Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Once more unto the breach. Sutton pod, 24 October.

Both Karen K and Jeff were diverted on Saturday by matters more important that cycling, so our back-up plans for splitting the group did not need activation and five of us set out, aiming for Bushy Park.

Roger, Paul, Anna, Ken.  Maggie's photo

We left an hour early at one-o-clock because the weatherman said that the rains would come at four, but the weatherman lied.  It was the eve of the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt but would gentlemen abed in England be accursed they were not here?  I think gentlemen abed had taken the right decision.

One of our happy band of brothers had not recovered quite as quickly as she thought from a non-Covid bug and as the wind increased and we got wetter the sight of a marquee outside the Ferry on the Portsmouth Road persuaded us to ask inside if the restaurant would do us a coffee outside, within the marquee and thus within the law.

The coffees (and the teas) were very good, but the damp had got to us all, not only to the peaky one, so we truncated the ride and turned for home.

We did 37 Km in all door-to-door, which in the circumstances most of us felt was a reasonable ride.



Autumn colours; Blue, flourescent orange, pink, yellow

Monday, 19 October 2020

Remember you're a Womble; Beddington Beginners, 17 October


The Wandle Way to Wimbledon Windmill


At Beddington Park on Saturday ten turned up, including two complete newcomers, despite a coldish, greyish, unpromising day.  Colin took the newcomers and three regulars up to Flitton’s, a traditional tea stop with big, if bleak, outdoor facilities south of the Smallholdings but only two wanted a longer ride up Wimbledon Hill with Maggie and me.  The plan was to suss out Megan’s, a cafe on Wimbledon High Street with heated outdoor tables which welcomes groups of four; but since you have to book a table, to carry on this time and have our outdoor coffee at the Windmill Cafe.


Karen K would in normal times be regarded as a newbie but recruitment is vigorous at the moment, so someone whose first venture with the club was the All Day Walton-on-Thames ride two months ago is now considered an old hand!  Roger was our other companion, rarely without Anna, who had eaten something spectacularly dodgy on Thursday.  Get well soon, Anna.


We decided upon the gentle but circuitous route all the way up the Wandle Path to Earlsfield and on the way, at the Hack Bridge, while going through the delightful little public garden that Claudio Funari, a local resident. has created for the enjoyment of all, we came across the creator himself, proudly showing us his third certificate of recognition!


Claudio Funari in his garden on the Wandle at the Hack Bridge

At Earlsfield we headed west to cross the busy Durnsford Road at the lights and enter Wimbledon Park under the overground Underground, Wombling free.  Sooner or later, anyone who goes to Wimbledon High Street has to climb a hill and since we had taken the river route we did it all at once up Home Park Road.


Once Megan’s (not difficult to spot) was duly sussed (pleasant, crowded, only lamp posts and the like to which to secure your bike) we used Parkside and Windmill Road to make the trip a circular one.  We were in the Windmill Cafe last week on the way back from Chiswick House, only this time the rain was gentler, though we again secured a spot in the Marquee (is that outdoors?  Who cares?)  Home the direct route across the common, past the Crooked Billet, down the Downs, through Lower Morden and across Morden Park.  We split at St Helier’s and although the winter has not quite set in, a hot home cup of tea was very welcome.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Riding a White Swan; All day ride to Chiswick House, 10 October

Paul's group minus Maggie, the photographer.  John, Anne, Paul, Ed & Maureen at the Marc Bolan memorial, recalling the days when we liked to boogie.

Tony's group at Chiswick House

just the ticket on a cold, drizzly day!

Maggie, Brenda, Lilian, Ken and Alice,Tony's group, minus photographer, route planner and leader Tony himself, at Hogarth's House, named after a roundabout.  Mr Hogarth was on holiday, so it was closed.

24 riders in four groups left Nonsuch Park at various times on a cold October morning. The route took us through Richmond Park, East Sheen and Mortlake, using two crossings over the Thames, Barnes railway bridge and Chiswick bridge.

Lunch stop was at Chiswick House Gardens and after lunch we walked around the lovely gardens, then off to view Hogarth’s House, Fulham F.C. and Fulham Palace.

