Saturday, 26 December 2020

Tales of strange machines from up north

A report from Ian Prince on 19 December, riding a low level ICE tricycle in Sheffield

Having escaped London for work prior to lockdown, I thought I had still better carry on riding as I miss the Saturday rides. 

So now being up north, it is entirely appropriate that I entitle this “ICE in the North”.

The racing Brompton certainly gets the hammer whilst in London as it has done since I upgraded to it a decade ago from my more utility Brompton. However, despite it being fine for everything, I use my other bikes (rule of n+1) when elsewhere. 

Having gone ‘laid back’ this summer properly for the first time (years of envy dissipated instantly) I gently set up all the lights on the ICE trike for a short late afternoon ride into town today. Probably a similar distance to CTC SW London beginners Saturday rides. 

‘Riders eye view’

Whilst it is entirely different to riding a diamond frame bike or even a Brompton, I love the stability and when I do eventually venture out on an icy morning, I have no fear of being tipped off or slipping off on black ice. I even have in reserve for such days a studded 700c rear tyre to maintain traction. 

So....a mere 7.75 miles later in the pitch black tonight, but with four front and two rear lights, the experience was good, dare I say relaxing! Artificial daylight and the picture above was with only 50% of the lights on and at low beam too. 

Whilst my longest ride on it in the summer months was over eighty miles, I am getting into the swing of this style of cycling, even increasing speeds as it becomes the “new normal”. I have sights set on the Peak District Winnats Pass and Yorkshire Moors Sutton Bank next year, but we shall see. 

Its a long ride for it to visit Surrey although I have done that before over a number of days on the road bike in the past. Car assisted is not really feasible due to its length though so it may not be appearing on the beginners rides any time soon. (Plus getting through gates and barriers is not really practical with a tricycle 2.2m long). 

And the question everybody asks about feeling vulnerable low down....well yes it was a concern having tried out a variety of recumbents over the years, but its not until you pass 500 miles or so does it become “automatic” to ride this way. It is strange how motorists do seem to give a wider berth and be more patient than when stuck behind a bike. I think we need a psychologist to carry out a doctorial study as to why. (CTC should perhaps find some funding to pursue such matters?)

Hopefully I will get some more solo miles in over the Christmas and New Year break....more stories and pictures in the offing perhaps for the blog? 

............and a follow-up report on Christmas Eve

Cycled to work today on the ICE trike. 

Cardboard cutout of Rishi Sunak in reception suitably seasonally decorated along with Covid 19 hand sanitation point in the background, and Xmas tree sum up the year. 

Luckily here, we were announced as remaining in tier 3 today, so less onerous than London & SE but still can do daily exercise and travel to work where homeworking not possible. 

Actually no one else in the business centre today, so Covid risk less than in Morrisons or Sainsburys! 

Cant leave the ICE trike outside though, far too tempting at Christmas (or anytime) for those who know what it is! 

the Chancellor considers Road Taxing alien vehicles

All best for Christmas and New Year. Hope you can manage to get awheel “for exercise“ over the seasonal period. 

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Little did we know.....Sutton pod from Beddington Park, 19 December

Meeting Dave the other week on Clapham Common showed me how reachable that common is from Sutton or Beddington for a Saturday ride.  As it has never been on the regular itinerary, I devised, and offered the Sutton Six, a ride there with which to sign off the Christmas break with something different; out along the Northern Line, back along the Thameslink Sutton Common loop.

We prefer to finish rides in the daylight, or near-daylight, so I agreed with Colin that as we already had a full group of six signed up, we would leave the Park before the traditional time.  We decided upon taking sandwiches and a midday departure.

The weatherman had lied again, and the cold rain which his computer model predicted the previous evening would be long gone to the east, was with us right until we left home; most of the ride was in changeable weather.

Ray had had difficulty keeping up before he peeled off to ride to work at the North Pole.  Still, the long ride was good for 'is elf. 

