Tuesday, 31 March 2020

May/June issue of The Sou'Wester

The latest issue of The Sou'Wester is available on the website here.  Thanks to Colin, there is a printed version and over the next week or so, Colin and helpers are using their daily exercise to try to deliver to those who are likely not to get to see a digital version.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Sue's Daily Exercise

Solo cycling. A lovely day for a ride to Bushy Park, followed by a walk round the pond.

So nice been able to do this with so few cars and people around. I have never seen Kingston and the park so empty on such a beautiful day. I even felt a bit guilty for been out there! They are finally listening and not going out in groups.

Stay safe everyone and hope to see you all again soon.
~Sue Bellamy

Monday, 23 March 2020

Social distancing in Dystopia. Part three. Further afield.

Banstead, the racecourse, Leatherhead, Box Hill, Walton on the Hill

Friday, cold and windy, was the day for me to try a longer ride within the government guidelines, and while I was out, Cycling UK issued their guidelines, too.  I packed the Pannier with three energy drinks, three chocolate bars, spare inner tube, tyre levers, inhalers and sun glasses.  My water bottle was fresh, my phone charged.  There is no walking back from the Surrey Hills so the emergency plan for mechanical failure was to be picked up by the car.

My route is flexible but vaguely aimed for Box Hill.  Because it is a change from my usual route through Ewell and Epsom, and because it is more hilly I go across Carshalton on the Hill to Carshalton Beeches, up Pine Walk East and take the Brighton Road up to Banstead, past Pistachio’s, along the Nork Park dog run (deserted) to Tattenham Corner, parallel to the finishing straight at the racecourse and down Langley Vale.  From there I could go to Headley and Walton on the Hill but I opt to stay on course for Box Hill through Ashtead and Leatherhead, where I turn down the A24 cycle path towards the Stepping Stones pub.

There is the odd lone cyclist coming the other way and then a group of four, riding two abreast and making no effort to move aside, leaving me barely enough path on which to pass them; it is not just the odd car driver who lacks courtesy, and they are to boot in breach of the advice on social groups and distancing.  

At the Westhumble turning I decide against doing both Ranmore and Box, and use the underpass to the foot of Box Hill.  I take an energy drink and a bar at the roundabout and have a decent ride up Zigzag Road.  A few cyclists pass me on the way up, no groups of more than three but I am not stopping so I go past the National Trust area where there is an unhealthy number of walkers and stop for a sip of water a mile or so on, by The Tree.  From there it is down the Box Hill pothole lottery, which gets worse every time, through the golf course to Walton, down the hill past Tadworth, along the roller coaster past the racecourse and back to Tattenham corner, then home the way I came.

The hill up Metcalfe Avenue tells my thighs that I set out a bit too eagerly up the early hills, but by then I have had a decent ride with no social interactions.  52.05Km at 16.8Km/h, elevation gain 607m.

Social distancing in Dystopia; conclusions

The only problems were the runny nose brought about by the freezing wind, and the loo.  For the first, I had plenty of tissues but had to stop in quiet places.  For the second I had the brainwave of going before I needed to, at Pistachios, which was empty and where they have a separate disabled toilet. I could, of course, have gone behind a tree but ladies might have to think more carefully about the loo stops if they wish to maintain social distancing and cycling distances. 

Conclusions?  If you think it through and go properly prepared, exercise can safely be taken during these dystopian times on your bicycle.  Please remember that to meet the Cycling UK guidelines you ought to be alone, or with one other person who shares your house.

Over the weekend we went for walks instead of cycle rides and even though we used rarely frequented routes there were people coming the other way, few of whom seemed bothered by the social distancing advice of the government.  Cycling was safer in terms of avoiding unwanted contact.

Given that the majority of the population is not bothering with social distancing despite the rapidly accelerating fatality rate, I expect exercising in the open air will soon be prohibited; get to it while you can.  If you take a modicum of care it is both safe and socially responsible.

Social distancing in Dystopia. Part Two. Farthing Down

Farthing Down, Rectory Lane and Banstead

I was despatched after the Croydon trip to Farthing Down in order to test our plan to keep exercising on the bike within government guidelines.  The aim was to be self-sufficient; no intercourse, no breaching the social distance; therefore no cake stops, no coffee stops and great care at any loo stops.  No stopping at all except at lights and junctions and, because it was a cold day, to pull in to an uninhabited lay-by and blow my nose.  I took a spare inner tube and tyre levers but plan B for any mechanical mishap was to ring home and summon the car.  Plan C, tie up the bike and walk home.  I wondered whether I should have put trainers in the pannier against that risk.