Crossing the river at Putney Bridge we made for Roehampton, visiting Marc Bolan’s memorial on route ,there was a little rain on our way to tea at Wimbledon Common.

Thanks to the three Sub leaders Steph, Helen and Paul and also the back markers

See you next April


Sunday, 4 October 2020

All Day ride to Chiswick - Saturday 10th October

Leaving Nonsuch Park Cafe in groups of six at your allotted time starting from 9.45am.
Lunch or your own picnic at Chiswick Gardens cafe, flat ride approximately 25 miles.

Please e-mail me if you would like a place.

Ride terminates at Wimbledon Common, Windmill cafe.

~ Tony

Monday, 28 September 2020

Per ardua ad Kenley; Half Day Ride on 26 September


The ride to Kenley was planned in the fine weather when it seemed possible that Covid restrictions might be relaxing.  We were going to have a picnic on Kenley Common!  It turned out, however, to be a day with temperatures more fitting of November than September, and the second Saturday under the new Rule of Six.  Nevertheless we got six riders for what the Advertising Standards Board had insisted I called a hilly ride.


There might have been an east wind but the sun was bright and in the shelter of buildings or trees it was quite warm in the morning.  We made our way through the undulations of Purley and Woodcote, giving the leader an exciting chase down a long straight Valley Road when we suffered a slight corner-marking failure.  You would have thought that everybody knows the first rule of cycling; if in doubt at a junction, your route is bound to go up the steepest choice.


Lodge Lane was the route the Bathmophobics had dictated to climb to Kenley and though we did not all enjoy it as much as the leader, the back marker commented that we had a group of pretty decent hill-climbers, even Ian, who you would have thought was handicapped on a two-gear Brompton.  I reckon this group would have fared well up the original, hillier route through Netherne, but the management did not agree.


The airfield memorials have been spruced up and made much more interesting in recent years, rightly so, and we spent a little time in the autumn sun, the few reflecting upon The Few.


 Tony, Lilian, Maggie, Ian & Inder at the RAF Kenley memorial

Lunch at Coffee and Creams at Caterham-on-the-Hill was very pleasant but while we were in there winter arrived, the wind fiercer and colder and spits of rain threatening to turn into something worse when we emerged.  Along the switchback of the B2031, we went down Doctor’s Lane to Chaldon Church, which was open for those who had not been before to see the twelfth century wall painting.  

Despite the decreasing temperature and the increasing wind the guide halted the party to enjoy the view of the City of London from Farthing Down and, at the bottom of the hill, the historic plaques describing the prize fights and hangings of old on Coulsdon Green.  We used relatively traffic-free Grove Lane to regain our altitude, going through Clock House and then the woods for one last short climb up the top few yards of Rectory Lane, where we picked up Woodmansterne Lane to take tea at Pistachios in Banstead.

Thanks to Tony for back marking and everybody else for splendid company on a pleasant, if wintry excursion.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

All day ride to RAF Kenley, Saturday 26 September

You are invited to our All Day Ride to RAF Kenley on Saturday.  

You must pre-book, by e-mailing me at Paulandrewjames1949@yahoo.co.uk before Thursday midnight; with the stricter application of the Rule of Six, places will be limited by the number of leaders we can find (several are on holiday).  You will be assigned to a group and allotted a departure time from Beddington Park. 

The original idea was for a picnic lunch at Kenley Aerodrome but the winter has arrived to the plan is now as follows.

Departures will be from North Cheam at 9.30; those who meet there will ride to Beddington Park, where coffee and toilets are available at the Pavilion Cafe.  Groups will depart from Beddington Park from around 10.30 and ride through the back streets of South Wallington and Purley before climbing Old Lodge Lane to RAF Kenley.  After visiting the memorials, we will go to Caterham-on-the-Hill for lunch in the cafe there.

After lunch we will ride along the ridge and descend Farthing Down to Coulsdon before climbing Grove Avenue to Clock House and then riding through the woods and along the hilltop road to Banstead, where we will have coffee at Pistachio's and then split up to return either to Cheam or to Wallington.

This route, approved by the management, keeps climbing to the minimum, though both Old Lodge Lane and Grove Road are substantial hills.


