April 1951 822 miles

Sun Apr 1st 72 miles Brian, Alan Stratman, Tony Standing and Alan Tunaley turned up at 9.00 a.m. and we picked up Alan Grive and Bettina [Alan Grive’s girlfriend, who earned our admiration by later recording a 1.9 for a ‘25’] at Watford. Sheltered from the rain here and mended Brian’s puncture and then went through Hunton Bridge and King’s Langley to the Shanty for elevenses. After elevenses we turned right down the lanes through Potten End, Water End, Great Gaddesen to Dunstable for dinner at the ‘Downs Tea Room’. We went up on the downs to watch the gliding but it was pouring with rain so we crouched down under our capes until we found an old shed!

Alan Tunaley left us here as he was going for a week’s tour of the Cotswolds and Mendips, and we turned right down the A 5 through Markyate, Redbourn, St Albans and then through to the ‘Rookery’ at Hatfield for tea. Here we picked up Tony Tucker. After tea we came home through Radlett and Aldenham. Went round to Dudmesh’s house and got his rear hub which I am going to have built into my back wheel for my gear. A very nice day.

Mon Apr 2nd 20 miles Took my back wheel and new hub into Prangley’s; going to collect it on Wednesday. Met Tony Tucker in the afternoon. He is coming to help me file my chainring down tomorrow morning. I bought a 3/32" chain for my gear. Went to the club in the evening. Took 7 dinner and tea bookings, and about 6 or 7 people want to come to Canterbury at Whitsun. I am going out on Wednesday if my gear is working! Cleaned my front wheel (with Duraglit) until it gleamed!

Tues Apr 3rd 28 miles Tony Tucker came round in the morning and filed down my ring. He did it very well, but when I put the ring back on the bike it had about a ½" buckle – so grabbed my hammer ….! Its all right now, dead true, 3/32" and everything! We then went round to Bunting’s [local bike shop] and ordered my freewheel block (15, 16, 18, 20 teeth) which will give me gears of 82, 77, 69 and 62". Going to collect it, and my wheel from Prangley’s, tomorrow.

In the afternoon I went for a ride with Brian through Ruislip, Harefield to Rickmansworth. We looked in Moore’s and then came home through Batchworth Heath and Northwood.

Wed Apr 4th 58 miles Went to Prangley’s in the morning to get my wheel, and then went to Bunting’s in pouring rain with Tucker for my block. Put gear on when I got home: works beautifully (first timer!).

In the afternoon I went round to Brian’s to show him my new gear and we went for a short ride to Rickmansworth. The sun was out now and it really was warm. Gloves and three jerseys as I have been wearing were far too much. Made arrangements for a training run tonight.

Alan Stratman, Tony Standing, Tony Tucker, Brian and Dudmesh turned up, Dudmesh being dropped after about a mile. We went through Rickmansworth, then right down the lanes in pitch darkness to Sarratt and Chipperfield and goodness-knows-where! We were roaring along in one bunch (all gear men!) down tiny, narrow lanes and about the only thing that you could see, apart from the sky which was a slight shade lighter than the surrounding trees, was the rear light of the bloke in front. We nearly piled up on several corners. Met some of ye Country Girls and, of course, Alan Stratman stopped. Consequently we weren’t home until nearly 11.00 p.m. Tucker got a puncture.

Thurs Apr 5th 35 miles Received a letter from the café in Dorking where we were going on Sunday saying that they were not open on Sundays, so I sent off a card to Newdigate. I hope it gets there on time. To save this happening again with other places I sent off letters to four new places which I hope to go to, asking them if they are open to serve meals on Sundays. Cleaned bike.

Went training in the evening with Tony Tucker up the Oxford road through Gerrards Cross to Beaconsfield where we had half a pint of bitter. Nice and fast. Thousands of blokes out on the road – all bent on getting fit! Bought a new front light today.

Sat Apr 7th 10 miles Received three letters this morning, one from Newdigate saying that they could not cater for the club on Sunday, and one from each of the cafés at Whitsun both stating in a very nice way that they are always pleased to have cyclists for meals on Sundays. There are two more to come.

Sun Apr 8th 81 miles Tom Simpson, Roy Turner and the usuals out today. Left at about 9.15 a.m. through Hillingdon to Walton on Thames for elevenses round a long way through Hampton Court. After elevenses we continued through Esher and Hersham to Leatherhead and then to the ‘Old Forge’ café for dinner, and to a pub for a bit of wallop! [although I was only 16 years old by now, it was Tom Simpson who taught me to drink like a man]. Mucked about here for a bit, taking Tony Tucker’s front hub to bits by the roadside, and losing half the ball bearings in the dust, and then we climbed up to the top of Box Hill (wonderful view!). We then went down into Dorking and turned right up a lane through Ranmore Common, Ripley, Pyrford to Woking, Chertsey and Staines for tea. Met Stan Boyes, Alan Grive and Bettina here, and Geoff Madgewick later on. Harry Ford got a puncture. After tea we came home through Iver and Denham (with our capes on). A very nice day, but my new gear ‘clonks’ a bit in bottom!

