Saturday, May 30, 2020

iFrom the CUK website


There is no limit on duration or frequency of exercise; however official advice remains that you should stay at home 'as much as possible'.
You can travel any distance in order to exercise.
On Thursday 28 May, Boris Johnson, announced that from Monday 1 June in England up to six people will be allowed to meet outside, provided those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.
Government guidance published on Friday, 29 May has not yet reflected this change, maintaining that for the purposes of exercise you are still allowed to meet with only one person who is not a member of your household, provided social distancing is maintained.
Cycling UK will continue to monitor developments and currently advises that in England exercise is only taken alone, with members of your household or with one person who is not a member of your household, provided social distancing is maintained.

CUK website


Tony and Grant go for a mini-B ride

Grant and I set off on another fine day heading to Virginia Water via Addlestone. We stopped for lunch at a Patisserie called Wentworth on Station Approach in Virginia Water. There was a good selection of hot and cold food and drinks.

On to Windsor Great Park but no facilities open there (as I suspected). We found the park very crowded, but we enjoyed the show of Rhododendrons which were spectacular! Leaving the Park at Saville Gardens we carried on to Shepperton Lock via Staines.

The River was busy with boats sailing through the lock again after all this time, but the Shepperton Lock café was still closed.

Thanks to Grant for his company

~ Tony

[Committee member Jennie Jackson has reported that the toilets at the lock are open from 8am to 3pm. We need to verify whether the 20p charge for using them still applies. ~ Tim]

In search of more Blue Plaques

I thought I would find some plaques. The first one is almost on my doorstep. From home, round the green and there we are. The plaque is to Bill Bedford, chief test pilot on the Hawker Harrier. Wikipedia says that the Harrier was the first operational ground attack and reconnaissance aircraft with vertical/short take off and landing. I knew Bill, a very pleasant and interesting man. His house used to be a pub.

Through Hersham into West Grove to the house previously lived in by Herbert Hoover. In 1902, he became President of the USA in 1929. A diversion to the Tennis Club to chat to the ladies - well, why not!

Into the back streets of Walton On Thames to Manor Road, quite near Walton Day Centre, to the house lived in by Sir Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame - now which way round was it? Did Sullivan write the words or the music?

On to the towpath - quite busy - to Hampton Court, to Sir Christopher Wren's house, which is across the road from the Hampton Court Palace. Back over Hampton Court Bridge into Bridge Road, then Ember Lane to view Terence Cuneo's plaque. He was a prolific painter.

15.78 miles according to Strava. A pleasant ride in the warm weather.

~ Don

Partial lifting of restricted access to Richmond Park

See this latest news on the Royal Parks website:

In particular check the map to see which routes are permitted and which are not and note that the permitted times are primarily for the benefit of commuters. The park is still closed to us between 10am and 4pm but still allows us plenty of time to go for a ride if we don't mind sharing the roads with the commuters.

As before, the restrictions don't apply to key workers or to children aged 12 or under and their immediate families.

~ Tim

Friday, May 29, 2020

Old haunts revisited

My Wednesday ride was to Walliswood. Out through Effingham and up Green Dene for the first time since lockdown ( more on this below). Then through Shere to Peaslake where I had a(n instant) coffee from the village shop.

Note the social distancing banner on the fence.

Onwards to Ewhurst and Walliswood where the Scarlett Arms ( an internally very distancing challenged pub I would think) was looking spendid in the sunshine.

From here I returned up Weare Street passing the geese at the pond ...
and on to Newdigate and Pixham to home.

Most readers will realise that I have typically been riding the Tricross during lockdown. The logic being primarily that it was very robust and with Marathon Supreme tyres less likely to puncture. The secondary reason was to put more effort into the miles I was riding to keep fit with fewer miles on a heavier bike. The only time I've enjoyed spinning was in a gym on the 32nd floor of a Tokyo hotel with a view of Mt Fuji.

