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

Special Club Dinner Issue

This was a large issue (at 17 pages plus cover, the largest so far) for the Annual Club Dinner. It has a card cover, and the staples were somewhat rusted. I was concerned the magazine might come apart, so I took special care scanning it, which is why some pages may be blurry.

The card cover features an illustration by the renowned cycling artist Frank Patterson, by permission of Cycling magazine, who presumably held the copyright at the time. This cover style continued for all the remaining issues that Colin Turner sent me. Frank Patterson (1871-1952) was a well known artist who, among other topics, produced illustrations on a cycling theme. Often these illustrations evoked an idyllic scene with a bicycle (or tandem, trike etc) leant against a fence or hedgerow. Some links: 

The Frank Patterson Society

Patterson page at the Headset Press

A Frank Patterson Gallery

Page 1

Editor’s notes, in which Bob acknowledges the club members who contribute by helping out at the time trials (then, as now, generally held early in the morning). I hear from my father that Bob himself was notable for the number of events in which he went to help at the turn. But here he praises regular timekeeper Dick Houston.

Colin Turner is described as the ‘Lion’ of the evening, having made a comeback froma  year away from racing to take the club’s BAR trophy and the Crookes Trophy for the 25 mile Championship.

Len Chapman won the Malayan Trophy, beating Roger Bingham and David Saunders.

Club President Jack Sharpe was unable to attend the Prizegiving and dinner, owing to living in Wales and the event being held on a weekday - but he supplied a piece for this club magazine.

Page 2-3

This page begins with a note of thanks to “Boff” Empson, who worked hard organising the dinner.


Times of last trains and buses on the evening.


Message from Jack Sharpe. As in last year’s club magazine, this is nicely written. Continues through page 3, concluding on page 4, he talks about the club’s values and racing.

Page 4

Conclusion of Jack Sharpe’s piece.


Results of Club Time Trials, Inyer-clubs, Track and Hill Climb

I shan’t retype all these!

Page 5

More results of Club Time Trials, Inyer-clubs, Track and Hill Climb. Concludes page 9

Page 6

The History of the Club Trophies

The Best All-rounder Trophy - presented to the club in 1950 by the President, Jack Sharpe and awarded annually to the rider with highest average speed over 25, 50 and 100 miles in the season. Won this year by Colin Turner with an average of 22.273 mph (1950: Tom Simpson; 1951: Terry Howard; 1952: Alan Stratman).

The Junior Championship Trophy (the “Malayan Trophy”) donated by Mr R. J. Moreton, a rubber planter on leave from Malaya, and awarded to the Junior with the best average speed over 10 and 25 miles. See issue 6 for more on this. Won this year by Len Chapman with an average of 23.243mph. (1951: Alan Stratman; 1952: Ken Dopson).

The Crookes Trophy - presented to the club this year by Crookes Laboratories, and awarded to the rider recording the fastest ’25’ of the year. Won by Colin Turner for his 1:02:04.

Page 7

News Flashes, by Ivor Storey. His little anecdotes seem to be a bit more scurrilous this issue! And since they are completely lost on me, I won’t pursue this…the piece is concluded on page 10.

Page 8

The order of prize presentations

Page 9

Prize presentations continued.

Race Results - the inter-club ’25’ vs the South Ruislip CC. This is the event won by Colin Turner, but which was won overall by South Ruislip CC.

Page 10

Cyclists’ Medical Dictionary (continued from issue 13)

Saunders Disease. Apparently the victim’s mind wanders into the realms of fantasy with a distorted picture of their own physical capabilities! The treatment is to keep the patient away from alcoholic beverages - these aggravate matters - and to make available copious quantities of stodgy food.

Bonkosis. Only seems to occur while riding a bike, and attacks with startling rapidity - symptoms of ‘porridgy feelings in the lower limbs’ and the tripling of the bike’s apparent weight. The disorder occurs during the early hours of the morning or in remote locations when the only known cure (copious quantities of refreshments) is likely to be unavailable. Recommendations is extract of TRACKMITTS, administered with a bicycle pump.


More from Ivor Storey.

Page 11-13

G. M. Empson describes a camping weekend at Bovingdon. This is an amusing article in which all the participants are given mock military ranks! The story concludes on page 14.

Page 14

Conclusion of “Bovingdon”.


Annual Night Ride to Stonehenge, by David Saunders (Touring Secretary) - reading this I had a sense of deja vu, as the story is a reprint fron Issue 12! Concludes page 16.

Page 15

Final Racing Results of the 1953 Season

This article presents the result of the final ’25’ - complete with new nicknames. You can read a bit more at the Open Roads entry for September 1953. I must say that it would be interesting to know how the rider’s alter egos were derived!

Page 16

Conclusion of the Stonehenge report.

Current Club Records. Record for 10 miles (Junior), 25 miles (Medium Gear) and the 25, 30, 50 and 100 miles time trials are listed. Also 30 and 50 mile tandem time trials and the Winslow and back place to place record for solo and tandem bicycle. The only club record broken this year was the 25 mile record, by Colin Turner (1:02:04).

Page 17

The final page has an overview of the year by Club Secretary Sheila M. Johns. The club’s showing in open events wasn’t up to that of previous years (though it’s not clear if this refers to performances or participation), though club events have been well supported.

Good growth in the ladies section, with several new members, and general attendance at club meetings has been good. Indeed a bigger room was needed!

Marshalling obligations were met, despite much of this being in horrible weather.

A note about the flourishing club magazine, with thanks to Fred Reynolds for typing and duplicationg.

Finally, an optimistic note for the future of the club.

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.