Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Saturday the 27th December

  The last organised ride of 2014 saw 12 turn up at a cold Nonsuch Mansion. Two were complete newcomers without proper lights, who were taken under Shirley and Colin's wing while the remainder set off for the Telegraph Track. This is a mixture of urban, through Sutton Town Centre, suburban , by Carshalton Beeches, and rural, up onto the Downs to Woodcote Garden Centre. With a good pace and no mechanical breakdowns we made it to the Garden Centre and tea in the relocated cafe at the far end of the Centre.
 Over the years this garden Centre has expanded massively and in places is becoming more like a supermarket, but the service in the crowded cafe was good and we were soon on our way in the gathering gloom. The cold North wind had dropped by now just leaving the temperature hovering around zero and ther was even a glimpse of the setting sun as we headed east back to Cheam. As usual people peeled off to get home and five finally dispersed in Cheam Village.
I did 21 miles from home that afternoon when I probably would not have gone out in such cold weather unless I was leading the ride, but given the time of year it was not bad with great company.
Thanks to Brian for back marking. Incidentally, he rides for an hour just to get to Nonsuch and the start. That is commitment.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Saturday the 20th December

  Yours truly has been rather inactive blogwise for the last couple of weeks, due to seasonal inertia and clearing up after builders. I did, however, manage a visit with a friend to Roberts Cycles in Croydon and was sorely tempted to consider parting with £3k for a custom made lightweight tourer. This has been filed away for future reference but I recommend a visit for anyone as the staff are so knowledgeable and considerate. There is also a good cafe nearby in Gloucester Road which is also worth a visit if travelling in the direction of Crystal Palace.
  Returning to last weekend and, almost, the shortest day, a few souls took time out from shopping etc to ride with Lynda to Ashstead on a mild if blustery afternoon. I decided to get in some proper exercise and joined Nigel and Godfrey up to Box Hill. We took the "easy" route up through Headley and along the false flats into the wind to the NT centre, which was almost deserted, and after a freezing descent of the zigzag returned via Leatherhead in the gathering darkness.
  Despite feeling rather tired, I was glad I got out and did this ride of around 33 miles from home in total. At this time of year it is always better to use the available daylight to get exercise rather than slumping in front of the TV.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Some more photos from the ride to Richmond Park

Ride to Richmond Park on Saturday the 29th November

  Not many days recently have been as fine as it was on Saturday. Relentless gloom and rain have been our lot for most of the month, so to get a day like this with continuous sunshine and little wind was a treat not to be missed. 9 riders set off, minus Pat who, after posing for a photo with his new Roberts fast tourer discovered he had a flat rear tyre. Christine was more fortunate.
  We sped down Stoneleigh Avenue, through the bridge and Worcester Park to the A3 underpass and around the back of New Malden to the short hill up to Coombe Golf course. This has an annoying kick up where it crosses the busy road from Raynes Park to Kingston and is poorly surfaced, so counts as a minor challenge.
  The Coombe Hill estate is full of massive detached houses which are always being demolished and rebuilt even larger. Great for builders and for cyclists as the roads are virtually traffic free. We entered Richmond Park via the Ladderstile Gate, went down Broomhill and up to the Pen Ponds for the view from the Royal Ballet School. Then on down to the Roehampton Gate cafe which seemed to have a staff shortage, hence long queues and also high prices for cakes. Pat rejoined us here having fixed his flat. Nevertheless we were able to sit outside and watch the sun set.
  Lights become a necessity after 3.30pm at this time of year, so a line of twinkling stars set off for the return along the lower road to Robin Hood Gate. Mist was starting to form and the temperature plummet as it grew darker and after a short spin on the road parallel to the A3 we crossed the Golf Course and returned through New Malden to the A3 underpass and retrace our route to the start.
  I took some photos of Pat, Christine, the tea stop and the sunset. Let's hope we get some more days like this.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Ride to Woolwich on Saturday November 15 th.

There were 15 riders, 11 women and 4 men at the start in Waterloo Station with a forecast of fair weather for a change, though the top of the Shard was shrouded in mist. After a charge over Tower Bridge and a bone shaking ride along the cobbles of Wapping High Street we rode along the waterfront to Limehouse Basin, then turning North along the Regents Canal. This had been drained for part of its length and volunteers were raking out the piles of rubbish from its bed. Not a pretty

