About this website

This website documents a sadly now defunct cycling club, the Northwood Wheelers. My father, David Saunders, was a member of the Northwood Wheelers from the late 1940s through to 1955, when adult life "distracted" him from cycling. A large part of this site consists of his cycling diaries (Open Roads) written at that time, and which he has annotated with photographs and editorial comments. You can reach this material via the menu at the top of the website.

Since the original incarnation of these web pages a couple of years ago, I have had emails and phone calls from former members of the Northwood Wheelers. I hope that this new version will encourage others to do the same. 

The tales of cycling presented here are the reason I took up cycling myself, albeit rather late in life (I too got diverted by student life). Not for me the motivation of the exploits of professional cyclists - rather, I was fired by the exploits of my father and his cycling pals, particularly his cycle tour to Scotland with Brian at the tender age of 16, the infamous Cheddar Gorge expedition, and possibly the best example of why you need to pay attention to the chain tension on a fixed gear bike.

 

Robert Saunders December 2008

Photo Gallery

This edition of the club’s newsheet is printed (I guess stencilled?) on foolscap size paper, a paper size that exceeds the capacity of my scanner, hence these images have had to be stitched together from two sections. These are fairly large files, over 2Mb each, clicking on the thumbnails gives the full view.

The immediate comment from reading this document is how similar the content is to the typical club web pages of today. Indeed, it begins with an appeal from the club’s Press Secretary for submissions - an appeal with great resonance to me as former NBRC newsletter editor and current website manager.

Page 1

Racing News

The racing news tells us how the three year old medium gear ’25’ record fell twice in the same event, from the 1:8:55 set by Tom Simpson (of Cheddar Gorge fame) - by Brian Major with 1:8:18 and then by Geoff Madgwick with 1:8:00. Poor Tom was relegated to third place with 1:9:29.

A few days later, the club ’25’ yielded some faster times, with Alan Stratman leading the results with 1:5:29. Presumably this wasn't a medium gear event. Boff’s legs apparently refused to co-operate, and he DNF’d.

Colin Turner (Open events secretary) reported on requests for entry forms for a couple of events. This sounds even more laborious that the entry form system I grew up with - seems odd to have to send off for entry forms for specific events. 

NCU London Centre General Meeting

The relationship between the road racers of the NCU and the time triallists of the RTTC was of course somewhat complicated in the 1950s, and I think this brief report hints at this - The R.T.T.C. have called a Special Council meeting for 25th May to consider the situation thus created.

Social

It’s my belief that one of the aspects of club membership that’s been lost over the years is the social stuff. Perhaps I’m ignorant, but I’d never heard of a Dutch auction, but there’s a Wikipedia page about it. Apparently you bid down. Sounds fun! The club’s annual dinner must have been quite an affair if people are being exhorted to think about paying in instalments. 

Treasurers Notes

Ho ho! Some things never change. Poor old Alan Stratman is, as all club treasurers do, trying to get the members to cough up their membership fees.

Touring

The Touring Secretary (who was none other than my father), has listed three destinations for each of two Sundays. I’m not sure what the E, D and T signify (though I suspect ElevensesDinner (aka lunch) and Tea), but I know that he used to send out booking cards to these establishments prebooking tables. This caused problems when it was wet and no-one turned up for these rides!

Page 2

Page 2 reveals what to modern eyes seems like a considerable number of club events. Recent years has seen my current club putting on a series of 10 mile time trials, with only a couple of longer events. Even those are only 20-22 miles! In contrast, here’s the Northwood Wheelers putting on a club ‘100’ and a club ’12’!

Update: I've been told that the local clubs used to run their club events together, which explains the range of club events above.

A couple of light-hearted ‘agony aunt' items (one has to laugh at K.R. of Harrow Weald's mysterious complaint!) are followed by a list of club office bearers.

Northwood Wheelers History

An update on the history of the Northwood Wheelers, and some personal reminiscences, by Colin Turner via email 22/12/13.

In late 1947 Tom Simpson, Gordon (Boff - short for boffin) Empson, my brother Roy & myself were asked to assist with running the cycling section of The Northwood Boy’s Club. I can’t remember if any others were involved at this time. None of us had any experience of running a club, as none of us had ever been a member of a cycling club before. There were so many restrictions placed on what we could do that it soon became impossible to operate within the Boy’s Club. A rather acrimonious break from the Boy’s Club ensued, and in 1948 we formed the Northwood Wheelers.

We soon came to the notice of a local resident, Mr. Fred Reynolds. Fred was a council member of the Road Time Trials Council, the then governing body of time trials in the UK. He helped us get the club on a proper footing. Jack Sharp was another who helped us in the early days - he later became president.

My memories of the early days are rather vague as unlike David I did not keep a diary. Tom Simpson worked with Stan Boyes, a cyclist/tricyclist of long standing. In my memories of the club he was always there, so I am sure got involved at an early stage.

I have my Youth Hostel Association membership card for 1948 and it records eight overnight away rides in that year. Most of those would have been club runs. The one that stands out is Cleeve Hill near Cheltenham, in November - this run subsequently became a regular on the weekend nearest the 5th November.

My first record of racing activity is in June 1949 when I entered the Uxbridge Wheelers 25 on 19th June, I recorded a time of 1.7.55. My first record of a club event is a 25 on the Amersham course on 26.3.50, qhich was won by Alan Browne in 1.6.42. Northwood Wheelers club events that I entered in 1950 were 4 x 25 miles, 2 x 50 miles. 1x 100 miles. We also took part in 4 x 25 mile interclub events against other local clubs. My racing records stop in 1954, by this time I was married with 1 child and finding it difficult to find the time to get fit.

Another early event that we took part in was the Brentwood Road Club’s 100 mile utility event on 6.2.49. There were a multitude of classes from which one could chose, from a Ladies 100 in 9 hours to a double gents tandem in 6hr. 30min. Tom & I entered double gents tandem. A few other club members entered solo in eight hours. It was a hard ride, cold, foggy near the sea at Malden and a niggling cold breeze all day. Tom and I were ahead of schedule so we waited near the finish. Cold and shivering, we had a 3 minute window 6.30 to 6.33 to be classified, we went in and recorded a time of 6. 27 so no certificate!  

Colin noted he had copies of the club magazine from No.2 to No.14 - these form part of the collection of scans listed above.