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

 

Page 1

The fourth issue of the Northwood Wheelers news sheet (June 1952) is introduced by Bob Harvey, the Press Secretary, in a manner familiar to newsletter and website administrators in club cycling the world over - another plea for material. This was a problem for both clubs I’ve been in, and I suspect is quite widespread! Clearly Bob’s having a bit of trouble filling the pages, this issue is down to one and a half pages, and these aren’t foolscap pages. In fact, as I look ahead at the pile of newsletters waiting to be scanned, they do seem to be rather more extensive in the years ahead, so something must change…

—————————————

Another perennial topic is one of safe riding. In this news sheet, Bob reports on an incident where an unidentified club member rode into the back of a stationary car while taking part in an event - the police had requested some message on cycling safety be distributed to the members. Exhortations to avoid ‘heads-down’ racing are still common-place on event startsheets today, so I guess at least a proportion of cyclists are inveterate risk-takers!

—————————————

Bob reports that four members spent Whitsun weekend with the Comet 66 helping at events including the University ‘100’. It is said that the ‘beloved Racing Scretary’ took part. There’s a cryptic comment that ‘the less said the better’. It’s unclear whether this refers to the marshalling or the racing!

—————————————

Another call for things to be auctioned!

—————————————

Page 2

On the time trial front, Tom Simpson reports on a few events. Alan Stratman set a new club record of 4:44:50 for 100 miles, and continued to hold off Brian Major. The week before, Alan nearly took the club’s ’50’ record. Derek Speakman seems to mix in the Stratman-Major battle occasionally. Roger Bingham makes an appearance in the newsletter, having taken the club ’10’ record.

Tom moves on to return to the warning about heads down riding seen on page 1.

Open Events: It seems that club events had been so frequent that club riders haven’t competed in many open events since the previous newsletter. Colin Turner reports that he has entry forms for four upcoming events:

London Clarion Longmarkers ’25’ 6/7/52, on the F4a

Basingstoke CC ’25’ 13/7/52, on the H15

Norlond Combine ’12’ 20/7/52, on a course described as the F8 etc. 

High Wycombe 2nd Class 100, which is described rather cryptically, and I can’t immediately interpret what the numbers (which are presumably 25, 50 and 100 mile times) refer to.

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.