisis? 😒

On the way to Beare Green it was noted Ruby's café is open everyday 9 - 3.........but Surrey Hills café formally Blue Moon café is not open Sundays (Tuesday - Saturday 8 - 1.45pm).

Thanks to Dave, Diane & Terry for your company.

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Ride Report - Sunday 8 October (North Cheam and Putney)


This was our second elevenses of the year at North Cheam and, once again, numbers did not disappoint!    Simon, Steve D, Ed, Dawn (most welcome on her first ride with the Cheam & Morden), Pam, Graham, Tony, Brian and Robert all joined me at Wetherspoons on a lovely sunny day.  We reminisced about Clive Oxx, long-time Cheam and Morden member, who very sadly died recently.

All of us except Steve set off on the ride which took us first to The Hamptons, Worcester Park where there is a very unexpected open space with surprising views all around, and even more surprising, an amphitheatre (you do need to use your imagination a bit, but then you see it)!    Various bridges and subways (note the 'underground, overground' theme) cycle paths and back roads then led us to the west side of Wimbledon Common from where we tackled the rather challenging, crumbly and steeply uphill route to Sunset Road (I can see why it is called that now)!    

From the Windmill we headed towards Putney Heath.  The common was very busy with cyclists and walkers but there was n'er a Womble to be seen, sadly, or else they were perhaps crouching in the undergrowth tittering at the leader's navigational glitches!

In the end, we got to Wetherspoons, Putney just before 1.00 pm.   Simon brilliantly reserved us two outside tables looking over the river and out of the sun.   Service today was highly efficient and speedy.   This is a very pleasant spot on a fine day and everyone was reluctant to leave but we eventually set off homewards via Richmond Park.   Those looking for tea went to find it at Ham.

Thanks all for your company.

Monday, October 02, 2023

Capel Teas

We have to thank Keith for: 

Sunday, October 01, 2023

October 1st - Rusper and beyond

It must be autumn! Bonfire-building at Brockham

We were lucky to be blessed with good weather as just over twelve of us congregated outside the Edmund Tylney in Leatherhead.   It was good to see Robert back in the UK for a while, and exciting to be introduced to Graham's new e-bike.   Pam, Maureen and Ed were staying for a natter and perhaps a different ride so ten of us set off towards the wilds of Brockham, Leigh and the bonus hills at Norwood hill and Russ hill.   We arrived at The Star just as a large group had sat down for a meal, which sent the bar staff into a bit of a flap, but they served us promptly with excellent food.  



So far, so straightforward.   I had a half-baked plan to return to Leatherhead for tea by a different route, but over lunch we heard from Keith that Capel church was offering teas.  (I had failed to break into their website to find this information.)   Everyone agreed this was a Very Good Idea, but it was only five miles from our rather filling lunch, so there was then a considerable discussion about longer routes.   Warnham?  Horsham?  The A24?  In the end, minus Geoff and David who were taking the afternoon off, we settled for a lot of smaller roads that bought the distance above eight miles.   Lambs Green, Wimlands Lane, Wimlands Road, Cripplegate,  Lipscomb's Corner were just a few of the rarely-visited (and quite hilly) highlights.  With the help of quite a bit of faffing, we managed to string it out so that we arrived just after they opened at 3pm.

Afternoon break

Home time

There was the usual munificence of cake, and we stayed and chatted for quite a while before setting off in the sunshine back to Leatherhead, via the "closed" Punchbowl Lane, where they had made quite a determined attempt to stop people getting through, but we managed anyway.


A lovely day out in great company.   Thanks to David and Colin for back-marking, and to Keith, Graham and Andy for very useful help with working out a very enjoyable route from Newdigate to Capel.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Penny Farthing Champs 2023

Many thanks to Tony for the ride to/from Hillingdon Cycle Circuit.

A great little video of the event, can you spot yourself?

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

C&M Ride into Old Money or Penny Farthing Racing

Last year the Pickwick Bicycle Club held the first Penny Farthing Racing at Hayes Track in Minet Country Park. This year it also incorporated the UK Penny Farthing championship. I advertised it on the A's & B's Whatsapp groups, the response was surprisingly good. 18 signed up for the ride.

The 11's stop was at the Pheasantry in Bushey Park, and in dribs and drabs the throng assembled. We managed to leave just before 11 and in 2 groups, myself leading the first and Simon leading the second. The route there consisted of lots off-road, along the River Crane, Hounslow Heath, a nature reserve at the side of Heathrow and Cranford Park (where we encountered, abusive travellers, their caravans, dogs and very vocal children). That soon passed and onto the little churchyard where Tony Hanncock's remains are buried.

We were then soon at our lunch stop, The Botwell Inn, Wetherspoons, in Hayes, where a friend of mine, Tony Cates from the Uxbridge CTC group, joined us. Service was a little slow for Wetherspoons, but we were soon fed and watered and ready for the 1-mile cycle to the cycle track. There were lots of bikes, Penny Farthings, old and new, there was even one on display for a company that still made them!

There was plenty of time to look at the bikes and chat with the owners, but eventually, the race was underway. The speed at which leaders achieve was a fast "A" ride pace, and the final lap would have had Mark Cavendish smiling. When the racing had finished, our whole group did a lap of the track, but at a more moderate pace.

Then heading back towards Bushey Park on a less off-road course. And at various points, the group gradually dispersed to make their ways home. A really lovely day out, only around 25 miles for me, but a great event to see, look out for the same time next year! Thank you all for your company and to Simon for leading the second group, plus those who back-marked.