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

Issue 17 brings some changes: a new title ("The Wheel"), a new smaller page size, and some professionally printed advertisements (for Gordon Prangley's bike shop and the Northwood Cafe). The cover says this issue is 'March', but actually issue 16 was the March issue, this is April 1954. To add to the potential for confusion, both issues 16 and 17 use the same cover picture.

Page 1-2

Editorial. Bob Harvey refers to the 12 months since the first news sheet appeared. He’s underestimating the elapsed time! The second Newsletter was dated March-April 1952, so at least two years must have elapsed. he’s right that there’s been quite some progress, and I’d add there’s been a development in club identity reflected in the pages of the newsletter.

Bob goes on to spread a bit of credit to thers involved - Fred Reynolds, Sheila Johns, Dick Houston, “Boff” Empson and Ken Meredith.

Then there’s a reference to a perennial issue for bike clubs - are marshals appreciated by the racing men?

And another plea for club members to take a bit of care when out and about on club rides.

A not too subtle plea for the club’s pursuit team to do a bit more trainign together. It seems they came a bit unstuck at Herne Hill track!

Three new members are welcomed.

Page 3

Club runs May-June - a fair mix of time trials and club runs there.

Page 4

Club run list continued.

Some evening training rides announced. [I can’t help feeling that May and June is a bit late for this, but probably that’s a modern view!]

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Another lighthearted ‘letter’ - follows from the grammatical correction in the previous issue.

Pages 5-7

The British Soldier in Malaya

I have to confess I find the presence of this article in a cycling club newsletter somewhat bemusing. I guess the Malaya situation might be a bit of a concern to a group of young men looking at National Service, but I also wonder whether there’s a deeper connection with Malaya, given the reports of the Malaya Trophy presented to the club by a Malaya Rubber Planter a year or so ago. It’s not a bad article by the way, and it’s followed by a short poem.

Page 8

Racing Results

The ’30’ on 11th April had 10 entries, six started, three of whom retired due to the cold conditions (Saunders, Standing and Stratman). Paul Stratman took the win by a meagre 3 seconds from Colin Turner.

The ’50’ on 18th April had 6 starters, with 2 DNF. The event was won by Alan Stratman (2:20:27), Brian Major and Colin Turner in second and third places respectively.

Page 9

The Bard returns with “Ode to all Racing men”

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And an anonymous riposte to Ivor Storey, who is apparently “a fool, like a monkey on a stool”. This can’t end well!

Page 10

Oh, I appear to have scanned page 8 a second time!

Page 11

Health in our Time, by “Dr Hardcastle MBChB”, who replaces Dr T Simmo (aka Tom Simpson, who’s emigrated to Canada). Essentially a thank you for all Tom’s efforts!

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Household Hints - appears to be aimed at confirmed bachelors, and is continued next page.

Page 12

The conclusion of the somewhat bizarre Household Hints is followed by the possibly even more bizarre “Beauty Hints for Our Lady Members”!

Page 13

This issue finishes with a couple of portraits, or (more properly, ‘sportraits’), of Bob Harvey (Sir Robert “Slasher” Harvey) and Rocket Stratman. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the portraits!

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.