Tandem Club - South East London - 2006 Events

Sunday, 26th February 2006

Woolwich, London, SE18
organized by: John & Sue

Five tandems, 1 triplet (but only 2 aboard) and 3 solos (15 people) braved the very cold (6C) but dry day to meet in the Firepower Museum car park at the old Woolwich Arsenal for the SEL Region's first ride of 2006. John & young Heather led us to the Woolwich foot tunnel where we all had to carry our bikes down the spiral stairs (the south lift was not working) then the long walk under the River Thames & being relieved to find that the "up" lift was working. We went through Silvertown, between the impressive bank buildings of Canada Square to reach our coffee stop, ‘Vesuvio Caffe’ at Limehouse, which John had pre-arranged for us and they'd put tables & chairs together for us to all sit together.

After big Italian coffees & feeling thoroughly warmed we made our way to join the Regent's Canal & continued up the well used tow path - a few cyclists, runners and families - negotiating the rather low bridges very cautiously. We arrived at The Narrow Boat pub by Wenlock Basin to find we'd got reserved tables and jugs of iced & lemon water all laid out for us and waitress service. John really had done some amazing organising for this ride.

After a very enjoyable and leisurely lunch we carried the bikes up steps to reach Wharf Road, Islington and made our way south east through Shoreditch, Shadwell, Limehouse and Canary Wharf to the Greenwich foot tunnel where this time we got the lift down but had to carry the bikes up the spiral stairs on the south side to emerge beside the Cutty Sark bathed in sunshine. Along the Thames Path, around the Dome, past the Thames Flood Barrier to finish with refreshments at the Firepower cafe after 26 very enjoyable and interesting miles.

report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for pictures.

Sunday, 26th March 2006

West Wickham, Kent
organized by: Neville & Tricia

Eleven people on 5 tandems and 1 solo departed from West Wickham on a mild, overcast morning with rain threatening. It had rained throughout the previous night so the route was modified to exclude several (now muddy) bridle paths. We travelled via Nash and Chelsham to the outskirts of Warlingham and then on to Tatsfield where we stopped, after 13 miles, at the Reptile Zoo for a coffee break.

The next phase involved several steep hills and went via Cudham, Knockholt Pound and Halstead to Polhill Garden Centre for lunch. This being Mothering Sunday, we had decided not to use a pub for lunch as they get so crowded. The Polhill restaurant was a good choice of venue but even there, we had to join a long queue. We had no trouble finding seats.

The threatened rain started to fall while we were eating and was still falling as we left on the final leg to West Wickham via Pratt's Bottom and Farnborough. The precipitation quickly eased off though and most of the final leg was rain free. Back at the start point we enjoyed tea and cakes at the organizers’ house. The ride distance was 32 miles.

Tandems: 5
Solos: 1
People: 12
Distance: 32 miles
Height Gain 647 metres
High Point: 263 metres
Low Point: 70 metres

report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures.

Sunday, 2nd April 2006

family / easy ride
Ashford, Middlesex
organized by: Andy, Emily & Francesca

This was an old fashioned April day with warm sunshine punctuated by rain showers (some of them torrential). Fortunately we were indoors having lunch during the worst downpour.

Fifteen people met at the start at our leaders' house in Ashford, Middlesex. There were 6 tandems (1 pulling a tag-along) and 2 solos.

We took an anti-clockwise route via Laleham, where we picked up the Thames Path (part of National Cycle Network route 4), crossing to the south side of the river at Chertsey, and followed it all the way to Hampton Court apart from a small diversion in Weybridge and then a couple of miles on the road adjacent to the Path in Walton on Thames which avoided some of the puddles. Despite a hose pipe ban, due to insufficient reserves of water in the area, there was plenty of water lying on the Thames Path. It’s a good route apart from the barriers and places where cyclists are forced to walk.

We had lunch at the Tiltyard Restaurant in Hampton Court Palace in East Molesey (on the north side of the river) while it poured with rain outside. After the rain eased, some people tried out the famous maze.

We continued in an easterly direction along the Thames Path to Kingston upon Thames and then turned northwards through Bushy Park with its many deer and then via the outskirts of Twickenham and past the Shot Tower (once used for making lead shot) in Crane Park and on to Sunbury on Thames where we posed for a photo in front of the BP Headquarters.

Finally, after a very enjoyable 26 miles, we returned to the home of our leaders where they treated us to tea and cakes whilst we watched the Oxford & Cambridge boat race on their television.

report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures.