The Wandle Path and Morden Hall Park were slippery with leaves and sticky with mud and I realised that the slightly more ambitious Plan A, which would bring us home through Putney Heath and Wimbledon Common was best abandoned.  We got to Phipps Bridge tram stop before we had to stop being nonchalant about the increasing drizzle and threatening sky and don our waterproofs but in traditional style the rain stopped as soon as we did so.  At Merton Abbey Mills we left the Wandle Trail and used the Cycle Superhighway up the A24 to Clapham Common, where we bought tea and sat on a park bench pretending we were warm and eating our sandwiches.

It's a straight run from the Clapham Common bandstand via Broomwood Road to Wandsworth Common, which has an unhealthy ratio of non-cycling paths but which we crossed legitimately.  Trinity Road proved a mite more difficult to cross until a cycle friendly van driver let us in, and we used the Magdalene Road, Ravensbury Road and Revelstoke Road route to Wimbledon Park.

Home Park Road was steeper than usual but the gradients were in our favour from there to Lower Morden, where the skies began to darken and not entirely because of the impending winter evening.  The dousing began on the way up to St Helier and by the time we got past the hospital into Carshalton the roads were merely tarmac rivers and ponds but it does not matter too much if the last few miles are wet and one has a warm shower and an immediate change of clothes.

We had said our goodbyes at the top of Rose Hill, turning our attentions to our plans for families at Christmas and talking cheerily of our next ride, which would be in the New Year.  Little did we know (though there had been hints in the morning news) that within an hour our Christmases and our rides would be scuppered and that our pleasant, if wintry, Saturday afternoon might be the last time we rode in the group for a while.

Group riding suspended

Welcome, everyone, to Tier 4!  Further details of the Covid-19 Tier 4 Regulations are awaited but the Club Committee's interpretation of the rules is that group rides are banned again.  You can exercise "without restriction" by yourself or with members of your own household or just you and one other person from Tier 4, so long as you stay within Tier 4 (which is a pretty extensive area).  However, solo or duo cycling trips to Oxford or Bournemouth and beyond are out for the moment.

Happy Christmas!

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Culcha for the Sutton Six on 12 December

The temperature up a degree or two, the rain in the air but just about holding off, we met up in Sutton as usual at one, the better to be home while it was light.  When the leader announced that we were going to the White House, some thought it a bit far, but it was not, of course, that White House, but the one atop Richmond Park, which turned out to show the leader's ignorance; it's the White Lodge.  We were off for a tangential brush with culture, the nearest any of would get now to admission to the Royal Ballet School; a peek through the bars of the elegant gates.

We went through Worcester Park to the better of the two tunnels under the A3, the one that has a cycle lane through it and a rideable slope at each end.  The Traps Lane climb was the only real hill and the ride to the Park was a pleasant one.  Through Ladderstile Ride we got into the park with the polite acquiescence of a few pedestrians through the "airlock" gate that takes two bikes at a time and were soon enjoying the park itself, anti-clockwise on the perimeter road (so much the better for its traffic ban in several places) until we reached the cafe (and, vitally, the free loos) at Roehampton Gate.

Not all of us had a cup of tea but we agreed that there were sufficient seats outside to make the cafe a safe experience.  It was too cold to linger, however, and soon we were off, continuing our anti-clockwise progress until we turned up the hill past the rugby pitches to the Ballet School itself.

Les Sylphides

A quick photo opportunity for the four who stood in range of the viewfinder, and we passed the snack bar up there (our Plan B if the Roehampton Gate cafe had proved more crowded than we liked).  The leader dropped something and in picking it up was nearly decapitated by a cyclist who was powering through the 10mph pedestrian area at something like three times that speed but, hey, he missed!

Home past the wandering deer and Thelwell imitators at the riding school, through Robin Hood Gate, along the A3 cycle path, past Raynes Park Station, through Lower Morden and up to Rose Hill, where we went our several ways.

The rain held off; indeed the setting sun became a bit of a hazard, it was nowhere near as inhospitably cold as last week, and we achieved our goal of home in the light.  Altogether a well-spent afternoon; a few metres over 40 Km door to door.  We even saw an aeroplane!

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Nonsuch to Epsom but home by train! Saturday Dec 5th

 From Ian Prince

So what did yesterday bring....

.......the delight of once again being (legally) allowed to group ride, even if our group dissipated to four, even before we left Nonsuch Park for Epsom. No challenges for the Brompton on the short ride to Epsom, even though our accompanied junior member found a hill too much even though he had a lot more gears than I did. Really good to see his Mum dealing out good roadcraft to him at the age of nine. 

