Annual General Meeting

WSCTC’s AGM will take place on Saturday 21st October at 9.30am – please note the earlier start time owing to a prior booking at 12 noon. Arrive any time after 9am for complimentary tea or coffee at the Jack Phillips (Wetherspoons) in Godalming High Street. Ample parking in the Crown Court Car Park, GU7 1DY, to the rear of the pub.

Sunday All-Day Intermediates Ride to Bosham

Sunday 24th September turned out to be a glorious day for a bike ride. And where better to head for than the coast! So off we set from Petersfield – that is Derek and Anne, David and Helen, Angela, Peter, Roger and your scribe, along with course creator and ride leader Hilary.

It’s always good to get away from one’s home area and it seems to me that groups are doing ‘train assisted’ rides more often these days. Personally I hope it’s a taste of more to come.

Hilary found some beautiful lanes to get us to coffee at Stansted House, which is a delightful place to stop for refreshments, after which the route flattened out as we continued south. It wasn’t long before we reached Bosham to find that the tide was out, allowing us to ride round the shore road. It was all highly photogenic ….

We still had about an hour to go to lunch, and Hilary had organised lunch at Houghton, where the Hare and Hounds was serving mildly-gastro-oriented pub grub at near gastro pub prices. The food was well presented, quickly served and plentiful so it gets the nod from us. Roger very kindly treated us to drinks so we could toast his birthday one day ahead: Happy Birthday, Roger and thanks for the drink – the beer had much more flavour than the lamb.

I’d seen a signpost saying Petersfield was about ten miles away, so it was with a certain degree of surprise that I saw another sign showing a similar mileage some while later, but no matter…. The sun had gone in and there were even a few drops of the wet stuff in the air, but Hilary’s return route was proving to be equally as enjoyable as the way out and I, for one, was sad that it was ever going to end.

But end it did of course, back at Petersfield, where some headed home by car, and the others on the train. Thanks, Hilary, for a great day out. (And thank you, Curly Hetchins, for giving me such a lovely ride – I should ride you more!)

Where we went is shown below; 50 miles almost with 750 metres of climbing. For a closer look at the route, you can click on this link:

The Club Ride “B” group that wasn’t

After 4 weeks the house is coming along well and some progress is being made on my workshop so I thought I would see what the local cycle club Sunday Club Ride was like. I emailed the contact and was told, “It’s the CX season with a race on the same day, so only a B group ride this week. You would be most welcome to join us. Flash 9:30 Welshpool.” Flash turned out to be the leisure centre. Sounds ok so I plotted a route to the start. Most of the routes are hilly but the A road between Newtown and Welshpool isn’t and shouldn’t be too busy on a Sunday morning.

At the allotted hour I set off on the luxo-cruiser thinking that I did not want to set high expectations by going on the grin machine. I also wanted a granny ring for the hills. On reaching the A road I was met by a police motorcycle outrider – an oversize load was coming through; should only be a 2 minute wait. I waited and in the distance saw a group of riders who could only be club members making the trek from Newtown to Welshpool – the ride start alternates between the two and club members gather at one to ride to the other. They too were held up by the load but soon enough we were on our way. Just ahead I saw a club jersey waiting at the side of the road so pulled into to introduce myself and check that everyone was heading to the same place. The following group soon caught up and in fact were going at great speed. The challenge was to get on the wheel. And then it was hell for leather for Welshpool – with speed somewhere between 20 and 25 miles per hour! I was later told that some riders just go for that blast and then go home.

At Welshpool about 15 riders turned up, all male, mainly on Giant bikes (local bike shop is a Giant franchise), all carbon and too many deep section wheels for my liking. It’s the “B” group – it should be ok. Straight out of Welshpool we hit the first climb. Just over 300ft in about 3.6 miles. I did not disgrace myself but arrived in the second half of the group. From then on the ride was a bit of a blur. This was no “B” group, this was a bunch of testosterone fuelled blokes out to outdo each other. On the flat (what passes for flat in this neck of the woods) speeds were over 20 miles an hour. On the down hills I could not keep up with anyone. One kind guy, thank you Paul, dropped back to give me a wheel to hang onto as we raced along the B road towards Shrewsbury. 15 bikes slightly strung out with me giving everything I’ve got to stay in touch. Brief respite as we regroup at Chirbury. They slow for a right turn where a car is coming out only to find it is a lone house – rather startled lady driver wondering why 15 lyrca clad men want to turn into her drive. On through Worthen before finally a right turn towards Minsterley. I have no idea what these places were like; never before have I had to sustain such a pace for so long – it hurts! Paul reassured me that this was unusual – Club Rides were not normally like this – but he did say to expect that on some sections some riders might go for Strava segments and there were a couple of places where the club seemed to have a switch – you reach the place, the switch is switched and everyone goes like a bat out of hell!