  We then entered Victoria Park full of cyclists, runners and exercise groups where Lillian suffered the first puncture of the day. Some had a quick coffee while it was mended and we then left the Park to join the Greenway by the former Olympic Park. This area has been a building site for years with temporary road closures and we found the way to Stratford barred by road works. Detouring round the obstruction, Lynda suffered a massive blowout to her rear tyre from a 4inch nail which had somehow entered from the sidewall and protruded outwards. This repair was quickly effected and we then found a way to the Greenway where Toni had a rear tyre blowout. By now the repair team were becoming proficient at sorting these and we then proceeded down the Greenway to Beckton where we left to round the Dock Basin to the Woolwich Ferry. Harry and Helen went across via the foot tunnel and the rest took the short ferry ride. A short stretch along the river front then took us to the Firepower museum cafe for a latish lunch stop which was taken to a background of minor expolsions accompanied by shrieks as a group of schoolchildren had some sort of educational experience in the museum proper.
  Setting off after lunch we paused briefly by the Thames Barrier, went through Greenwich and Rotherhithe, along some more cobbles and emerged among the crowds at Tower Bridge as the sun set. There was a brief shower as we went through Greenwich, otherwise the light was rather atmospheric and David got some good photos. After we had navigated the crowds by Borough Market and the Globe, numbers began to reduce as people peeled off to London Bridge and Blackfriars stations.
  In the end I recorded 31 miles from Waterloo and everyone had lessons in how to repair punctures and ride on cobbles. Many thanks to Tony for leading the ride.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Next Step ride on Sunday the 23rd.

Sunday 23 NovemberCliff Whitfield will lead an all day ride to Charlwood with Maureen as the backmarker. Meet Cliff at 09:50 AM just outside the Nonsuch cafeteria for departure at 10:00 AM.
  We will stop for coffee at Denbies vineyard, no major hills on this section. We continue to Leigh on the back road around Brockham, with some small undulations until we reach Norwood Hill. Although a bit harder, it’s not the end of the world, we will wait and regroup at the top. A welcome swoop down the other side will take us into Charlwood to a lovely sheltered Pub serving good food for lunch.
   After lunch we’ll bear right out of Charlwood and left up Stan Hill - walk if necessary. A right turn at Parkgate takes us back via Brockham and Leatherhead with a tea stop at Annie’s or Costa. Total distance approximately 35 miles. If the weather turns on us we will lunch at Leigh.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

All day ride on Satrday 15 th November

On Saturday 15 November Tony Hooker will lead an all day ride from Waterloo Station to Woolwich along the Thames via Greenwich and the Thames Barrier. After crossing the river on the ferry the return will be along the Greenway to Victoria Park and thence to Waterloo around 3.30pm.
Meet Tony at Waterloo Station at 9:50am for departure at 10am by the entrance to platform 2. 
Lunch stop TBA.
Distance approximate,y 35 miles. Bring lights if you intend to ride back from Waterloo.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Next Step Ride on Sunday 26th

  Thirteen riders left Nonsuch Park heading for Pyrford Lock via L'head Fetcham Stoke D'A and Wisley Village. Cliff apparently forgot to brief the back marker ,Maureen,on the route so after a mild rebellion Fetcham got byepassed!
  After coffee at Squires and another mild discussion as to whether Squires was in Stoke D'A or Cobham the ride continued to Martyrs Green were a right turn took us to the A3 where Angie  Neil and Peter left us . The footbridge took us over the A3 to the Wisley Garden Centre where there were no takers for a stop at the shop other than Jane so on thro' the village to Anchor at the lock, always a nice surprise to first time visitors, this time Andrea. Lunch was delivered without delay and we turned right out of the Pub and over the humpback bridge to Ripley and the old aerodrome. A slight mistake by the leader at the big roundabout saw us taking the 2nd exit instead of the first. This corrected we climbed bank to the airstrip and so  to Cobham and L'head for tea at Costas.
and back to Nonsuch just as it was getting dark.  Weather was good for us and 42miles covered.
Cliff and Maureen

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Next Step ride on Sunday 26 October

Sunday 26 October Cliff will lead a ride to Pyrford Lock. We will ride to the popular Anchor pub at Pyrford Lock for lunch, coffee will be taken at Stoke D'Abernon 
with a quick stop at Wisley Garden centre if agreed by all. Return will be via Ripley and the Second World War aerodrome south of Martyrs Green. Tea will be at Leatherhead or the Olive Tree Ashtead. Meet Cliff at 09:50AM just outside the Nonsuch cafeteria for departure at 10AM. Total cycling distance approximately 35 miles.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Ride to Godstone Saturday 18th September

