Thursday, August 22, 2019

B Group - 21st August

The first dry Wednesday for three weeks saw a record breaking group of B riders gather at Caterham-on-the-Hill for our ‘three hills’ ride into the lovely open countryside of Kent.

Normally Caterham attracts only a smallish group of dedicated riders but it was wonderful to see 18 set out for the descent into Caterham and then the ascent towards Woldingham. We rode along the top of the North Downs and then along the quiet Pilgrims’ Way, went through Westerham, before ascending to Crockham Hill.

The Royal Oak landlord had warned me when booking that service would be fairly slow from their kitchen but this had not seemed to be a problem in anticipation of the size of our usual peloton from Caterham. I think this is the first time that B riders have visited the Royal Oak and for the leader it was his first visit for about 50 years (some riders will remember that there used to be a youth hostel just a few doors down the road).

We continued our ride back to Banstead (our third main hill of the day) in time for tea. About 33 miles from elevenses to tea had seen nearly 2500’ of climbing at 73’ per mile.

Well done and thank you to everyone (especially Tim G. for back marking) who took part in our ride.

Thanks to a recruitment drive by Tony Hooker we were very pleased to welcome three new people on our ride, John Cornwell and Fern Wiltshear who are in training for their upcoming London to Paris charity ride, and Bill Carman who rides with Kingston Phoenix on Saturdays.


Further detail at

Neil Crocker: Paris-Brest-Paris 2019

It looks like Neil has done it

What an extraordinary ride:

~ Tim

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A Group ride 21 August

Eleven hardy souls committed to the A group ride from Caterham to the King Henry VIII pub in Hever. There were a couple of ups which most of us noticed; for example, Gangers Hill, but reviewing the ride at tea one had to admire Brian's 'glass half full' approach as he could only remember the descents. That said, the couple of miles descending into Westerham were glorious even with a headwind.

The pub was busy but coped extremely well and our food arrived quickly so we were off again by 2 and heading for the Reading Rooms in Brockham. I promised the route was flat after lunch, which it was apart from the odd hill such as the climb up to the windmill at Outwood.

We made tea with plenty of time to spare and enjoyed the lovely cakes on offer. On that note who did have the last piece of chocolate and orange cake?

Caterham to Brockham was 49 miles and 2,930ft elevation. A good day out and with almost perfect weather too!

A gaggle of Sou'Westers

 Scarecrow cat on a bus stop near Hever

 King Henry VIII, Hever

 Near the windmill at Outwood

 Well earned tea and cake at Brockham

A Group 21st August

Janice took us on an undulating ride today, with some of the undulations being larger than others.  A good ride, a pleasant lunch at Hever and tea at Brockham.

A very enjoyable day out in good company.  

Ah yes, Neil.  We discussed his journey several times during the day.  As I write he has c.120 miles to do in about eighteen hours.  Looking good.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Saturday all day ride to Harmondsworth 14 August

Thanks to our ride leader Steph W for this report, and for a lovely day out along an historic and interesting route.
Setting off after lunch...l to r Bernard, Alice, Diane, Stephanie, Sabina,
Lorraine and Sue ( just behind Lorriane)
Photo by Helen outside Five Bells, Harmondsworth

Six cyclists left Nonsuch Park on Saturday and another 3 joined us at Kingston Bridge.
We cut into Bushy Park before heading north to join the tarmac surface of the river Crane towpath. Entering Pevensey Nature Reserve we took an adventurous route through the former Feltham Marshalling Yards and through a tunnel under the railway to follow the Crane onto Hounslow Heath. Path a little muddy after heavy rain the previous day! It is hoped that rights of way will be granted over this land to enable continuity between the sparated bits of the River Crane path.
Shortly we were on a straight route west to the 14th centuryTithe Barn at Harmondsworth...passing the proposed site of the 3rd runway on our left at Sipson.
Lunch was enjoyed in the garden of the Five Bells pub. 
Returning via Osterley Park we stipped for tea, icecreams aand cake before returning through Twickenham and Richmond Park.
Thanks to all who came along, and especially back marker Helen and mechanic Godfrey.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Advice for B Group re: 21st August

We shall set out from Caterham-on-the-Hill and head eastwards towards Crockham Hill for lunch and then back towards Banstead (on-another-Hill) for tea. The distances are 14 miles to lunch and then 19 miles to tea.
Although the route is not specifically hilly, the names of our three locations may suggest that it is not flat!

John A.

'A' Group abandoned ride to Petworth

Sadly not much to report on our ride today, the weather was not on our side. Four A group members, Frances, Steve D, Ken and myself, had our elevenses at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre pondering our options. Eleven o'clock arrived and we checked the weather again, but the rain showed no sign of abating, so we decided on riding home via Shalford, Albury, Shere and Coombe Bottom, followed by usual route through to Leatherhead and home.
Thanks to the intrepid souls who braved the elements to join me on such an awful day.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

'B' Ride - Weds 14 August

This was a memorable ride but, unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons!

Six of us set off from Guildford and tackled the stiff climb up The Mount in steady rain with water gushing and gurgling downhill on either side of us!   Yet more water, in the form of giant puddles the full width of the track, awaited us on the cycle route from Compton to Puttenham.  Despite the deluge we still made it to lunch at Wetherspoons in Aldershot in good time. 

