Thursday, 14 December 2017

Merry Christmas from US


V I S I T    B Y    C L I C K I N G


Yes, this is true, we want to cheer ourselves up by giving stuff away!

So, do all your Christmas   Z e n  Shopping and spend half the money.

Then relax, have an extra  m i n c e   p i e  

(possibly another  A f t e r   E i g h t   M i n t)  

Then get on that turbo trainer and think about the summer..... and the  

f u n n y   t - s h i r t   

you know you want!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Eltham John's local Excitement

The Library - Cycling Section

Once again my local library has come up trumps (not Donald, thankfully).  On my last visit I found a very good book by Michael Hutchison "RE-CYCLIST" - 200 years on two wheels.

It is a history of the bicycle,  cycling and cyclists. The history of the bike has been written many times but this book manages to find a few new and quirky facts on the machines development and as in all aspects of the book gets to present the facts with a good sprinkling of humour.

What I personally found most interesting was the cycling politics of the 1930's to 1950's.  As my own cycling started in 1951 I can associate myself with the Union and League rivalry which is referred to with honesty and sympathy. My own club was a conservative Union club of 'died in the wool' time trialists and this section of the book gave me a feeling of nostalgia. As a youngster, I remember accepting the views of my betters and seniors that Time Trialing was the only true British way of racing, but secretly I wanted to be one of the brightly attired League Boys and take part in the more "racey" massed start events on the open road.   

This book appealed to me on several levels and I did in fact read it twice before returning is to Kent's most exciting venue - the library.  I think I may well end up buying it (the book, not the library). 

Friday, 13 January 2017

Stock Clearance - SALE

We've got a massive t-shirt sale on. A huge 50% off on nearly all our designs: men, women & kids.


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Eltham John's Gifts Guide Special

My Cycling Books

With Christmas fast approaching my wife and I have been doing the usual “big clean” around the house.

Well I’ll confess that I personally got as far as dusting the contents of our bookcase.     In fact there wasn’t much dusting done as the 
first thing I did was look to see how may cycling books I now have.  It turned out to be 43 and all of them seem to be dating from about 
the year 2000 or later.

Without doing too much research  I think that the first such I ever bought was “Cycling is my life” by Tommy Simpson, and was published in 
1966.    I believe it was written by Simpson (with the help of the cycling journalist David Saunders) and for me it highlights the problems 
that British cyclists had to overcome to get any sort of a toehold in the Continental Cycling scene.    

I would certainly think that any aspiring young rider with ambition could learn just how much Simpson did by blazing his spectacular trail 
in his 13 years as a Continental pro.

The original edition ends with Tommy talking about good and (prophetically) bad luck,   but there is a 2009 edition with an intro by David 
Miller and includes a chapter written in 1969 by David Saunders  which refers to Tommy’s sad end.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Every now and then...

.....I like to remind myself I did this.

Training advice to the old and fat: get a picture of yourself when you were fit and put it somewhere (in the nicest possible way) where you can look at it each day to remind yourself that age and fatness (eat a bit less) can be defied and redefined every day no matter how fat or old you are. Attitude is everything. xx

New Christmas Cards

They're in our shop BUY 'EM HERE  Limited run so get in quick. xx

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Froome De France: Froome-O-Matic Tour De France Home Trainer

An illustration from the first time... he's clearly been training on his Froome-O-Matic

Friday, 4 March 2016

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Team Time Trials - A Family Affair (unfortunately)

During my years as a club cyclist it seems that there were few opportunities to ride team time trials. On reflection this is a shame as I now realise that all of the events I did ride team time trials were, with one exception most enjoyable.

To deal with the exception first. This was when after several years away from riding time trials my ego was massaged by some extremely fast club members who were desperately searching for a fourth rider just make up the required number. I was not told that they believed they could win the event and that they would be riding at a pace I had not achieved since the 1950’s.

For about the first 15 miles I was able to do my fair share on the front but during the last 25 miles I was told to ride through but not do any work on the front. This was a lot easier said than done but to my amazement I managed to stay with my three “team mates” until the last two miles when I just completely blew and tailed off to finish on my own.