Sunday, 23rd April 2006
St George's Flag
St George's Day

Orpington, Kent
organized by: Andy & Ruth

The weather on the previous day (Saturday) had been glorious and we were expecting more of the same. Wrong! The day dawned overcast and light rain was falling and so was the temperature. We were expecting a hard ride because of the terrain but the weather made it harder.

In gently falling drizzle, we headed from Orpington via quiet roads to Jubilee Park in Bromley and then on through Norman Park to Hayes, Keston and Downe, where we stopped after 10 miles for coffee and a chance to dry off.

Continuing in a southerly direction and after descending from the North Downs, crossing the M25 at Clacket Lane (with a view down to its busy service area) and ascending to the High Chart we found ourselves at Chartwell - one time home of Sir Winston Churchill. An interesting feature here, apart from the restaurant, was the fact that there is a cycle parking area which can easily accommodate tandems.

The weather had not improved while we ate and seemed colder and wetter when we returned to our machines. We descended to almost the lowest point of the ride at Four Elms and then, turning northwards, climbed to the highest point of the ride at the top of Toys Hill, just 4 kilometres away. As we climbed the hill there were Road Closed signs and a suggested diversion. We decided to continue on our way expecting to be able to get past the obstruction. As we neared the top, the reason for the road closure revealed itself as tree felling and there was absolutely no way past. A nearby ideally located bridleway enabled us to loop around the obstruction and although we had to walk (it was very steep and muddy) saved us from miles of additional cycling (down the hill and back up again by another route).

Crossing the A25 and the M25, we now met with our final big challenge of the day – Sundridge Hill, 3 kilometres of climbing, some of which is very steep. We regrouped at the top just before the rain started to really pour and spoil our descent to Pratt’s Bottom. No matter, we were soon back at the start, drying off and enjoying our leaders’ very tasty home made cakes.

Tandems: 6
People: 12
Distance: 39 miles
Height Gain 980 metres
High Point: 246 metres
Low Point: 50 metres

report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures.

Sunday, 7th May 2006

family / easy ride
Oxted, Surrey
organized by: Rob & Hilary

Eight tandems & one solo (15 adults & 3 children) set off from Tandridge Leisure Centre, Oxted, Surrey, cycling up to Limpsfield Chart, down to Crockham Hill and a long slog up again to arrive at Chartwell for welcome refreshments. From there we went up again to drop down to enjoy the lovely quiet lanes to pass Haxted Watermill and then a speedy B road to bring us to the Red Barn pub at Blindley Heath, Lingfield for lunch, followed by a pleasant sit in the sunshine watching the children play in the playpark. Just as we were about to leave, a puncture had to be fixed (you never notice them when you stop but only when you leave!).

Through more lovely quiet lanes, past Staffhurst Wood and to our leaders' house to enjoy excellent cakes whilst sitting in the sunshine in their garden. We finally dragged ourselves away to conclude the ride of 29 miles back at the Leisure Centre. The weather had proved to be very pleasant indeed, warm and quite sunny - a nice surprise as we'd all been expecting rain from the forecast.

Tandems: 8
Solos: 1
People: 18
Distance: 29 miles
Height Gain 585 metres
High Point: 205 metres
Low Point: 45 metres

report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for pictures.

Sunday, 11th June

Joint ride with Surrey & Sussex group from Hassocks, West Sussex
family / easy ride and standard options
Family (short) ride organized by: David & Caroline
Longer ride organized by: Ken & Liz

Thirteen tandems and 26 people met at Hassocks for this ride on a day that had, by far, the best weather of the year to date.

We all travelled the same route for the first 5 miles and then split roughly in half at East Chiltington. The long riders struck out eastwards and a little to the south towards Cooksbridge and then northwards via Barcombe Cross and Piltdown to the highest point of their ride at Nutley before heading south again to Fletching for lunch.

The short riders took a slightly shorter route to Barcombe Cross (which utilized an evil bridle path which had most people walking a short distance). They must then have been behind the long riders on the same route and at Piltdown (just 2 kilometers from the lunchstop at Fletching) it was decided to have a short break and then to add a further 3 miles to the planned route in order to arrive at Fletching at the same time as the long riders who were doing a much longer loop at this point. This worked out well as we all arrived at the Rose & Crown within minutes of each other.

