Sunday, 16 May 2021

Dinosaurs, cats and dogs; Beginners from Beddington 15 May

The weather on Saturday was almost as bad as the forecast, so we had wondered how many would turn up at Beddington Park for a brand new ride I had concocted; Crystal Palace without the hills!

The plan was to adapt the start of last year's Greenwich ride and approach the Crystal Palace Park from the south and it would have worked a treat were it not for the fact that in the hinterland that lies between Penge and Elmers End you can only cross the tram line at Avenue Road by means of a footbridge and our group was likely to include two electric bikes of the weightier variety.  Maggie and I had spent the best part of Friday cycling around Kent House, not because it it much posher, nor because it has a twee coffee stop, but to search for a Beginner-friendly alternative but none was to be found, so Plan C was put into operation.

We thought the path led along the trickle that is the Wandle at this point to the industrial estate and the scrapyard, but apparently it is the route to somewhere even more romantic

The rain had abated for the start and as it turned out there were seven of us but Colin's knee is still recovering from his spill, so he opted out of the ride itself.  The route past the ancient church of Beddington and the quasi-cathedral of Croydon went well enough, and Central Croydon was negotiated safely despite buses, motorcycles and tramlines.  The ride along the old Croydon Central railway line is a joy and the suburbs of Addiscombe were pleasant enough.  A little drizzle added interest to the entry to South Norwood Country Park, but like Le Tour if you don't have hills you have to have a section of wet Pave for excitement!

At  Avenue Road, Plan C clicked in to place; Maggie and Roger carried their bikes over the bridge while I led Sharon, Ken and Anna round the block to pass under the railway on the busy and not-too-cycle-friendly Beckenham Road (with the world's most useless cycle lane that comes to an abrupt stop just when you need it) and then the wrong way up one way McKenzie Road (well, it's very wide and we started off on the pavement, but we shan't do it again); and we were waiting, mounted, on the other side of the footbridge before the two who had crossed it.

Penge High Street is the only way under the other two railways, but we survived the short but unpleasant mixture of junctions, uphill and double decker buses into the sunny uplands of Crystal Palace Park, where cakes and coffee at the cafe near the Lower Lake and the famous dinosaur sculptures were excellent; not only that, Maggie had had the foresight to move us to a table with a large parasol and while we supped the heavens opened and everybody but the leader (whom Maggie had carefully seated to the windward) stayed dry.

You can't have a trip to that park completely devoid of hills, so we climbed past the Athletics Arena, where nearly a quarter a century ago saw Don Quarry, powerful and magnificent in gold lame kit, break the 200 metre record but which since the 2012 Olympics has become a bit of a white elephant, to Crystal Palace station and zipped down Anerley Hill a bit and a further gentle climb before we enjoyed the long, downhill sweep that is Auckland Road.  Along Holmesdale past Selhurst Park football ground through Thornton Heath (where, sadly they have removed my favourite road sign which used to say "Crystal Palace 2, Dulwich 4"), through the maze of back streets that is the cycle route through West Croydon.  We all smugly agreed that we had done brilliantly to dodge the weather, when the skies became ominously dark.  Out of the indigo quilt hovering above us tumbled cats and dogs and in the last mile home we got as dripping wet as it is possible to get outside a swimming pool.

Still, it had been a good ride; a success, even and next time hopefully with the rules relaxed we can take a fit-again Colin along as seventh man.

A Brompton oratory; Beginners from Nonsuch, 15 May

Report by Ian P

At last out again with CTC SW London, so good to be back to group riding although I was still on the Brompton. Nigel lead us to Wimbledon Mill cafe from Nonsuch where the queue for coffee was reasonable as it was for ice creams, but a bacon and egg bap took forever. The heavens opened so the other five waited under the shelter of a tree, whilst I quickly devoured the egg and bacon.

Sunlight reappeared and we dried off through Richmond Park, at one point me taking off behind a racer passing us, (still on the Brompton), and much to his surprise he found me right there and ready to pass him, after half a mile or so, before I dropped back and more sedately rejoined our group lead by Nigel.

(Why is it everyone expects Bromptons to be slow - I have been in the Brompton World Championships at least four times and its never slow!)

So we continued on, including heading down the A3 (well, cycle path alongside) from Robin Hood Gate before turning into suburbia once more including through The Hamptons and Worcester Park.