Farthing Down was my first target; to see if it was easier after having done the Hilly Fifty.  The traffic was lighter than usual, which made the tricky right uphill turn off Marlpit Road pretty easy.  Farthing Down was cold and a bit too windy.  No other cyclists, two or three lone hikers, a couple of dog walkers but everybody keeping themselves to themselves, thankfully, except for the nod or the “Good Afternoon”.

When this is all over, God willing, I will be leading an extended Beginners Ride over Caterham on the Hill.  Taking an energy supplement in the car park at the top, having done the Down without resorting to granny gear, my first thought was to do an early reconnaissance up there, but goodness knows now when the ride can be scheduled and anyway I know that road well.  Then I remembered all the whingeing I’d had last time I led a Beginners ride round Chipstead, especially on the climb up Park Road towards Banstead, so I decided instead to recce an alternative route back to Nonsuch suggested by Colin; Rectory Lane.

David Vine told me when we were at the bottom of Pitch Hill a few weeks ago that the worst thing you can do with a hill you were unsure about is look up it before you start; well, Rectory Lane looks precipitous from the bottom; the roofs of the houses above you give the impression of an Amalfi coast village.  Actually, it turns out to be well within the scope of anyone who might tag on to the longer ride on a Saturday.  It does not seem as narrow on a bike as it does when you are in a car and the steepest bit is at the bend at the top, with which many Beginners will be familiar, if not enamoured, because we emerge there from the ride through the woods from Clock House.

From The Woodman at Woodmansterne my ride was (mostly) downhill, along the top to Banstead, down the pothole slalom past the prison, and down Pine Walk West (I have met cars overtaking on the blind bends on the eastern hill, so I descend the western one).  There is one last climb over Metcalfe Avenue and then I can rest my feet on the handlebars and roll home.

Mission accomplished; good exercise and an afternoon out of the house without breaching the guidelines and thereby risking spreading or receiving the virus.  29.9Km at 16.1 km/h, 287m elevation gain.

Social distancing in Dystopia. Part One. Croydon

The charging socket to our tablet has stopped working; three months at home without contact with our children and grandchildren?  This was an emergency but we are not supposed to be mingling on public transport, nor ruining the planet with the car, so out came the bicycle for a trip into Croydon.  There is an element of recklessness about some of the driving that is taking place in these apocalyptic times; fewer vehicles but more madly driven, so I choose the most traffic-free option, up the path by Beddington Church, emerging next to John Lewis to cross the A23, and then up the side roads by Croydon Parish Church to what until a few weeks ago was an arts centre behind Surrey Street market.  The prospect of leaving the bike, even if padlocked, in such a place is not tempting, so I cycle up the pedestrianized High Street and dismount to wheel it in to the Centrale shopping centre, where there are four customers and two staff but they still have a security man to tell me that bicycles are not allowed.  The Samsung shop has no waiting time (it’s an ill wind.....) and the nice young man there says plenty of folk wheel in their bikes in busier times, so just park it in his store.

This is not an entirely successful trip.  It costs more than half as much as a new Galaxy Eight to get a new socket fitted, and one feels like Mr Bean cringing in the corner to create the required social distancing while the young man sits at the counter and, bless him, pretends that the old man in front of him is not behaving in any way oddly.  He does not sell new tablets so I am going to have to go home and buy it safely off the internet anyway.  To add insult to injury my Strava catches the virus and fails to record half the mileage.  But I pass the butchers on the way home and the shop is empty (so no contagion except that to be had over the counter) and, glory be, the butcher has not only meat but eggs.  Remember eggs?  What is more, when I ask for half a dozen he encourages me to buy a dozen on a special offer.  Does he not know that a mile down the road in Sainsbury’s mad people are forming queues before seven in the morning for the privilege of kicking and trolleying each other out of the way to strip the shelves bare of eggs, smashing a few in the process?  I feel for the hens, laying on a double shift.

He has no toilet paper though.  Except, hopefully, for the use of the staff.

On balance, because of the impossibility of social distancing, Croydon had been a mistake.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Cycling UK urges the cancellation of all group activities

Latest advice is to avoid cycling in groups, however individual riding is still possible.

Following Government advice, Cycling UK is urging the cancellation of all group activities. Cycle magazine's medical expert Dr Kate Hattersley, a South Devon Cycling UK group member, and practising GP in Exeter explains what this means and how to minimise risk for you as an individual cyclist.

Q: I’m a healthy cyclist under the age of 70, is it safe for me to continue cycling during the Coronavirus outbreak?

A: Yes. There is no reason for you to stop cycling at present but make sure to do so at a safe distance from others. Visits to cafes and pubs should be avoided to limit exposure to infection. You should carry tissues to use when cycling, disposing of them safely in a bin as soon as possible. If you do visit a food outlet, you must wash your hands before and after visiting, and again on returning home.
It’s also advisable to wash your cycling gloves, too. Remember to avoid touching your face if your hands are not clean.

