Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Easy Riders - 30th April


First  to arrive was Mark Roy full of smiles, what a lovely gentleman, he then told me had bought an electric bike a few weeks back and it had made a new man of him, he looked forward now to having a ride knowing that he would be able to tackle the hills once again.

Then John G arrived looking a real fraud, he has lost some weight so looks really fit, his stay in Kingston Hospital was very good even asking for seconds when dinner came round, the food was that good, he is now waiting to go into St George’s Hospital Tooting for an op on a heart valve. GOOD LUCK and BEST WISHES John.

We were 10 leaving the D.C. but Fuzz and Ron opted to go directly to The Old Plough while 8 went round and about to lengthen the ride arriving at 12.50 pm. The food was really quick and very nice.
There we found 2 wayward “B” riders having jumped ship from Dorking to continue with the “C”s. i.e Gill and Liz Bernard.

After lunch in the garden we returned up Blundells Lane making our way to Chessington  centre for tea.

Many thanks to Lizzie who did a grand job at the back as T.E.C. rounding up the rest of the “C” riders and keeping them all in order. quite a job !!

Thank you once again everyone for an enjoyable day.


B Group - 30th April

A very select group of 12 riders (almost the right number for a TdF team!) set out from Dorking in beautiful spring sunshine to meander pleasantly across the countryside south east of Dorking. Despite the faster than average pace we were able to enjoy quiet country lanes and amazing carpets of bluebells. After 17.2 miles we reached our lunch destination of Forest Green.

A combination of pre-orders and friendly, efficient service from the staff of the Parrot Inn meant that we were soon enjoying our lunch in the pub garden. The ride had been planned with the intention that when in the "Surrey Hills" we should do some climbing. So after lunch we set off and climbed up Leith Hill via Tanhurst Lane, descended into Dorking and then climbed the Box Hill zigzag and cycled via Headley to our tea stop at Ashead, a total of 16.9 miles.

Thank you David and Tim for being ready to assist with back-marking and thank you to all who joined in a splendid day out.

John Austin

Maps and photos for John's excellent route to mark his début as a B Group leader

17.2 miles to Lunch in Forest Green, 16.9 miles to Tea in Ashtead

Friday, April 25, 2014

John Gould - some good news

John came home last night after a stretch in Kingston Hospital where he was being treated with antibiotics for a heart infection. While in hospital he was able to keep fit by going for walks every day, especially in Richmond Park which is just down the road. Although he will have to check in to St George's in a few weeks time for an operation he is feeling good and expects to be out riding again very soon. He is hoping to ride down to Dorking for elevenses on Wednesday.

- Tim
A Group 30 April: Go East Young Man!
Dorking – Staffhurst Wood – Banstead
40 Miles

A few weeks ago Simon wrote of flagrantly flouting Dr Kelly’s Rule, on this ride I am not only flouting it I am inverting it. The morning, after the little tester of Punchbowl Lane, is a gently undulating 25 miles to lunch at the Royal Oak @ Staffhurst Wood. ( )The afternoon is a tad on the hilly side – a 15 mile romp to Banstead taking in Tandridge Hill Lane, Burntwood Lane and Park Lane up to Banstead.

Given the distance to lunch, it would be good to get a prompt start from Dorking soon after 11 so that we can keep the pace modest.

Paul Kelly 

A Group - St George's Day

 The sun did shine

on St George's Day

Let's not forget camera shy Neil

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Bell at Waltham St Lawrence - 23 April

A Group – 23 April

I find Shepperton a challenging place from which to start a cycle ride. The obvious destinations are to the west, but Berkshire offers little scenic country, few hills and is hedged about with motorways and cycle-unfriendly towns such as Bracknell and Maidenhead.

However the Greeno Centre offers a friendly welcome, Easter buns, and yesterday a sunny start. A group of some 19 left, heading west through Laleham, Staines, Tite Hill (at 10% the only challenging climb of the day) and Windsor Great Park, blessed with a tailwind, and destined for Waltham St Lawrence, a picture postcard village. While Berkshire lacks scenery, it seems to compensate with good pubs, and The Bell, a tiny 14th century place is a gem.

