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

The same Patterson cover illustration as used for the previous issue, incorporating a small BSA advertisement. Inside the cover are the usual adverts for Gordon Prangley’s bike shop and the Northwood Cafe. There’s something timelessly elegant about the layout and font of those adverts.

Page 1

Editorial. Bob Harvey once again apologises for the lateness of this issue - seems there was a bit of a clash with stencilling and duplicating the WLCA ’50’ startsheets, coupled with Boff had been busy with work. usual sort of stuff that gets in the way of the minutiae of club life!

Bob continues with a note about an article on page 7, derived from a BBC broadcast. More on this when I get to page 7, perhaps, but I can’t for the life of me see why there’s an article in the Northwood Wheelers club magazine about the introduction of reindeer to Canada! 

Page 2

Editorial [contd] It appears that there was confusion between two events recently. I’m not entirely sure what Bob is saying here, but it would seem that another club’s marshals handled the turn duties instead of Northwood members. I suspect this relates to the practice of ‘bundling’ clubs’ events so that organisation was eased.

Bob then flags the upcoming Club Dinner, to be held (tentatively at this stage) in November at the Rayners Hotel. Those interested in tickets are referred to the Social Committee (Messrs Empson, Stratman and Proctor).

Finally, a new member is welcomed.

Page 3

Page 3 is a somewhat cryptic portrait of a bloke with a wooden leg handing up a drink to racer. Who this refers to beats me!

Page 4

The Ladies Page: A peculiar article about looking after one’s face. I am not sure if this is some kind of attempt at humour!

Household Hints: Some odd little hints about preparing dried peas and firming up tomatoes. 

Page 5

More household hints, cooking bacon, potatoes etc. Not at all clear why this is in the club magazine!

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A ‘Letter to the Editor’ - from one Professor Cyclepedia. Another cryptic contribution - I assume this meant something to the readership.

Some random factoids follow. This bit is the Professor’s contribution…

Page 6

More random factoids.

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Slough Track League

Alan Standing reports that four members rode at the meeting on 31st May. Brian Major took 4th in the 3 mile Block Handicap, and this is noted as a meritorious performance since several well known Slough riders took part. 

Roy Turner rode well in the 5 mile Scratch, but didn’t place - apparently he’d have done better if he’d been a sprinter.

Finally, a note of appreciation to club members who turned out to support the riders.

Pages 7-13

The Trek of the Reindeer

This is the odd article referred to in the Editorial. It’s long and seems really quite out of place in a cycling club magazine. I presume there’s some kind of back story here that I’m unaware of.

Page 13

A poem (I think) entitled ‘The Little Cyclist’ - this seems to be a slightly moralising piece taking aim at the younger club members! Concludes on page 14.

Page 14

Conclusion of ‘The Little Cyclist’

Roller Contest held as Eastcote House on May 30th

This was held as part of the 6th Eastcote Scout Group’s Fete, and was quite well-attended despite the inclement weather on the day. The weather seems to have necessitated a bit of effort to get the kite set up in a reasonably sheltered place.

The programme of events went smoothly, with wins from Brian Major (16.6 seconds in the 440 yard time trial) and Pete Kennedy (who put his TA training behind him to record first place in the mile pursuit and 880 yard sprint).  

Page 15

Club Programme

This is a combined list of club runs and time trials, including a couple of 12h events, with a note that marshals are required for one of them.

 

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.