Richard had had a tyre problem en route and the natural thing to do was to lend him my spare tyre - I always have a spare with me but haven't actually used one in anger for several years.   He soon had it fitted and we set off for Guildford.   Imagine my surprise and dismay, then, when, a few miles later, my own front tyre exploded with a loud report leaving a gaping hole in the sidewall!   What are the chances of that happening!   All was not completely lost as I did still have an emergency tyre boot (a piece of toothpaste tube) with me, but the position of the hole on the sidewall was very close to the bead, and it was only possible to just about contain a new inner tube at very low pressure inside the damaged tyre.   It was that bad that the bulge struck the forks every time the wheel rotated!

After a brief deliberation I led the others towards a short distance towards Ash and pointed them towards Guildford, then turned back myself and rode very gingerly (and with no front brake) a mile or so towards Ash Vale station, from where I was able to get a train home.   What a thing to happen on what an awful day!    That's the joy of cycling!

Anyway, thanks to Tim, John, Richard and the other two Daves for your company, and I look forward to hearing about the rest of your ride, and thanks to Tim for the map.

Advance details of challenging A ride to Hever 21 August

Next Wednesday (21 August) sees this month's challenging A ride and so I'm posting details with a little notice so that you can decide if this is the ride for you.

 As we go out to Kent so infrequently I'm using the route that I led from Caterham last August but with a different lunch stop. Last year the pub in Edenbridge levied a 20% service charge and so I vowed not to darken their door step again! Finding a different pub in Edenbridge that served lunch and could accommodate our bikes proved impossible on this years reccie (I went in them all). I therefore reccie'd it again (all good training for RideLondon) and stopped at the King Henry VIII in Hever which served a very good baguette and chips, large enough to make the man himself happy.

It's 25 miles and 1,637ft elevation from Caterham to Hever and after lunch we'll head 24 miles and 1,293ft towards Brockham for tea. I'm hoping to go to the recently re-opened Reading Room and I'll check it out this weekend. Otherwise it will be a small detour to Strood Green.

Totals for the day are 49 miles and 2,930ft elevation but of course we all have to cycle to Caterham first and for almost everyone this will add a fair mileage and elevation.

I've checked my Strava for last year and it tells me that I led the ride at an average speed of 15mph, which meant perfect timing for arriving at lunch and also that we arrived before the cafe closed in Brockham (there isn't much wriggle time for this). If you coped last year then you will again this year. However, if you're not sure this challenging ride is for you hopefully there's time to make other plans.

If you would like the route for your Garmin the link is

If you prefer to take the route from Strava you'll find the ride on my Strava on 22 July this year.

An experience at Little Barford RWE Gas Fired Combined Cycle Gen Plant.

During my visit to Cambridgeshire for a week’s cycling I was intrigued by the fact that this monstrous  edifice blighted the sky-line! One of my colleagues said that the station had been shut down years ago so I went to investigate only to find that it was alive and well. It is operated by RWE in that Germanic efficient way (ha,ha!). The station was designed and built by HSPE at Wymeswold where I worked for 7 years but after I left and went to GEC Gas Turbines Whetstone where Sir Frank Whittle develop the jet engine.
Little Barford is equipped with 2 X GE Frame 9 GT’s fitted with twin waste heat boilers that then power a 100 MW steam turbine. Total output circa < 500 MW. The photo’s attached depict the site and you can see the enormous bank of electric fan cooled condensers on the RHS of the second picture.
I was delighted to tell my cycling friend that the station was still working. He could not believe it as there was no sign of an exhaust plume or NOX emissions.
I have to say that after the shutdown of power and random load shedding on Friday, I knew as I walked around that I should not have thrown that switch on that power transformer! The authorities are now looking for a Lycra clad cyclist with a helmet and Pheasant feather!
Doner und Blitzun!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Based at Great Kingshill Village Hall, 4th – 6th October
Organised by John Capell and his team for CTC South Bucks and of course visitors
from wherever they like to come from.

We arrange led rides (short, medium, longer) on theSaturday and Sunday, with meals and various other diversions at the hall. Provision for campervan and tent campers.

Yes, its a bit earlier in the year than usual so colours won't be quite so advanced but at  least there will be more more daylight. And hopefully warmth and sunshine!

Enquiries, and offers of help, please, to John (01494 715636)


I'm off to Paris to ride Paris-Brest-Paris

Paris-Brest-Paris is the blue riband event of the audaxing community and has a history that dates back to 1891. Every four years over five thousand cyclists from around the world gather near Paris to ride to Brest and back. It is not a race but has a rather testing time limit of 96 hours for the 1200km (750 mile) distance.

Since I started audaxing three years ago PBP has been the aim. Last year I rode my first 600km ride (see The Souwester March/April 2019) which ensured me a possible place on the ride. This year I have had to ride a series of qualifying rides at 200, 300, 400, and 600km.

I start at 1830 on Sunday 18th from Rambouillet, near Paris and need to be in Brest by Tuesday morning. Then I have until 1230 on Thursday to get back to Paris.

Details of the ride can be found here.

If you want to follow my progress there is a tracking page here.
Just add my name or number (K128) to the box top right and it should show you where I am. It will only be getting information from the controls which are around every 100km so could be estimating my position.

I will be riding in my Souwester jersey (as it already has experience of cycling in France from the Dieppe Raids) and hope to have a photo of it back in Paris next week.