I recall doing my cycling proficiency test at the age of eight and my own mum had to accompany me, as the instructor said if I crossed a busy traffic light junction on a main road by myself, I probably didnt need cycling proficiency. 

Mum therefore came along each week and I passed with flying colours, I think losing a point for doing a trackstand waiting for traffic lights to be changed.(I should have put my foot down!). 

Anyway, it did me no harm although it wasnt until much later and the need for independence before I could drive, did I get more seriously into cycling. 

When I started work away from home though that was the major breakththrough. I even bought my first long term girlfriend a bike, but she never caught the ‘bug’ even if she did come along when I had persuaded Yorkshire TV to film us and twenty others for National Bike Week. 

Strangely though she still has that same bike and rides it regularly so it cant have been a bad investment in the 1980s! 

Back to Saturday....after a food and coffee stop at I think it was “Esquires” in Epsom, sad to say our accompanied enthusiastic nine year old was a bit over enthusiatic on the down escalator (ironically a favourite song title of mine from a band I knew well in Manchester where I lived there in the 1980s...”up the down escalator”). 

Still you are only young once and on this occasion, I luckily went and summoned first aid from Epsom Library staff who were great and brought down two first aid boxes of gear to patch the poor lad up. 

Once outside, my Brompton seemed sluggish as I wheeled it through the pedestrianised shopping centre......ah ha, a flat. 

Obviously a problem with CTC rides as I sustained on in the back tyre in the summer at East Molesey boat club. 

This time it was the front. How anyone gets a puncture in a shopping centre carrying the bike is beyond me, but it must have been sustained earlier in the day on the way to Epsom. 

So default to Epsom station for a train ride back to Sutton (our little wounded soldier and his Mum deciding to do similar but to Worcester Park). 

Upon getting back to Sutton, it was straight down to Balfes (the erstwhile Pearsons) for the usual entertaining chat with Jim and a new inner tube. Unfortunately they had a special offer on a very powerful front light, so being the king of every possible lighting combination for nearly fifty years, I succumbed. Well 1600 lumens isnt bad for a bike (I hate bikers without lights), and cheaper than Amazon too. 

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Brrr! Certainly not Kingston, Jamaica! The Sutton pod, 5 December.

We adapted our original idea, to go to Bushy Park, in order to see the Kingston lights this week, the first weekend since the second Lockdown.  We reckoned that if we left Sutton Library at one we should be able to make a round trip of it before darkness fell.

We took a familiar route through Worcester Park and Tolworth.  It was pretty cold and grey and I was very tempted by the coffee shop at Long Ditton but we carried on through to Hampton Court Bridge, and had coffee there, figuring that although it is traditional to get two thirds of the ride done before the break, Kingston would be crowded with newly-released Christmas shoppers.

Paul, Anna, Roger, Ray, Ken & Maggie in the cold garden awaiting the hot beverages!

In one way we were lucky to get the table for six in the garden but sitting still, albeit with company and a hot drink, was not keeping us warm and nobody was eager to linger.  The temperature had dropped a few degrees when we came out and there were indigo clouds that hinted at snow.  The theory was that if we got moving we would keep warm but the east wind blowing along the river cut right through you.  Isn't it amazing how that mixture of damp wind and impending sleet can make a few degrees above freezing in England more uncomfortable than much lower temperatures on foreign mountaintops, even if you are lucky enough to be wearing Merino wool.

It was perishing on the towpath and in that other delightful English phenomenon, the north easterly wind became a south easterly one as soon as we turned across Kingston Bridge.  So by the time we got to the centre of Kingston none of us was much interested in dawdling to see the lights; home became the priority.

The home route was past the cemetery and through Berrylands before we began to go our separate ways on the south side of Worcester Park Station.  Who should we meet at North Cheam Sainsbury's but Sue Bellamy, fresh from a long walk but grumbling about her Strava failing to record seven miles of it!

We did get back in daylight, just, and we felt we had had a really pleasant if bracing exercise.  Door to door just over 43 kilometres at something over 15 Km/H.  For us to linger at those lights the temperature will have to rise a touch!