The disappointment of failure was added to by the fact that as we passed over the M11 towards the end of the course I saw my wife turn our car down the slip road and head off up the motorway (where there was no turn off for about 10 miles) with all my change of clothes and I had to wait at the finish feeling absolutely shattered in my sweaty racing gear until she returned some hour and a half later. Our time was 4th fastest and therefore out of the prizes and I was given the feeling that despite having done my best I had let the team down by being the weakest link.

After that painful experience I always made sure that I never again moved out of my class when any club team was being put together.

All of the other t.t.t’s have been enjoyable but the most pleasure always came from riding in a family team in the Clarencourt C.C. event. I think we rode it four times and managed to always win the family prize (this may have been due to the fact there were very rarely any other family teams entered - but a win is a win!)

As with most family event it did involve a fair bit of swearing, blame and general faffing about. The team consisted of my brother, my son and daughter and myself and I believe that the last time we all rode together our ages totalled something approaching 200 years and we were “fastest family” plus the fasted on age standard. It was also during this event that my brother learned that my daughter knew all the swear words that he had used whilst racing, plus some that were new to him.

The first time we rode it my brother punctured as we approached the bottom of the climb (on the A23 - Brighton Road). We sent my daughter on up the hill while we changed the tubular. My daughter told us after the event that a marshal at the top of the hill shouted to tell her she had dropped her team and to ease up! She did not stop to explain that our cunning plan was that she was saving her energy to put in bigger stints on the front once we had managed to rejoin her.

This was always a very social event with the prize presentation made directly after the event and our guaranteed (upon finishing) prize money was alway invested in the local pub as soon as we returned home. We don't have any photos of this event, only a Betamax video with flashes of us four, long shots of coffee being poured from a flask and the dashboard of a car.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

How to be a Bad Example of Everything At Christmas Part II - Disqualifying Dad

Part II sticks with the boxing day 10 mile time trial theme... because it's the only other bad example I have that's cycling related and we can't stray too far from the topic of cycling.

Just as the previous post, I can't remember many details. It was definitely boxing day, it was a ten mile TT and took place quite a few years ago when I was much much fitter than I am now.

Because I was in the midst of winter training I decided to make it hard for myself and borrow my mum's heavy mountain bike. I made a few minor adaptations, actually one was quite major - I sawed the handlebars down to a ridiculously narrow width (if I'm honest I over did it, rendering the bike a bit of a tricky steer after that) mum wasn't pleased. I've never been very good at measuring things... I work strictly by eye.

Anyway, the bike was now more streamline. Being a bit of a poser I made sure I dressed the part with my Animal hat and Oakley's - important to impress the sheep and one goose spectating around the course. The sartorial theme didn't stop there; my dad and his club mates (of a certain age) had come up with a code of conduct that at the very least had to include a collar and tie - the basic theme was in the style of the Hovis Advert.

Dad went the whole way: suit and tie, bicycle clips and flat cap. He also borrowed a bike from my mum, this time her shopper, and he made a few adaptations, taking off anything shopping related and fixing on a pair of tri-bars (she wasn't pleased with what was happening to her bikes that Christmas)

The course was as before: muddy, gritty, lots of water, tricky down hill section, tricky uphill section - a bit bloody hard as you went round about 4 times - plus some farm animals and dogs, stuff like that. Again, I'll forgo any details about the race, for me there were probably a few hairy steering moments on the tricky descent but it's a bit of a blur.

So straight to the Apres section of the event, which again took place in the pub where the results were read out and prizes awarded (everyone got a prize). I had a lovely glass of red wine, maybe two but this year I managed not to overdo it so I was well in control of the mountain bike (surprisingly so) as myself, dad and my brother set off on the few miles home to my dad's house. 

As we approached the village one of us (I can't remember who) called a sprint to the sign, which meant there was going to be a very silly and aggressive inter-family race to be the first one into the village. In these pointless wars, rules are limited: boxing, drifting (safely) off your line, team work, elbows, throwing the bike dangerously - are all permitted (for the record, I would have never behaved like this in a proper sprint) but this was family, the rules are different.

