January 1951 651 miles

Monday Jan 1st The family and I went (with a bottle of wine) to see in the New Year on the television last night. It was very interesting. In the “Retrospect of 1950” we had a fleeting glimpse (10 seconds) of Reg Harris. I think that its about time the BBC recognised the fact that there are about 7 million cyclists in this country and this included nearly 2 million who are keen cyclists interested in the results. Played Rummy.

For the last three weeks I have been literally snowed in (it is snowing hard at this moment), mileages being 10, 76 and 86, which brings my weekly average down from 118 to 112 for the past year (Total mileage for 1950 was 6009; 43 runs). Woke up at about 10.30 this morning – and made my good resolution to do some cycling occasionally!

Went round to Jeremy’s [Sexton] in the afternoon because I have not seen him since we left school. There was about 4 to 5" snow; my paper round was murder!

Tues Jan 2nd 10 miles More snow but it has started to melt, and there is now about 4 inches of slush. I tried to go to Eastcote by bike but gave up. This is about the first time I have ever admitted that it was unrideable. I don’t know what it going to happen on my paper round. Bought a sheet of graph paper (6d) for my mileage chart. I do hope that the weather clears up, then I can get down to some serious cycling.

Later: It wasn’t quite so bad on my paper round as I thought it was going to be, and to my surprise I found that on the main roads the traffic had thrown all the slush to the sides, so I went out for a short ride in the evening. Down to Marsh Road, turned right along to North Harrow, left down George V Avenue to Hatch End, left to Pinner Green and Northwood, and then turned left at the round-about and home through Eastcote.

Wed Jan 3rd 10 miles Off at 9.45 with Jerry for a ride on the ‘clear’ roads. Went through Ruislip and Ickenham, where he came off on the ice and broke a pedal, so we could not go as far as we had hoped. Several cars and lorries stranded. Did not go out again apart from paper round but played cards (I won!). Went to the pictures in the evening to see “Clouded Yellow” [This film contained a sequence of club cyclists in the Lake District] . It froze hard later. Haven’t heard from Halford’s yet about the maps [for the summer tour to Scotland]; I hope they will come soon.

Thurs Jan 4th 24 miles I tried to reach Amersham but the roads got steadily worse until I gave up just beyond the turning to Chesham past Chorleywood. Came back to Rickmansworth and went to the Oasis Café and had two delicious newly baked buttered scones and a cup of tea (8d). Snow melting very quickly now but roads very treacherous. Brian came round in the morning to see if Halford’s had sent card, and also collected the list of hostels that we are going to stay at. He is going to work out the mileage.

Fri Jan 5th 10 miles The card from Halford’s arrived this morning and I ‘phoned Brian to tell him to come round and that we could collect the maps.

I do hope that it doesn’t snow, rain, or do anything else before Sunday because I want to go out with the club (haven’t been out for 3 to 4 weeks). We are going to Dunstable.

Went to Harrow to collect the maps; I also bought an Ordnance Survey 1 inch map of this district. Poured with rain later.

Sat Jan 6th 28 miles Off at 9.30 in the rain through Pinner, Hatch End, Oxhey Lane, past Aldenham reservoir to Elstree. I had taken my cape off by now but it started to rain again almost immediately. Stopped in a café in Radlett. It was called the “Hub” so I thought it was a cyclist’s café – but two cakes, 1 tea cost 11d (Bit stiff!).

Carried on towards St. Albans but turned off down the A 405 to Watford to join the A 412. Went through Garston, Watford North to Watford central, then down Cassis road and home over the hill to Potter Street and Pinner Green. Under the bridge on the road continuing on from Cassis road there was about 4 inches of flood water! When I was coming down the lane from the top of the hill on the Watford road which leads to Potter Street I hit a hole in the road, knocked my handlebars up at an angle of 90 and also collected a puncture. I mended this as soon as I got home in the kitchen. Very nice ride apart from almost constant rain and a tiresome wind coming home.

Sun Jan 7th 75 miles Jerry and Geoff Madgewick turned out on the club run today and we pushed out through Watford (water gone from under the bridge), Hunton Bridge, King’s Langley, Hemel Hempstead to Bourne End where we had elevenses and met a ‘league bod’ (without a ‘double clanger’, however) who we burned off after he complained of his appendicitis! Turned off up the lanes to Potten End, Water End, Great Gaddesden through Whipsnade and up over the downs to Dunstable. After dinner we continued down the A5 to Markyate and Redbourne, where we turned off down the B 487 to Harpenden, then the B 653 through Wheathampstead and down the A1 to the ‘Rookery’ at Hatfield. Lovely and easy ride so had plenty of time when Geoff picked up a puncture (which he had to mend twice).

