What a year and what a year ahead, not out of the woods by a long way but lets hope that those around us are safe.
I wish all the Wayfarers a Very Happy New Year, stay safe, look after yourselves and all you hold dear.
31 December – time for one more ride. It’s cold but it’s not snowing, and it’s not icy. I hadn’t yet done a report for my 30 December Wayfarer lead which (after a full co-leader recce with helpful suggestions) fell victim to T4 (or was it T3?) regulations.
Officially the start was Teddington, but to make things simpler for me as the sole rider, I started in Kingston. First the beautiful ride alongside the river towards Ham, with all manner of boats moored along the banks. I veered off the river heading to Ham Gate and across Richmond Park, not too busy at this hour. Exiting at Roehampton I made direct for the river approaching Putney and across the bridge.
First stop was Fulham Palace, home to the
Bishops of London for almost 1,000 years, but more importantly (at Christmas)
the place in Britain where the first turkey was eaten (about 1500). Closed of
course, but worth a quick visit today.
From here it’s a nice ride along the river
embankment past Hammersmith Bridge, now closed and looking almost a ruin. We
have ridden the embankment several times before and it’s always worth returning. Capability Brown was in his usual place, though now demoted to guarding the cycle racks.
Chiswick House café and loos are open, but it was too early to stop. To make for a faster ride I cut across the big river loop, direct to Kew, and then left the river for a meander through the picturesque back streets of old Brentford, pausing at the sadly empty Griffin pub next door to the old Brentford FC.
Syon Park was next, about halfway distance, where there is a nice open café, with benches outside; sadly, too cold to linger long. One day they may even have a loo.
After Isleworth, the massive Covid testing station at Twickenham Stadium was doing a brisk trade, not a good sign, as on previous recces there had been nobody other than bored security guards.
Kneller Hall, once home to the Army bandsmen was imposing but lifeless, soon to be sold, for redevelopment, I assume.
Here the pace could pick up, through Whitton to slip briefly into Cole Park, before Leitrim Park. From here there is a muddy and unsigned access to Hounslow Heath and the Cole River route to Heathrow. But today I was sticking to gravel paths of which there are plenty, heading to Hanworth Park.
Hanworth has a long history of connection with aviation manufacture, though it never had more than a grass runway and nothing much remains. Rather grandly named London Air Park in the 1930’s it attracted the Graf Zeppelin. Difficult to imagine now, but it must have been an amazing sight.
A pity it couldn’t have been a proper group ride, but maybe one day next year. Stay safe and Happy New Year all.
Today is the last official day of 2020 Wayfarer cycling, so time to review rides I should have done during the past year. Top of the list was Dave Bartholomew’s London Ride, scheduled for 18th March but cancelled as definitely High Risk.
Forecast today was cold but dry with a hint of sun. I confess this morning in the cold dark I was willing to postpone until spring 2021, but somehow I had persuaded Paul James that this ride was a Good Idea, so there was no going back.
Paul had already ridden 8 freezing miles by the time we met at Wimbledon Station, and bravely declined to offer of hot coffee in favour of an immediate start and a brisk ride up Victoria Drive to Tibbets Corner. However, all that warmth was lost on the descent to Putney Bridge. We picked up Dave’s route at Hammersmith Bridge, following its ingenious intricacies as far as Kensington Gardens. This part of the route would be familiar to anyone who has done the London Sightseer Audax.
On this section we passed by chance the house where my late Mum had lived during WW2 (she would have reached 101 years today) and had a sobering view of Grenfell Tower. Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park were busy but not uncomfortable, and we paused in Trafalgar Square, absent tourists, but now with a bit of sun to help the mood.
Strand, Fleet St, St Pauls and the City were near deserted, with almost no traffic to hamper progress. Either my brain or the Garmin did not cope well with the intricate route round Fenchurch St, but once spotted Tower Bridge is unmistakeable.
On London rides the current priority is (1) avoiding crowds (2) finding toilets and (3) finding a coffee stop without freezing in a queue. We were successful in finding Liverpool St Station whose near monastic calm precincts fulfilled all such needs.
