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.