Tony Tucker and Dudmesh turned up at tea and the reason why no-one else was out was the Jim Wood walk. Came home through Radlett and Aldenham and home the same was as yesterday. Got in at 6.00 without a rear light! Very nice day.

Mon Jan 8th 44 miles Off at 9.15 a.m. with Jerry for a ride in the rain but we did not put our capes on until West Hyde. Went out through Harefield, up through the lanes (very muddy and flooded), down Gravel Hill to Chalfont St Peter where we turned left and then right up the A 332 to Gerrard’s Cross and then through Fulmer, over the ford to Iver Heath and then home through Denham village, Ickenham and Ruislip. Got very wet; 27 miles this altogether and we were back about 12.00 (2¾ hours).

Went to Pinner in the afternoon and club in the evening. Went round to Tom Simpson’s to get his stop watch but missed him. Rode on rollers in training for Saturday’s roller contest. Brian did 20.8 sec on a 70" gear and beat Alan Browne, club champion! Paid my 1951 club subscription and bought two tickets for the roller contest. Looking forward to Saturday very much.

Thurs Jan 11th 35 miles My YHA card arrived yesterday – a bigger one this time to comply with International Youth Hostel Federation laws. Went out with Jerry in the evening up the Oxford road through Gerrard’s Cross to Beaconsfield, then turned up the B road to Amersham and then back through Chorleywood and Rickmansworth. Very nice ride – clear sky and no rain. Cars on main roads which don’t dip lights are a curse, especially as they mount the hills. I was going out yesterday but went to the pictures instead.

Sat Jan 13th 11 miles Stripped and cleaned bike in readiness for tonight’s roller contest. Wiped all grease and dirt off and put on summer light wheels and a 95" gear. This is the highest gear I can get without superseding the 101" limit, or buying or obtaining a larger chain ring.

Had roller contest in the evening. I did a 23.2 sec and came third in semi-finals. Brian did 19.4 sec and came first in the final (Juniors). The Northwood Wheelers won the inter-club. Very nice indeed!

Sun Jan 14th 61 miles Put bike together after last night and went round to Brian’s. We were off soon after 11.00 a.m. through Rickmansworth, Croxley Green, into a little pub where we had a cider each (9d), and out to King’s Langley. We put our capes on here as it had started to rain and did not take them off until we got to the ‘Shanty’ at Bourne End for dinner.

It had stopped raining after dinner so we pushed off to Berkhamsted where we went to see the castle, but it was not open until 2.00 p.m. We continued up the hill to Chesham, nice hill down, up the other side to Amersham and then up again and down to Beaconsfield, straight across (more or less!) past Egypt to Farnham Common. Here we turned right through Burnham Beeches to the ‘Southdown’ café near Taplow on the main Bath Road. We met the club here who had come up from Guildford (Jerry was with them). After tea we went home through Slough and Iver Heath with a tail wind. A very nice day. Met one of the Uxbridge mob who was on the rollers last night.

Mon Jan 15th 20 miles Went out through Watford, Croxley Green and Rickmans-worth to the club tonight; very nice. Brian entered for the Brentwood ‘100’ [a reliability trial] but I cannot afford it as it will cost about £1 for the whole week-end. Had a go on the rollers. We have got a low gear (62") ‘10’ coming off on February 11th.

Wed Jan 17th 5 miles After my paper round I went round to tea with Brian and then to Tom’s to pay 3/- for the Brentwood ‘100’ because I have worked out that I can manage it after all. Had a very nice tea [Mrs Huggins was ‘famous’ for her chips!] and some rum – didn’t like it very much! Going out to Bovingdon tomorrow (weather permitting!).

Thurs Jan 18th 35 miles Off at about 6.15 p.m. with Brian into a headwind (hard but I had removed my saddlebag, so I was better off than Brian!), through Batchworth Heath, Rickmansworth, Croxley Green, Sarratt to Bovingdon. We came back through Hemel Hempstead with a tail wind (fast!), Watford, and back over the hill to Northwood. Didn’t get to bed until midnight last night and surprisingly enough didn’t feel all that tired on this run.

