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Naomi Wolf’s Saturday in Hell

Posted on Friday 14 April 2017 by Martin Hayman

The 2017 Paris-Roubaix Challenge was the second time testing my legs against the worst cobbles northern France has to offer (writes Naomi Wolf). For us Sportive riders, this was a “Saturday in Hell”. My companion in this year’s campaign, as last year, was Stephen Taylor. We selected the 145 km route which offers 19 cobble sectors and from a logistics standpoint is simple because the start and finish are both in the famous Roubaix Velodrome. The longer, 175 km route is point to point and has 28 cobbled sectors…19 were more than enough for me.

It starts with 50 km of delightful French country lanes from Roubaix before reaching the first sector, the famous Forest of Arenberg… more »

The Man Who Wasn’t There

Posted on Thursday 6 April 2017 by Martin Hayman

It was Nick Bloom who introduced me to the delights of the Chilterns and beyond, into Oxfordshire, where some of England’s most picturesque villages are to be discovered.

When I first joined CTC I accompanied Nick and our American friend Rory Rhodes on several traditional and well-honed Audax rides here and elsewhere, and one year, to my surprise, placed mid-table in the AUK Tourist Competition (I did not know I was entered into it by default). In fact the first blog report I posted here was the Muswell Hills 200k event, which I found hard pounding.

Events moved on and in recent seasons I have preferred shorter, faster days out with the 4* gang. But this last winter illness prevented me from riding at all. My first return to a ride of any distance was at Nick’s invitation on the traditional Amersham—Waterperry out-and-back.

Nick, Linus, and I bunked off midweek from Marylebone station and enjoyed a glorious day of spring sunshine, more »

The day we met a Dame

Posted on Monday 3 April 2017 by John Silvertown

What a wonderful ride with an average speed of 14km/h! Watch out two star here we come!

Tonbridge is where we cut our teeth this week. Some off-road through woods but mostly on-road. Pleasant views. Plenty of slopes and some hills. 40km, with 570m of climbing in total. A short visit to the Chiding Stone followed by a surprise tea at Cafe 1809 where we were served by no less a personage than Dame Kelly Holmes who was a real inspiration. Thank you Lisa and Roy for a great day out.



A day fit for a Queen!

Posted on Sunday 2 April 2017 by Sabina Carchesio

I’m always nervous when its my turn to lead a ride. You want people to enjoy the route you’ve selected and for the weather to be good.  Today we had glorious sunshine; the first day I got my ‘legs out’.  I’m not a huge fan of spending an hour on the train which makes leading from Richmond a great spot. Twelve met in the morning and we started out by heading to Richmond Park and picked up two more at Kingston Gate.  We ambled through the side streets to Kingston and then braced the busy road just before Hampton Court.  We veered towards Sunbury, Shepperton, Chertsey, Virginia Water and then turned into Great Windsor Park for a calm respite away from traffic.  With Heathrow, M4, M25, the reservoirs, and the Thames there are only so many roads available that make the ride out to Windsor a scenic journey.  We entered the Deer Park and stopped for a photo in front of the Royal Mile.  Due to the sunshine, you could easily see Windsor Castle in the distance (and Slough unfortunately!).  The morning’s ride was longer and by this time we were peckish so we headed for the exit gate to get on the main road.  Someone shouted turn around, its the Queen and by golly there she was sitting in the front passenger seat of the LandRover behind me.  I stopped and gave her a royal wave but she blanked me. Oh well.  In 15 years, this is only the second time I’ve seen her but this time I was very close.  What a five second thrill!

In Windsor Great Park

We had lunch in Eton and then headed towards Datchet, Wraysbury back into Shepperton and the home stretch through Teddington Lock, Ham and then Richmond.  In total just shy of 80km and we were back at the train station for 15.30. I must thank Colin for volunteering to be back marker and Sarah Khedhouri for lending me her bike. For some strange reason, I always have a bike catastrophe just before I have to lead a ride. Is someone trying to tell me something?   Anyway, we kept great pace and it was so wonderful to see old friends and new faces.