  It was a dry, fairly cloudy morning with showers in the forecast when 10 riders set off from Nonsuch. Through Purley we rode up the short, brutal climb on Foxley Hill road to the parallel cycle route to Whyteleafe South with it's many false flats. Passing new flood relief works in Woldingham Road we turned out the well surfaced track to Woldingham School and Marden Park. This is a steady climb to the head of the valley with its views over the Weald into a headwind, but virtually traffic-free.
  We free wheeled down to Bulbeggars (a mythical beast around at night) Lane and around Godstone Village Green to Knights Garden Centre cafe where we more or less took it over as the place seemed rather deserted. Dawn rewarded us with slices of home made Bread pudding and then departed to make her way home using the train.
  After a slog up to Bletchingly we descended to a track at the bottom of the Downs to Merstham, where Angie had a rear wheel flat. This repaired with the aid of many helpers we rode up to Fanny's Farm where there was a brief stop for supplies. Interestingly, a news item we saw on the ride which proclaimed "Sheep eat discarded cannabis" referred to sacks of the weed being dumped in a field at the farm. This item of news even made the national dailies and even a paper in Italy!
  After the rapid descent to Chipstead Bottom, most diverted up to Banstead, the remainder in slight drizzle going to the Oaks Park Cafe and thence to North Cheam in bright sunshine.
 The ride was 33 miles, a good last ride of the Summer season. Thanks to Neil for back marking.      Here is a pic of the group at the head of the Marden Park track.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Stephanie's ride to Long Ditton on the 11th October

  After a heavy rain shower at 1pm, 24 riders turned up at Nonsuch, a great advance on the previous week. Nigel led a group to Richmond Park, and Stephanie the remaining 16 to Squires at Long Ditton. Sunshine and quite warm throughout for both groups. Here are some pics from Stephanie's ride.

All day ride on Saturday the 18 th October

  Meet Nonsuch cafe at 9.50 to leave at 10 for an easy paced ride to
Godstone. Riding via Purley, Whytleafe and the beautiful Marden Park
valley, we will stop at the Garden Centre in Godstone for a midday
snack. The return will be via Bletchingley and Merstham, then up the
North Downs past Fanny's Farm and Woodmanstern to the cafe at Oaks
Some short and fairly steep hills are expected, but this is not a race
so walking up them is permitted. Total distance will be about 35
Harry Cole

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Saturday the 4th October Beginners

  This ride was notable for the fact that, apart from Harry, Nigel, Shirley and Colin, no one turned up at Nonsuch. Admittedly the air temperature had fallen from 19c at 10am to 12c at 2pm and there was steady rain. This was the first proper rain of the autumn and was forecast to last most of the afternoon, so this could have been the reason.
  I therefore missed my tea and cake at the Oaks Park cafe , but I did discover that my overtrousers are no longer fully waterproof. We all four went home.

Cliff's Next Step ride on Sunday the 28th September

  Cliff led 20 riders out to the country on what could turn out to have been the last warm Sunday of the year.  It is good to see John Gould was among them again after his health issues. Here are some pics from the lunch stop.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Ride Leader Phil Barnes

  Phil has been leading Beginners rides for the last 8 years. He joined with his wife who knew Nigel Taylor from work, and he has also done Cycle Training with Merton Council. Leading rides seemed a natural next step, though he has been less available in the last year.
  It is important as a leader to see that everyone has a serviceable bike, is wearing a helmet if a complete beginner, and can actually ride their bike. The back marker's job is to keep everyone together.
  His favourite cycling destination is Hungary, where a friend runs a company based there. More locally he likes Richmond Park and the towpath between Putney and Kingston.
  His favourite bike is a  Claude Butler "Revolution" cyclo cross bike bought in 2010. It is light with 28mm tyres and was a good price at under £400. He also rides a 15 yr old Saracen mtb in the Surrey Hills. Having 4 bikes he tends to go out on the one nearest the front door.

Ride to Ashstead Saturday 27th September

  Lynda led a smallish group to Bike Beans Cafe in Ashstead. This ride skirts countryside around the top of Epsom on the way out, and then goes over Ashstead Common on the return leg. There are only two short inclines to speak of, one by Epsom Hospital up Wilmerhatch Lane, and the other by the Wells on Ashstead Common. These are taxing enough for new riders.
  The cafe was showing the Women's elite World Champioship Road Race, something to aim at for Beginners. The ride, however, was at a more sedate pace though not slow. The weather was warm for September and cloudy. Autumn has still to arrive.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Rivers and Parks ride on the 20th September

  This is the coffee stop near Richmond Bridge. A good turnout.

Next step ride on the 28th September

Sunday 28 September Cliff will lead a ride to Newdigate. It will be a 41 mile loop via Leatherhead, Brockham and Leigh. We’ll stop for coffee at Leatherhead and lunch at the Surrey Oaks at 21 miles. The pub has a classic menu and the food is great and not expensive. Back via Brockham with a tea stop on the Green.
Moreover, there are no major hills. Meet Cliff at 09:50AM just outside the Nonsuch cafeteria for departure at 10AM.

Monday, 15 September 2014

All day Saturday ride 20th September

Saturday 20 September, Dawn will lead a relaxed pace ride via Kingston, Teddington and Richmond to morning coffee on the river at Isleworth. Then through Syon Park and along the Grand Union Canal to
Osterley Park for lunch. Return through Richmond Park and Wimbledon to Nonsuch Park.  Expect to be back by 4pm. Meet Dawn at 09:50AM just outside the Nonsuch cafeteria for departure at 10AM.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Beginners Barbecue 30th August

 Pat and Mary Ryan had kindly agreed to host this at their home, one which also boosts a small orchard near Ewell East Station. There was excellent food and a good time was had by all, even if it became rather overcast and gloomy as time went on. Many thanks to Pat and Mary.

