WMW’s Wey and Thames Towpath Ride

Laurie gives the group briefing

August is being a bit funny this year, weatherwise, and today was a typical example of the sort of muggy dull days we’ve been getting recently. (My photos also seem to get a bit fuzzy too so apologies for this.) Fortunately, there’s usually a bit of fine weather thrown in at some point each day, and in the case of today, it came at around lunchtime, so we enjoyed at least half of our ride today in pleasant sunshine.

This was our annual jaunt up the towpath of the Wey Navigation to Weybridge, where the Thames is reached, and which we then pedal along all the way to Richmond. An eatery is then found – usually expensive in this part of the world – after which we return, taking a slight shortcut through Bushey Park, back to where we started. It’s a great ride and somewhat different from our usual offerings in that we have the chance to dust off our off-road machines (if we have one) and ride on dirt for much of the day. The dirt, of course, isn’t particularly dirty – it’s just towpaths along the side of our local rivers, but it makes for a very pleasant day’s riding. As such, a good number of people gathered outside the Black Prince in New Haw / Woodham, since all three groups follow much the same route.

To ease congestion we set off in our respective groups. There were quite a few people walking dogs and cycling with their children in tow but I don’t think we incurred the wrath of anyone, mainly because we’re a sensible group of riders who say ‘good morning’ and ‘thank you’ as we pass other people; it’s so worthwhile being courteous and smiley.

Paul with his new bike

Your scribe rode with the 2s today and enjoyed a relatively leisurely ride downriver. We enjoyed the usual coffee stop by Walton Bridge before continuing to Kingston where we headed cross country to Ham and thence to Richmond Park where we encountered our one and only hill of the day, as we cycled from Ham Gate to Richmond Gate. A minor route error was soon corrected and shortly afterwards we reached Terrace Gardens and the Hollyhock Cafe, a vegetarian / vegan restaurant, chosen by our group leader, Roger. Great choice, Roger! We all loved the food and what a perfect setting!

We reach the Thames

Hampton Court

The Hollyhock Cafe

We headed back by crossing the Thames at Teddington Lock, where we passed the usual watering hole of The Anglers PH before pedalling up Teddington High Street and turning right shortly after into Bushey Park. We were enjoying a pleasant ride through this delightfully peaceful place before being caught up by the noisy group 3s and 4s, who proceeded to carve a slice through our well ordered group. By the time we reached the river at Hampton Court Bridge we were all over the place and then it was every man for himself (ditto with the ladies). Rumours were spread that the ice cream was running out at the Walton Cafe, so it was full speed ahead and devil take the hindmost to get the last of them. Of course it was a complete load of me-eye and anyone who wanted one enjoyed a good suck on a lolly of their choice, or enjoyed a more traditional cuppa before the final five or so miles back to Woodham.

Crossing the Thames at Teddington

Tbe 3s and 4s attempt to overtake us – and succeed!

Enjoying a quiet ride through Bushey Park

We all got a bit split up, the end result of which was that, of course, Susan and I got mildly lost by not heading up the Basingstoke Canal where it splits off from the Wey, but that was soon put right and we were back at the Black Price by about four something, having enjoyed a very pleasant day in good company.

I really must ride more of these canals – they’re so enjoyable to ride. Thanks to the leaders and everyone for their company. A great day!

Heron sighted

Woking Midweek Wayfarers Group 4 Ride ~ 7 June 2017

Those chasing dreams rode all the way from home to the south coast and back, and well done to them – a good 100 miles probably. And not without problems either: Don broke a spoke but was saved by  Petersfield Cycleworks who sold him a new wheel – and still he, William, Martin and Matt arrived before the train-assisted bunch (yours truly included) made it to coffee at Stansted House.

This is a ride eagerly anticipated by many each year. Why, you may ask? The answer is easy: we all love the Bosham Ferry crossing. And it wasn’t long before we reached it.

We weren’t entirely sure how much spray might land on our bikes during the short crossing, since it was really quite windy, but there was no need to worry – it wasn’t that bad. As you can see, it was a glorious day, if a little chilly in exposed places.

On the other side we set off again, with John Murdoch choosing an excellent route as ever. It’s nice and flat round here and we were lucky to have the wind behind us for most of the ride. After riding through Birdham Pool we soon arrived at our lunch stop, the Crown and Anchor at Dell Quay, where we enjoyed crab sandwiches and other delectables.

View from the bar

Getting to Dell Quay from Birdham Pool


… or maybe waiting for it!

We followed the delightful Centurion Way northwards until we could go no further – unsafe tunnel, so we came off it and back on to roads, at which point the group split, some heading for Petersfield and their cars, whilst others headed homewards intent on cycling all the way. These were those who had cycled down plus one – me!

The tailwind greatly enhanced our journey homewards through Singleton, Cocking, Selham, Lodsworth, Lickfold, Wormley, Hambledon (and a welcome cuppa at the shop) after which we went our separate ways. It was a great day, all in all, and how fortunate we were to enjoy excellent weather following two days when you just wouldn’t have wanted to go riding.

Below are a few shots taken on the ride home, followed by a map showing my ride.

A reviving cuppa at the Hambledon Village Shop

To view the route in detail, please click on this link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1025387614

SADR Ride on 26 March 2017

This was a right old ‘suffer-fest’ for me: I mean, 89 miles and it’s still only March, not to mention only my third ride of the year! Paddy and Chris – sorry no photos – sensibly headed home after coffee, but that would still have been about 60 miles. Good to see Dane at coffee too, which was at a café in Alresford. We – that is Clive, Dave, Keith and yours truly then headed south east to cross the South Downs bound for lunch at Rowlands Castle.

