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. 

Thursday, 20 August 2020

All Day Ride to Walton-on-Thames Saturday 22 August

 We will be departing from the Mansion Cafe, Nonsuch Park.  

In addition to the usual inner tube & lights please remember to bring hand cleansing gel and a face covering in case we need it somewhere indoors.

For those with Strava this link will show the route, which is useful only for the middle 98% of the trip, from Worcester Park, returning back there (because my final recce started in Sutton, not at Nonsuch).  

All who are riding should have also received a traditional itinerary and risk analysis

These are the riding groups

Group 1, departing 10.30

Steph Wyatt, leader
Alice Betts
Tracy Roche
Alan Landes

Group 2, departing 10.45

Roger Parsley, leader
Ken Jones
Karen Kemp

Group 3, departing 11.00

Paul James, leader
Maureen Gallichan
Lilian Chelli
Caroline Toop
Helen Tovey

See you there on Saturday; I'll be at the cafe before 10.25 to watch smugly as my plans tick slickly into action like Swiss clockwork.

Monday, 17 August 2020

Damp moustachios at damp Pistachios

Third Saturday is Beddington Park Saturday for those of us wanting to meet at the eastern side of the SW London area.  Would it be rain, or just drizzle?  At decision time it hovered irritatingly at the cusp of shall we go out or shall we not, but for us and for Colin there is a sense of duty; perhaps some new Beginner will turn up, perhaps someone destined in ten years time to be a leader with the Wayfarers or one of Cycling UK's top one hundred women.

In the event, it was the same old loyal all-weather riders; Roger, Anna and Ken, Maggie and me, and a drizzle which was nowhere near enough to persuade us, having bothered to get out the bikes and go, to go straight home.  We had done Coombe Woods last time and would probably be doing the Wandle next time so it was to Banstead we decided to go.  A video about getting fitter for cycling had imposed itself upon our browsing during the week, telling us that to improve our leg strength we should choose a 1% to 3% hill of around 1 kilometre and cycle up it one gear higher than we would normally do.  For that, this ride is perfect because Bute Road, Clarendon Road, Onslow Gardens, Buckingham Way and Woodcote Lane (aka Millionaire's Row), then Meadow Hill and most of the length of Woodmansterne Street all foot the bill.  As the dearly missed Roy Flowers once told an inquisitive Beginner "There's only two things you need to know about Banstead; whichever way you go there, it's uphill, and whichever way you leave it, it's down."

The rain had stopped by the time we got to Pistachio's but my suggestion that we sup our tea and scoff our cakes outside was nevertheless met with derision.  Tea and Cake in P's for the first time in a long time was pleasurable, doubly so because, as Roy had observed, we all had downhill trips home.  We zinged past the prison, where three continued straight down to home in Sutton and Cheam, and three turned up by the Royal Marsden to disperse more eastwardly.

For us 22 Km door to door with 200m of climbing.  A sensible ride in such unpromising weather.


Friday, 14 August 2020

All day ride to Osterley Park - 8th August

Thirteen riders in three groups left Nonsuch Park for Osterley Park in record breaking temperatures.

Our route took us through Kingston and Twickenham and we stopped for Lunch in Osterley Park. The café was open for take-aways and there was seating outside at the rear of the café if required.

Tony Hopkins met us there on his vintage racing bike; after lunch we left him and continued on to the Grand Union Canal, following it onto Brentford, through Syon Park and onto the Thames Path.

On the way home Tim Gibbons took us to the Old Isleworth Church to check out the plague pit memorial at the rear of the church, very interesting but nothing changes! Onwards to Wimbledon Common Windmill Café for our Tea stop.

Thanks to the sub leaders Helen and Steph for their support.




And some photos from Helen:

Joining the Grand Union Canal at Brentford

On the bridge at Teddington Lock

Tracy on her first ascent of Richmond Hill

Roger and Anna near the top of Richmond Hill

Lilian near the top of Richmond Hill

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

All Day Ride Saturday 22 August

There will be a Beginners All Day Ride on Saturday 22 August

Leaving Nonsuch Mansion outside the cafe at around 11am

Lunch at Walton-on-Thames and a leisurely ride back through Sunbury and Bushy Park to Kingston Bridge, then back home.

Extra drinks stops if the weather remains too warm.

Anyone who wants to join in please e-mail  by early Friday morning  21 August so that we can ensure we have enough leaders to run a safe ride in groups of six people or fewer.  By the end of the day you will be allocated a place in a group and a departure time between 10.30 and 11.  

