Sunday, 20 June 2021

Ch-ch-ch-changes; Beddington Park Beginners to Streatham Rookery on 19 June

The rain held off on Saturday, just.  There were nine riders altogether and we agreed to split.  Those who wanted the shorter ride, perhaps to end in time for the football, went with Colin to Oaks Park.  I led a group to Streatham Common .  It's an urban ride that we had not done since way before the pandemic and our intention had been to reconnoitre on Friday, but we'd got a dowsing on Thursday night before and after abandoning the Cyclism ride and I'm sad to say we didn't fancy another soaking on a miserable Friday, so I winged it.

More had happened in nineteen months than we bargained for.  It started with the locked gates at Wandle Park.  In West Croydon we would have turned up the traditional route of two years ago had not our leader spotted it was now a one way street, seconds before he saw the police car coming down it.  We found a better route!  The tree in Norbury Grove which was once charmingly stooped was now sunk so low we had to dismount to get under it.  The fences at the Rookery Cafe had deteriorated so there was little point in padlocking our bikes to them.

Roger, Anna, Maggie & Ken outside the Nettlefold House at Norbury Grove.

But the biggest change was in Norbury itself, where they have built a new supermarket with a six foot wall around the car park where we used to access the path towards Norbury Station.  That took some map consultation, a zebra crossing walk and a detour before we were on our way again.  Exactly what a recce would have sorted.  The wrong turn at the roundabout is best glossed over!  Compared to all these, the locked gate on the industrial estate on Beddington Lane was a mere irritation, but you used to be able to ride through the car parks south of Asda and stay off the busy, narrow road.

Luckily we had a cheery, patient group, the rain held off and we all had a pleasant ride.  But we shan't be doing something like that again without a dry run!

Friday, 18 June 2021

To Windsor Great Park on Trooping the Colour day; Beginners All Day ride 12 June

By Tony Hooker

We certainly picked a good day weather wise.

23 riders made the trip to Virginia Water, 3 groups led by Tony,Tim and Paul from Nonsuch, and Steph who led from Kingston bridge.  3 groups stopped at the Arts Cafe Walton on Thames for refreshments,Tim stopped at Shepperton.

All groups made it to Virginia Water for lunch.  Unfortunately we couldn’t ride some of the routes planned due to a cycle ban.  However we enjoyed other parts of Windsor Great Park.

My group stopped for tea at Shepperton Lock and Steph's group arrived shortly after us.

Thanks to Steph ,Paul,and Tim for Helping out with with ride

Tea at Shepperton Lock for Tony's group 

Tony's group at Windsor Great Park..........and Paul's, a little later

Paul adds.......

Morning coffee at the Walton Arts Centre was a lovely change from the cafe at Cowey Sale.  Instead of buying at the Virginia Water kiosks like the others, we consumed posh light lunch at the restaurant there.  Advantage?  It was air conditioned.  Disadvantages?  Over an hour later, and a bit poorer, we resumed our ride!  The Red Arrows were about for Trooping the Colour at the castle, but they did not honour us.  We did, however, come across Sarah Ferguson at Bishop's Gate.  Weren't we lucky?  Tea and steam engines at Shepperton for us, but we made a few more stops on the way home; from Sutton the round trip was nearly sixty miles, and it was hot enough for a reviving shandy at Woodie's.

What a setting for morning coffee!  Roger in the ancient hall at Walton


Steph's group at Windsor Great Park

Sarah Ferguson ?  We saw a shiny steam powered traction engine manoeuvring down to Shepperton Lock just as we were leaving.  A lovely route enjoyed by everyone.  Ed and Maureen pedal powering home at 11.5 miles an hour through Sunbury and Hampton.  Beautiful cream tea at the lock garden (owl looking down on us waiting for crumbs).  Scenic route through Virginia Water and Windsor Park followed by  tranquility of Thames down Ferry Lane and Dockett Eddy to tea.

Steph's group admire the Steam Engine at Shepperton.....

.....whereas Maggie gets to drive it!  What is it with girls and steam engines?

and from Tim G......