Ride to Bockett's Farm on Saturday 30th August

  There were 7 riders at the start of this ride, which was a change from the scheduled one to Merton Abbey Mills. It turned out that Sue thought she was on the short ride to Long Ditton and wondered why we were going via Ashstead Common!
 I suggested we tried riding as a closed up group to minimise wind resistance which was a new experience for most as more concentration is needed than a looser formation. Anyway, I now realise that for this to have  much purpose there has to be wind and you have to be going a lot faster than 10 mph, but we kept it going up the cycle tracks alongside Horton Country Park until we got to Ashstead Common.
  We crossed the Mole at River Lane and went up to Bockett's' via Fetcham, meeting two other riders who had started later  and gone a different route through Leatherhead. Bockett's was strangely quiet, but after a short break we returned via the new cycle track alongside the A24 to Ashstead where we took the back routes to Nescot and Cheam Road.
 The new cycle track by the A24 is worth using instead of diverting to the footbridge over the M25, though rather less scenic.
 The weather became cloudy and rather gloomy as we finished, some going to the Barbecue at Pat and Mary Ryan's house. The distance was 22 miles. A route map is provided by Gill.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Ride to Alexandra Palace on Saturday 16th August

  Tony led 4 others, David, Pat, Jenny and Harry via Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath to Alexandra Palace. We began at Waterloo station by Platform 2, sped past the tourists on Westminster Bridge, the protesters atop the Wellington  Arch and up through Maida Vale and the Regents Canal to Hampstead. This is where the hilly part of North London begins. A stop at Parliament Hill to take in the views (much cheaper than paying to go up the Shard), then down to the bathing ponds and the steep climb up to Hampstead Village past the palaces of the super rich.
  A fast descent through Queens Wood took us to the foot of Alexanda Palace Hill and another steep climb to the Grove Cafe in the Palace Complex. The food was prompt and the views over SE London were great with the good visibility prevailing.
  Thoughts that all the hills were now over proved to be an illusion as we came through Hornsey Vale to Finsbury Park where David reminisced about races in his youth, and the start of the Greenway back up to Highgate Village. This quasi rural fragment is well worth a visit and it brings you out by Highgate station. An urbanised, rather trafficky stretch, took us down through Kentish Town to Camden where we turned into Regents Park and it's hordes of tourists. They must spend a lot of time queuing on their visits to London, a noteworthy one being outside the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
  We sped south down Baker Street and Seymour Street to Hyde Park, also thronged with Tourists. These had thinned out by the time we crossed Battersea Bridge after which Pat diverted to Clapham Junction and a train to her car in Dorking. Our tea stop was at Merton Abbey Mills after which we dispersed. The ride was about 33 miles from Waterloo to Abbey Mills. The weather stayed dry though became rather breezy.
  It was a real variety of riding environments and starting at Waterloo is a good way to begin. Many thanks to Tony(I like maps)for working all this out. Urban rides require careful planning and concentration when riding.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Saturday 9th. Ride 100 on the 10th.

  As I failed to get a place in this, I volunteered to help lead a Merton Cycling Campaign ride into Central London Freecycle.
Although 100 had registered, about 60 turned up at the start in Wimbledon Town Centre. There were several children and young people with their parents and a range of bikes from rusting mountain bikes to smart new road bikes. Doing the pre-ride checks, the majority of faults were under inflated tyres and saddles at the wrong height. Most had not brought along pumps and spare inner tubes, so were going to have to find their own solutions if they flatted. Not usually a problem in Central London with so many bike shops around.
  With excellent marshalling and leading by Charles Barraball with a large green flag attached to his pannier rack, we made good time along the Wandle trail and across Wandsworth Common to stop at Clapham Common for a comfort break. Here we met the Lambeth Group and numerous other individual riders heading into the City.
  We crossed Chelsea Bridge and went up the CS7 to Parliament Square where we dispersed to join in the closed roads route and visit the various attractions at the hubs dotted along the way.
  It was an impressive sight seeing so many cyclists of all shapes and sizes slowly circulating around. So many that there were choke points mainly around Trafalgar Square and the Mall, where we mixed it with the hordes of tourists there for the changing of the guard.
  I ended up at the hub by St Paul's where there was cycling polo and a mini street velodrome. The weather was mainly sunny with light winds, perfect for such an event, and there were estimated to be 60,000 plus bikes present during the day.
  There were fewer riders for the ride back, though we picked up a few from the Tooting group who had lost their leader.
  There was one collision and a couple of flats on the way back, and it was noticeable how much busier and less accommodating the motor traffic had become. The group marshals by now had honed their techniques and even on main roads the cars and buses were stopping.
  I would thoroughly recommend doing this when it comes around next year, unless the weather is like what it was the day after.