Mon Apr 9th 10 miles back to school today. Went to the club in the evening, played table tennis – and won! Took 8 dinner bookings and 10 tea bookings at Bishops Stortford and Harpenden. Six people want to come to Canterbury, 3 paid. Gave Colin Turner his map back, got some club notepaper from Alan Grive, gave Tom Simpson the entry form for the ‘25’, and got 1/6 d from Boff for postage. We have got a committee meeting at Alan Grive’s house on Wednesday.

Wed Apr 11th 12 miles The club’s 19th committee meeting at Alan Grive’s house. Twenty-three riders have entered for the ‘25’ on April 22nd (over half the total membership!), including four women and one for the junior ‘10’: 28 in all. I am off 12th with a 10 minute handicap.

We are going to buy some cloth badges at 1/- each and sell them to the club members at a profit of 6d! Alan has printed out the posters and the block for our introduction cards. We are going to help in the Festival of Britain by holding a carnival and a grass-track meeting! We had some discussion about two sections for the touring, one for the ‘potterers’ and one for the ‘fast’ chaps. I do not like the idea as it would split the club run attendance into two and we barely have enough out as it is (usually 6 to 12). Anyway, I think that most of us would rather go out with the seniors on their longer, faster run than suffer the humiliation of going out for a 50-mile crawl – well, they are capable of doing the longer distances anyway [what a hard man I was!].

Thurs Apr 12th 33 miles Went training up the A 412. Very windy and hard! Wore three jerseys and I was too hot to do any proper training. Tried a ‘10’ on the course. My watch registered 30.12 when I got to the finish, but considering I had to get off to put my lights on at the turn, and had to stop, roll back sleeve and glove before I could see what time I had done, I should think that I had done a medium ‘29’ and beaten ‘evens’. I was going to try a ‘25’ but it was too hard going. Came home through West Hyde, Harefield and Ruislip.

Sun Apr 15th 92 miles Twelve people out today – beautiful weather, apart from cold morning. Went out through Watford, Aldenham and Radlett to the ‘Rookery’ for elevenses. Tony Tucker found a pigeon with a broken wing so we took it to a house [I am sure they were pleased!]. Met Alan Grive and Bettina and then continued on through Essendon, down the hill (where Tucker punctured) to Hertford, Ware, Much Hadham to Bishops Stortford for dinner. Lovely and easy here because of the tail wind. Nice dinner (only 2/3 d), apart from a tiny pudding. After waiting for Jeremy to mend his puncture we went through Standon, Puckeridge. Great Minden, where we watched a motor bike trial, to Watton-at-Stone, Woolmer Green, Welwyn and Wheathampstead to Harpenden for tea. We had a huge tea because the proprietor is an ex-cyclist who knows how to feed us! Met Tom, Boff, Roy and Pete Craft here; they had come down from Cambridge. After tea we came home through St Albans and Watford. We came down a hill near Ayot St Peter and round a sharp bend where Tony Tucker brought me off and I cut my left leg to blazes! Nice day apart from cuts, bruises, brake bindings etc.

Thurs Apr 19th 26 miles Went out for a ride with about six other blokes through Rickmansworth and then home through Uxbridge and Ickenham.

Fri Apr 20th 12 miles Received a card from Canterbury youth hostel saying that they could not book us any beds [for Whitsun] as they were full up. They said that it would be all right for 14th May but that would mean coming back on the Tuesday and many of the blokes at work cannot manage that. I shall have to write to get the postal orders back. As far as I know Blackboy’s is alright (at least I sincerely hope so).

Went out for a short ride in the evening, round the ‘massed start’ course – 12 miles. It includes all the big hills around Batchworth, Northwood and Ruislip. The last few days have been warm and sunny. Hope it stays like this until Sunday. I’ve been riding in short sleeves!

Sat Apr 21st 50 miles Went to Prangley’s in the morning and bought a spindle for my front G.B. brake – 1/9 d. Stripped bike down. Tony Tucker came round in the morning to make arrangements for a ride in the afternoon. We went round to Brian’s in the afternoon and found him with another broken spoke [!!] – and on the block side, so we had to take it in to Prangley’s (by car). Tucker and I then went for a short loosening- up ride through Park Woods and down Breakspeare road to Ickenham. If this wind drops in the morning and the temperature is not too low, it should be fast.