I was concerned that the pub might struggle with 19 hungry cyclists, but my worries were unfounded. They had reserved a separate dining room for us, and even JDW could not have bettered the speedy and friendly service. The food was good (I recommended the Bambi Burger from a recce visit but there were no takers) and the beer was all from local independent breweries.

For the return the weather took a turn for the worse, with drizzle and a brisk headwind. We took a direct route, crossing the Thames “offroad” at Bray, then via Dorney, Eton, Wraysbury and Staines to tea at Squires Upper Halliford, arriving just a s the B’s were departing, thankfully without finishing all the cake.

22 miles at a good 14.3 mph to lunch, though speed dropped to a wind-challenged 12.5mph for the 24 miles to tea. Only 500ft of climbing though this seemed to be welcomed by some. Thankfully a clear ride, no punctures, no mechanicals, and nobody lost.

Many thanks for your company to all who rode with me, and especially to Tony Hopkins for being such a dedicated back marker.


Virgin Solved?

Without getting too deeply into the technicalities...

After another two hour telephone conversation and nearly four weeks, Virgin have finally accepted that my problem is their fault. At their prompting I was switched from landline to cable at the end of March. What they now admit that the older websites such as SWL can only be updated by landline (ADSL) users! I imagine changing that would be a very low priority and might take months (years or even never).

The quickest solution is to use new software, a new email address and a new website. But and there are always buts - I'm only allowed one website so any website can only be created from what's held on my PC. These files may/may not be complete or accurate.

For users the current website will disappear but (hopefully) only for an hour or two whilst I test the new website. The blogs are not affected and I'll update them before and after any changeover. This should be in the next few days. When I'm fully satisfied I'll ask Lisa to update the link.

Easy Riders - Lynda's ride on 23rd April

We went from Shepperton to West Molesey then onto Hampton Court.  Into Bushy Park along by the playground and skateboarding side.  Over Kingston bridge and to Old Malden, where we had lunch at Woodies.  Afternoon tea was at Ewell Court Park. 

Lynda B.

May/June Rides

Due to the continuing incompetence of Virgin Media, I'm unable to update the website so this will have to do!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

B Group - 23rd April

Our leader - Gill
Whether it was the after effects of Easter, the turn-up at Shepperton seemed smaller than usual.  Certainly there were fewer B riders and it was a comfortable group of 18 that set off, heading to Old Windsor for lunch at The Fox & Castle pub.  Our route was out around Chertsey, over the M25 to Lyne and so to Virginia Water.  The entrance to the Lake is now through the Car Park and the new Visitor Centre.  Despite the cloudy conditions there were a fair number of people, with and without dogs or pushchairs, walking round the Lake.  At the far end we continued into Windsor Great Park and up Heartbreak Hill, the long hill leading up to the Guards Polo Club.  The beautiful splashes of colour from the azaleas and rhododendrons made this the most attractive part of the ride.  We left the Park at Savill Gardens, coming out on to Wick Lane.  The last lap to lunch was then a fast trip down Crimp Hill almost to the door of the pub.

Lunch was handled very efficiently, with people reporting how good their meals had been.  We ate indoors due to the rather chilly conditions outside and our trip after lunch to the tea place, Squires at Shepperton, was accompanied by odd spots of rain which fortunately did not become any worse.  Our afternoon route was pretty much the standard route of Runnymede, Egham, Staines, the towpath to Laleham, then Shepperton.  There were 16 of us at tea and as the last were about to leave, who should arrive but members of A Group!  Thanks go to Tim for acting as Back-marker.

Gill Finlay

15.5 miles to The Fox and Castle, 10.1 miles to Tea at Squires

A Group 23rd April

Dave made a silk purse out of a sow's ear today, giving us an enjoyable ride in what is normally an unpromising part of the country.  45 miles from elevenses at the Greeno Centre via lunch at the excellent Bell in Waltham St Lawrence to tea at Squires, Shepperton.  Rolling average 13.3 mph, but not much in the way of hills.