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Tea for two with no queue?

This week Ken and I decided to cycle to Wimbledon Common leaving a little earlier to try to get home in the light. Unfortunately everyone else, be it pedestrian  or cyclist new and old, had made the same decision! We left Beddington Park to join the Wandle trail at the Hack Bridge and apart from a short detour at Collier's Wood, where we crossed a footbridge dedicated to Gam Bahadur Gurung, of the Queen's Gurkha Engineers, we followed the trail to Earlsfield then briefly joined Garratt Lane before turning left and taking the back streets to King George's Park.

                            Ken at the the footbridge dedicated to Gam Bahadur Gurung 

Turning left out of the park  we began the ascent or so I thought! Ken showing me the way now we were soon on Wimbledon Park Road but before long we were going downhill and were outside my grandsons primary school in Putney and I had no idea how we were going to get to the Common.  Ken reassured me as we went up more and more hills but he was on an electric bike!  When we turned right from Keevil Drive I finally recognised where we were.

Soon we were on the Common looking forward to tea, but it wasn't to be. With crowds queueing for takeaway tea and not dispersing we decided it would be dark before we would enjoy our beverages. I remembered a lovely cafe in Earlsfield so we retraced our steps, only to find it closed.  Thankfully a woman walked by carrying a takeaway drink and she directed us to The Eclectic Collection, an independent coffee shop/cafe that we must visit again when we can sit inside.

Very pleased to have finally had tea we set off back along the Wandle trail. But not long after 4pm it began to get dark. Morden Hall Park was eerie and I was relieved the gates weren't locked and we could get out.  We parted in Carshalton to make our separate ways home. Thank you Ken for showing me yet another route to Wimbledon Common .

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Tea for Two; Beddington Park ride 21 November '20

Ken and I decided to try to cycle to Chaldon Church today via Farthing Downs.  Two weeks ago the beautiful autumn sunshine meant that our planned route was curtailed at the top of the Farthing Downs climb by a roadblock of cars trying to get in to a full car park.  Not today, the cold and threatening rain was perfect for a clear ride.  We left Beddington park to cycle through the back streets of Wallington, waving to Ray as we passed his house.  

We crossed Foxley Lane and cycled down Millionaires Row to Woodcote Village Green where we stopped to put our lights on as it darkened and we were on the A237 down to Coulsdon.  Over the roundabout and we began the climb up Marlpit Lane before turning right and changing down several gears in my case slowly, in Ken's case rapidly on his electric bike, to ascend Ditches Lane.  At the top where the wind tried to send us into the ditches we continued past the car park as the road first became beautiful and leafy but deteriorated significantly to a wet, leaf strewn pot holed track at Chaldon church. We stopped to admire this Saxon church which was open for private prayer only. We'll visit the famous wall painting, dating from about 1200, and the earliest known English Wall painting, another time. 

                                                                     Chaldon Church

We turned back, admiring the Shard on the skyline, to descend Ditches Lane for tea in DD's in Coulsdon.  Or rather tea outside and across the road! 

                                                DD about to cross the road to serve tea!

The return ride started on Woodman Road where we crossed the railway line to tackle the second hill of the day, Grove Lane.

At the top we turned right to join The Bridleway through the golf course and then Meadow Hill.  Eventually we joined the A237 briefly before turning into the Woodcote Village Green and we retraced our 'wheels' back to Wallington.  A lovely afternoon and no rain !

Thursday, 5 November 2020

All club rides suspended

The Prime Minister’s announcement on 31 October forbids anyone meeting for exercise outdoors with more than one person from another household. This means we can only ride either with members of our own household, or alone with one member of another household. This became law on Wednesday night, making group cycling illegal in England from Thursday 5 November until 2 December.

Therefore, until further notice, all Sou’Wester club rides are suspended.

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 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!

Hilly All Day Ride to RAF Kenley, Saturday 26 September

We will be running a ride next Saturday (26th) to Kenley Aerodrome and the RAF memorials to the young men who flew from there and died in the Battle of Britain.  The idea is for us all to take a picnic lunch which we can have on the airfield or on Kenley Common next door.