Clive deserves a medal for ensuring that the journey home – he peeled off at Liphook of course – was as flat as it could be, and to Dave and Keith for their excellent company; if it wasn’t for them I think I’d still be lying in a ditch somewhere along the way. There’s no doubt it was a lovely ride, and we enjoyed lovely weather too, as the pics below show.

Apologies as usual that they’re not in the order they were taken – it’s a strange quirk of this website that they load up randomly. The band of folk dressed up like they’re on their way to a fight were found in the Meon Valley. The final picture is of my heroes, Dave and Keith. Hope you made it OK back to Guildford – you must have easily topped the ton: well done, guys!

The route may be found on Strava here: https://www.strava.com/activities/915649606  It was 89.1 miles in length and total ascent was 4,333ft.

The Bicycle Icycle 2017

West Surrey’s first event of the year took place on 19 March in mild, cloudy conditions. The roads were dry for a change and the turnout was excellent – 18 people, including two guests. The riders were:

Angela Byrne, Marion and Nick Davison, Julian Allen, Chris Boggon, Clive Richardson, Chris Jeggo, Peter Hackman, Martin and Heidi Vinson, Bob McLeod, Chris Juden, Matt Carolan, Dave King, Paul Taylor and Mark Waters. Chris Wright (Alton CTC) and Andrew Grundy (East Surrey CTC) were guest riders.

The Bicycle Icycle, which as mentioned above did not live up to its name thankfully, is a lumpy ride – 3,535ft of climbing in 42.5 miles. For those who rode the Phil Hampton Memorial Ride the previous day, it must have been especially challenging: hero of the day must surely be young Bobby McLeod who rode both in fine style; a couple of others found it all too much and did the sensible thing by retiring gracefully.

The route, for anyone wanting to ride it, just for the hell of it, may be found in GPX form on the Events page of our website – follow the instructions to download. You’ll not be disappointed by the quality of the ride – it really is fabulous from start to finish.

Here then are some photos taken on the ride, starting with several taken at the start.

The route starts by heading south out of Godalming to Thorncombe Street and then continues south to wind back past Gate Street Barn to cross the A281 just south of Bramley.

Turning quickly off the 281 on the Cranleigh road, the route makes straight for the Surrey Hills and climbs the nearest one it can find – Winterfold. And it’s no doddle!

Peaslake is reached after 14 miles, and there’s a shop here which sells the most delicious homemade cheese straws. Normally we stop but not this time – there were a few hundred mountain bikers around and some felt disinclined to queue, so on we continued up the appallingly steep Radnor Road and so past Holmbury Hill to cross the B2126 at Holmbury St Mary.

The next climb takes one towards Leith Hill and is surprisingly gentle – once the initial lumps are negotiated (and these aren’t gentle at all). The final section of this ascent takes one past the turning that we’ll be going down, once the Info Control answer is obtained at the Rhodedendron Woods car park; getting to it involves a steep descent followed by the re-ascent of the steep descent. Many lesser mortals have been tempted to wait at the turning for their pals and then bribe them for the answer. None of us had the temerity to do this today – not with the organiser keeping an eagle eye on proceedings!

Here are some of us at the Info Control point:

Once back at the turning, we make the turn and head for Friday Street and its pretty lake.

And then it’s just a question of heading back westwards without anything overly strenuous to contend with, other than perhaps Hoe Lane. Here are Clive and Pat climbing the lane:

We continue west along Pursers Lane and Hook Lane; in the old days, we then used to descend to Shere for refreshments, but this doesn’t seem to happen much these days, because it adds another climb. Instead we stay high and continue through Little London, Albury Heath, Brook and Farley Green to eventually reach the flatlands of Shamley Green at 31.5 miles – another village shop passed by – followed by Wonersh. Here are some photos of this section:

After Wonersh, we continue over the A281 at Bramley and up Snowdenham Lane to Thorncombe Street once again, this time traversing it east to west, to ride past David Shepherd’s (old?) house on the Hascombe Road. There are two more hills remaining, the first being the killer Mare Lane which reaches the near vertical right at the top. Below are a couple of shots of afforementioned lane.

The descent down the other side is well deserved, but then comes the final short but steep climb on Salt Lane before the fast descent towards Milford Station and the last short section along the A3001 and up Hawthorn Ridge to finish at Quarry Hill. Phew, all over for another year apart from making lots of tea for everyone.

Owing to the lack of refreshment stops, the fastest chaps got round in 3 hours 39 minutes. Well done, them, and all who rode the event, including those who rolled in well over an hour later having enjoyed lots of refreshment stops – sensible people!

Look out for an extended version of the ride in the autumn.

Woking Midweek Wayfarers Ride ~ 15 March 2017

After a spate of bad weather Wednesdays, here at last was some real spring weather. Spring flowers, sunshine and warmth! Our 55 mile ride (2,300ft of climbing), planned and led by Bob(by), took us from Pirbright to Farnborough – Church Crookham (coffee) – Odiham – Froyle – Binstead – Churt (lunch) – Tilford (ice creams!) – Runfold and back to Pirbright.

Here are a few shots from the ride.

Lunch was taken in the garden of the Crossways pub in Churt and the next photo gives an indication as to the state of the weather!

And to finish, a couple of group shots from the ride:

And finally, the ice cream team – not entirely sure why yours truly is enshrouded in a haze…

Thanks, Bob, for a really excellent ride and route!