   I was a helper at the LCC hub in Hampton Court for the Ride 100, which had been shortened to the Ride 86 due to the weather forecast. Despite being virtually flooded out at around 9 am I was impressed by the good spirits of the rides and how keen they were to deposit litter in the available bins. Almost all were determined to continue and were rewarded by improving conditions later on.
  Mostly people were riding road bikes though there were many tandems and the odd tourer, and towards the back there were obvious novices. This has to be an event for everyone who is reasonably fit.  The other lesson is that showerproof jackets are not up to the job of coping with downpours.
  There are also accounts of the ride on the Wayfarers blog.

Harry Cole


Monday, 4 August 2014

Longer ride Saturday 2nd August

  Under a rather threatening sky, but with a following wind, 8 riders followed me out of Nonsuch towards Farthing Down. The route involves some urban riding and the climbing of hills, which may be why it is less popular than routes out to the South and West, but the rewards of Kenley Airfield and Farthing Down itself make it well worth the short efforts required. We even had the added bonus of briefly stopping at Mayfield Lavender fields by Oaks Park on the return leg.
  Over tea at Coughlan's bakery in Caterham on the Hill, I reflected that the last time I led this ride a year or so ago there was a completely different group of riders, such is the turnover at present. It was really pleasing that everyone made it up Higher Drive by Kenley Station without getting off which showed how far some beginners had come since they joined in terms of fitness and technique.
 Gillian took the photo and recorded the route map and Sandra was the back marker ensuring that the slowest rider always had company. The threatened rain never materialised, and it was a beautiful late afternoon as we cruised down Farthing Down with the distant view of the City of London. All in all about 30 miles was done.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Ride leader Dawn Dodd

  Dawn has been coming to the Beginners since 2000, and has been a leader since 2006. She thinks this is what you should do as a regular and enjoys finding new routes and general exploring.
  In her view, keeping the group together, being friendly and welcoming and knowing the route are important when leading a ride. She especially likes being near water, such as the Thames by Kingston ,but has no particular favourite cafe.
She owns one bike, a purple tourer made by Pearson's with 27 gears, bought in 2005. When she started she rode a bike made from various parts by the late Tom Fiddimore, a stalwart member of the Beginners.

Tony' s ride to the coast on the 19th. Further stuff.

  This ride was notable from my point of view for three reasons, one revealing, two alarming and one humiliating.
  The first, and something that almost always happens when I go on a ride lead by someone else, is finding a new route to a familiar destination. In this case a cut-through from Tadworth to Walton on the Hill via the Avenue, Motts Hill Lane and Withybed Corner. This neatly avoids the busy St Mere Road and comes out by the Mere Pond. I will use this one again thanks to Tony's local knowledge.
 The second was my first experience of shimmying, aka speed wobble, on the descent of Pebble Hill.
According to the late, great, Sheldon Brown ( see his website for information about everything to do with cycling), this is caused by lateral oscillation of the head tube on fast descents. The higher the saddle and the longer the frame, the more likely is a shimmy and I was descending with all brakes on at 30mph. Luckily, releasing the front brake and the road levelling out after the 16% section cured the problem but makes me reluctant to descend that particular hill in future.
  After a brisk ride along the lanes to Horsham in bright sunshine and a snack at Wetherspoons I then discovered I had a rear tyre puncture as we set off. Intending to catch up, I mended the flat in good time, only to discover I had put the old, damaged inner tube back in! Morale took a tumble at this point and I slunk back 300 yards to a new bike shop we had just passed, where an efficient mechanic changed the tube in even quicker time while I watched the TDF on their TV.
  I then decided to return home via Leatherhead, and stopped off for another snack at Bike Beans cafe in Ashstead.
  In the end I did 63 miles, and had a good ride back without incident as the temperature topped 28c.
Thanks to Tony and the others. Three lessons in one ride.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Saturday ride to the coast on the 19th July

  Eight cyclists left Nonsuch Park on an overcast morning but the weather improved as we continued our journey. We stopped at Wetherspoons in Horsham for elevenies, as we left Robin who had overslept caught us up! 
  Unfortunately Harry got a puncture in Horsham and we agreed to leave him behind.
  We arrived in Worthing with the sun shining where we stopped for lunch on the seafront, three cycled back home, three took the train and Robin stayed for the week-end. The newcomer Kevin cycled on to Bognor.
We all enjoyed a good day out (including Harry) I hope.