RAF Kenley is atop Caterham Hill, so there is no way to get to it that does not involve at least one long steep hill there, and another one on the way back.  My original route, through Netherne, had further climbing but my manager, who accompanied me on a recce, instructed me to research a more appropriate route.  Therefore route details to follow, because we must ride it first.

Details we can give at the moment are the departure time of 9.30 from North Cheam and 10.30 from Beddington Park.  Coming through Beddington Park will obviate the need for extra climbing for North Cheamers.

Packed lunch at the top of the hill.  Coffee up there to finish off our lunch and some form of afternoon refreshment on the way back.  Routes back both to Cheam and Wallington.

Distance will become clear after the route is finalised, but will be less than thirty miles in total.  These will be conducted at a leisurely pace.

Those who wish to come, please e-mail me at by Thursday bedtime.

Until we can guage the likely take-up for a hilly one, I will not know the number of leaders I will need, but it would be helpful if potential leaders would tell me if they are willing.


Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Rule of Six

The club Committee has asked me, as Beginners rep, to post this guidance.  

Following the introduction of the government’s “Rule of Six” law it is now illegal for more than 6 people from different households to meet. There is the real prospect of police involvement and of fines for contraventions.

We are already riding in groups of six, but off the bike, especially at the meeting places, we probably give the impression of being a larger group. Complaints from the public to the police are possible, as well as reputational damage to our club.

The latest CUK advice is clear “multiple groups of six are permissible, as long as these groups do not come into contact with one another”.

The committee believes the new regulations require much more self-discipline from members to stay on the right side of the law, and to be seen to be doing so. Therefore:

·         At elevenses, lunch and tea only congregate with your own riding group. Do not go to other groups for even brief conversations.

·         Make sure that your group is visibly separate (by several metres) from other groups.

·         Be aware of how we appear to a non-cycling observer.

·         Do not arrive for too early for a ride.

·         Departure times should remain staggered by 20mins minimum to reduce the chance of meeting.

·       Responsibility for this rests with each one of us, but ride leaders are requested to remind their riders if required.

All other instructions on group riding remain the same, see here.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Joining instructions for the Greenwich ride

 For tomorrow's ride to Greenwich, please bring the usual; working bike, working lights, spare inner tube, hand cleansing gel and a face covering in case you need it in a cafe, pub, shop or windmill.

For those with Strava the route can be found at

There are fourteen riders who wish to meet at North Cheam.  The departure time from there is 0845, when you will be led in groups of six to the Pavilion Cafe at Beddington Park.

Paul and Maggie James will be at Beddington Park from before 0930 to try to ensure the smooth departure of the various groups.  Maggie will want to take your phone number for safety reasons and for Covid 19 contact; we will not keep these numbers beyond fifteen days.  

Please also exchange mobile numbers with your group leader before you depart.

Departures from the Pavilion Cafe will be as follows;

Group One departing 0930

Tony Hooker, leader

Karen Kemp                      

Roger Parsley

Anna Parsley                     

Ken Jones                          

David Colgan                     


Group Two departing 0945


Helen Tovey, leader     

Maureen Gallichan         

Ed Sharpe                           

Lilian Chelli                         

Gillian Calder                     

Karen Cochrane                               


Group Three departing 1000


Tim Court, leader           

John Bellamy                    


Sabina Winkler                 

Diane Porter                     

Steph Wyatt                      


Group Four departing 1015


Simon Lambourn, leader

Julie Buckman                  

Madeleine Shearer

Maggie Gibson

Brenda Breen  

Godfrey Potter                


Group Five departing 1030


Paul James, leader         

Maggie James                  

Sue Bellamy                      

Debbie Sands

Inder Dhingra                    

Please take advantage of the toilet facility at the Pavilion Cafe before you depart.

The next stop will be for morning coffee at Kent House Station after approx 10 miles.  There is a toilet there.

Lunch will be at the Hare and Billet on Blackheath; tables are booked for 12.15, 12.30, 12.45, and 1pm under the name Paul James but depending on timing of arrivals there may not be room for everyone who wants inside; the pub serves its menu and drinks as takeaway and there are not many nicer places to eat outdoors in London than near the Hare and Billet!  There is a toilet there.

