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

Bob’s editorial focusses on the tension between the trackies and the roadies, in the perennial problem over persuading club members to turn out and support events by marshalling etc. Here the guys who are focussing on track events are apparently not so willing to ride out to stand at the turn etc. Views of the members are invited.

The club must have received a missive from the RTTC, since members are reminded about the rule about company riding.


New members - one senior, four juniors. In 2014, if a club recruited at this rate, and with such a proportion of juniors, they’d be delighted!

Page 2

Racing Results

31st May saw the Club ‘100’. I’m pretty impressed a club could actually put on such an event, and have nine entries! Unfortunately, three did not start, and three failed to finish. They must have been well-outnumbered by helpers, especially as there were more than one feeding station. There’sa comment that David Saunders went off course, and might otherwise have beaten the winner, K. Lane. In the next issue of the magazine it’s explained that both Lane and Saunders went off-course at the same point anyway. This was Saunders’ first ‘100’.


Junior ’10’ - 13 riders, thought there are only 9 results listed along with two riders in the accompanying Ladies ’10’ (plus three Private Time Trials). Roger Bingham won the event; Miss S. Johns won the Ladies event.

Page 3

More racing results

Coronation Day Inter-club ’25’ with the South Ruislip CC. Despite winning the event in 1:4:26, Colin Turner was unable to lead the Northwood Wheelers to overall victory - the winning club was determined by the aggregate times of the respective clubs’ top six riders.


Another Ladies ’10’ had three riders, and was won in 31:08 by C. Jenner of the South Ruislip, with Northwood rider S. Johns in second place.

Page 4

I was just wondering when Ivor Storey would appear, and here he is on page 4! Some story about someone buying a crash hat that wouldn’t fit until he had a haircut. presumably this is the kind that consisted mostly of padded straps. In another dig at the trackies, there’s a criticism of that perennial bane of club runs, wheelsucking then roaring off into the distance. Presumably this is aimed at someone in particular.


Club badges are on sale. I wonder if these were fabric or enamel.


Upcoming events and coccasions. The club championship 12 hour time trial is to be in conjunction with the Norlond Combine event; the annual night ride to Stonehenge changed to 25th June; club run to Worthing cancelled due to marshalling commitments at a ‘100’.

Social gossip. Brian Major won the darts and promptly donated the prize money back to the club.

Club dinner tentatively scheduled for 3rd December, at the Tithe Farm Hotel, Rayners Lane. Tickets at around 12/- to 14/- (60p to 70p, I think).

Pages 5-6

Roger Bingham and David Saunders report on their Whitsun tour. They covered 380 miles and visited 13 counties!

Page 7

A new senio member is welcomed.


Letters to the Editor - Tom Simpson writed to grumble about the dropping standards of club riding. It seems that Jack Sharpe and Stan Boyes had whipped some standards into the club peloton, but that the standards had been dropping lately. Usage of multiple gears seems to be getting the blame, with Tom expressing the view that riders should be on 68-72” fixed.


An advert for Prangley’s bike shop concludes this issue. Wheelbuilding (with double butted spokes) is 25/- (£1.25).


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.