Central London CTC blog

Ride reports, maps, pictures, announcements and other news …

Photo competition

Posted on Monday 4 September 2017 by Richard Philpott

At our AGM on Friday 10 November attendees will be deciding the winner of our new photo competition.

Photos of our rides sent to me (Richard Philpott) between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017 (our club year) inclusive will be included in the “Recent Rides” album on our website and will be reviewed by a small judging panel.

Those considered to be the best ten will be on display at the AGM, with the final winner decided by a vote of those attending.

My Ride London

Posted on Thursday 17 August 2017 by Charles Harvey

I was heavily involved in this year’s Ride London but never did any cycling on either day. On the Saturday FreeCycle event, I was on a Dr Bike stall run by CyclingUK (a.k.a. CTC). I’d responded to an appeal for volunteers from CyclingUK and duly turned up at St Pauls at 08.30.

It turned out to be a much bigger operation than I’d expected. There were about 15 people on my stall and it was one of six. Many of the volunteers had travelled a long way to help out.


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Flamstead Scarecrow Festival

Posted on Monday 14 August 2017 by Charles Harvey

Flamstead is normally a quiet Hertfordshire village but once a year it turns into a surrealistic environment. The whole village is full of scarecrows. The reason for this is the annual Scarecrow Festival held in support of local Multiple Sclerosis charities. There are barbeques, live music, morris dancing – the whole village is en fete.

Nine riders met up at Harpenden station and got to Flamstead about 11.15. After the obligatory coffee, tea and cakes in the village hall, most of us decided to ride on to the village of Studham for lunch at The Red Lion. We were heading into the fringes of the Chilterns and gradually climbing. After lunch, we headed back to Flamstead rather faster with the gradient in our favour. We arrived at Trowley Bottom at the fringe of the village to find the Aldbury morris dancers performing outside the Rose and Crown. Our ride to the centre of the village was enlivened by the sight of a huge Co-Op lorry stuck in one of the narrow twisty lanes unable to move. The driver had to call the police to sort out the resulting traffic chaos. We were glad we were on bicycles.

Back at the village hall three of our number decided to head straight back to Harpenden. The remaining six enjoyed more tea and cakes, more folk dancing and an entertaining ukulele band. We left at 16.30 and headed back to the station stopping to help a cyclist who had punctured twice and was walking her bike back to Harpenden. It was a good team effort and we soon got her back on the road. We got back to find that a fast train to St Pancras was leaving in few minutes.

Friday Night Ride to the Coast

Posted on Friday 28 July 2017 by Nick Bloom

I’ve always liked cycling at night. After midnight, as even the clubbers drift home, the streets go silent. Riding into the countryside, the wildlife appears, shocked at a silent intruder gliding past. It’s rarely that dark (except in the woods). Our eyes acclimatise, our hearing sharpens. There’s activity all around. Distant glow from industry, the passing hubbub of a late party. Reflective eyes from a fox disturbed. A break after a few hours at some lonesome service station, then the early chill and tiredness. A glimmer, then, almost rudely, dawn. The early, early crowd rushing to their shift, perplexed. And rest, avoid the rush hour, eat, recover. Snooze on the train home.

Tempted? The Friday Night Ride to the Coast is an easy introduction. Sort of once a month, from early spring to late autumn, The Fridays have a monthly ride which usually starts at Southbank. And goes, as you might expect, to a coast, arriving for breakfast for 08.00. About 100km, with a long and leisurely stop halfway. Expect 40-50 riders on all sorts of bike (and even trikes), all ages, a high proportion of women. This is a friendly group ride – social rather than sporting. The front end can get brisk, the back end can be very relaxed, but nobody gets dropped. It would be suitable for any Central London rider who can manage one of my ‘slower 3*’ rides.

The next ride , to Whitstable on Friday August 25th into Saturday 26th, is a nice taster – a popular ride, not demanding, with plenty of sights. Village Hall at half-way, plus a couple of full-service comfort stops. Breakfast by the beach and plenty of trains back to London. If you’re interested, Have a look at the website.

You must sign-up in advance using the form on the ride page. £2 fee per year (there’s also the Xmas night ride round London), CTC membership required after one ‘taster’ – details on their site.

Some tips:

  1. check your bike thoroughly before you set off, especially tyres – pick out any flints, etc.
  2. bring two tubes and pump / levers.
  3. you need a decent ‘see by’ front light which will last six hours on a suitable beam. If you’re on a dynamo, bring a back-up or torch for emergencies. Your back light needs to last six hours on constant – no flashing lights please. Most USB rear lights don’t last this long.
  4. it will feel chilly when you leave the village hall, but it soon warms up – a shell should do, but each to their own.
  5. you don’t need to bring the kitchen sink. Bikes are not left unattended, there’s food and drink at 50km, plenty of mechanics. The only spare clothing I carry is my waterproof (and I don’t always take that).
  6. turn up well before the start to meet people and hear the briefing.