From Minsterley it is a lovely climb to Gravels, gentle gradient 700ft of climb over 5.2 miles. It’s an A road but no traffic. I got stuck behind the two slowest climbers for a bit but then made my way past them and for ever upwards. I have no idea how far ahead the rest of the group were but I just made my way up at my steady pace and enjoyed it as best as I could – though mutterings about a “B” group could be heard under my breath. Thankfully we regrouped at the top. The descent towards Bishop’s Castle was rather into the wind and although going at over 30mph and pedalling as fast as I could I was left standing. A very short but very steep climb out of Bishop’s Castle put us on a road which goes along one side of the Vale of Montgomery with a stunning view of the other – I had noted this road driving along it a week earlier thinking it would be spectacular to cycle it. It would be but I think this is one of the roads where the switched gets switched. Thankfully three guys held back and paced me along but even then keeping up took everything I had and little left for taking in the view.

Finally the cake stop…. must have been about noon, but I have no idea as I was too exhausted to do anything other than order a tea and the most calorie laden thing I could see. The banter round the table was about how individuals had done their turn on the front, how long, how fast and what happened when the next one took over. The relief provided they could hold the wheel of the over-taker and what happened if they could not. This was everything that I had feared about this club; a British Cycling affiliated club whose only interest is speed and competitiveness – not my scene at all. 54 miles at an average of 16.9 mph – explains everything!

Luckily the cake stop was about 2 miles from home and much of it uphill. I bade farewell and literally crawled home. If the road turned upwards at any angle however shallow I was reduced to the lowest gear possible.

There is a Wednesday ride – apparently it is more leisurely – and this Club Run was “highly unusual.” Do I believe them? They had better be right if I want to ride again with this group. Otherwise I am going to have to set up my own group!

Notes from the Far West

Julian Allen writes…..

After the best part of two weeks very hard work unpacking boxes, trying to get rooms sorted in our new house and thinking that the next contractor would turn up in the afternoon, I was encouraged to get out on my bike. So I did, only to get a phone call half an hour later saying that the TV aerial man had arrived. Cue a dash back home to find out why we had so many TV sockets, none of which appeared to work. The hill up to our house from the village centre is seriously steep but thankfully very short. Nevertheless I appeared at my own front door panting hard.

Today, being Sunday and missing the Sunday ride – thought about you – I set off up the hill from our house. That there is a single arrow on the map is but the merest hint of what is to come. Long and very steep with little respite. Despite a few weeks off the bike I did manage it, but what a brutal way to start a ride. Finally reaching the summit there was a good downhill in compensation but I knew that I wanted to reverse that particular road for the journey home.

Of the ride itself – to Welshpool – I would note that one could survive on two gears, one very low and one very high. The flat road – well there wasn’t much – but I could see that a third gear might have a use – until I turned into the wind. Forget the middle gear, not needed. In Welshpool I found a Tourist Information Centre where I was able to buy a CTC guide (and not CUK) on rides in the area. There are some really interesting looking rides that are very accessible from home and they note the food stops – I have a ride calendar!  In compensation for the hills, the views were glorious especially coming back to Montgomery, with the ruins of the castle sticking up from a sheer cliff face. Also of note was the state of the roads: firstly in very good repair and secondly the car drivers, or rather the lack of car drivers, even on a B road. The few that passed by were almost French in the courteousness towards a lone cyclist, moving right over into the other lane – well it was a dead straight Roman road with nothing oncoming.  Cycling here is going to be very hard but great fun.

The workshop is planned but not built, as other rooms have taken priority but I think it is now pretty high on the agenda as I shall have to review the gear ratios or get fitter or lose more weight or all three. I have found a local bike project but the throughput of bikes sounds very low – they have 2 needing work and one of these is just tyres, the other has a stuck seatpost so may not be fixable if it has cold welded itself to the frame. Good thing that I need to do some work on my bikes.

The key challenge with living in deepest darkest rural Wales is the broadband speed. It is frankly non-existent. It is an order of magnitude slower than the standard broadband speed which BT should be providing – and BT say they will achieve that for the whole country in the next 3 years (dream on!) Uploading photos is therefore a bit of a challenge, I tried and got: ” An error occurred in the upload. Please try again later”.  There is only one thing for it – carry on sorting out the house and then get on the bike.

Hope to see some of you soon up here – bring the mountain legs or an electric bike!