Beginners All Day ride to Virginia Water

The day started clear and fine and our group of six riders (Debbie, Maggie, Mayuri, Nikki, Ken and myself) made a prompt departure from Nonsuch Park in dry and sunny conditions.

We made our way to Kingston and followed the river to Hampton Court, Lower Sunbury and on to Shepparton Lock for coffee at Nauticalia. A busy location but we were soon seated and enjoyed a welcome break.

The sun continued to shine on the righteous as we headed for Chertsey and a familiar route to Virginia Water.
A comfortable time was spent in the picnic area where we eventually met up with other arriving groups to enjoy a relaxing lunch break with social company.

The lakeside was particularly popular with other visitors so we made our way past the totem pole and up to the polo field where a number of horse riders were practicing their skills. The ground is so impeccably well maintained and good to see it put to good use.

Leaving Windsor Great Park at Bishop’s gate we cycled down Crimp Hill and opted for a longer afternoon ride through Old Windsor, Datchet, Wraysbury to Staines where we followed the river to Laleham and back to a very busy Shepperton Lock.

Seeking a quieter refuge we headed for Walton on Thames for our tea break at the Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre. Our arrival was a little mistimed as they were just starting to close but nevertheless our needs were briefly accommodated before the shutters were finally closed.

We made our way back towards Hampton Court, Thames Ditton, Surbiton and Tolworth where we agreed to split and make our own way home.

Many thanks to all the riders for being such an agreeable and easy group to lead. Their company on the day was very much appreciated. The ride went ahead without any difficulties and I hope everyone enjoyed their day.

Look forward to meeting up again at a later date.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Harry Hall gets to Ashtead; Beginners from Nonsuch on 12 June

by Ian P

A very enjoyable ride out to Ashtead under the expert guidance of Colin starting as usual from Nonsuch Mansion Cafe.

Social distancing at Nonsuch Park

Harry Hall road bike once again featured, even meeting another rider, Greg from Ashstead who also lived in Manchester / Stockport at one time. An Audaxer too! Its a small world.

So Colin took the medium fast group whilst Shirley had the shorter Malden Manor group. Temperatures got to 32 degrees C but it seemed cooler unless we are acclimatising?

Anyway no traumas and a good run of 17 miles before getting back to Nonsuch for a well deserved ice cream.

I think our junior (future rider?) enjoyed his ride in the Burley trailer that his Dad was piloting.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Harry Hall goes to see Chelsea; Beginners 5 June

By Ian P

Back from the north so went out for the Saturday ride from Nonsuch Park.

Out on my Harry Hall road bike from Manchester. Still as good as the day it was built made to measure by HH years ago - Reynolds 531 & Campag have stood the test of time and still produce a flawless ride.

So we set off just after 14:00 from Nonsuch Cafe lead by Nigel initially to a cafe near Chelsea FC training ground, that was closed. So plan B was head to Cobham for some proper ground coffee and an ice cream.

Coffee stop and deep discussions in Cobham

Return was via Leatherhead and Epsom to Nonsuch in time for tea. A great ride.

Slightly cooler than last week at 22.4 degrees at the end of the ride but it was still hot!

Sutton Six to the Isabella Plantation June 5th

 From Roger P

 I realise for the most part I had very little idea where we were other than the usual route to Kingston and then on a  bit into the unknown until the wicked glint In Paul's eye as he mentioned “a slight hill” i.e. Kingston Hill. Ten minutes later sweating blood, jelly legged and breathing in instalments we paused just short of the top to get our breath back before carrying on  to “not see Eisenhower’s house" yet again and then on into the park. 

