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 ninth issue of the club newsletter, now styled athe Club Magazine, is holding its own, at seven pages. Bob Harvey is obviously a bit relieved. He also credits Fred Reynolds for the duplicating.

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Club-room Gossip

The track racing seems to be taking hold, with seven members having taken out track licences for 1953; the ladies want events; the juniors want inter-club events. I wish my present club was this keen on racing!

There’s an upcoming darts tournament, with a prize of a vouvher for 6/- for Prangley’s bike shop. The club is marshalling the Norlond ’25’, and members able to help are to contact Colin Turner. I have organised a Norlond ’25’ in the past. Getting anyone to marshal was a real pain, and the clubs to provide marshals didn’t exactly cover themselves with glory. I can sense these things may not end up well (and indeed elsewhere in these newsletters there are explicit complaints).

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Four new members, two seniors and two juniors. Nice to see the club growing…I assume those joining exceeded those leaving!

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Good old Ivor Storey is back. He’s spreading some rumour about one of the slower racing members seeking a young rich widow, with some claim that Colin Turner’s racing success follows his matrimonial status, probably via quality grub.

Brian Huggins is enjoying himslef in the fire section of the RAF. National Service? Apparently he always was good at burning things up - presumably a reference to his cycling style!

Page 2

Ivor continues with some stuff about old boys and flat bars, and some story about women drivers. Oh, and he is preserving his anonymity!

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Snowdrift - the third and final part of the Cheddar Gorge story, by G.M. Empson. The first two parts are transcribed here. It comes to a close on page 3.

Page 3

Racing Results

The results of the 63” ’10’. Colin Turner won by a comfortable margin. I don’t think I’d be able to cover 10 miles in 27:40 in a 63” gear. His legs must have been whirling at some speed! Indeed ther eis a comment that Colin was the first holder of the ‘Twiddlers Cup’. (Wheter that was a real trophy I don’t know…)

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More from Ivor Storey: one of the club’s ladies won first prize in a lovely legs competition. I have some doubt of the veracity of a lot of these tidbits, but I suppose those were different times. The lady cyclists I know wouldn’t have much truck with a lovely legs competition!

Pages 4-5

The club racing calendar, with club events on page 4 (loads of them, up to 12 hours!), and Association events on page 5.

Pages 6-7

Part 2 of the Wantage Story, By David Saunders. How he made it home before his club mates!

 

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.