We will then cycle the short distance across the Heath to the view point at Greenwich.

From there, when we are ready, we will descend the hill to ponder a while the grisly end of St Elphege, pass the Cutty Sark and cycle along the bank of the river upstream for a short distance, where there will be a chance of a sit-down, a look at the river, a coffee if time permits and a toilet (in Costa Coffee; there is no toilet in the Waitrose)

Then we turn for a scenic route home, stopping if there is time and opportunity to see The Den, the old Surrey Canal, a hidden windmill (where tea and cake and a toilet will be available) Brixton Prison, passing another coffee and toilet opportunity near Tooting Common, a petrified tree (why is it so afraid, boom, boom!) and making our way to Earlsfield where there is a final opportunity for coffee and a toilet before we take the Wandle Trail to Morden Hall Park, where the ride ends.

For those who don't know where they are at that point, my group will be the last to get back and we will ensure you are taken back either to Beddington or to Cheam.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020


The ride to Greenwich on Saturday has proved so popular that all the available places have now been taken.

Monday, 7 September 2020

Update on Saturday's ride to Greenwich


The deadline for booking one of the remaining slots on the All Day ride to Greenwich is now Thursday night.  If you want to come, please e-mail

It will be at an easy pace and the route is mostly flat (Blackheath and Greenwich Park are on a hill, but fortunately they are both on the same hill).

The ride is mostly through parks and commons, along riverbanks or through quiet suburban streets, but this is South London on a Saturday and we have for short distances to negotiate some busy inner city areas.

Highlights include a glimpse of The Den, where Millwall Football Club play, and a ride past Brixton Prison.  You may also see where St Elphege (or Alphage), bishop of Winchester, preached and where he was murdered in the days before William the Conk, you will lunch atop the bodies of the victims of the Black Death, maybe see a petrified tree, a non-existent windmill, a long forgotten canal and an old lime kiln.  Oh yes, and Wren’s other masterpiece and the Cutty Sark where you may, if so inclined, sing Rule Britannia.

But to do so you will have to cycle for forty miles, for between four and five hours actual cycling time.

A couple of leaders have kindly agreed to pick some people up from North Cheam at 8.45 but the ride officially begins from Pavilion Cafe in Beddington Park, groups of six leaving at fifteen minute intervals from 9.30.

Coffee will be at Kent House Station at approximately 11am onwards.

Lunch will be at the Hare and Billet on Blackheath, tables booked at 12.30, 12.45, 1pm; plenty of benches and space for those who want to enjoy packed lunch on the Heath instead of the pub.

We reach our primary goal in Greenwich Park ten minutes after leaving the Hare and Billet.

Ten minutes after leaving Greenwich Park there will be a brief coffee and comfort stop on the river bank at Deptford Creek, briefly to enjoy the river.

Tea will be at Tooting Common, an hour’s pedalling after Deptford or, if we make good time, at Earlsfield, ninety minutes after Deptford. 

The ride now finishes in Morden Hall Park.  People will be available to lead the way back both to Cheam and to Wallington.  The finishing time will depend on how long we lingered over coffees, lunch and Millwall Football Club, but I would hope to get everybody back to Morden Hall by five or half past; no promises.

You will be asked to bring a spare inner tube, working lights, hand gel and face coverings and please let us know before Friday if you prefer a pub lunch or to bring your own packed lunch. 

Groups and precise departure times from Beddington will be published on Friday.

Monday, 24 August 2020

All Day Ride to Greenwich Saturday 12 September

I will be leading an All Day ride to Greenwich on Saturday 12 September.  Inspired by Harry and Ged, I have planned and tested a route through South Norwood Country Park, Clock Tower, Cator Park, River Pool (they just won the league!) Linear Park, along the Ravensbourne River and Ladywell Fields, across Blackheath to Greenwich Park, back through Evelyn Green, Folkestone Gardens, along the Surrey Canal, through Burgess Park, Tooting Bec Common, Wandsworth Common and along the Wandle Path.

Sounds so much better than Croydon, Catford, Lewisham, Deptford, Millwall, Camberwell, Brixton Nick and Earlsfield.