In Borough Market there were crowds seemingly unaware there was a national emergency. Don’t stop, put your head down and pedal, which worked just fine until a near death experience with a reversing van reminded me that Covid was not the only hazard to avoid.
After, the ride was thankfully uneventful; the South Bank, normally teeming was closed and deserted. We passed Parliament Square unaware or what new “measures” were just then being announced for us to observe.
Officially Dave’s route ends at Wimbledon Windmill café, but that’s in my personal red zone of crowded places to avoid. It made more sense for Paul and me to part on Clapham Common which was not uncomfortably busy.
Arriving home I was relieved to hear that riding in pairs was still permissible, even though groups of 6 remain a distant goal.
Thanks to Paul for the company, and Dave for the route; highly recommended if you can find a quiet day. And wishing all Wayfarers a healthy and happy New Year
Like so many other things of late, the grand collection of annual Wayfarers subscriptions will be delayed. In the absence of an AGM, the committee has agreed to continue the reduced subscription rate of £1, allowing us to return some of our accumulated funds to our members.
We still plan to collect subscriptions for 2021 when it is allowed - perhaps we will wait till Spring. I'll make a further announcement at the time.
Meanwhile, I hope your Christmas went as well as possible, and I wish you all the very best of health, happiness, good company, and cycling for 2021.
Anyway, on Christmas Day, Ed got in touch and asked whether I would like to join him on his Boxing Day ride. He was doing a 100 mile loop from his home in Canary Wharf and would pass along the ridge near Titsey, which seemed a convenient place to meet.
It was, and was also the first indication of the difference in cycling styles from my generation to his. He sent me a link to a tracker, which would show his progress on my phone, and asked me to send him a text when I was in position, so that he would know where I was. It would come up on his display, apparently.
It worked well enough, a bit of finger trouble on my part where I rode down the road to meet him, but he was coming up another. We soon surfed over that one and set off at a steady pace.
Which was the next difference that I noticed. The pace was not so much steady, as metronomic. Ed's bike was equipped with a watt meter and he was wearing a heart rate monitor, and he rode at a pace which knew he could easily sustain over a long period. This was quite a decent pace - about 15.5 mph - but he never strained on the hills or worked too hard in headwinds. Just like Team Sky, really.
Anyway, round through Outwood, though Brockham, where the village store was open but the Reading Room shut, up Box Hill - Ryka's open but National Trust shut, and a very brief stop at the top for a feed (for Ed - I didn't bother. I had plenty on board.) and a photo.
Box Hill was like a madhouse. There were loads of bikes, all of the car-parks were full and there were people everywhere. Time to go time.
We parted at Headley - tea van open there - and I came home over Epsom Downs. I was able to have my bath and a lunch, and to watch his final miles on the tracker. 100 miles in 6:43, which would get him a CTC badge. My mileage was just under 50 miles, at 15.5 mph.
Funny that - but I was on an e-bike, of course.
Frank Cubis introduced us to the historic Ace Café on the North Circular as a destination in 2011, wit a second ride a couple of years later. I led a group using much of Frank’s route (especially the ingenious bits) in 2016.
It seemed timely to revisit the route, especially as us T4 folk are not encouraged to venture too far from home, and I needed to take advantage of that rare opportunity, a day without rain.
It’s a remarkably straightforward route from Richmond Park, crossing the river at Kew, where there are some much needed improvements for the cyclist. The most ingenious bit, which I owe to Frank is the cycle path under Western Avenue at Park Royal, then under the North Circular. I had intended to visit Wembley Stadium, which was on the original route, but the concourse with the superb views over London and the Bobby Moore statue is closed off, and the whole area a massive building site.
The Ace Café was as welcoming as I remember it, just without any people; only one other customer and one staff member organising takeaways, including Full English Breakfast. They had obviously spent a lot of effort on the Christmas decorations before they were told to stay closed, which is a great pity. Still I enjoyed a coffee and snack sitting on a wall in the car park, and by now the sun was out.