Q: I’m a healthy cyclist over the age of 70, is it safe for me to continue cycling during the Coronavirus outbreak?

A: Yes. The latest advice is to self-isolate at home for the next twelve weeks to protect yourself from infection. Exercise is encouraged but at a safe distance from others. This would permit cycling, but again, avoid visits to pubs and cafes for refreshments.

The Wayfarers have cancelled all rides

Tomorrow’s London Ride and all future Wayfarer rides are cancelled until further notice.

This decision has been taken with regret by the committee due to the risk to our members and those we meet on rides. It is based on government advice that everyone, but especially those over 70 should:

·         Stop non-essential contact with others,
·         Stop unnecessary travel,
·         Not visit pubs and cafes.
Check developing NHS advice here.

Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms (high temperature or a new cough).

If you need assistance from us tell a committee member and we will do what we can to help.

At some stage we may try to reinstate rides, on a strictly numbers-limited and open-air basis, but that is not for nowWe will not request ride leaders for May and JuneOur hope and expectation is eventually to resume our club activities in full.  In the meantime, if you can get out to ride solo, we wish you an enjoyable experience, but please stay safe.

Please continue to monitor this Blog and brief people you think may not read any of our Blogs.

     I hope everyone manages to keep healthy in these challenging times.

Please ask a committee member if you have any questions or concerns.

Dave Vine

Paul James, Beginners rep  paulandrewjames1949@yahoo.co.uk

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Coronavirus update 14 March

The advance of Coronavirus is an increasing cause of concern.
We have members who are vulnerable if infected, and we also encounter vulnerable people in the day centres we visit. 

As previously announced the committee will post regular updates in the light of our circumstances and based on government advice. 

I hope everyone is keeping well. There are several things we should all do to avoid catching the infection, and spreading it. So, for the foreseeable future could you please:-

·      Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, including when entering a day centre, or use hand sanitiser gel.

     Stay at Home for 7 Days if you believe you have symptoms (high temperature or a new cough) and contact NHS 111 if your symptoms get worse or do not get better after 7 days, or if you cannot cope at home.
Check developing NHS advice at (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/).

Do not join one of our rides while you have symptoms and inform a member of the committee (Dave Vine or Tim Court). If you need assistance from us tell a committee member and we will do what we can to help.

Monitor this Blog and brief people you think may not read any of our Blogs.

     Ride Leaders, we are in contact with Day Centres but please identify a suitable alternative meeting place for your ride, in case we are barred at short notice.

Further advice is available on the CUK website reinforcing these messages.

Please ask a committee member if you have any questions or concerns.

Dave Vine

Tuesday, 10 March 2020


The advance of Coronavirus remains a cause of concern.

We have members who are vulnerable if infected, and we also encounter vulnerable people in the day centres we visit. 

The committee have discussed a measured response suitable for our circumstances and based on government advice.  We are in touch with day centres and will post regular updates on our Blogs.

There are several things we should all do to avoid catching the infection, and spreading it. So, for the foreseeable future could you please:-

·         Wash your hands thoroughly, including when entering a day centre, or use hand sanitiser gel.

·         Contact NHS 111 if you believe you have symptoms (high temperature, cough or shortness of breath) and be prepared to self-isolate until you have clear NHS advice.

·         Inform a member of the committee (Dave Vine or Tim Court) if you have symptoms.

·         Check developing NHS advice at (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/).

·         Continue to monitor our Blogs and brief any members you think may not read our Blogs.

Please ask a committee member if you have any queries.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Beginners launch 2020

This year's beginners launch will be on Saturday 28 March outside the cafe in Nonsuch Park at 2pm.

Tom Brake, the former MP for Wallington and Carshalton, a cyclist who has worked hard in the community, has accepted our invitation to launch CTC Beginners and all members are encouraged to attend.  The launch will take up a few minutes before the afternoon's rides, which Tom and his family have been invited to join.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus seems to be just around the corner, but hopefully will pass us all by.

In the meantime, I am conscious that we have a number of members who could be considered vulnerable. And many of us are in the older age group.

On Wednesday the Annual Lunch will be the biggest gathering of Sou’Westers this year.

So If anybody is feeling unwell before the meal, perhaps they should consider missing it this year. Hopefully this message will not apply to any of us. But if it does, could you please let Simon or Tim know. We can notify the restaurant and hopefully we can arrange a refund should you be unable to come.

Thanks for your understanding

Dave Vine


Simon: simon.lambourn@gmail.com
Tim: timcourt50@gmail.com

See here for a reminder of the plans for tomorrow's lunch.