Unfortunately the heavens opened once more, this time with thunder and lightning but rather than turning sensibly right into Sainsbury’s for a spot of dry shopping, Nigel sped on and the rest of us followed. I peeled off on the Sutton bypass to head for home and a warm bath (not the first of our group to do so) and think now I have just about “dehydrated”. Had to pour the water out of the Brompton bag though!

Thanks to Nigel for leading the ride.

Monday, 10 May 2021

Wind, rain and a couple of hills; Steph's All Day ride to East Horsley, 8 May

First of all thanks to all who put forward their names for the ride.  32 in total .  Also to  subleaders , a couple of whom were volunteering to lead for the Sat all day ride for the first time.  In the end the weather blew away half our potential and on the day 17 riders were out on the road.

The rain was not too heavy and over by midday but the wind combined with rain as we climbed up Epsom Downs and continued across the top was a real challenge slowing our pace considerably.  After a coffee stop and the reviving descent of Box Hill the beautiful route through the Vineyard and the joy of the ups and downs across the top of Ranmore were enjoyed by all.

The Bluebell girls; Steph & Carolyn on Ranmore Common

A downhill run after lunch taking in the pretty shortcut through Downside and the usual pleasures of Ashtead Common brought the day to a close.


Would you believe that with a morning of heavy rain and blustery winds forecast, some people would look out of their windows and decide against riding!  The rain was not too bad but by the time we got to Nonsuch my group of six had become three, so Tony's group and mine merged and we had six again. 

Denbies.  Ann, Kasumi, John, Tony, Maggie; Paul took the pic.

I led to Denbie's and Tony took over because he said he knew a better route to lunch at the Duke of Wellington; this turned out to be an additional hill; Chalk Lane!  Really pleasant countryside, though.  Lunch was not inexpensive but very nice, even if the grotto in which my group took shelter felt more like an ice house!

Tony was keen to get home, I think, even though the rain had stopped and we sailed past the Patisserie and Squires at Stoke d'Abernon without so much as a rueful glance; there was no way we were going home without a cup of tea so Maggie and I peeled off at Woodlands Park on the road to Leatherhead, where they have a pleasant cafe.

Splendid ride, Steph, and well worth the effort of climbing up to Epsom Downs in the face of a fierce headwind.


Thursday, 29 April 2021

Epsom & Ewell Virtual Round the Borough Bike Ride


      Round the Borough Bike is back... and this time, it’s virtual. Take the route at your own pace throughout the month of May. Register and complete the challenge to be in with a chance to win a hybrid road bike, courtesy of @fudgescyclestore  #VirtualRBB21

Monday, 26 April 2021

My, my, my, Delilah; Sutton Beginners, 24 April

The weather seemed good for a slightly longer ride than is usual on a Saturday afternoon, so the plan was to leave Sutton Library at 1.30.  There was a delay at the start for Roger's bicycle repair and the leader was a little worried, for he had had to book a table for six at Squires in order to ensure coffee and cake at the only place en route with a loo on Saturday.  Godfrey briefly joined us on his way to join the 2pm departures from Nonsuch, but we said farewell and skirted the park to avoid the gathering.  It was the turn of Ken's electric bike to give a problem at West Ewell but the management had taken care to ensure our table booking was timed conservatively, and a good job too, because we arrived at Stoke d'Abernon on the dot of three after steady progress through Maldon Rushett and past Oxshott station.

The magnificent six at Squires; colder than it looks

The staff at Squires were astonishingly helpful and welcoming as if we were long lost customers they were delighted to see, but we have been using the Patisserie during lockdown; today, of course, the Stoke station toilets were not available because the waiting room was closed, and anyway, the Patisserie was closed as we cycled past it on our way through Bray Road and over the River Mole to Downside Common.  The route through Bookham Road to Great Bookham Common is delightful, especially on a sunny day, and though familiar to regular B Groupers is slightly too far out for a Beginners group to get home to Nonsuch in time for tea.

The common did not disappoint, though the ground was a bit hard after the dry spell; we were surprised to see so few walkers; perhaps they had realised before we had how cold was the wind, though we were protected by the thick foliage on the common, and River Lane is fairly enclosed as we recrossed the Mole.  They have filled in the worst potholes on River Lane, the ones near the football field.