Roughly 65 Km (40 miles) at a leisurely pace, starting and finishing at Beddington Park, mostly flat (I can't help that Blackheath is on a hill), mostly park paths and quiet roads but, hey, this is South London and we have briefly to cross a few busy places, the busiest of which is Greenwich itself.  We will have to start fairly early (9.30 from Beddington) if we wish to enjoy relaxing coffee and lunch breaks and finish by five.

Final details to be established over the next few days and broadcast on this blog and on Beginners WhatsApp, but it will be advanced booking in groups of six and if there is a demand we will find a way of picking people up from Nonsuch if some are not sure how to get to Beddington Park.

If you are interested, meanwhile, put the date in your diaries.

Volunteer sub-leaders would be very welcome; if you want, I will take you round the route before the day.   

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Free thinkers......All Day Ride to Walton-on-Thames 22 August

We had fourteen riders pre-booked and we split the ride into three groups; Steph to lead Alice, Tracy and Alan and leave Mansion Cafe at 10.30, and Roger to lead Anna, Ken and Karen, a newcomer, leaving fifteen minutes later.  The third group was determined by organisational needs; Maureen, Lilian and Caroline all wanted to leave as late as possible, Maggie and I did not want to be separated and we needed a fourth leader so that we could accommodate any extra guests; Helen had kindly volunteered and a good job too, because it meant we had spare places at (literally) the eleventh hour to welcome Brenda and John, and in the end we departed in four groups of four.  

The weather was kind to us, the route was available on Strava and as a route plan with a risk analysis, the leaders were all familiar with the places we were going and Roger and I had recced the ride in detail, twice each.  What could possibly go wrong?

Well, Helen's e-mails had not been reaching her, so she had not had a chance to see the route; I had taken the precaution of printing a spare route sheet which I could give her but while I was organising the final group and Maggie was ensuring mobile phone numbers were exchanged, off breezed group three in a different direction to the plan.  Ah well, at least we could be sure that Helen would not get lost.

I led group four through Worcester Park, Tolworth and Long Ditton against a breeze which made mild upward slopes feel like stern hills, but it was a lovely ride.  At the River Mole we took pictures, inspired by a lad who looked as though he was about to throw himself in above the weir but was just showing off.

The last known picture of John, with Maggie and Caroline, at the River Mole.

The potholes in Bridleway 10 immediately afterwards had worsened in the short space of time since my recce, as had those we had already passed on Weston Green Road.  There is nothing the local authorities can do; it's the premature autumnal gales which dislodge exploding conkers from the trees and as soon as workmen have tarmacked one patch and gone than Whump!, another exploding conker lands.

We passed through a relatively quiet Walton and made the cafe near the bridge without incident but were somewhat dismayed on arrival to find only Steph's group one had got there.  Now we knew Helen had ploughed her own furrow, but how had we overtaken Roger?  He was in front of us and surely followed the route, since we recced it together.  Steph, meanwhile, told us of her detour to see the old London Irish ground, which puzzled me until it dawned that she had done the route in reverse!  So much for the plan.

The others turned up to my great relief; Roger had indeed kept to the route, which in the recce included a coffee stop at Long Ditton; we had sailed past him without realising it!

A lovely afternoon ride along the Greenway through Sunbury and then past Hampton and into Bushy Park, where John did a magic trick.  One minute he was with us in the park, the next he was gone; not even a puff of smoke.  Disappeared; it was when we stopped for the photo that we realised.

Caroline, Maggie and the Glorious Leader in Bushy Park.....but where is John?  Off on his own, apparently, to explore a secret path.  He's been reading too many Famous Five books.  

Helen's group made it to Bushy Park as well, and in the planned clockwise direction!  Lilian, Brenda and Maureen

A rendezvous of sorts for afternoon coffee in Kingston Market, where John says he was loitering to try to find us but we had already reported him to the police as a missing person.  We coffeed and tead and caked as the only heavy shower of the day descended, which left those of us who had not gone home or been reported missing to make our way back to Sutton or Cheam.

Judging from the e-mails all our guests had a good time.  I did.  But heavy the head that wears the leader's helmet.  Henry the Fifth felt like that with soldiers to command.  He had no idea what it's like to be guiding a group of free thinkers.