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

The sixth News sheet sees some changes. Firstly it’s an eight page publication, and appears to be aimed as a part of the Club Dinner event. It’s even got a cover price of 6d.

Page 1

Page 1 is filled by a delightful piece by Bob Harvey welcoming members to the dinner and acknowledging not only some of the ‘big figures’ such as the Club President Jack Sharpe and his wife, but also the myriad un-named people (family members, marshalls, timekeepers and so forth) whose selfless work keeps a bike club running - still true today.

Notable is a coach service laid on! For those unable to benefit form this, Bob helpfully provides the times of last trains and buses.

Colin Turner gets a name check for hard work in organising the evening.

Page 2

A list of The Northwood Wheelers Cabinet. One feature of the club seems to have been a decent helping of good humour of this type. I see they are still making a lot of Tom Simpson’s encounter with falling wood during the Cheddar Gorge Incident!

Page 3

This is a delightful piece by Jack Sharpe, Club President, on the founding and early years of the club. This , I think, is worthy of transcribing and adding to the Club History page. It continues on page 6.

Page 4

List of Prizewinners and Awards. I’m not sure why Colin has inked in the names in ink. Maybe this refers to the item of 1951, about which there was some kind of misunderstanding leading to them being held over to this club presentation.

Page 5

More Prizewinners and Awards. 

Alan Stratman won the Club BAR with an average of 22.475mph, the best so far for the Club.

The Junior Championship Trophy was awarded to Ken Popson (this may be a typo of Dopson? maybe not - see page 6). This trophy was donated by Mr R. J. Moreton, a rubber planter on leave from Malaya - Mr Moreton suggested it be called the Malayan Trophy in memory of British rubber planters killed in Malaya (presumably a reference to the post-war Malayan Emergency).

Page 6

Here is the conclusion of Jack Sharpe’s article, and a list of current club record holders.

Pages 7-8

Results of the 1952 Club Time Trials, Inter-club and Hill Climb events. Unfortunately, due to the stapling, page 7 didn’t scan too well - I was worried I’d damage Colin’s copy of the newsletter.

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.