So has it worked? Well although the Tricross felt quite leaden at first, recent rides have been reasonably quick, at least on the flat. So I thought it would be interesting to see how the Yukon felt on this ride. I'm not into Strava and PBs but do have a few routes where I have a good idea of whether my performannce is better or worse than normal and one of these is past the Vineries and up Green Dene. From home to the summit at Staple Lane is 10.3 miles (16.6km) with a net 130m of ascent ( about -70/+200). I can often get to the top in 46-48 minutes from home but 45 has always eluded me. There was no wind so a good day for comparison. The Vineries was passed in good time and I got to the A246 at the top of Dirtham Lane in 30 minutes for 7 miles without trying hard. So then I did put in a bit more effort while saving enough for a summit sprint and reached the junction with Staple Lane with 7 seconds to spare.

More satisfying than scientific but I was very happy with the result and the the Tricross will continue to get its fair share of training rides at least until we are back into longer club rides.

PS: I did see Mike Withers on his bike in Effingham but didn't stop for a chat this time. I'm sure he didn't see me.

On the Beaten Track

Revisiting Princes Coverts and Esher Common

After the dry spring, the tracks are not only beaten but baked too; an ideal time for off-road riding if you don't like a lot of mud.  Although dust is a problem.   I'm discovering there is a whole network of routes that were previously invisible to me, and they're joyous to ride, if not fast.

Princes Coverts
I decided to re-visit Princes Coverts and devised a route including a fair bit of off-road, starting properly at Hook with a voyage along the Hogsmill River.   Turning right in West Ewell, I found a cycle route through Manor Park to Ashtead Common, which took me to The Star on the A243 Kingston-Leatherhead road.   Straight across and I was on a sort of unsurfaced road/track, taking me up to Princes Coverts.   Rather than sticking to the main cycle route, which is fairly wide and has a reasonable surface, I turned off into some of the little tunnel-paths through the woods, sometimes narrow, sometimes widening to leafy glades.   The surface was generally poor: the surface had been formed by horses' hooves and there was the odd log across the track to contend with, but I was most definitely communing with nature!
Also Princes Coverts
Emerging on the Malden Rushett road, I crossed into the amusingly named "New Road", the often-muddy track that leads to Claygate.  Only I didn't go that far, turning left before the A3 crossing to explore the very extensive Esher Common and West End common again, before returning to tarmac.  

I was a bit surprised to find that the "off-road" section was only 12.5 miles of a thirty mile ride, but it was by far the most memorable part.  And there are still plenty of unexplored routes to tempt me back.  Highly recommended.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Up on the Downs

Following my (and Vic's) preferred route to Ranmore ie up past Westhumble Chapel ruins I soon had this view of Denbies and Boxhill to stop and admire.
Denbies and Boxhill
This track leads to Ranmore (car park packed) under this Lovelace bridge (one of ten in the area) on the way to Green Dene.
Lovelace bridge

Arriving at the Combe Lane /Staple Lane junction I opted for the level, quiet track that led to Newlands Corner. Here the car park was packed (as were the rubbish bins) but I found an isolated seat with an interesting plaque on it plus a wonderful view.
Plaque on 'my' seat

Looking south from Newlands Corner
After descending on the A25 I turned right towards Albury but soon turned left and headed for Burrows Cross, just missing a train at the level crossing. For a change I decided to follow route 22 under the railway bridge but the gate was locked at the far end. Gomshall was next on my route and these fearsome creatures were to be seen opposite The Purple Penguin aka Lavender Goose (where takeaway cakes can be obtained).
Joothinktheysaurus ?
A little further on the A25 (not too bad) and I arrived at Abinger Hammer (takeaways available at the shop) for a brief stop to photograph the Abinger Hammerites enjoying the facilities.
Notice the spelling error ?

Almost on the home stretch now, down Coast Hill, just before the bottom left into Balchins Lane and pass the home of Westcott Willow Weavers.
Westcott Willow Weavers

Back on the lanes now and the end of a very pleasant morning, roads not too busy, weather warm but not too hot although much of the ride was in the shade.