Sun Apr 22nd 50 miles Up at 4.00 a.m. and started the ‘25’ at 6.12. Did a 1-13-46 and won the handicap. Stan Boyes won the event with a 1.6, and Brian did a 1.10.46. Mr Huggins was up there in his car. Not much wind but still very hard because of the cold (such an unearthly hour!). I was caught by Stan, Jim Farrell, Brian Major and Alan Tunaley. I wrote to Canterbury youth hostel when I got in. Was going to tea at the ‘Southdown’ café but when I got round to Alan’s where we were meeting, I found that my back tyre was flat. I whipped it off but found that the inner tube had gone around the valve. I tried to mend it but couldn’t, so the others went on and I walked home. Going to take it in to Prangley’s tomorrow. If he can’t change it, I will buy a new one and send this one back to Dunlop’s as I have only had it for 3 or 4 weeks. Only done 50 miles today, so I will have to make up for it next week if this super weather continues.

Mon Apr 23rd 15 miles Rushed up to Prangley’s with my inner tube before I did my paper round. He is going to send it back to Dunlop’s for me. I bought another tube to be getting on with, and put it on when I got in. Went up to the club later on. Gave out runs list and took bookings for Sunday. Made arrangements to go out on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Wed Apr 25th 40 miles Went for a short ride through Rayners Lane, North Harrow and Pinner, and then left with the boys for a ‘tear-up’. Met Colin Turner going up Red Hill and we bashed into Beaconsfield, turned round and came back at about 25 mph. I felt quite fit and managed to hang on although my position was getting dangerous coming into Gerrards Cross up the hill. Then we went down to the South Ruislip C.C.’s club rooms and had a cuppa and bought raffle tickets (6 d). Tom and Brian Major were down there. A very nice evening.

Thurs Apr 26th 42 miles left at about 6.00 p.m., down through Northholt, down the Western Avenue to Iver Heath and Slough. Here I turned right to Maidenhead and straight on to the Henley turning. Then I turned back through the town and left through Boulter’s Lock, Cookham, Bourne End, and up Glory hill (on 69" gear) to Beaconsfield. I then came home through Gerrards Cross, Denham and through the lanes to Ruislip. Cool but warm cycling. No wind – very nice evening indeed. Had intended to go training but couldn’t be bothered. Home at 8.30 p.m.

Sat Apr 28th 13 miles Went to Prangley’s in the morning and bought some tyre savers and a new set of brake blocks. Poodled up and down to Pinner and Eastcote and round to Brian’s several times and then Brian came to tea in the evening. We worked out the cost of our summer tour [to Scotland] – we will probably spend £14 on hostels and CTC places alone! Racing tomorrow in a 52 mile ‘massed start’ organised by the “Manor mob”, a local BLRC club (and disorganised by us!). Phoned Tony Tucker up in the evening about 10.00 to tell him the time of the start. I expect that I will get dropped on the first hill, although I shall ‘do my nut up’!

Sun Apr 29th 92 miles Went round to Brian’s at 9.30 a.m. The start was at about 10.15 near the Polish War Memorial on the Western Avenue. We went down the Western Avenue, up the Oxford road through Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield, and then left down Glory Hill to Wooburn Green, Bourne End to Marlow. Here we turned left up Marlow hill where the Northwood “B” team (consisting of me and Darwood) and the Frejus team dropped. We did ‘bit and bit’ along through Lane End to Stokenchurch when one of the Frejus team drew away. Here Darwood’s chain came off, so I bashed on down Dashwood hill and caught the other bloke who was about a mile ahead, at West Wycombe. He then got the cramp so I battled my way through High Wycombe (in snow!) through Loudwater, Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross to the finish. Darwood caught me up again. Tony Tucker, Tony Standing and Alan Stratman crossed the line equal first and Brian came in fourth about 1,000 yards behind. I was tenth (52 miles in 2.49.18); winning time 2.36. Northwood Wheelers had first four places and first two teams!

In the afternoon we went out to tea, meeting the club at Taplow. Stan Boyes, Tom Simpson, Brian Major, Harry Ford, Alan Grive and Bettina were there. I think that I could have stayed with the main ‘peleton’ this morning if Marlow hill were flattened out, as hills are my weak point. Brian and I are sending off bookings for half our tour on Saturday.

Mon Apr 30th 10 miles Went up to the club. Took five bookings for Sunday’s run but there will probably be many more out. Gave back the money to the blokes who were going to Canterbury at Whitsun. Stan gave us a ‘little talk’ about yesterday’s ‘event’ after Tony Tucker (the silly idiot) put up a result sheet on the notice board [because it involved talking - let alone racing - with members of the BLRC!]. Later on Stan calmed down and told us how he burned off ‘league bods’.

We have got a committee meeting on Wednesday. I will probably go out on Thursday, weather permitting.