Tony Hooker

Monday, 21 July 2014

Next Step ride Sunday 20th July

  Cliff and Maureen together with Lynda, Anna, Paul and David Aylett left Nonsuch Park to ride to Pyrford Lock. Despite initially intending to go via Send a joint decision was made to go the usual way via Claygate and Wisley Village. David opted to leave us at Epsom to return for a family party.
Coffee was taken at Carluccios in Cobham and lunch at The Anchor where the food was good, and efficiently and quickly served despite being very busy.
We returned by way of the local WW2 airstrip and took tea at Stoke D'Abernon.
Having ridden 41 miles, more by Paul 50 plus, we just managed to miss the heavy rain downpour.
Cliff and Maureen

Monday, 14 July 2014

Saturday the 12th July

  A hot sunny day for once saw a good size group gather at Nonsuch with one new rider joining in. Due to Nigel still being off his bike and Lynda being away, there was a temporary leader shortage for the longer ride to Kingston until Alice agreed to lead her first ride.
   I led the ride to Telegraph Track with Dawn as a volunteer back marker and eight other riders. David, Colin and Shirley kept back to help the new woman rider who had come with a folding bike. She did not make it to the cafe at Woodcote, but later made it back to Nonsuch. There is no real reason why a folding bike is not suitable for the beginners short ride, providing it is the right size to start with. Most riders however, seem to prefer bikes with larger wheels. They should be easier to ride on tracks.
  The cafe at Woodcote was in full swing, particularly at the ice cream counter, and after we all left Colin rejoined the group having wandered around the Garden Centre trying to find us. The skies above the downs at Woodcote were full of  Swallows and Housemartins feeding on insect swarms and the air temperature had risen to 26C for the short grind up The Warren road.
  Reaching the Brighton road junction with Downsway/Crossway several riders near the back mistakenly took the wrong turn behind Dawn and Christine who were actually going home. No one can get lost in this area where so many live and we were all back together at the end in Nonsuch.
 On my return home I met the longer ride riders returning from Richmond Park  in Worcester Park and later that evening there was a torrential downpour as the hot weather broke.
  Thanks to Alice for leading the longer ride and Dawn for being my back marker.

  More experienced riders are needed to volunteer to lead and act as helpers on our rides. David has guidelines to follow and Colin and Shirley provide excellent route guides. It is also a great way of getting to know the area and other people in the group. Just speak to any of us if you think you are willing to give this a try.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

All day ride on Saturday 19th

On Saturday 19 July Tony Hooker will lead an all day ride to Shoreham-by-Sea. Meet Tony at 08:50 AM outside the Nonsuch cafeteria for departure at 09:00 AM. The first stop will be for elevenses at Horsham Weatherspoons, and thereafter down the 30 odd miles or so to the coast at Shoreham.

Lunch will be in Worthing and after that people can either ride back, if anyone fancies a century ride, or get the train which takes just over an hour to East Croydon.

Shoreham-by-Sea is a small seaside town and port in West Sussex, England. The town has a population of 17,537 according to the 2001 census, and is historically part of Sussex.

This is not really a ride for absolute beginners but if you can do up to 40 miles you should be fine.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Green Lane has been resurfaced at last.

  Green Lane is a path between Lower Morden Lane and Worcester Park which goes past the Merton and Sutton Cemetery, the Green Lane Riding Stables and a new private Housing complex with New England style houses, to come out by the station in Worcester Park. It has always been a potential way to avoid the A24 going north to South and is part of the short ride route to Morden Hall from Nonsuch, but has been in such poor repair that it was usually avoided altogether by a tedious detour through Joseph Hood playing fields and Morden Cemetery.
  The resurfacing is a massive improvement, although the short section outside the Primary School still resembles a World War One battlefield. This stretch is in the Royal Borough of Kingston, not Merton. Joined up action is therefore still required.

Ride to Hampton Court on Saturday the 5th July

  Lynda led 12 riders on this ride. The sky threatened showers but most were prepared for these except Carolyn who had forgotten headgear. Not unusually for the beginners, there were more women than men on this ride and Lynda led us by a familiar route via Malden Manor, Tolworth and Long Ditton to her favourite cafe, the Five on the Bridge.
  As we sat inside, it began to rain and waterproofs were donned for the return. Luckily the rain eased off almost as soon as we started. I left at Surbiton to see the start of the Tour de France on ITV. It was sunny and dry in Yorkshire.