Most of us preferred to sit in the sunshine in the garden for lunch. A leisurely affair with seemingly no one anxious to leave.

We did eventually get under way - with the long riders looping westwards via the outskirts of Haywards Heath before turning to the south and the short riders taking a slightly more direct south westerly route to our combined tea stop on the outskirts of Ditchling at the Stoneywish Tea Room. The short riders took in another tricky little bridle way and that, together with a puncture, meant that we all arrived at about the same time.

We were now 4 miles from the finish at Hassocks and we took a diversion from the obvious route to ascend to the Oldland Windmill (circa 1703) where, as well as admiring the beautifully restored windmill, we could see, to the south, the Jack and Jill windmills on the top of the South Downs at Clayton.

Oldland Windmill (circa 1703) Admiring the restoration of this
old windmill
Jack & Jill windmills on top of the
South Downs in the distance
Photos by Tricia Anderson

Many thanks to David & Caroline and Ken & Liz for helping us all to enjoy a great day out.

Report by: Neville Frost

click here for more pictures.

Tandems: 13
Solos: 0
People: 26

Short Ride
Distance: 33 miles
Height Gain 565 metres
High Point: 79 metres
Low Point: 10 metres

Long Ride
Distance: 41 miles
Height Gain 756 metres
High Point: 131 metres
Low Point: 10 metres

Saturday, 17th June - Tuesday 20th June 2006

French Weekend Event
Newhaven, East Sussex to Dieppe, Normandy, France (and on to Neufchâtel en Bray)
4 days cycling in France
organized by Alan & Wendy

On Saturday 18 people with 9 tandems reported at Newhaven in good time (6.30am!) for boarding the Transmanche ferry to Dieppe. We were relieved that this year we weren't forced up steep ramps to top decks but were allowed to board before all motor vehicles and remain on the lower deck; we'd consumed our breakfast before setting sail at 8am and settled down with newspapers and chat to pass the 4 hours until our arrival in Dieppe. An easy, speedy disembarkation and before we knew it we'd arrived in the, now familiar, Dieppe "square" beside the harbour where we split up to try out some of the many restaurants for lunch. Having re-gathered at 3pm Alan & Wendy led us out of Dieppe to follow the Avenue Verte signs through the suburbs before joining
On the Avenue Verte
the actual Avenue Verte traffic free old railway route to take us very gently up hill all the way to Neufchatel-en-Bray (25 miles). At the Hotel du Grand Cerf Madame and her staff were as welcoming as ever and duly allocated the rooms, asking if we wanted "big bed" or not! The downside to this hotel is that several rooms are at the front overlooking a cobbled high street and with the noise of the traffic on the cobbles and the church clock striking every hour, the nights can be rather disturbed. Big plusses though are the excellent food, superb service and attention and friendliness. Most of us unpacked, showered, rested and changed (but one couple just hadn't had enough cycling and so took off to recce part of the ride they were leading on Sunday) before meeting up for an excellent al fresco dinner.

Sunday turned out to be an extremely hot day and was spent trying to find shade cover wherever possible. We'd decided on an early start (8.30am) and so enjoyed the ride south to coffee at Forges-les-Eaux in a comfortably warm temperature.
Fixing a noise while coffee was being ordered
Whilst coffee was being ordered, Neville performed brake adjustment to prevent unseemly noises coming from the front wheel. After that the day really started to heat up as we went up and down the lovely rolling hills. The hotel had provided us with picnic lunch and we managed to find a little shade in the grounds of a very old little church in Les Authieux. On to Buchy in search of ice cream but no luck so we had to be content with beer, coffee, orange. 3 tandem teams were anxious to escape the sun by now, and there was also Mike's very noisy hub brake to fix, so took the most direct quiet country route back to the hotel (45 miles) whilst the remaining 6 teams followed their leaders on a loop going up a very steep off road hill to achieve an amazing downhill ride through cooling forest (55 miles). After showers and pre-dinner drinks another excellent al fresco dinner was enjoyed in the very warm evening air.