Return was another almost straight line with a little dodging around the railway lines at Old Oak Common. The original route used Hammersmith Bridge, now apparently so frail that it can’t even bear the weight of a single cyclist. My alternative was to take the scenic river path to Putney Bridge. Only 35 miles door to door, but a relaxed way to spend a few hours on almost the shortest day.
If anyone would like to use the route, please let me know - d..email@example.com
In any event I wish everyone a Happy Christmas, and a healthy and more settled New Year.
To all Wayfarers, its been a long time since being able to ride with you, the Virus has made me change my plans as I am sure many of you have had to do the same.
I hope in the months ahead I might see you on the road staying fit and safe.
A Very Happy Christmas and New Year, stay safe and enjoy the company that you are able to be with.
How far did you go in the year of covid lockdown 2020?
The time is fast approaching when you will be invited to submit your mileage totals for the past year. This may not be top of your immediate priority list, but like all good Girl Guides and Boy Scouts: Be Prepared.
This is what I said last year.
However, having filled this gap between Xmas and the New Year for too long, the time has come for someone more in touch with the membership to take on this cherished and dearly coveted privilege. The Committee has decreed, I understand, that the mantle should now rest on the shoulders of our dear Secretary: Tim Court, who can never resist a challenge. He must learn how to say:No! Perhaps he will delegate!
No doubt, he will soon be inviting you to submit your historically Covid reduced mileages from Jan to Dec 2020. Even with the restrictions of Tier 4, you may be tempted to go that extra mile before midnight on December 31.
Just to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a better New Year than the one we've just had. Since I contacted you not so long ago we've moved from lockdown "light" to full lockdown and we have recently become the worst affected area in Germany. That said we can all still go for bike rides within a 15 km radius from our house, so it's now mostly off-road mountain biking for us. But it will be a quiet Christmas and I guess for you as well. Let's hope for a positive turnaround next year.
Please give my best wishes to all who may know me, and being optimistic, hopefully we can all meet up in Dieppe next year.
Tony, Annett, Alec and Ernestine
When Brian hasn't been perched on his turbo trainer he has been perched in front of his easel and quite recently, working from blog and competition photos, he has been rendering images of club members in his own style. This is a work in progress but to fend off club members who were wondering where his annual Christmas Card got to he would like to share the fruits of his labour with you all and to wish you a Merry Christmas. Can you see yourself here?
The inevitable has happened! Wayfarers rides are stopped again. Tier 4 restrictions now imposed means we can no longer ride as a cycling group. The Wayfarers Ride Programme is therefore suspended until further notice.
Further details of the Covid-19 Tier 4 Regulations are awaited, but it seems that you can exercise without restriction by yourself - or with someone else from Tier 4 so long as you stay in Tier 4. (It's a big area so don't get lost!). Christmas cycling together is going to be a big disappointment to you all.
We'll be glad to see the back of 2020. What is there to look forward to in the Rides Programme 2021? The Annual Lunch and Hilly 50 in March - unlikely! The curtailed - and real AGM in May - maybe? The Dieppe Raid in June - hopeful! But we have to be optimistic that once vaccinated we'll ride again.
Happy New Year!
Earlier this week I watched a local Arts Society presentation about various "treasures" of the Mole Valley. Two were in Charlwood and yet I don't ever remember a ride detouring to see them. So this morning after the rain I headed off to find them.
The first is the local lockup - dating from 1792. No frills but I imagine the average occupant would have sobered up by the morning.
The other is rather more impressive. In 1797 during the Napoleonic wars a guard room was built for troops stationed at Horsham. In 1816 it was moved to Charlwood to become an Independent Calvinistic Chapel ( no fun there then). It was at some point renamed the Providence Chapel and continued in use for nearly 200 years though the congregation dwindled in the 20th century and the last member became disabled in 2012. Although put up for sale it was saved by a trust which restored it with a lottery grant. In normal times it hosts occasional events and was open on the Heritage Days in September.
Perhaps unsurprisingly it is at the end of Chapel Road!
Happy Christmas to all. Lets hope for a better 2021!