Monday, 7 July 2014

Next step ride in July

  Please note that the planned ride for Sunday 13 July has been postponed for one week. Cliff will lead a ride on Sunday 20 July to Pyrford lock via Cobham and Send. The return journey after lunch may include a quick visit to Wisley Garden centre and cafĂ©.
  Meet Cliff at 09:50AM just outside the Nonsuch cafeteria for departure at 10AM.
Total cycling distance approx. 40 miles with stops for coffee, lunch and tea.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Rainy Saturday the 28th June

 The day had started reasonably enough, with a heavy shower followed by hot sunshine, and although the forecast was for more showers, after recent warm dry days it looked as though a good afternoon's riding lay ahead.
  Turnout was a bit reduced at Nonsuch due to many being away in Dieppe, but several newcomers were there including some smaller children.  With a leader shortage, one ride was to go to East Molesey, and the other stay more local around Ewell, though dark clouds loomed over the horizon to the West.
  The ten on the longer ride got no further than a couple of large trees in the park before heavy rain began to fall, but decided to see out the shower before resuming the ride. There were even the usual comments about it being good for gardens. The short sharp shower proved to be too optimistic a description and after 20 minutes a decision was made to abandon the ride and return to the cafe to wait for the rain to pass. Some had not even brought waterproofs and elected to abandon altogether as by now the air temperature had also fallen several degrees.
   The short ride had not even started and some stragglers also went into the cafe, where hot drinks and cakes improved morale to the extent that it looked as though some sort of ride could be possible after all later on.  In due course the rain did ease off and the sky become lighter so I led a half dozen intrepid souls on a shorter ride to Horton Park.
  When we got to the Hogsmill valley path near Hook the sky began to darken again and spots of rain become heavier and more persistent, so this ride hastily turned back by the Golf Centre. By now, such waterproofs as some people had, including mine, were proving inadequate, and in these conditions the only consolations were no wind to speak of and the end of the ride in sight. Still, we all finished and can say it was a learning experience about proper clothing and weather forecasting.  Tennis at Wimbledon was rained off until the evening, and true to form, as I reached my front door the rain stopped for the day and the sun came out.
  There is always next weekend, which surely must produce better weather, for the start of the Tour de France.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Angie's ride to Charlwood on the 21st June

  Saturday dawned bright and sunny, but when I arrived at the Mansion House only 4-5 people were there.
  Then, low and behold, more intrepid cyclists arrived.  I say intrepid as I seem to have a reputation for cycling quickly!  In all, there were 16 of us.  It was a lovely ride out.  Up, up, up to Banstead, out to Walton on the Hill, when I made history by stopping for coffee by the pond.  We all whizzed down Pebble Hill and withOut further ado made our way via Irons Bottom to Norwood Hill. 

  During the descent to Charlwood, Maureen had a complete blow out of her back tyre and inner tube.  David patched it up and she made it to lunch after which Cliff called a taxi and they were taken to Crawley for a new tyre and inner tube and a train back to East Croydon. 
  On the way back towards Leatherhead, Bev was unwell and was revived with Lucozade Sport!  He kept suffering from terrible cramp.  We stopped for tea at Annie's in Leatherhead, then made our way home in dribs and drabs.
  I hope everybody enjoyed their day.  I certainly did.  Thank you so much to Maureen and Harry for being such splendid back markers.  Thank you, Harry for helping out with Bev on the way back, and to David A. and others for helping out with the cycle repairs. Door to door I did 49.65 happy miles.  Angie x

Friday, 20 June 2014

David Aylett's new bike

  David's first new bike for over half a century is a customized one from Hewitt. He needed a new bike as his old one was wearing out and the components were becoming difficult to replace.
  Initially he wanted a carbon-fibre frame because of its lightness and did some research on the matter, writing to CTC's technical officer, Chris Juden for advice. Somewhat to David's surprise, his letter and Chris' reply were published in the June/July issue of CYCLE on page 68 and David then decided to go with Reynold's 631 steel.
  Only Hewitt, based in Lancashire, who were reviewed in the CTC magazine recently, supplied an off the peg frame in the right size, though not in David's favourite colour purple, and he went with their blue option. For all the other components he wanted Campagnolo as they can be replaced, though in the end had to settle for some lower quality items as only they would fit the frame and frameset. He admits he was a very demanding client and can go into greater detail if requested.
  The result is what could be described as a fast day tourer that has the qualities David wanted such as comfort, lightness, and ease of riding. Many cyclists dream about having a custom built or customized bike, and this is one example of that dream coming true.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Next Step ride on Sunday June 15th

Cliff with Maureen as back marker led Andrea, Lillian, Tony Z ,Anna, Paul, Jane and Helen on an ambitious ride to Gatton Manor Golf and Country Club in Standon Lane near Walliswood, coming in the long way round. 
Maureen clocked 59 miles and Cliff 47, having chickened out at Dorking Station . At the imposing entrance to the Golf Club some riders expressed alarm that it looked too posh. Having played there, Cliff was able to assure them it wasn't but kept his fingers crossed in case it had gone upmarket since his last visit some 15 or so years ago. It hadn't, and a good beef and horse radish sandwich cost £4.95. Other food at good prices was also available. It's worth a visit. 
The return was shorter through Ockley, Capel Newdigate and Brockham for Tea. Cliff said farewell at this point to catch the train at Dorking as did Helen and Jane and Andrea picked up her car, the others riding home. Everybody seemed to enjoy it, at least they said they did !!
Maureen Whitfield

Monday, 16 June 2014

Angie's all day ride on Saturday 21st.