Monday was warm but cloudy all day, making it pleasanter cycling weather. We left the hotel going east and used some lovely quiet roads and tracks to get us up onto a ridge, then passing through pretty villages to take us through Conteville to our coffee stop in Formerie.
Attempting to fix a 'noise' in Aumale
We then turned northwards to Aumale where we split up to find suitable picnic spots in this seemingly deserted town. Having successfully fixed worrying noises on two tandems yesterday, "the noise" had been passed on to Ken's tandem for today but unfortunately the sun cream lube didn't do the trick and the only way it could be stopped was by Liz taking her left foot "out of play"! No luck in finding a coffee stop on our way back via Auvilliers so after a super descent back to the hotel (52 miles) a "foray" was made into the town to find an open bar. A special regional dinner was enjoyed inside this time, as there was a very cool breeze outside.

Final photos with Madame & Sebastiane
Very noisy road laying in Londinieres
Tuesday was still cloudy and that cool breeze was still around. We all breakfasted and packed up and, after the final photos with Madame and Sebastiane, we set off by 8.45am up a 3 mile hill (just a little warmer!) to go north east to Londinieres for coffee, with very noisy road laying going on right outside which was easily matched by the huge amount of noise we made inside! We went across two valleys and ridges to reach Criel-sur-Mer for our final picnic lunch before the even cooler breeze drove us into the shelter of a nearby café for warming coffees and chocolates. From there it was a pleasant ride just inland from the cliff tops to take us back down into Dieppe to have a couple of hours on our own resting, exploring, shopping, drinking before gathering for the ferry. We had cycled 50 miles. The "loaders" kept us waiting until almost last, an hour standing around admiring the 5 Lotus Elise cars and the many very old Bentley and Lagonda cars, before allowing us on to attempt to secure our tandems without there being any securing points: we hoped it wouldn't be a rough crossing and were lucky that it wasn't. There was a good choice for dinner and, feeling replete we settled down to chat, read, sleep to pass the time before arriving in Newhaven at 9.30pm (the ferry had been half an hour late leaving Dieppe).

Another most enjoyable event excellently organised by Alan & Wendy with help on routes from Ken & Liz.

Report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for more pictures.

Tandems: 9
Solos: 0
People: 18

Saturday Ride
Distance: 25 miles
Height Gain 529 metres
High Point: 89 metres
Low Point: 0 metres

Sunday Ride
Distance: 55 miles (the longer option!)
Distance: 45 miles (the shorter option!)
Height Gain 1166 metres (the shorter option!)
High Point: 233 metres (the shorter option!)
Low Point: 77 metres (the shorter option!)

Monday Ride
Distance: 52 miles
Height Gain 1175 metres
High Point: 255 metres
Low Point: 80 metres

Tuesday Ride
Distance: 50 miles
Height Gain 1429 metres
High Point: 218 metres
Low Point: 0 metres

Saturday and Sunday, 1st & 2nd July 2006

Camping Weekend
family / easy ride and standard options
This event was based in the Cotswolds near Bourton-on-the-Water.
There were rides on Saturday and Sunday with a family ride on Sunday.
organized by Dave & Lana

Most of us had arrived at Folly Farm campsite by Friday evening and, once tents were erected and dinner eaten, formed a cosy circle on this very warm evening to catch up on the chat.

Liz & Ken led Saturday's ride and 12 tandems (2 towing buggies) set off at 9.30am to try to beat the heat. We succeeded for the first hour, riding south in the not too hot sunshine up and down hills to Hampnett then east via Sherborne and along the Windrush valley, arriving at Little Barrington to enjoy an "al fresco" coffee stop & Ken's excellent cakes, on the newly mown green. We were persuaded back onto our tandems to continue on to busy Burford, reaching Shipton under Wychwood via Swinbrook (our buggies left us here) for lunch in the Shaven Monk's garden. By now it was extremely hot so we stopped just a mile along the road at Milton under Wychwood's village fair for ice creams whilst watching a sheep having its hooves clipped and (for some) winning wine on the tombola stall. In sizzling heat now we attacked yet more hills to Bourton-on-the-Water, where we stopped to dangle our hot feet in the very cold River Windrush, eat ice creams and do the necessary shopping for the evening barbecue. To top off our 36 mile ride we tackled the long drag out of Bourton and back to the campsite via Cold Aston. Showered and rested, the various barbecues were readied for the evening "meat burning" and a very pleasant sociable evening followed.

