531 miles

Thurs Feb 3rd 35 miles Up to college again by bike today, and the home via Kensington, Hammersmith, Shepherd’s Bush, Western Avenue and Harrow Hill. It was very pleasant although a little rain in the morning. We held a committee meeting in the evening at my place.

Sun Feb 6th 64 miles We left Northwood at about 9.30 a.m. through Rickmansworth, where Dave Adams had cotter pin trouble (1 hour stop) and Chorleywood to Fred’s at Amersham for elevenses. We then continued on to Great Missenden and into the lanes to the Buckingham Arms at Princes Risborough for dinner. It was a very hard ride out into the wind.
After dinner I left the club and came straight home for tea with the wind behind me. It was a very easy ride and I did the 29 miles in 1 hour 30 minutes even though I had to stop four times, three times to pump up my front tyre. A very good day and some lovely sunshine.

Mon Feb 7th 12 miles We have now got the club rooms organised with canteen, rollers and the usual entertainments (snooker, darts etc). I went with Roger to North Harrow and then home through Hatch End.

Thurs Feb 10th 35 miles Cycled up to College again today, then home the longer way as last week. There was a heavy (and cold) shower of rain and hail between Kensington and Shepherd’s Bush, but otherwise the ride was enjoyable. I have received my start sheet for Sunday’s (Harp R.C.) ‘100’ mile reliability ride.

Fri Feb 11th 19 miles Out training in the evening, up Harrow Hill, down to Wembley and then through Alperton, up Horsenden hill and home via Roxeth and Rayner’s Lane. It has got very cold again

Sat Feb 12th 7 miles Snow! Got up to Northwood Hills to meet the club. Went out with Brian Huggins in the afternoon (in his car).

Sun Feb 13th Woke up at 7.00 a.m. to find about an inch of snow. I could not face 100 miles in these conditions so went back to sleep! I am keen but not fanatical! The Harp R.C. hilly ‘100’ will have to wait for another year.

Mon Feb 14th 10 miles The roads had improved by the evening and I got up to the club rooms. Played darts and had a ride on the rollers. We went skating last night and I now ache in all sorts of places that cycling normally leaves untouched!

Fri Feb 18th 14 miles More snow yesterday afternoon, another 1½ inches. Very cold. However I got out on my bike during the afternoon, down through Ruislip to the ‘10’ start and then home along the Western Avenue to Hillingdon.

Sat 19th Feb 104 miles - Sun 20th Feb 106 miles A Cold Weekend to Bournemouth

Brian Major and I had planned this weekend to Bournemouth to “put the finishing touches to our training for 1955”, but we had in fact done very little training and were still very unfit. It also turned out to be one of the coldest weekends of a cold February. We covered 210 miles in the two days.

Extract from the Club Magazine, March 1955 “A Cold Ride”

We had been planning this weekend away to Bournemouth all the winter with the idea of putting the “finishing touch” to our fitness. We had not bargained with the weather, however, and with all the snow and ice our fitness was non-existent and this ride was to be our first big one of the year. It had been snowing regularly all the previous week and the wind was cold, but the night before we decided to chance it and at least start!

Saturday dawned very cold and bleak indeed and we met just as the first few flurries of fine snow were falling out of the grey sky. I was quite willing to go back to bed, but Brian was keen so we pushed off through Slough and Windsor in the snow. Through the Great Park the snow shower developed into a first degree blizzard and the road became icy and very treacherous. We soon reached Bert’s café in Bagshot but did not stay long because the place was crowded out with soldiers. The snow now ceased as we rode on through Camberley and across Blackbushe airport to Basingstoke and Winchester, where we stopped for dinner. The roads were free of snow south of Basingstoke and we were very surprised to find that there was no snow at all at Winchester! This and the very good progress that we had made (I must admit that the wind was behind us!) cheered us considerably and we carried on cheerfully through Romsey and Lyndhurst, passing through the New Forest and seeing several of the ‘wild’ ponies and pheasants on the way. We stopped for tea in Christchurch and reached Bournemouth at about 4.30. Brian soon found us some ‘digs’ and we settled in.

We spent the evening walking down through the town, along the front, and then went to the pictures to see “Colditz Story” [appropriate for a cold night, perhaps?], for which we had to wait about 45 minutes outside in the rapidly freezing street. When we saw the papers we noticed to our horror that the blizzard we had ridden out of at Bagshot had raged for hours and London was “obliterated” by a carpet of deep snow and the traffic had come to a standstill. We then emptied our pockets mentally to see if we had enough to come home by train just in case we found the going absolutely impossible. We calculated that we would at least have to ride to Winchester before catching the train because our funds were limited.

Next morning, however, Hampshire was still clear of snow and we packed our saddlebags, paid our ‘dues’ and left up the same road heading for London – and the unknown. The tail wind we had experienced the previous day had not changed its direction and, of course, I got the ‘bonk’ soon after Basingstoke. We were very surprised to see that the roads were more of less clear right until Staines except under the trees, and we began to think that the reports in the papers were exaggerated. We seemed to have picked the only part of Britain clear of snow that weekend. It happened that we were not the only cyclists making full use of the clear Hampshire roads for a spot of training; we saw Cyril Peacock [1954 World Amateur Sprint Champion] out near Lyndhurst.

Our delight at the condition of the roads were soon dashed when we reached Cowley, just south of Uxbridge. Here the roads were the worst we had ever seen. Both of us came off, and we saw a bus and two cars slide across the road. It was so icy that you could almost see your face in the surface. We walked almost into Uxbridge, but then found the road reasonably clear and managed to get home without mishap after a cold but very enjoyable weekend.

The whole of the country seemed to be obliterated by snow this weekend – except Hampshire and parts of Surrey. They had 10 foot drifts in Norfolk, Yorkshire and Scotland.

Mon Feb 21st 10 miles Up to the clubrooms despite more snow. I took entries for the WLCA medium gear ‘25’.

Fri Feb 25th We have had six days of snow now and the temperature has not risen above freezing point. London is the only part of Britain not covered with deep snow – they have had 20 foot drifts in the north and people have been freezing to death! [What paper was I reading, I wonder?]. In the Spey Valley a temperature of -17º was recorded. Roads have been very bad and it has been impossible to get out on the bike.

Sat Feb 26th 8 miles I got out today for the first time for nearly a week. Up to Gordon’s to meet the club. In the afternoon I cleaned my Ephgrave but could not fit the chainset – that will have to wait.

Sun Feb 27th 85 miles Got up at 6.10 a.m. for the first event of the year, the club 10 mile 63" gear “twiddler’s” time trial. I was off number 4 at 7.34. I managed to keep warm in three jerseys, shirt, vest, long trousers and long socks but found it very hard in an extremely cold east wind. I have done absolutely no training this year apart from that weekend to Bournemouth, and hence did 31.47! I was not the only one affected; Ken Dopson won the event with a time of 31.06.

We went out for elevenses at Slough and then on to dinner at Wokingham. A nice sunny day after the brutally cold start. We are forecast to have a warmer spell, but I shall believe that when it happens.

Mon Feb 28th 21 miles I hurried home from town, gulped down my dinner, leapt on my bike to attend the WLCA committee meeting in Southall. I got almost to Northolt when my front tyre went flat – but I was only 10 minutes late for the meeting. The meeting finished early.