  Angie leaves Nonsuch at 10am on a ride to the Greyhound pub in Charlwood. Cresting the North Downs with a fast descent down Pebble Hill to the quiet lanes beyond, over some undulations she will ride past Leigh and Norwood Hill to the lunch stop near Gatwick.
The return will be via Lonesome Lane, Horley and Brockham, to a tea stop in Leatherhead, so no more big hills. Roads throughout apart from the track alongside Betchworth Park Golf Course so normal bikes will be enough. The distance will be about 40 miles.

Let us hope you will not be needing waterproofs this Saturday.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Ride Leader Profiles - Carolyn Graham

  Carolyn has been leading rides for about 8 years after being gently persuaded to do so by David Aylett.
  She likes to ride at a steady pace, not get too far ahead of the back marker, and to be always aware of the spread of the group.
She stops at regular intervals to keep the group together and aims to make the ride enjoyable by chatting to as many riders as possible.
  Her favourite destination is Palmer's cafe in Ashstead, where she led her first ever Beginners ride.
She is pictured with her favourite bike, a Giant Escape, which she bought in February 2013. She got it because it has everything she needs in a bike.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Next Step ride on the 15th June posted by Cliff Whitfield

  Meet in Nonsuch Park at 10 o'clock then ride to Gatton Manor Golf Club for lunch via Brockham, Capel, Ockley and Mole Street.
  Return via Okewood Hill and Weare Street in reverse and stop at Brockham for tea. I can also consider on the day Pyrford Lock via Send and return via Wisley for tea stop if preferred by the riders.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Ride on 7th June to long Ditton

  This ride takes you through Auriol Park, Malden Manor, Tolworth and ends up down by the Thames at Long Ditton. After savouring the bucolic delights of the river a short climb then takes you to Squires Garden Centre Cafe.
  This has a pleasant outdoor seating area, and after refreshments the ride returns via Hook rise and the Hogsmill Walk in West Ewell. Primarily, you pass through suburbia with its rows of almost identical semi detached homes. Here and there older houses remain, especially on Ditton Hill, relics of a more rustic past.
 Carolyn was the leader with Lynda as back marker and there were no mishaps or mechanical failures on an warm, often sunny afternoon. Can we dare to herald the arrival of summer?

Monday, 2 June 2014

Colin's action photo.

Ride to Morden Hall Park on 31st May

  17 riders set off from Nonsuch on a dry, if rather cloudy at times, afternoon. A contrast to the previous weeks torrential rain which saw many abandon before even setting off. Down the hill toWorcester  Park and the newly resurfaced Green Lane past the stables and the cemetery. Entering Morden Park, sections through the woods were still muddy despite copious amounts of top dressing of wood chips and those with new bikes had good reason to curse. Through the suburban Merton Park to Morden Hall park where most stopped at the Stable Yard cafe with its ample outdoor seating if rather limited supply of cake.
  The return was via Ravensbury Park , Rose Hill and Sutton Garden suburb to Angel Hill where Colin lay in wait to get an action photo of the group. Riders peeled off as we proceeded via Western Road and Cheam Village back to the Park.
 A good afternoon out with no punctures or other mechanicals. About 10-12 miles in total.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Nigel's ride on the 17th May

  I missed off a bit of David's post by mistake, and here is another photo from the ride.

  As I'm sure Emelia would agree, you don't have to have a mountain bike to
enjoy a day out off road on a dry and sunny day.  Having had a fall, Nigel
may not agree.

  Nigel had a nasty fall. The picture of him in the previous post about the ride sitting on the ground was not him relaxing and grinning. He will be off cycling for about another 6 weeks, so we all wish him well.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Ride Leader Profiles. Brian Bent.

  Brian kindly agreed to become the first Beginners Rides Leader to have a short profile added to the blog so people coming on rides can recognise leaders and know a bit about them.
  He started leading rides last year as there was a shortage of leaders and wanted to do his bit to help.
  His three aims on a ride are to keep everyone together, ride at a steady pace and keep everyone safe.
  His favourite destination is Woodcote Garden Centre as it has good facilities, especially seating.
  His favourite bike is the 1950's Carlton, pictured above, which always excites interest from other riders.

Thank you to Brian from me. More profiles will follow when I can catch willing subjects.

Nigel's ride on the 18th May posted by David Aylett

The Big Bike Ride left only three of us to enjoy Nigel's all day off road
ride to West End Lane Esher on Saturday.   Emelia, Nigel and I waited in
vain for more to join us but eventually set off through the woods following
the Hogsmill River, then from park to park along bridle ways and paths to
Chessington, Claygate and the beauties of Esher Common where we passed
Bluebells, Rhododendron and Camelia all flowering together. Lots of chat and
an enjoyable lunch at The Prince of Wales.  A recommended day out for the
future, thanks Nigel.