Just after the village sign is a big junction where the road splits around an island. It's a blind corner so we would be braking hard straight after the sprint - we all knew this, it wasn't a problem. I don't remember who jumped first but I think myself and my brother probably found ourselves in a position to squeeze dad right out of it and fight it out between ourselves, but the next thing that happened was dad, having dropped back, came charging past cutting the corner off and taking a shortened route around the traffic island on the wrong side of the road. I can't remember if he won - maybe in his mind he did. Luckily the road was a quiet one and clear of traffic... My brother and I just looked at each other as if to say, look at our dad - what a typically bad example - then we disqualified him.

Monday, 14 December 2015

How to be a Bad Example of Everything At Christmas – Part I

I have two cycling memories at Christmas time both of which involve my dad's old cycling club and the 'fun' 10 mile time trial, held every boxing day.

I can't remember exactly how many times I have ridden it over the years, but when I was fit and in the midst of winter training it was a little bit of fun, a good little lung opener.

The first Christmas related incident happened after the event, which conveniently started and finished in a pub car park. On a crisp Boxing Day morning my brother myself and my dad rode the few miles from my dad's house to the start. Everyone was is good spirits and raring to go so plenty of jokes and competitive verbals were flying around.

The course was a tough circuit, always covered with water, gravel and potholes on the steep descent, which really notched up the fun stakes, but not as much fun as the rest, which consisted of a long leg burning drag and dead flat section. If you were fit, it was a nice test: you couldn't help but belt around as fast as you could.

At this point I have to skip to the apres section of the event, which took place in the pub. Here the times were read out, prizes given, and alcohol played a part. In my case, a lovely glass of red wine was consumed. Then another. These were large glasses – before people realised the measure of one glass equalled your weekly intake. Then possibly another and then maybe another after that. I really can't remember, it might not have been that many but they were large glasses and I was a small woman back in those days (before I ballooned) and the alcohol seemed to enjoy its speedy journey to the brain.

I came out of the pub, got on my bike – somehow – and merrily cycled straight across what was luckily a quiet road and set off homeward in the opposite direction. Me, a finely tuned athlete was roaring drunk (some [many] would dispute 'finely tuned' or 'athlete'). If I'm honest I couldn't really stand up, but I could ride my bike. I couldn't steer it but I could pedal... I couldn't see where I was going... I don't know how I got down a really steep hill, but it was certainly with the aid of my dad and my brother, and a fairly astonished club mate of my dad's, pinning me to the correct side of the road.

I don't remember the race or what time I did or where my prize went (everyone got one). What is quite vivid is the blue porcelain printed words Armitage Shanks, which I spent the next half hour studying quite closely.

Part II of how to be a bad example of everything at Christmas coming soon...

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Christmas Stocking Fillers - Gifts for cyclists

This is just one of our splendid stocking fillers... many things are half price or a tenner so please drop by online, wish us a Merry Something and we will certainly wish you a fabulous New Wotsit!

We are here.....

NEW Cycle Instructions Card

Another new card... inspired by our collection of washing labels. In the SHOP

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

My Big Success - Twelve Hour Time Trial - I Won £20 and did 204.636 miles

Having remembered my first Twelve Hour Time Trial, I then thought about the last one I rode back in August 1985. By this time I had reached the age of 50 and whilst I still rode fairly regularly I had just taken early retirement from work and had not yet succumbed to the urge to start training properly, as a man of leisure.

The last twelve came about as a result of a late night in the pub after club night in November 1984. Having had a few pints myself, me and nine other club members (with the help of the beer) managed to convince each other that anyone could ride the local Kent Cycling Association 12 Hour event. In our drink inspired wisdom someone suggested all that was needed was a small cash incentive as we felt that to ride for 12 hours just for a medal (even though none of us was capable of making the top 20 finishers let alone the first three) was just not enough reward.

It was unanimously decided that the 10 of us would each sign our name on a ten pound note (which was handed to the elected treasurer) and that the resulting Hundred Pounds would be shared among those who managed to finish. The only other rule was that to qualify as a finisher you had to complete at least 200 miles.

I can’t speak for the others but my 1985 racing season was very hit and miss so when it came time to enter the twelve I still imagined I would be able to spend a leisurely day riding around the Kentish lanes and so I filled in the entry form as an act of good faith. It transpired that five of the ten actually lost their “bottle” at this time and so we now had the kitty to share between the remaining five assuming we all managed to finish.