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Square flag, white cross: Beginners 1 August

In a world where travel is restricted, where better to go on Swiss National Day than Little Switzerland, and what better than to take with you a Swiss lady, Sabina.  On Saturday while others pedalled along the flat, a group of us with energy to burn left Nonsuch Park to head for the hills.  Starting at two, you have to take the shortest route, so we went through Ewell, behind Sainsbury’s at Epsom, and up the hill behind Epsom Hospital.  At Ashtead, RobnRuth on the tandem opted for the direct route down the A24 because of the barriers on Otway lane, but the rest of us crossed the M25 on the footbridge near St John’s College and skirted Leatherhead before going down the A24 cycle path and turning east at Mickleham.

Ere long we were in the mountains, lustily singing Valderi, valdera as we glided effortlessly up Juniper Hill, the sounds of cow bells and mountain horns echoing across the valleys like Moses’ Triumph, the draught white wine in the taverns forming a star shape on its surface as the jolly landlord served it.  Over to our right the snow-capped peak of Box Hill, above us fluffy white clouds in an azure sky; everywhere we passed there were chaps in lederhosen with feathers in their hats; girls in dirndls peeked from behind impeccably clean lace curtains in cute gabled cottages before returning to the Emmental churns in their squeaky clean barns.

Actually we got pretty strung out, which was to be expected with Jeff enjoying (did I say enjoying?) his first trip outside the house after three months of shielding and Steve W, as ever, itching to sail away and do something more challenging.  We all gathered, as arranged, at the green at the top; I counted, I swear I did, six bikes, twelve wheels but when we turned off the Dorking Road up Deans Lane, my back marker, who while the disciplinary case is pending must remain nameless, was riding behind me and we had lost Bernard off the back.

I say lost, but when Steve kindly retraced his steps we did not have to call out the St Bernards or even the Mountain Rescue; Bernard had just caught wind of the words golf course and opted to cycle in to one!  Re-united, there were six of us for coffee at Walton on the Hill.  But we arrived on the dot of four and the cafe was closing.  Call me a complainer if you will, but either small businesses are struggling or they are not; the refusal to serve some ravenous hill-climbers six drinks, a few ice creams and Swiss buns, not to mention Toblerone was made good by the Italian Cafe on the corner opposite the pond, who were only too happy to seat us outside and oblige.

From there we made our separate ways, or we did once I had guided Sabrina and Bernard over the switchback on Epsom Lane North to Tattenham Corner, from where they knew their way.  A good, hearty ride and lovely to welcome back Jeff.

Report by Paul

Monday, 3 August 2020

Pinnocks café, Ripley

Update from Roger

Pinnocks café at Ripley is now open. There is new seating outdoors and cycle racks  (counted 9 cycles but plenty of room for more) and the usual splendid coffee and cakes plus an interesting but restricted food menu. It is easy to get a table inside  and of course the loos are available. It looked like they were doing take away and packed lunches too.
Food/drink orders are taken and paid for contactless at the door and it is table service.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

1st August Beginner's ride: 23 miles of knees creaking more than Roger's bike!

Roger's first Saturday ride as leader - Well done!

The “beginners “consisting of Maggie, Anna, Ray and Roger met in the Library car park at Sutton. Roger promised to lead them astray to Hampton Court so they set off for Linear park via Sutton Bus garage, Sutton Green and Stayton Road to cross the A217  at Kimpton and on to Linear Park. The path along the length of the park has been upgraded and the “No cycling” signs replaced by “Shared Path” signage. Gone too are the wonderfully decorative edging bricks on the narrow tight turns, which always threatened to throw any rider that touched them well off balance.
At Trafalgar Road they carried on through the alleyway admiring the fresh graffiti and avoiding the flies and turning left past the Hamptons and on up to the cross roads at Worcester park. The temporary cycle lane under the bridge was greatly appreciated as they made for Berrylands via the cycle lane along Malden Road and the underpass at South Lane.
Navigation through Kingston was as always, a blend of serendipity and de ja vu but eventually they found the bridge and made use of the temporary cycle lane to cross with the minimum of hassle. At the entrance of Bushy Park, they met Colin who was hoping to catch up with another group and who was reveling in the luxury of now having gears on his bike. The café on the far side of the bridge at Hampton Court was open and serving coffee and Cherry pie, so all was right with the world.

 They returned to Kingston via the towpath and always willing to explore even more of the unknown, even managed to avoid following the traffic through the underpass before retracing to route to Worcester Park and back to Sutton via Lower Morden.

Written by Roger Parsley