Charlie’s and Emily’s

Posted on Tuesday 31 January 2017 by Charles Harvey

The plan for the ride was to “Learn that CTC stands for Café to Café or, alternatively, Coffee, Tea and Cakes. Your chance to visit two well-known cyclists’ refreshment stops, Charlie’s in Wheathampstead and Emily’s in Whitwell.” It seemed that it would be a straight forward ride to lead. But then I had not reckoned with the railways …

I wrote in an earlier blog that “I sometimes suspect that Network Rail has a specialist unit that monitors the CTC rides list and then plans engineering work to disrupt it.” These dark suspicions were strengthened by my experience with today’s ride. On Thursday night, I checked the National Rail Enquiries website for train times to St Albans and discovered that no train times on Sunday were listed. Having checked the Thameslink website well in advance re: planned engineering work, I was rather surprised so I checked it again. The only engineering work listed was at the other end of the line between Three Bridges and Brighton. I could relax.

Then on Friday I got an email from Anna more »

Blue plaque ride

Posted on Tuesday 17 January 2017 by Charles Harvey

This ride was listed as a “Tour of Hampstead, Golders Green and Hampstead Garden Suburb to see where the great and the good lived”. The ride was created by combining a ride that Brian led last year for CLCTC and a ride that I had led for Barnet Cyclists in the past. I went on Brian’s ride last year and realised that the most northern part of his ride met up with the most southerly part of mine and suggested that we combine forces and lead a joint blue plaques ride in 2017.

About 15 riders met up by Finchley Road station at 11.00 and headed up a very steep slope that one had to push up. Our first stop was the plaque to Sidney and Beatrice Webb, who helped found both the Fabian Society and the London School of Economics. It would take pages to list every plaque, memorial or grave we looked at but those commemorated included Sigmund Freud, Edward Elgar, John Constable, Cecil Sharp, Hugh Gaitskell, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alistair Sim, Evelyn Waugh, Harold Wilson, Tony Hancock and Ralph Richardson. more »

Epping Forest in Autumn

Posted on Tuesday 15 November 2016 by Charles Harvey

Considering its proximity to London, I was surprised to find that there hadn’t been a CLCTC ride in Epping Forest for over two years. The main roads through it are very busy though this doesn’t seem to put off the many road riders you see on them. But for me the appeal is the off-road routes on the forest paths.

Five riders met up at Chingford Station on a sunny but cold morning. We started with a visit to The View, the City of London’s visitor centre to learn about the history, flora and fauna of the forest. We also looked at Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge which is next door. We then headed along the forest paths to High Beech. A map reading error lead to an unplanned visit to look at the blue plaque to the poet John Clare who was in an asylum on the edge of the forest.

The planned coffee stop at High Beech was not a success as it involved queueing in the cold for some time while the kiosk tried to cope with another larger cycling group who had got there before us. We were glad to warm up again riding to the lunch stop at The Forest Gate, a pub at Bell Common at the north end of the forest. We arrived there at 12.30 just before it got very crowded. We were well looked after there and I’ll use it again on another ride.

Given the queues in the morning at High Beech, we decided not to stop there in the afternoon and rode on to Butlers Retreat for tea. As it is only 5 minutes’ ride from Chingford Station, two of our number headed straight for the station while the rest of us stopped for hot drinks. By the time we were finished it was beginning to rain so we cycled quickly to the station.

This is the first time I’ve led a ride in Epping Forest. If I was doing it again I use the same route but leave the visit to the visitor centre and the hunting lodge to the end of the ride so we can get to pub for lunch early before it gets busy. I’d probably do it in December or January when the days are shortest as the ride finished in mid-afternoon.

Shortened Chiltern Odyssey

Posted on Tuesday 13 September 2016 by Clifford French

It was largely out of regard for David Kurtz, tasked with organising the Saturday rides programme, that I volunteered to lead a ride in September. As I made the commitment, I was aware that there was always a risk that approaching autumn could bring foul weather.

The weeks leading up to my ride, scheduled for 10 September, gave us days of really fine weather. However, the weather forecasts from Monday 5 September promised more fine weather every day up to and including Friday and every day from Sunday onwards, Saturday bringing heavy rain. Of course, I told myself, the forecast could change. It didn’t.

There were no texts from intending riders, no anxious phone calls: “How hilly would it be?” “What was the pace?” “Would my hybrid be suitable?” Perhaps, with a little luck, no one would turn up. Knowing that rain brings down flints from the hills, I dusted off my Airnimal with its bomb proof tyres in preference to my usual road bike. Although the ride blurb stated “Leader will meet en route” I took the train to Paddington to see if anyone would actually turn up. Arriving at the appointed time, I found three riders, two regulars and one newcomer. After a short discussion we decided that as it was already raining and the forecast was for heavy rain, we would call it off. After all, seismic events that had produced the Chilterns were not forecast: the hills would be there waiting for us on a fine day.

No, that’s not how it happened. more »

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