Sunday's ride was our official family/easy ride led by Dave & Lana, with Leon in buggy. We set off again at 9.30am in, what was now, a humid heat - 13 tandems today. Out via Cold Aston, passing by Bourton to Lower Slaughter, where the new tube Phil had fitted only that morning decided to go bang! A beautiful spot to have to wait though, with the River Eye running through the village. From here we went north, up an arrow hill near Stow-on-the-Wold then west to Condicote, where a very convenient shelter (with a bench too!) was sited near the green, to enjoy another "al fresco" coffee and cake stop. A little further north to Hinchwick before turning south west and tackling another arrow hill before arriving at Cotswold Farm Park to have our picnics under a big old shady tree, followed by tea and ice creams in the café. It was just too hot to walk around the unshaded farm so various options were taken to get us back to the campsite; some went the most direct way back, some a little loop and others did Liz's longer loop going west towards Cheltenham (where a chain broke and we were "devoured" by horse flies while fixing it - gosh, they hurt), turning south on the old Salt Way then east via Hawling towards Naunton, south through Aylworth and back to complete a mere 29 miles even for the "longer" riders; but it was oh so very hot and humid!

Dave & Lana did an excellent job of organising the campsite and superb rides in this spectacular rolling countryside. Camping weekends always seem to prove popular and this was no exception, with 28 people taking part.

Report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for pictures.

Tandems: 13
Buggies: 2
Solos: 0
People: 28 (3 were children)

Saturday Ride
Distance: 36 miles
Height Gain 695 metres
High Point: 245 metres
Low Point: 100 metres

Sunday Ride
Distance: 29 miles (the longest option!)
Height Gain 691 metres
High Point: 287 metres
Low Point: 140 metres

Sunday, 6th August 2006

family / easy ride
Seasalter, Kent
organized by: Justin & Jenny

Highland cattle, unusual sheep and a cow/deer type of animal
photo: Tricia Anderson
Four tandem couples arrived by Seasalter's sea wall to join our leaders, Justin trailing young Peter by a Trailergate: in Whitstable we collected Jenny on her solo with Matthew in a child seat, bringing our numbers up to 12 people with, a little disappointingly, the only children on this family ride being our leaders' 2 children.

We took the very attractive off-road Crab & Winkle Way uphill to Canterbury, stopping to allow breath to be regained on this very hot, humid day: the "breath regaining" was quite a frequent theme of this ride as Justin led us up several rather steep and some long hills (Justin is very fit having just taken part in the Etape!). A stop was made for photos to be taken of several Highland cows with calves encountered in a field (we only saw 3 Highland cows during the week of the National Tandem Rally based outside Edinburgh!) and also some "rare breed" sheep and a small (unidentified by us) cow/deer type of animal.

Lunch out-doors at the Chapter Arms in Chartham Hatch
photo: Justin Sykes
Lunch was at the very attractive Chapter Arms pub in Chartham Hatch, where we were all happy to relax outdoors. Jenny & Matthew left us at Chartham to return home by bus (no trains running due to Sunday "works" so her bike was locked up for Justin to collect in the car later).

We encountered more hills and pretty villages before stopping for tea at the Apple Craft Centre on the outskirts of Faversham. Then the flat part of the ride using Bike Route 1 (with the excitement of having to negotiate some interesting barriers) across the Graveney Marshes before returning to Seasalter after 26.5 miles and enjoying ice cream whilst sitting on the sea wall searching for the distant sea (the tide goes out a very long way here).

Report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for pictures

Tandems: 4
Tagalongs: 1
Solos: 2
People: 12 (2 were children)

Distance: 26.5 miles
Height Gain 436 metres
High Point: 105 metres
Low Point: 0 metres

Sunday, 27th August 2006

Weekend Event
organized to coincide with Mildenhall Cycling Rally - Mildenhall, Suffolk
The rally lasts all weekend
The South East London ride will be on Sunday
organized by: Neville & Tricia

This is the 8th year that we have had South East London rides from Mildenhall to coincide with the excellent Mildenhall Bicycle Rally. None of the previous rides have headed in a northerly direction so we decided it was time to go north. There is very little apart from farm land to the north for 25 miles and it’s a difficult task to find suitable roads and places to stop for refreshment.

As we had some children with us, we needed a stop well before that and the Sports Centre in Littleport kindly agreed to open their restaurant early to accommodate us, providing us with coffee and bacon rolls after 14 miles. Unfortunately Ken and Liz missed most of this part of the ride via Prickwillow and this stop, as their rear wheel rim had exploded a few miles from the start and they returned to base for a replacement rear wheel – riding back to base without a tyre.

