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

 

The poor old editor is appealling for contributions again. Alas, this was my experience in editing newsletters for my present and previous clubs. He even goes to the extent of suggesting topics, including a reference to the famous Cheddar Gorge incident which gave Tom Simpson his nickname.

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The Northwood Wheelers were gifted three silver cups by Mr S. A. Chapman, though why isn’t stated (and the transaction itself seems to be reported quite formally!).

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Some updates: two new members; an address correction; and the club ’30’ has its date changed.

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Club Events - On the Spot reports by ‘Scoop’ (Nice to see a nom de plume in a club newsletter!)

In the Club ’25’ on 13th April, Alan Stratman did rather well, winning the event in 1:6:16, relegating Brian Major to second place. It seems as thought there was a deal of rivalry between the two! Ten club riders finished, though David Saunders did not! [ It turns out he didn’t get very far - I immediately went over the handlebars as my gear slipped when I was standing up]

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The Club ’30’ was on 20th April. Blimey, Alan Stratman beat Brian Major again, by a narrow margin! Brian led to the turn but ended up recording 1:19:25 to Alan’s 1:19:02. David Saunders finished in third place with 1:22:22 (first on handicap). The tandem record was beaten by a pair of juniors.

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Open events

In the Spelthorne ’25’, the Stratman/Major machine seemed to be upset by D. Speakman, who beat both of them. Another Northwood team rode in the Uxbridge CC Junior ’25’, with a performance which suggested good things from the club juniors.

Unfortunately things went a bit awry for the Northwood Wheelers’ team in the Norlond Combine ’25’ on 6th April. In scenes reminiscent of the disasters experienced by Team Grumpy, one rider got lost on the way to the start, a second punctured and third would prefer not to have his result publicised!

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Also reported was the Northwood Wheelers’ debut at track racing (report by Brian Major). This was in the Slough Track League. The report is really encouraging for the Northwood riders who did seem to do pretty well!

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.