Having decided to ride my time trial bike (with a single front 56 tooth chain ring) I started like a rocket and had caught two of my club mates well before 100 miles but then my legs just ceased to work and by the time I got to the A20 about to head toward the coast I had had enough so I stopped and sat on the side of the road to give a cheer to the two that I had passed earlier. However neither of them appeared, meaning that if they had packed and I didn’t finish, the two club riders that had started before me and were further up the road would be on for a prize of fifty pounds each.

The legs just about to stop working

There was no way that I could continue with the massive geared time trial bike but as luck would have it my son who had been riding a Kent League Road Race in the local area turned up with his road bike on top of his car. He suggested that I use his bike with its lower gearing, wait until the cut off timekeeper would allow me to miss out the coastal leg and just ride slowly back to the finishing circuit and try to reach the required 200 miles.

Here the story gets complicated as unbeknown to me one of riders preceding me had already been turned early, and the two behind me likewise had been given a shortened course and all three were already heading for the finishing circuit. In fact only one rider from the club did the ride along the A20 and having seen no sign of any of us he assumed he was now riding for a prize of 100 Hundred Pounds.

Amazingly, because four of us had not had to do the hard leg down to the coast and back it mean't that all five starters managed to finish over the 200 mile target and our reward was £20 each. So my last twelve was a kind of success even though I only managed to complete 204.636 miles.

I can't go into some of the murkier aspects... like my son handing up gravel in a bag to one of the five other lunatics (disguised as something lovely to eat) or the sub-category of 'shirt and tie' finisher as it might make the whole thing look ridiculous and not the serious race that it clearly was.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Dog On Track

maddie on things
Theron's website with his lovely rescue dog Maddie.

A Nice Cycling Day Out - My first Twelve Hour Time Trial

The twelve hour time trial is an event that is peculiar to the UK. It is difficult to understand why anyone in their right mind would want to cycle for that long and end up in approximately the same place that they started. However, that said I have to admit I have been guilty of riding a few “Twelves”.

In 1955 having completed my National Service in the RAF I returned to the Eltham Paragon C.C. which was basically a Time Trial Club. Up to 1955 except for a few road races whilst in the RAF the furthest distance I had ridden competitively was 25 miles but being full of ambition I decided that I would attempt to win the clubs Best Allrounder competition which mean’t riding at least one Fifty mile, one Hundred mile and one TWELVE HOUR TIME TRIAL. I was assured by the clubs more experienced members that riding a twelve was just like having a nice Sunday out on the bike.

My first problem was that the only local twelve was at the beginning of August and there was no fifty or hundred events that I could ride before then. As a result I had no option but to look big and dive straight into the all day ride without any experience of distance riding. With little or no understanding of what I was letting myself in I had a forty odd mile ride on the Saturday to the digs booked near the event start at a place called Grafty Green. This mean’t carrying racing wheels and a loaded saddlebag with all the clothing and food needed for the ride (including a baked rice pudding - this is what I understood all twelve hour riders ate).

Suffering in the heat during the last 15 minutes of a nice day out on my bike
I could take you through a blow-by-blow account... but that would be a very long, and my daughter assures me, boring story. So, of the ride itself the things that stand out in my memory are:
(a) it was a boiling hot day (mouth and throat ended up sore from constant drinking the orange squash that was handed up all round the course .
(b) I can remember panicking as I approached the - up to that time unseen - dead turn at the foot of Sutton Valance Hill (I imagined we had to go to the top - fortunately I was wrong).

(c) dropping a juicy peach that I had carried all day as a treat for myself for when I reached the finishing circuit. I could not waste my treat so I stopped, walked back along the road with cramping legs, picked it up and enjoyed it more than anything I had ever eaten before.

The other thing that is worthy of mention is that my legs hurt more than I thought was possible.