Pace and mileage are well up this Spring.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Easy Riders - 16th April 2014

Blue skies and sunshine, but still a bit chilly, and a new elevenses venue for the Easy Riders - the Bike Beans cycle café in Ashtead.  I have visited the café  several times before so I was pleased to be leading a run from there.

Arriving just before eleven I found several Easy Riders already there enjoying refreshments, and more arrived in ones and twos, including Mark on his electric bike. By the time I thought we should be moving off,  just before 11.30 there there were about a dozen of us.  We headed off for the level crossing at Ashtead station and then on to Ashtead Common.  Our route took us through the woods and across the common to The Wells, then via Epsom Common to Stamford Green and The Cricketers Inn, a short but pleasant ride.  Here a number of our group bade us farewell to to hurry home, leaving  four of us to take food and drink in the pub and the three sandwich eaters to find a bench in the sun and watch the ducklings on the pond.   Ron kindly offered to lead the now small group back towards Ewell by a “pretty way”,  for tea or home as they wished.  Yours truly headed across the south side of the common and home via Leatherhead, Fetcham and Bookham.  I clocked up only 16 miles door to door,  no doubt the rest of the group will have recorded many more miles,  I expect Ron’s usual map will show just how many.

Mike Withers

Easy Riders - map for Mike's ride on 16th April

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

B Ride Wednesday 16 April 2014

Our leader ...

... decided that we needed more edification, so look where he took us!

B Group - 16th April (maps)

Maps of Peter Tiller's sunny ride to Rusper

A Group, 16th April


Sunny smiles at the Sun Inn Dunsfold

A Group 16th April

A lovely sunny day, bright and a perfect temperature for riding.  Fifteen of us set out from Henfold, heading for The Sun, which is a pub in Dunsfold.  Out of our normal riding area again, through some old favourites resplendent with bluebells and on to the west in very pleasant lanes.

Lunch at The Sun went well - we sat outside, and, after a slight delay, our food was all served at more or less the same time and we were ready to leave a little before two o'clock.  Jeff took the customary photo and then set off to meet domestic obligations, and Ged made his way to Guildford, as he was riding himself back into form after his operation.

The afternoon's ride went less well, with a puncture, a mechanical and poor old Toni taking a tumble over a pot-hole. Mike kindly went off with him taking a direct route home.

We went up Winterfold and, gathering at the top, decided to re-shape my original route as time was marching on.  So up Combe Bottom,  John leaving us at Staples Lane to get home for a social engagement, then down Green Dene and on to Leatherhead for tea at Annies.  Here our run of misfortune continued - Annies was closed for refurbishment.

Wetherspoons to the rescue, where we had coffee and cake at surprisingly modest prices and a good chat to end the day.

That's cycling for you - a game of two halves.

40.2 miles elevenses to tea; rolling average 13.6 mph and 2,147 feet of climbing.  Not too bad ...


PS:  Geoff Gregory asks me to convey his thanks to those who assisted him.  He was able to get a train home from Gomshall.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Inside the Tour de France - 22nd June

Andy Bowskill has brought this event to my attention:


It looks good and I see that there are 20 places left.

Early start at 9:00 am for Henfold Lakes

For tomorrow's ride from Henfold Lakes the departure time from North Cheam for A and B Group riders will be 09:00 am.

This has been advertised in the Sou'Wester but inadvertently not mentioned in our online rides schedule, on this web site.

- Tim

Monday, April 14, 2014

Paris Roubaix - Riding the Route

This ride was another of my discoveries, which mostly consist of my noticing what everyone else has known for ages.  I this case, I noticed that it was possible to ride the course of most of the Classics on the day before the race.  It's very popular to do so, and I expect that it helps the organisers to test their systems before the great day.

Anyway, I chose to ride Paris-Roubaix this year,  one of the great classics which was first run in 1896 and is famous for its long cobbled sections.  It's a hard ride.