Sat Jan 20th 52 miles Went off by myself at about 10.15 a.m. for a short ride through Rickmansworth and then down the A 412 through Maple Cross and back up the viaduct and Ickenham. Near the Denham film studios they have a marvellous erection about 100 ft high and 300 ft long with a sky painted on it, for a film set. They probably need this very badly as we don’t seem to get much blue sky and sunshine in this part of the world! I have noticed it before but never studied it closely; it is certainly very good. Met a bloke out training but he left me going up the viaduct. A very nice ride but the first part was hard because of the slight head wind. Cleaned bike and shed when I got in.

In the evening I went out with Jerry through Hatch End, Elstree, Radlett and then back down the A 405 through Watford and Oxhey Lane. My left crank worked loose and started to squeak, so I had to tighten it as soon as I got home. It’s the club’s third A.G.M. tomorrow afternoon so we will not get a full day’s cycling again.

Sun Jan 21st 53 miles Found I’d got a puncture before I started so mended it and was off about 9.15 a.m. with Jerry through Aldenham, Radlett and Colney Heath to the ‘Rookery’ for elevenses. Here we met several club folk, but they were going home for dinner, so we went on through St Albans, past the Roman Verulamium, up a long hard drag into the wind to Leverstock Green and then down into Hemel Hempstead to the ‘Shanty’ at Bourne End for dinner. Met Tom Simpson and Stan Boyes, and then went through Feldon, Flaunden and Chenies to Rickmansworth and through to Harefield where we held the club A.G.M. The Chair was taken at about 3.00 p.m. by Dick Houston. I was voted Touring Secretary as I had told Stan that I would stand for it earlier on in the day. A very interesting meeting.

After tea (really superb; two jellies – 2/-) we came home through Ruislip and played rummy. I am going round to Colin Turner’s on Thursday evening to get the list of cafés etc. and his maps marked with them. A very nice day.

Wed Jan 24th 40 miles Posted letter to Biddisham youth hostel and then went training down through Slough, Maidenhead and Windsor and then back to Slough. Slough to Slough in 55 minutes! Very nice clear sky. Very hard coming back into a head wind. Brian and Tony Tucker went home through Uxbridge from Slough, but Jerry and I came home up the viaduct and through Ickenham.

I am going to put my [fixed wheel] gear up to 70" for Sunday and next Sunday’s Brentwood ‘100’ so that I will have the same gear as Brian.

Thurs Jan 25th 5 miles Went round to Colin’s house at about 7.30 p.m. He gave me the file of cafés and many other leaflets, literature, and a map of Cheddar Gorge (on loan). I couldn’t take his 4 x 4 foot wall map home and I will have to provide some transport. We have got a committee meeting next Wednesday so will have to put off visit to Brian’s house until Thursday. Colin is going to Brentwood.

Sun Jan 28th 104 miles The first long ride of the year! Left about 9.00 a.m. with Brian, Jerry and Tony Tucker. Very cold: felt rotten! Went out through Kingston, Esher, Ripley, round the Guildford by-pass to Milford, then up the hill to Hindhead. Our usual café was full so we went into another – 4/-! Turned right after dinner, down the hill to Farnham, then along the Hog’s Back to Guildford, then to Staines for tea via Woking. After tea we went home through Slough.

Very nice day’s run although hard, especially before elevenses and towards the end. I think half the cause of this was that Tucker led us in a ‘bash’ as soon as we started. Brian took several photos of the Devil’s Punch Bowl, and of us. Sunny, clear sky, but very cold in early morning and towards the end after dark.

Tues Jan 30th 0 miles Went round to Colin’s to collect his wall map showing cafés in Dobby’s [a student my father got to coach me French and English!] car. We are off at 9.12 a.m. on Sunday [Brentwood 100]; we have to do the hundred miles in 8 hours with 30 minutes compulsory stop.

Received sleeping bags from the Y.H.A. They have gone up to 21/- each, so I will have to send another 6/- tomorrow. They are very light (7 oz) – you can hardly notice the weight.

Wed Jan 31st 5 miles Went to the committee meeting at Colin’s house. I had nothing to report. There was a big argument, as usual, with Stan [Boyes]. We are going to buy the club badges shortly; they will cost about 4/-.

Put my best wheels and a 69" [fixed] gear for the week end.