The ride overall was a bit of a failure as I only managed to complete 218 miles which when combined with the later 50 and 100 mile times left me as poor also ran in the BAR competition.
FOOTNOTE: As Eltham John's daughter, I do not think 218 miles is a failure. It's a bloody long way. Though, those shorts and socks are... a Fashion Failure.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Party Season - The Club Cyclist

Some 40 odd years ago as I had reached the required age limit (40 years old) I started to take an interest in the V.T.T.A (Veterans Time Trial Association). This is a great organisation that means that as your physical abilities decline you can still take part in the mystic art of time trialling and manage on occasions pick up the odd prize or medal.

I was very fortunate that at the time I qualified, there was an extremely strong Kent V.T.T.A. scene and in addition to the full season of racing the social side was very active, with up to 400 hundred members and friends sitting down to the annual Lunch and Prize Giving. This last mentioned event was a rumbustious affair that was organised with great gusto and enthusiasm by the then Social Sectary Pat Hill who looked to make each luncheon memorable.

As you can imagine with an age spectrum ranging up to their late eighties the diners needed quite vigorous entertaining just to keep some of them awake after they had consumed their pre-lunch halves of shandy. Because of this Pat was very keen that in addition to the official Speakers there should be much Cross Toasting with loads of informal interruptions during the course of the meal.
Seizing the opportunity and without too much thought I decided that I would give a lecture on how cycling improved spacial awareness and short memory retention.

Having banged on the table to get their attention I plunged into my talk by saying that I could prove how cycling had many benefits that had not yet been fully explored and that I would give everyone present the chance to take part in a great experiment. I said that all the equipment needed for the “experiment” was on the dining tables at which they were seated, i.e. a lighted candles and a small plates. Then I asked them to watch what I did very closely while I explained exactly what I was doing and that after my demonstration I would ask them all to repeat what they had seen.

I took the plate in my left hand and held it above the candle and turned it three times to the left and then four times to the right(all the time giving a running commentary so those with bad eyesight would not be at a disadvantage). Having moved the plate away from the candle I shut my eyes and then tapped underneath the plate with the nail of my right index finger and continued to rub the underside of the plate in the same way that it had been moved above the candle - “three times to the left and then four times to the right” I did of course omit to mention that no part of my finger other than the tip of the nail actually touched the plate.

The next part of the test was that with eyes closed I touched the lobe of my left ear and run the finger across my face under my nose and touch the lobe of my right ear. Still keeping eyes closed I located my hairline in the middle of my forehead and then ran my finger down my nose to find the bottom of my chin. If they could all do exactly as I had done this would prove the fact that as cyclist they did in fact have enhanced spacial awareness along with brilliant short term memory.

I thought that I would probably catch a few out with this rather obvious trick but I was underestimating the competitiveness of this group and I am very proud of the fact that the lunch was held up for some time whilst queues formed at the washbasins in the Loo’s to wash the cross of soot from their faces.

On reflection I think I would have been more honest if I had told them that they had just taken part in an experiment to prove the level of gullibility of the ageing cycling community but there again it was probably better to quit before anyone’s sense of humour became over stretched.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

House Of Cycling Pain by Our Ancient Blogger Eltham John

Chris Froome’s recent achievement of losing only seven minutes to the best climbers on a mountainous stage in the Vuelta and then finding that he had broken a bone in his foot highlights how much pain some cyclists can take before accepting that there is such a thing as a pain threshold.

Over the many years that I have been riding, notwithstanding the well published events like Froome and Contador getting back on the bike following serious accidents, I have witnessed other less known riders who seemed to be able to suffer beyond what should be considered normal.

Back in the 1960’s a rider from the Sydenham Wheelers, Bill Best (known locally for the amount of suffering he could take) raced at Herne Hill in the N.C.U. London Centre 50 mile tandem paced championship, where teams of tandems provided the pacing ( a job later taken up by the Dernie motor bikes - when money became less of a problem). Bill Best rode to a great win but at the finish of the event went round in ever decreasing circles until he fell on the floor unconscious. This however was not the occasion where he demonstrated his disregard for pain...  This came later in his life when touring solo in Scandinavia, he fell and broke his leg but then without any medical attention he continued his ride back to the U.K. before thinking of consulting a doctor.