For logistics, I chose Sports Tours International, who did a London pick-up, hotel arrangements and ride entries, coupled with viewing the pro race from several points on the following day.  It's a good package, and I thought the price was very reasonable.

Arenberg Trench

The day dawned foggy, which may have contributed to the subsequent cock-up with busses (one got lost, and it was carrying some of the timing chips).  As a result of this it became apparent that I, and a number of others, were not going to be able to get to our start point in time.  Pragmatism ruled, and those of us affected started at a place called Solesmes, which meant that I missed four cobbled sections and did 140 kms rather than the 170 kms of the full ride.  This actually made little difference to me as I was still able to ride 24 other cobbled sections, over 40 kms in all, including all of the famous ones.  Not a problem.

So, off up the road and on to the first cobbles at Haussy.  Three stars (out of five) and as good an introduction as any.  The way to do it, as everyone knows, is to pull a high gear, keep a loose grip on the tops and let the bike kick.  That's the way to do it all right, but when the bike hits the first strip with a bang and seems to jump into the air it takes a little while to get into the groove.  The cobbled sections differ greatly, but the important thing to note is that none of them is as smooth as Guildford High Street and they're all longer - some much longer.

After a few miles I was beginning to get the hang of it - it's rough, tough stuff and very dirty in the dust.  Relaxing was the key - a Vulcan Death Grip gets you no-where, and if you're not careful you can quickly get very tired.  So steady as she goes, but, paradoxically, speed is your friend.  If you can get the bike skipping over the cobbles it smooths out a bit.  By the time I got to the Arenberg Trench I could do it, which is just as well as it's a long, hard section.  By this time I was quite adept at spotting what the cobbles would be like.  If there were lots of camper-vans pulled up, staking out their places for Sunday's race, then it was going to be hard.  Once you started, if there were lots of bidons and loose bits of bike lying around, then it was going to be hard and rough.  Most of them were.

Carrefour de l'Arbre

By the time I had got to the Carrefour de l'Arbre, the last of the hard sections and about 110 kms of riding for me, I was pretty tired, and it was evident that others were, too.  I had seen a number of crashes, mostly due to momentary inattention I suspect.  On the rough stuff you really have to concentrate or a rogue cobble will have you off.  Punctures were becoming more and more frequent - once you've had one it's hard to get the tyre up to pressure with a mini pump, so another tends to be not far behind.  I saw some broken wheels, and a broken (steel) fork, which had led to a nasty tumble. But mostly the bikes - especially modern, light-weight ones, stood up to it well.  It's the riders that were the weak link.

Roubaix Velodrome

Coming in to Roubaix I chummed up with a Dutch rider who seemed to know the ropes.  We rode into town at pace, jumping red lights and bunny-hopping on to pavements until the last piece of easy-peasy cobbles.  (I later found that some of my English companions had been stopped by the Police for much less - I guess that local knowledge helps in these matters.)  Anyway, into the Velodrome, round the track and it was medal time, followed by a welcome packed lunch at the Sports Tours tent.

The bike was filthy, I was filthy, but we were both happy.  I took my old Boardman cyclo-cross bike and, as ever, it was completely trouble free.  Changes I had made, on advice, were to fit 30 mm tyres which I ran at 80 psi, and I changed the bottle cages for stainless steel ones.  No punctures and I kept my bottles all the way.

It was a great ride, and the race the next day was great too.  But that, as they say, is another story.

I'm already thinking about next year ...


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Group, 9th April 2014

Effingham - Loxwood - W Horsley

Leader Brian
Badger Oley Moley stop at Loxwood
Hascombe Fountain
Culture stop at Hascombe on the way to tea.
There were also some fourteen phantom cyclists, denied visibility by the whims of network technology.

A Group - 9th April

An Effingham start provides the temptation the go a little further south or west than normal but such plans are always at the mercy of the gremlins. Today didn't start well with the numbers and speed of delivery at the Vineries resulting in a very late departure. Fortunately though the weather excelled itself,  the puncture fairy stayed at home and the good lunchtime pub service partly made up for elevenses so my plan held together.