From Littleport, four of the group (2 adults and 2 children) returned to the Mildenhall rally and the rest of us continued on our way northwards – meeting Ken and Liz en route, after a very speedy wheel change and flat out ride back to us. We followed the Great River Ouse through Ten Mile Bank to Denver, where we stopped at the Jenyns Arms for lunch.

The return from Denver involved some varied roads ranging from the A10 to the very unkempt Sustrans route 30. Just after Southery, whilst heading in a south easterly direction with a strong north westerly wind blowing into our backs, most of us could not avoid the temptation of a fast blast and speeds of around 30 mph were achieved (on the flat). However, whilst some of us were enjoying a fast blast others had a puncture…

Back on the road, we then weaved our way southwards via a variety of little used roads eventually returning to base having completed 47.5 miles. The easy ride group arrived later having completed 30 miles.

Report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Tandems: 6
Tagalongs: 1
Solos: 4
People: 17 (2 were children)

Distance: 47.5 miles
Height Gain 221 metres
High Point: 24 metres
Low Point: 0 metres

Sunday, 3rd September 2006

family / easy ride
Crawley, West Sussex
organized by: Frank & Pat

The weather looked as though rain would descend at any minute but, only slightly daunted, we all set off through Crawley. We were amused to see that, due to the hose-pipe ban, the once resplendent flower-boxes now contained either signs requesting people to conserve water or were filled with plastic flowers! Heading in a north westerly direction, we passed through Charlwood, Leigh and Betchworth and then, just as the hills of the North Downs were getting ominously close, we turned to the west towards Brockham. This was our lunch destination and we were early so, we headed on to the southern outskirts of the town and spent a very pleasant 20 minutes at the children’s playground – well this was a Family/Easy ride! We were joined here by two more friends who had cycled by tandem from Ashford in Middlesex

After a very pleasant repast we bade goodbye to our friends from the north and set off southwards. Whilst we were lunching the weather had changed from lowering to very sunny and warm and so the return journey was a real pleasure. We returned to Charlwood via Parkgate and then, following our outgoing route to Crawley, went right past our starting point and after a further 3 miles arrived at the home of Pat and Frank, our leaders, where we had a pleasant stop for tea and biscuits.

The final leg then retraced our steps to the starting point. Many thanks to Pat and Frank who had delayed their departure for holiday in order to organize the ride

Report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Tandems: 4 (5 at lunch stop)
Solos: 2
People: 10 (12 met for lunch)

Distance: 30.0 miles
Height Gain 374 metres
High Point: 111 metres
Low Point: 47 metres

Sunday, 24th September 2006

Milford, Surrey
organized by: Dereck & Gail

Waiting at the start for the last arrivals
photos: Tricia Anderson
There had been torrential rain during the night preceding this ride, leaving some access roads flooded and some doubt in people’s minds about how wet the ride would be! All the more surprising, then, that this ride attracted 25 people on 12 tandems and one solo.

Whilst waiting at the start, many vintage cars passed by with lots of small 1930s Austins present. After some delay due to access problems for some people, the ride from Milford Post Office headed in a south westerly direction via Bowlhead Green and Thursley before heading northwards to Elstead where we again encountered some of the old cars. We also had to wait briefly whilst a cycle race came by and also a little later a horse event of some sort crossed our route.

The coffee stop at the Manor Farm Craft Centre in Seale is a favourite haunt of cyclists and today was no exception with some of our group heading off after some solos, thinking they were tandems! A cycle time trial was starting here, so there really was an influx of cyclists which the staff in the coffee shop took in their stride. It was nice to also see famous tandem rider and event organiser, Linda Stinchcombe here, though not on a tandem!

After coffee, we headed off in a westerly direction via Farnham, where we crossed the busy A31, and continued to Crondall where we had excellent lunches in the Plume of Feathers.

Our sole solo rider left us soon after lunch and the 12 tandems headed southwards, passing through Alice Holt Forest to Rowledge and then eastwards through Millbridge to Tilford where we stopped for ice-creams. Unfortunately, the usual ice-cream van was absent and no ice-creams were available, leaving some of our number very disappointed. We then continued eastwards through Elstead and back to the start at Milford where our hosts had prepared a huge selection of cakes to go with cups of tea. This had been a hilly ride and everyone was pleased to sit around and relax before heading homewards. We'd had an excellent day’s riding and socializing in really warm, dry and sunny conditions.

