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

Cover - another card cover with a Patterson picture by courtesy of “Cycling”. This time it features a cyclist pushing his bike up a steep track.

Page 1

Editorial. Bob begins with Tom  and Sheila Simpson, who emigrated to Canada after getting married - by the time the magazine was in the hands of the members, they would have been on the high seas. You can read a bit more about the Wheelers’ send off for the Simpsons in Open Roads for March 1954. As well as featuring in one of my favourite Northwood Wheelers tales, Tom was one of the significant club members and served on the RTTC Courses Committee.

Five more members are welcomed to the Club.

Page 2

Jokes! I like the last one best…

And then something of a paean to the bicycle. preaching to the converted, I would have thought…

Page 3

A list of Sunday club runs, along with meal destinations.

A cartoon. This is probably the first illustration in a club newsletter. I’ve used stencils myself a few decades ago, but I don’t know how drawing would have been done on wax stencils - presumably directly onto the stencil? Anyway, I guess the cartoon is of Boff Empson, who I think had a reputation of being able to sleep through anything.

Page 4

Racing Results.

Colin Turner won another club ’25’ with 1:06:39, with Stan Boyes taking the handicap win.

On the other had, a few weeks earlier Brian Major won the “Twiddlers Ten” - I think this is restricted to 63” fixed.

The Club events programme is presented, with David Saunders being very strict about when entries and fees need to be in.

Pages 5-7

One of Our Trips. This is a rather strange little tale that begins as an account of a club run an ends up transmogrified into a flight of fancy!

Page 8

Open Events. Colin Turner (Open Events Secretary) presents a listing of the Association events for the 1954 season. The Norlond Time Trial Combine and West London CA are both still active as far as I know. [Around the time I moved south and joined the North Bucks Road Club, full fields on the F1 were reasonably common, and I think the Associations were a useful way to break into the faster courses in the area. Since then, the North Middlesex and Herts CA has ceased operating]. Club members are warned that they aren’t to enter the WLCA ’50’ on 4th July since it’s being organised by the Northwood Wheelers. 

I note there are two WLCA ’50’s, one listed as L-Z (on 13th June) and the other as A-K (on 4th July). I’m not sure what the letters refer ro - riders or club names are possibilities.

Also a call for marshals for the SRCC ‘100’ and the WLCA and Norlond ’12’s.

Another cartoon, this time of a marshal standing alone in the rain (probably of Bob Harvey, the magazine editor, who was well known for his marshalling). 

Page 9

An odd light-hearted letter referring to the baffling quiz in the previous edition of the magazine. 


Ano odd little tale professing to be an account of the invention of the bicycle in Russia, complete with a sketch of same. I note the Corima 4-spoke wheels!

Page 10

The Cyclist’s Alphabet, by The Bard. Quite amusing, I like A for ‘andlebars!


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.