From Effingham thirteen of us took the well worn route up Green Dene, down to Shere and then through Little London to Farley Green. A steady climb up Shophouse Lane was followed by a glorious but sometimes rough descent to Smithwood Common. At Cranleigh we headed south on Knowle Lane, across the A281 to Tismans Common and on to Loxwood where we sat in the sunshine by the Wey and Arun canal at the Onslow Arms, joined by Geoffrey who had arrived independently.

We left heading south (!) and soon west (!!) but after Plaistow sanity was restored and the route took us north to Dunsfold, Hascombe and then down Thorncombe Street to Bramley. A few made their own way after Guildford but eleven stopped for tea at West Horsley a little later than I had planned.

Easy Riders - 9th April

As I led part way on the tow path going to Walton Day Centre I decided to go by road for our ride to lunch.  We took the Walton road and turned right at the roundabout to Molesey.  Before we got to the main shopping area I noticed the new venue for 11s at Molesey.  Its quite a way from the School Road venue, so glad we passed it before attempting to find it in future.  We went over Hampton Court bridge and through Bushy Park.  Turned left, down Teddington High Street, for lunch at Tide End Cottage.  The last couple of weeks, I have found it quite amusing to see Mark R up in the group, with his new electric bike.  Last week, when we went through Blackhills to Arbrook Common, Mark wanted to try his bike up hill, so turned left to go up to the traffic lights.  He was waiting for us on the corner of Claygate! 

After lunch, we went to Hampton Wick, where Cliff and Les went towards Kingston to go home; and John C., Sandy and myself went into Bushy Park, passing the skateboard play area, Hampton Court, Long Ditton to Ewell.  John went home; Sandy and I had drinks outside a new coffee shop in Ewell before going through Nonsuch Park and home.

- Lynda

[ Sadly the GPS bearer, Ron, had a puncture on the way to Walton and due to technical problems removing the rear wheel from his bike and getting it back on he was unable to gather the GPS data for the usual route map.]

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

"B" Group Photo Wed 9 April

OK guy's and gal's great to be out with the "B" group today and join Helene on her inaugural leaders ride, she did a great job! I had intended to go with Brian on the "A" ride but while at Vineries I got a call from "Revs" in Horsham to say my MG was ready for collection so shot off before Lunch at Brockham to collect my car. En-route I took a photo of the blue bells near Rusper. Racing back to lunch I managed to get a group photo for the Blog and by no stretch of the imagination it was a good turn-out! According to Vic the food was ample and very good value! Pity I missed it!

B Group - 9th April

For her début as a leader of the B Group Helene led us on a most enjoyable ride through the sunny countryside with 16.4 miles to Brockham in the morning and 8.6 miles to Tea in Ashtead. We hope that she enjoyed the experience enough to want to lead us again.

Earlier a group of us took Mark's scenic route from North Cheam to the Vineries. This was also a pleasure, being for many of us the first time in ages since we had ridden the boundary track along the tops of Epsom and Ashtead Commons.

A Group - 9th April

It's Spring, and Brian led us on an entertaining ride to Loxwood, a part we rarely visit.  Quiet lanes, good views and lunch al fresco.

43.7 miles elevenses to tea at a brisk 12.8mph.  Very creditable for an early season run.


Friday, April 04, 2014

Ride to Effingham Vineries GC on April 9th: 9:15 start

If no-one else is intending to, I will lead anyone wanting to be led from North Cheam to the Effingham Vineries Garden Centre. To give our first-time leader of the B Group, Helene, a fighting chance of leaving elevenses soon after 11:00 I would like to depart at 09:15.

Since my GPS is playing up and as I am not totally familiar with the back route through Ewell and Epsom I would be glad of support on the day from anyone with the necessary local knowledge.

- Tim

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Wayfarers Wednesday 2 April 2014

Our leader ...

... took us to ...

... in Shalford. This is most of us.

A Group, 2nd April

At the Sussex Oak Warnham
Great oaks from little acorns grow