Report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Tandems: 12
Solos: 1 (part way)
People: 25 (1 part way)

Distance: 38.0 miles
Height Gain 832 metres
High Point: 148 metres
Low Point: 44 metres

Sunday, 1st October 2006

family / easy ride
Higham, Kent
organized by: Henry & Maureen

In Shorne Wood Country Park
photo: Neville Frost
This turned out to be an "adventurous" and "weatherful" day! The weather forecast wasn't good but 6 tandems, with one towing a trailer, gathered at Higham: rain jackets were donned and then shed again as the black clouds gathered and then parted for the sun. It was uphill all the way to Shorne Wood Country Park for an early coffee stop, with Liz & Ken already experiencing the first puncture of the day.

Shorne Wood Country Park has a fantastic new visitor centre built from local Kent timber and using all sorts of "eco-friendly" principles - wind turbine, solar panels, woodchip boiler, rainwater, bio-digester. After refreshments for tummies and brains (lots to read about the eco-friendly stuff) and a passing shower, Maureen decided we'd do the 2mile cycle route around the park: Liz & Ken discovered yet another puncture (No. 2) so we left them fixing it and set off into the woods to follow the "blue trail". Well - what a trail! It was real mountain bike stuff with narrow, steep, loose and muddy paths both down and up; Christopher even got "foot spin" whilst helping to push the tandem and trailer bike up one hill - it was all challenging stuff. Half an hour later, after much mirth, we emerged to collect Liz & Ken who were just about to come in search of us as they couldn't believe that such a short route could have taken us so long!

We had a fairly sedate ride in the sunshine through quiet little lanes through Higham and Cliffe to lunch in Cooling. The sky had blackened and soon after leaving the pub and climbing up to High Halstow, we were all pelted with driving rain which stopped once we had all managed to struggle into our rain gear! Down to Hoo Marina for a look at a couple of Thames barges moored there and lots of rotting boat carcasses protruding through the mud (& a couple more short showers), then along the Saxon Shore Way, accompanied by thunder and lightning, where the 3rd puncture of the day occurred and was fixed just before another downpour.

No sooner had we emerged back onto the road than "bang" and Liz & Ken had a very split tyre - an extreme excuse we thought for them to decide to walk back to their campsite which we'd passed a mile earlier! As they left us the weather dished out its final helping with little hail stones turning into large ones, which Liz & Ken had to walk in but we were all lucky enough to cram into a nearby bus shelter whilst watching the road outside flood. It all stopped and we achieved the car park only to find that David's car tyre had a nasty bulge in it so had to be changed. A day of extreme weather, extreme off road cycling, 5 punctures (including the car) and lots of fun - Christopher reckoned it had been a really good ride!

Report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for pictures

Tandems: 6
Tagalongs: 1
Solos: 0
People: 13

Distance: 25.0 miles
Height Gain 450 metres
High Point: 116 metres
Low Point: 4 metres

Sunday, 22nd October 2006

Dorking, Surrey
organized by: David & Caroline

Despite a forlorn weather forecast prior to this ride, 18 people took part on 9 tandems. Under an overcast sky, we headed off from Dorking in a northerly direction and soon turned down a narrow track to stepping stones across the fast flowing River Mole. This looked tricky, since it was necessary to carry the tandems across the stepping stones and there was a serious risk of falling into the water. Just as I was about to pick the tandem up and step onto the first stone, someone behind me said, “It’s a joke”. Yes, just a little bit of fun on our leader, David’s, part – I’m glad I was told before I started across.

Retracing our tracks, we rejoined the A24 and soon turned off in a westerly direction through Westhumble and via a bridle way across Fetcham Downs to Bocketts Farm for an early coffee break.

After coffee we headed in a north-westerly direction, via Great Bookham, using several bridle ways that were quite wet due to the recent rains. Our lunch destination was the Cricketers in Downside and we arrived too early so did an additional loop of 2.5 miles and arrived back at the pub still too early in what was now pouring rain. We huddled under sunshades outside, while the remaining 10 minutes to opening time eased by. Booking is not possible at this pub and we did need to get there ahead of the crowds and succeeded very well. The lunch was worth the wait.