A Ride on the Ridgeway

I've been wanting to do this ride for years, but have never quite got round to it.  Today, taking advantage of a lovely day and the light traffic of the fag-end of the lockdown, I got up early and drove down to Chisledon, a little village near Swindon.

Just outside Chisledon the Marlborough-Swindon cycleway and the NCN 45 intersect, and there's a small car-park.  In better times there's a cafe too, but it wasn't open today.

The NCN 45 takes you up on to the Ridgeway, and I guessed that the surface would be at least OK, and not a mountain-bike track.  This turned out to be right, and, although some of the riding was technically difficult, it mostly wasn't and was well within the bounds of a gravel bike.

Riding along the top I met a farmer's very cheerful dog, and then the farmer himself.  We exchanged a couple of words; I got the impression that he was a bit fed up with his dog, who seemed neither obedient nor hard-working.  Can't have everything; it was a very cheerful dog.

On to Hackpen Hill, where I had stopped briefly on  my Coast to Coast ride in February.  How different things are now.

The next few miles were a bit tricky, then there was a long, chalky descent to Avebury.

Avebury is a lovely little village, with many swifts or swallows flitting amongst the thatched cottages.  Numerous signs from the National Trust thanking me for my understanding, but the gate to the stones was open, so in I went.  No one around, indeed, I saw no one in the entire village.

Back on the road, now, West Kennet, East Kennet and on to Marlborough.  Very pretty villages and countryside.  At Marlborough, I picked up the cycleway back towards Swindon and was back at the car by about ten.

There's quite a bit more Ridgeway and it would make a good day out.  Pleasant scenery and lots of history.  If one of the pleasing-looking pubs was open, then the day would be made.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Tanhouse Farm Van

Maggie and I called at Tanhouse Farm today.  There is now a van in the field that used to be the car-park, serving most of the normal Tanhouse Farm food, cake and coffee.  You can sit in the field to eat it, but you still can't use the toilets.  There were about half a dozen cyclists taking a break when we were there, but there is room in the field for a large number.

Should be popular at the weekend.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Coming Out of Lockdown 2

At risk of tearing you away from Simon's bridges quiz below...........

And just when you might think we were getting things sorted...........

You may be aware of discussions about what is a safe distance to ride behind another cyclist, and the we have previously suggested a minimum of 10 metres. CUK have published on their website details of academic research which suggests 20m might be required. The research was conducted in a wind tunnel, so is not really reflective of road conditions (other than perhaps a quiet country lane on a windless day in summer?) and refers to riding at speeds of 18mph which a bit higher than our average, but should be taken seriously.

This does not yet appear to be formal CUK advice, but clearly they consider we should be aware and exercise caution when following another cyclist. If you want to read more see here

Monday, May 25, 2020

A game of Bridge

Following the tremendous lack of response to my previous attempt to bring a little joy into your lockdown lives, I must be either extremely determined, or very insensitive, to try again. Here's my second attempt.

You will like this.   Pictures of bridges.   You have cycled over, or under, most of them many times.   Which do you recognise?    Write down your answers*, and I'll publish the answers in about a week.   Probably.


















* clarification for Neil: write down the names of the bridges, not just "yes, I recognise this one".


1. Staines,  2. M3 Chertsey,  3. Walton,  4. Hammersmith,  5. Putney,  6. Tower,  7. Clifton Suspension,  8. Chertsey,  9. Forth Rail bridge,  10. Teddington Lock,  11. Twickenham,  12. Kew,  13. Richmond Lock,  14. Chiswick,  15. Golden Gate,  16. Richmond,  17. Sydney Harbour,  18. Kingston.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

New High German Quality Bike Stand from Liddl

Lidl on price high on quality. Today I bought a bike stand for £24.99. In fact I bought 3, one for me and two for friends. See pics below with my MTB in place ready for service. Great value!

Taken in my back garden. I also bought a high quality breathable short sleeve cycling top and high pressure cycle pump with built in pressure gauge. Plenty left in stock this morning!
Why should I support Germany because I have to say they are good on quality and Lidl on price!

I can now dump my old bike rack which is available for free!