It had been a beautiful ride, everyone agreed, along paths seldom taken, but the journey home is almost entirely eastwards and the wind from that quarter was neither warming up nor decreasing in power as the day was drawing to a close and we were all pretty tired as we crossed Ashtead and Epsom Commons.  We got home to Wallington at six, Steve having peeled off at Nonsuch and Ken and then Anna and Roger as we went through Sutton.  Maggie and I were grateful to find the cafe in Manor Park willing to serve us tea and a Bakewell tart despite being in the act of closing and the order of the evening was fish and chips because we could not be bothered to cook.

57.92 km at 14.1 km/h despite there being only 375m of climbing, the vast majority of that gentle.  Yet a few weeks ago Steve and I had tried a harder version of the ride, going over Banstead and Epsom Racecourse, in inclement weather, 59.72 km with 538 m climbing, and without hurrying kept up a more respectable 15.4 km/h.  So why was Saturday so tiring?  We all felt it.  Was it the repairs breaking our rhythm?  Was it the Saturday traffic?  One of us felt it was insufficient cake.  Most settled on the debilitating effect of riding constantly into the East wind.  But I knew the secret.  For months now, the men had been increasing in strength like Samson as our hair grew long.  This week we have all had our locks shorn after Lockdown, and our strength is lying on the floor of the barbers' in clumps of grey curls.  You wait, Delilah.  It will grow again, and then there will be no catching us.   .


Monday, 19 April 2021

An Upgrade……. Beginners Ride Saturday 17 April 2021


By Karen C


Good turnout at Nonsuch Mansion today.  Our group of six set off for Home Park.  Heavier road traffic than usual en route and Kingston Bridge pedestrian traffic overflowing onto cycle lane in places.  Cycling in to Home Park was a delight - surprisingly deserted on such a lovely day.


We stopped adjacent to a lake just before 3 o’clock.  A nesting swan swan joined us for a minute’s silence, it's calm serenity appropriate to the occasion.  At one stage, Mr Swan appeared to be heading in our direction to give us a piece of his mind.  However, he decided to have an afternoon nap instead.  Mrs Swan seemed quite unfazed by our presence (but was probably hoping we'd be quiet for a bit longer).


We were quite taken with Mrs Swan but our reverie was rudely interrupted when our leader solemnly announced:  “It closes at 4 so we'd better get going”.  Panic-stricken, we quickly set off down the river for coffee and cake.  Shallow? Us?


Molesey Boat Club pulled out all the stops and upgraded us to first class: proper table with all mod cons (i.e. seats) and coffee served to us in proper cups. Warmed by the sun and enjoying our new freedoms, the conversation turned to outside amenities.  One of our party indicated an interest in a summer house and was trying to explain the difference between a summer house versus a shed.  Liz remained unconvinced:  “It's still a shed.”


When the conversation turned to caterpillar cakes, we knew it was time to leave.  Does Colin know there's a caterpillar cake named after him?


We headed back to Cheam via Thames Ditton and Chessington. I experienced a couple of close passes on Chessington Road - perhaps a helmet camera would be a good idea.


Sunday, 18 April 2021

A minute's silence; 17 April Beddington Park Ride

Saturday was bright and sunny, but not warm.  There were some familiar faces at Beddington Park, some which were familiar eighteen months ago, and a couple less familiar, one brand new.

It was clear that we would need to split into two groups; the larger group chose the flatter ride to Merton Abbey Mills and four of us opted to go up to Caterham-on-the-Hill.

Ken, Maggie, Steve P and I made our way through Millionaire's Row and Coulsdon.  We had hoped to make Chaldon Church for three-o-clock to observe the one minute's silence for the Duke of Edinburgh but we only got to the car park on Farthing Downs to pay our respects. 

From there we went up Doctors Lane and along the ridge to Coffee and Creams in Caterham-on-the-Hill.  The weather was mild enough for us to sit in our coats and enjoy our cake and from there we went across Kenley Aerodrome and down Old Lodge Lane to Purley Fire Station, where Steve peeled off to meet his five-o-clock business.  It was good to welcome you to the club, Steve, and we hope to see you again.

Maggie's photo of Ken, Paul & Steve P at Dollypers Hill Nature Reserve on Old Lodge Lane

The three of us used Hartley Down to avoid the A23 back in to Coulsdon and climbed up to Woodcote Park Golf Club on our way home.