The rain had not abated during our repast and we emerged into a very wet day. Undeterred, David continued with the next part of his plan, utilizing several more tracks which should have been really pleasant and today were really pleasant and very very wet and muddy. From Downside we passed through Effingham Junction and West Horsley and then took a long track across Netley Heath. We came out on a road and David asked for a vote as to whether, in the light of the inclement weather (not his exact words), we should take a shorter than planned route to the tea stop and there was a large vote in favour. We were soon flying along the undulating road across Ranmore Common with assistance from a tail wind when, as Ken and Liz were on a fast ascent, their chain gave up the unequal battle against all that power. The problem was quickly fixed with a power link and we were soon on a fast descent into Dorking.

Cakes in Brockham Church Hall. We didn't want
this picture to be too sharp in case it made Phil cry
photo: Neville Frost
Once in Dorking, Phil (a great lover of cakes) and Verna decided to leave us for the comfort and dryness of their car but the rest of us continued to Brockham to the renowned Church Hall and cake supply depot. Had no one told Phil about this place and how it should not be missed even in pouring rain? Ah well...

After this welcome break, we finally set off on the last leg, with most people heading back to Dorking and others heading more directly homewards. It had been a wet day but the autumnal trees and scenery and the well planned stops had made it a great day out.

Report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Tandems: 9
Solos: 0
People: 18

Distance: 32.0 miles
Height Gain 663 metres
High Point: 226 metres
Low Point: 18 metres

Sunday, 19th November 2006

Joint ride with the Kent group from Edenbridge, Kent
organized by: Harry & Mary

Autumn colours
Autumn colours
photo: David Wilde
For our joint ride with Kent Region we achieved a record ride attendance for this year of 30 people (14 tandems & 2 solos). We gathered in the Edenbridge (Kent) Leisure Centre car park wondering what we had done as it was exceedingly cold (approx 3°C) though with a blue sky and sun and no wind. We weren't cold for long as Harry & Mary led us up the first of the many hills of the day, aptly named Pains Hill! A whiz down to the A25 and then in the "back door" of Clacket Lane M25 service station for coffee, causing some interest as to how we had got there from the motorway!

Onwards and upwards to the top of the North Downs, along the top, with amazing views to the south, then down again, over the M25, another hill up past Godstone Farm to whiz down to a sharp left turn (only one tandem overshot!) to arrive at the Brickmakers Arms pub at Crowhurst Lane End, Tandridge for excellent lunches.

After lunch we went south to Dormansland, turning east along a beautiful little lane beside a stream and lakes to Holtye Common, through Cowden, up yet another hill, an arrow one this time, to Markbeech before the final run down into Edenbridge, where Mary produced huge hunks of yummy apple cake to be consumed whilst loading tandems back onto cars and chatting in the fading sunshine.

It had been a fabulous day's cycling, 35 hard miles in glorious countryside with the sun shining on us through the remaining orange and brown tree leaves.

Report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for pictures


For an alternative report and more pictures,
look at the Tandem Club - Kent website.

Tandems: 14
Solos: 2
People: 30

Distance: 35 miles
Height Gain: 838 meters
High Point: 273 meters
Low Point: 38 meters

Sunday, 3rd December 2006

Christmas ride and Lunch. Darenth Valley Golf Course, Shoreham, Kent.
organized by: Neville & Tricia

The blustery, wet preceding night and early morning reduced our intended 21 riders down to 11 for our pre-Christmas lunch ride: even as we gathered in the Darenth Valley Golf Course car park, Shoreham, Kent it was raining with a cold wind BUT at 10am a sliver of blue sky was spotted and the rain stopped - amazing! We had an excellent ride along some very wet roads, through Eynsford (but not the ford!), up the rather steep track towards Eagle Heights and viewing a fabulous rainbow, then through Crockenhill to Andy & Ruth's home in Orpington for yummy refreshments. The return was via Chelsfield, then diverting around the very steep Well Hill, through Timberden Bottom where, at the top of the hill, we were met by John & young Heather on their solos.

After freshening up we joined our non-cycling friends who were already gathered and enjoying pre-lunch drinks and then all 33 of us were looked after in the usual excellent way by the venue's staff whilst enjoying a good lunch. Liz & Ken were presented with the John Steggles Most Rides Trophy for the 3rd consecutive year and have now deemed themselves ineligible to win it again. They also got a specially commissioned suncatcher of themselves to keep as a reminder. Neville thanked them for all their support over the years and hope they won't stop now!

Report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for pictures

Tandems: 4 (plus 1 tag-along)
Solos: 1
People: 11

Distance: 15 miles
Height Gain: 346 meters
High Point: 172 meters
Low Point: 35 meters

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