Friday, 18 September 2020

Journey to the centre of the earth. 12 September All Day ride to the Meridian


On Saturday, a few hours before Colin was leading some Beginners around twenty eight churches on the annual churches ride, twenty eight of us set out in groups of six or fewer on another annual tradition that had just scraped survival in the post-Covid nightmare.  For in a year in which everything seems to have gone haywire it fell to me to assume Harry’s legendary mantle and take on the annual Greenwich ride.  In order to maximise access to riversides and parkland, to minimise time spent on main roads through the town centres, and to come back a completely different way, it was necessarily a complex route; I used the best I could remember of Harry’s route there, and for the return trip shamelessly plagiarised Ged’s Wayfarers’ London Ride of last year.  We would have had a full house of thirty but Linda had reported slightly unwell and could not risk that she might have Covid, and Gillian missed the 8.45 wagon train from North Cheam, so we were twenty eight, organised into five groups. 

We were blessed in a number of ways.  It was the weekend before the new Rule of Six came into effect, so for the last time in a while we could be just a little more relaxed (though still socially distanced) about briefly gathering in greater numbers than six at Beddington Park.  The weather was perfect for cycling; light breeze, bright day, not too hot, and no forest fires.

Karen captures a rare picture of camera-shy group leader Tony

The North Cheamers had been ferried over by Helen, Steph and John and the departures from Beddington were marshalled by a super-efficient Maggie while I ate a bacon sandwich.  Tony’s group left pretty promptly at 9.30, followed at fifteen minute intervals by Helen’s, Tim’s, Simon’s and then mine.

Simon's group at Kent House.  Note the gender distribution 

That's a better balance....Tim's group

Central Croydon, central Lewisham, and busy Deptford and Camberwell had to be faced head-on and we wound our way around the back streets of Rotherhithe, Stockwell, Brixton and Tooting but morning coffee at the charming little cafe next to Kent House Station was reached via the disused railway track through Addiscombe and by cycling through South Norwood Country Park.  The track along the River Pool took us to Catford, where the centre can be avoided using a bridge under the road, and we all picked up the parks alongside the River Ravensbourne and climbed through upper middle class houses to Blackheath for lunch.

Tony's group plus two photo bombers

The Hare and Billet was very strict and not entirely logical on Covid regulations and entry took a while because our groups had all but caught each other up so that we arrived close together.  Though we had booked tables, it was a wonderful day to sit out on Blackheath.  We had a short riverside jaunt and went home along the path of the old Surrey Canal and, after Brixton, the commons of Tooting and Wandsworth and along the Wandle Trail from Earlsfield.


Helen's group.......

........mixing with Paul's; still legal on Saturday!

But those were merely the mechanics.  We saw where St Elphege once preached; Archbishop of Winchester and then Canterbury, we saw the Hawksmoor church built, it is thought, at the site of his murder by the Vikings when he had told his people not to pay the extortionate ransom demand.  For two hundred years his shrine in Canterbury was the main reason for pilgrimages there and it is said that Thomas a Beckett prayed at it on the day of his own murder.  We sampled Brixton on a sunny Saturday, Reggae music and beach (yes, beach) parties.  We saw Brixton Prison and the unofficial plaque on its wall commemorating Terence MacSwiney, the Irish playwright and Lord Mayor of Cork, who died there in 1920 after 74 days of hunger strike.  We went to see the petrified tree on Wandsworth Common.


Who'd have thought it was there, behind Brixton Prison? The Windmill, that is....

We all agreed the best bit was Brixton Windmill.  Anna had seen its sails between the houses in her younger days but most of us had no idea it was there; it took me four recces and Simon’s Garmin to find it because you cannot see it until you come across the little field in which it stands, still grinding flour as it did two hundred years ago.  And the best thing about it was a proper mug of tea for £1.


The ride leader searches for the missing group while Inder sits in the shadow of Peter the Great

The complexity of the route meant that each group had to overcome its own little hiccoughs, from unnecessary fraternisation with Croydon’s tramlines to an early detour for afternoon tea and a shortcut home when the sun began to sink in the sky.  But the tradition of Greenwich rides has been kept going for another year.

Thanks to leaders Simon, Tony, Helen and especially to Tim, who stepped in at a moment’s notice.  Simon won the prize for being the only sub-leader to complete the entire course in the correct order!