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 editor’s column starts by suggesting those who’ve undertaken a summer tour could put pen to paper and submit stories for the magazine. 


Next up, a suggestion that older and more experienced club members should be setting an example to younger members, and not just answering questions about bikes and cycling!


Bob is obviously on a Road Safety committee, because he’s reporting on road sense and avoiding accidents. It’s been three years since the last serious accident involving a club member, and he wants to keep it that way. He even suggests helping out non-club cyclists by advising them on their bicycling technique and their machines!


Two new members, of the ladies section are welcomed to the club.

Page 2

Report on the Lecture by Mr Thorne, the Athletic Adviser, Crooks Laboratories (see Issue No. 8). Mr Thorne appears to have conveyed some pretty clear advice on nutrition; the best way of breathing (his advice seems akin to playing a didgeridoo, however); energy needs in relation to sporting activity; can you damage your heart through excercise?; meals before racing. Concludes on page 3.

Page 3

Conclusion of the report on Mr Thorne’s lecture.


An announcement to all club members: details of the Club Dinner, and some alternative ‘dance only’ tickets.

Page 4

Ivor Storey again! He’s still taunting about his identity; a member didn’t like what was written about him in the magazine and has left; claims he has to watch his step, or the committee will be after him; a suggestion that a member was so much in dread of the upcoming Cheltenham run that he set fire to the hostel; a cheeky comment about a girl in the club; a threat he’s have something for the club dinner issue; a peculiar taunt that’s set as an advert; a joke about Prangleys giving away freewheels - for free.

Letter to the Editor

Brian Hamer writes to thank those who took part in the camping expedition for their generosity and assistance.

Page 5

Page 5 consists of a light-hearted and amusing drinking tale, The Editor - subtitled ‘with apologies to ‘The Bosun’, by ‘Anonymous’ - it concludes on page 6.

Page 6

Conclusion of ‘The Editor’.


Club ’30’ - On the Amersham course, 30th September. 13 riders with 6 starters and finishers, the event was won by Brian Major in 1:19:49

Club ’50’ - On the Amersham course, 6th September. 13 riders again, but two DNS and four DNF. The event was won by Colin Turner in 2:16:07

Page 7

The Diseases of Cyclists. Doctor Simmo seeks to explain several common cyclists’ ailments:

Cyclomania (contagious). Apparently this condition is frequently incurable (oh how true!). Symptoms appear predominantly to be an uncontrollable desire to ride a bicycle. The ‘cure’ appears to be to leave the patient to their own devices. Confining the patient does not help, as it leads to melancholia!

Majorea (not contagious).  Victim becomes violent aggressive, usually when they mount a bicycle - in severe cases leads to the patient trying to tear the bicycle to shreds while propelling it along! (continues page 8).

Page 8

Touring Notes by D. Saunders (Touring Secretary), announcing the club freewheeling content. He also tries to generate some support for the ‘classic’ Cleeve Hill hostelling run.


The conclusion of the Diseases of Cyclists.

Majorea apparently also has the symptoms of foaming at the mouth and incoherent shouts. The condition is apparently incurable, but symptoms alleviated by a herbal brew known as MILDBEER. If this fails, withdrawal of all solid foods eventually leads to exhaustion, providing opportunities to get the patient under control.

More medical advice next issue!

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.