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

Once again printed on foolscap paper, this news sheet was issued after bit of a gap over the summer months. This is explained by Bob (Fangio) Harvey as being down to the activity of club members, but with the hope that as the winter months are here, he might receive contributions. So not much changes… I note that Bob had acquired a nickname. There’s got to be a reason for Fangio - was Bob a driver?



Here, we’ve a report of Northwood Wheelers riders competing in their first 12 hour time trials on September 14th (submitted by S & B, not sure who they are!) - Alan Stratman and Brian Major (as usual in competition!) with the racing secretary Tom Simpson. Alan recorded 220 miles, Brian 213 miles. Tom retired at 9 hours. There’s a reference to the weather conditions being “not too ideal”.


The Hill climb championship is to be held in conjunction with the Norlond Combine event. there are evidently entry fee implications for club championship medals.


An advert for Prangley’s bike shop! Prangley’s features frequently in my father’s cycling diaries.


Track news

Brian Major reports that the season’s over, and that the Northwood Wheelers did pretty well in their first season of track racing. Brian Huggins was runner-up in the Slough Track League Junior Championship, and at 20th July, the club was in third place in team placings. I wonder if they slipped back after that…


There’s a bit of a procedural issue about reporting to the timekeeper when they are late turning up at the start of a time trial. This relates to the late start penalty, and does remain an issue today (not everyone knows this rule).


Page 2

The Touring Secretary’s report appears to have been submitted some time earlier, presumably just after News Sheet 4. He reports on the Night Ride to Stonehenge. The trip seems to have been eventful with a variety of mechanical mishaps and weather problems. See also theOpen Roads entry. We seem to be seeing the evolution od even more nicknames!

It would also appear that the freewheel contest falls under the Touring Secretary’s purview, as this features in the item about a couple of upcoming  hostelling trips.


An advert for Nell’s Cafe. Long opening hours by today’s standards!


New Club Records

Alan Stratman improved the club ’25’ record - 1:02:41

The tandem ’30’ record improved twice with the Tom Simpson and G. Empson crew recording 1:09:56, followed by K. Dopson  and L. Chapman recording 1:09:16

The Winslow and back record was improved first by Tom Simpson (3:29:45) and then by Alan Stratman (3:27:56)


Social Activities

A reminder of the Club Dinner on 4th December, and hints that a good turn-out is desirable. And a new Junior member has joined.


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.