Steve, Roger, Maggie, Anna, Ken & Isabella

Here my mind is a blank as I know we turned right and after a nice easy ride ended up at the plantation and having secured the bikes, walked into paths lit by wonderful dollops of colour.  Azaleas and Rhododendrons in big bushes and round each corner a pallet of colour, big and bright enough to make you stop and watch the bees visiting each flower.  – then following the track to another gate (the name of which escapes me) and round an off road track to the cafĂ© stop and then on out of the park via the corral crossing and sampling the delights of riding alongside the A3 emerging in the end at somewhere probably near Wimbledon and from there via a suicidally awful blind crossing across a tunnel exit and eventually to the back of Morden college and The Bhatu Fathu mosque and up to Rosehill and home.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ryka's and Bikers; Beginners from Sutton 29 May


from Steve H


With viral variants still rearing their ugly heads our group of six met at Sutton library on Saturday for Paul's ride to Ryka's cafe at the foot of Box Hill. A warm and sunny day at long last had me riding in short-sleeved shirt and cycling shorts, a mixed blessing as it turned out (vide infra). I was careful to take all necessary precautions for the abnormal weather conditions and lathered myself in sun cream before setting out only to realise shortly after we started that I had forgotten to do my forearms. This necessitated a short shop stop and when I climbed Quarry Park Road, I found the others at the top chatting to Nigel who was on his way to Nonsuch Park for the afternoon rides. We skirted the park to join the London Road down through Ewell and Epsom where the town centre avoiding route took us past Epsom hospital and out towards Ashtead. At the garden centre, which is one of our cafe stops, we turned down Pleasure Pit Road - where did they get that name? On through Ashtead Park and across the main Leatherhead Road to reach the footpath that crosses the M25 into Leatherhead proper.

At the junction at the top of the High Street we passed the imposing building that houses the Letherhead Institute (sic), this has the older spelling of the name carved over the entrance door. The Dorking Road out of Leatherhead starts with a short descent at the bottom of which is the beginning of a cycle path that provides a safe traffic-free route down the Mickleham bypass towards Dorking. That said it has to be negotiated with some care as cyclists coming the other way on the narrow track can also be making good progress. Unfortunately, just as we crossed the road at the beginning of the dual carriageway, I managed to brush past a clump of stinging nettles which wreaked their revenge on my leg, ow! By chance I had a tube of antihistamine cream on board so a brief stop for first aid had me quickly back on the bike; cycling shorts can have their disadvantages. Half way down the dual carriageway the group split with Paul, Roger and Anna crossing over to join the Old London Road through Mickleham while Maggie, Ken and I continued along the bike path to the underpass at Burford Bridge, reaching the cafe from the other direction.


Pedal bikers at Ryka's

Ryka's cafe has been a well-known and sometimes infamous favourite with motorcyclists for many years but the bikers these days tend to be well-heeled middle-aged chaps rather than the rockers of yore. Luckily, we found a table outside in the sunshine for our drinks and carbs, sources of fuel for both types of bike. Once we'd finished our refreshments, we returned to our pedals but on unlocking mine I found that the lock was wet and my hand was dripping. I suspected that a dog had made use of the wooden post to which it was attached so out with the tissues. Fortunately, Ken had some hand sanitiser so I was able to eradicate any potential canine viruses, one of the many hazards of cycling. Having decided to return through Leatherhead rather than climb Box Hill we made what must have been one of the few silent two-wheeled departures from the car park that afternoon.

We followed the railway line back through Leatherhead station and along the trackside path towards Ashtead, this time passing under the M25 and on to the Common by Ashtead station. This off-road section took us through to the short but steep climb past Epsom Wells to cross the road by the railway bridge and continue alongside the line towards Epsom. We circumvented the town centre to join Longmead Road then a right turn back over the railway yet again took us past Ewell West station into the Ewell one-way system. The road out passes through the crossroads where the Organ Inn once stood, this was demolished some time ago but planning permission has yet to be obtained for any development so the site remains boarded up. Back through Nonsuch Park to Cheam where the others returned to Sutton while I headed south past Cheam station, under the railway then over the railway for the final time at Belmont station. By now the rails had become old friends and I should have taken my trainspotter's notebook but the line was closed for maintenance over the long weekend!

Thanks again to Paul for an excellent ride, fingers crossed that the good weather continues when we are finally unlocked in a few weeks, hopefully without further viral contamination.