If you’ve any questions or concerns, you can ask me – nick@centrallondonctc.org.uk / 07768 354010

The race of truth (in post-truth times)

Posted on Tuesday 27 June 2017 by Jon McColl

What better way, as an occasional racing cyclist, to counter the disturbing ascendancy of alternative facts than to compete in the race of truth? Two indisputable numbers: a distance, and a time.  No room for misrepresentation or relativist interpretation, just an indisputable universal truth.

As a consequence I found myself, together with Alex Marzec of OV Cycling Club, on the start line of the Victoria CC 16.4km event for my first 2-up TTT. Conditions were nearly perfect: warm, but not overly so, with virtually no wind.  The course (E1/10A, don’t ask) is on the B1383 northwest of Saffron Walden.  It is undulating, out-and-back with just one turn at a roundabout.  No dual-carriageway dragstrip this.

Alex and I had ridden together only once before. We’d had a 30-minute session around Regent’s Park practising our changes and following closely on each other’s wheel.  This had gone well and we were hopeful of a respectable TTT result.

We started cautiously, not wishing to go out too fast. Short turns on the front and judging our efforts by perceived exertion – no power metres for us.  My latest indulgence – a self-built Condor Ultima TT bike – was riding beautifully.  We got into a steady rhythm and reached the turn with sufficient in the tank for the return leg.

Rule 82 observed – no gap here
© Garry Bowden | Sport in Pictures (www.sportinpictures.co.uk)

Now we were pushing harder. Alex leading up the drags but, with lactic acid levels beginning to build in my legs, small gaps opening up occasionally.  Calls of “easy” on my part ensured we stayed together.  I was marginally faster on the downhills.  On the flat sections of the course we were evenly matched and kept a tight formation – saving energy in each other’s slipstream.  The final mile was an all-out effort.  We crossed the finish line in a time of 27min 33sec; an average speed of just over 22.2mph and 1min 17sec quicker than the Veterans’ Time Trials Association standard.  A better result than either of us had expected.

Somewhat foolishly I had also entered the event as a solo rider. I was off again an hour after the finish of the 2-up ride, having had little time for recovery.  The result of my solo effort; an underwhelming 30min 47sec (2min 42sec worse than standard) and more than 11 minutes outside the course record held by a Mr A Dowsett.

Sometimes, the truth hurts.

Ride to Ayot St Lawrence Gardens on11th June

Posted on Tuesday 13 June 2017 by Charles Harvey

Another ride and another visit to gardens open under the National Gardens Scheme. My rides in the summer may be a bit formulaic but it’s a formula that seems to be popular. I was joined by eight other riders at St Albans City station, including two who’d travelled from Oxfordshire. After clearing St Albans, we headed via Sandridge to Charlie’s at Wheathampstead for brunch. Charlie’s has become an increasingly popular destination for cycling clubs and large numbers of bikes were parked outside the café when we got there, including a contingent from Islington CC who had ridden all the way from London.

Some of our number rode direct to Ayot St Lawrence, others chose a longer and much hillier route. Though the ride had been planned to visit the two gardens open to the public that day there was also an art exhibition in the village’s distinctive Palladian church and a beer festival at the Brocket Arms so all tastes were catered for.

There were two gardens to look at, a large garden at West House and on the other side of the road a smaller one at 2 Ruins Cottages (not a comment on the state of the cottages, they are situated next to a ruined church). The latter was smaller with bowers looking out on to the garden. The weather was fine, the gardens beautiful, the beer good and the cakes delicious. All seemed right with the world.

We took a direct route home along the Sandridge to St Albans Road, arriving at the station just as the 17.04 train to London pulled into the platform.

My thanks to Colin Wing for acting as backstop throughout the day.

St Paul’s Walden Bury – 14th May

Posted on Thursday 18 May 2017 by Charles Harvey

I’m not much of a gardener but when I am looking for ideas on rides to lead in the summer the first place I look is the National Gardens Scheme website. This guarantees an attractive destination and a good variety of cakes.

For once Network Rail failed to disrupt the ride and, to my surprise, all the riders arrived on the expected train. As the garden did not open until 14.00 we could afford to take our time. We set off for elevenses at Charlie’s in Wheathampstead and then went on to lunch at Emily’s at Whitwell, both well-known cyclists’ watering holes. At Emily’s we met up with three members of Barnet Cyclists also heading for the gardens.

En-route to the gardens

St Paul’s Walden Bury, our destination, was the childhood home of the Queen Mother and is still in hands of the Bowes Lyon family. The grounds are bigger and shaggier than some of the gardens I’ve visited. The efforts of the gardeners have gone into producing fine vistas rather than manicured flower beds. more »

Chilly Hilly

Posted on Thursday 4 May 2017 by John Silvertown

Not so chilly as hilly! Brian O’Reilly took us on a roller coaster of a ride, along some high ridges, and up and down and sideways along the valleys from Chalfont and Latimer to Chesham. On the way there were some spectacular views of the countryside, It was a complicated route which he navigated perfectly along a series of beautiful country lanes and through some picture postcard villages.We paid a short visit to St Marys Church near Wendover where although no tea and cakes were forthcoming we saw some exceptional stained glass windows. No one was lost and we all felt reinvigorated by this exceptionally invigorating ride.


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