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

This issue follows on from No.6 and is another sizable effort - six pages - and is kicked off by a report on the Club Dinner of the previous month. Alan Stratman got most of the gongs. This seems to me to often be the case for a club presentation, but unfortunately it only happened to me once, when I was with the Dundee Wheelers! Colin Turner was congratulated on the arrangements. From the viewpoint of reading these newsletters 60-odd years on, the dinner certainly seems to have kickstarted something of a club identity.

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And back to business. The Annual Cross-Country Run arrangements are in place, and it’s hoped that around 30 clubs will be represented. The date is set for 8th Feburary.

Page 2

Apart from a brief appeal for member to renew their membership, this page is a report from the Touring Secretary, outlining a variety of winter rides and trips. Of particular note is the runs which are becoming ‘classics’ the Cleeve Hill run, and the Winslow bash. I know the author of this piece did do some ‘real’ touring (see the Open Roads section of the website), and he makes an interesting comment about the club being primarily a racing club! How true this is of most cycling clubs I encounter!

Page 3-5

Pages 3-5 comprise the first part of the mad cycling expedition I’ve already transcribed in this site as The Famous Trip to Cheddar Gorge. This is the first part of the tale, excellently told by Tom Simpson. For reasons that will become obvious once you’ve read it, the second part was written by another participant in the ride. Part two appears in the following issue.

Also on page 5 is a summary of the club’s first season of track racing. Brian Huggins is congratulated on his performance, but (possibly unfairly, given this is a cycling club newsletter) is painted as ‘the most unmusical member of the club’. I would love to know what gave rise to that comment!.

Page 6

The ‘Back Room Boy’ offers the claim that Alan Stratman’s racing success is down to prodigious consumption of Eccles cakes, mostly at Nell’s Cafe in the High Street. The club memebrs are exhorted to consume more cakes and buns, as these are obviously the dietary route to cycling success.

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The newsletter concludes with a few social notes: a new member; an announcement of the date for the Hardriders run to Winslow; a call for submissions for the Magazine.

Apologies for the scan quality - I was being careful with the original hard copies, and the old paper doesn't lie flat on the scanner bed.

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.