I am sure many cyclist could tell of lots of similar stories but I know of one rider who only within the last few weeks (and who is now in his eighties) after having been given permission from his heart specialist to start riding again, on his first trip out managed to overturn his trike knocking himself out and injuring his head, arm, leg and badly bruising his ribs. He was helped upright by a passing workman who had noticed that he had been lying upside down for some time and not moving. He told the man, who offered to phone for an ambulance that he would be fine as he only lived a few miles away and in any case had to get his trike home. He then rode home and on entering his house collapsed in front of his dismayed wife. Paramedics were called and he ended up in hospital but amazingly is now making a good recovery.

Again this is not the only occasion when this person demonstrated his disregard for pain. A few years ago he was in Belgium doing a charity ride on a tandem trike and on descending a steep hill “flat out” he was unable to stop, crashed and ended up with rather serious cuts and abrasions. He was taken to a local hospital and was patched up and given two pints of good Belgium blood. His tandem partner had been badly shaken by the accident and refused to go anywhere near the tandem returning home by train. My friend however, rode the tandem trike home on his own, (a task probably too difficult for most) despite his injuries, again because he had to!

Now you could be forgiven for thinking that this is enough madness for one persons lifetime, but no he has broken both collarbones on several occasions and once actually started and finished a 12 Hour time trial with a broken arm still in a plaster cast. This nearly caused him to lose his job as there was a report in the local paper, which was read by his boss who wanted to know how he could still ride his bike when he was unable to work. His answer would have been the same “because I had to”.

I am sure that cycling can help to raise an individuals pain threshold but I think there is a case to be made that some people should be sat down and told that pain is God's way of telling them to dismount and seek medical advice.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Give us a Brake!

Am I on my own when I think that the disc brakes that that the cycle trade are trying to get the Pro Peloton to use, look both ugly and dangerous. So far the only criticism I have read, refers to the possibility of braking speeds being quicker than callipers and thereby causing crashes as riders stopping distances are varied. Surely riders have never always stopped at the same rate so this comment is just a red herring.

However not only do discs spoil the look of otherwise stylish wheels and hubs but they also appear to have sharp edges which in the event of a crash could cause quite nasty gashes in any exposed soft tissue.

Calliper brakes look just fine, work perfectly well when properly adjusted and as far as I am aware have never cause any major injuries.

Please lets have a campaign to get this rather stupid development sent to the scrap heap where it so obviously belongs and let it become just another failed sales gimmick or at the best be the chosen method of stopping by off-roaders who wear the appropriate protective clothing.

Treasures from the past starring two Weiman brake shoes and barely worn blocks

More valuables that an 80 year old cyclist will probably never use again (but what beautiful red brake blocks) 
I am not really against progress but I still have several pairs of perfectly usable brake blocks (purchased sometime in the 1970's) which with most of my other out of date equipment I am not prepared to "dustbin".

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Olympic Velodrome by Eltham John

When the London Olympics were first confirmed in 2005 I can remember having a conversation with a few old friends that as the velodrome had yet to be built and the games themselves were still several years in the future,  the chances of any of us getting to see racing on the track were pretty remote bearing our advanced ages at that time.

Well the Olympics came and went and the inaccessibility of tickets  seemed to prove our point even though we were still managing to stay alive.

However ten years on from the date of that original conversation I am so pleased to be able to say that I have at last visited  the venue where in 2012 such amazing results were achieved by Chris Hoy, Vicky Pendleton and the rest of Team G.B.

The Revolution Meeting may not have been the Olympics but the atmosphere at the track on Saturday afternoon when Sarah Storey made her brilliant hour record attempt made the ten year wait seem all worth while.

I can honestly say that the meeting as a whole came up to and beyond my expectations  and was on a par with (when many years ago I queued up at Herne Hill for) the historic Coppi Meeting where even with its "managed races" those of us who were lucky enough to be there were provided with unforgettable memories.   By the way, although I have never seen it referred to anywhere, I can assure you that Fausto was the only rider to use Campag Quick Release hubs on a track bike (obviously the late Eddie Wingrave was not the Commissaire for that meeting.)

But back to the present, and the Revolution meeting, the international  standard of riding was most impressive with a superb display of Derny Pacing and an immaculate display by Laura Trott with her positioning and sprinting at its absolute peak.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Training - How We Did It In The Old Days by ELTHAM JOHN

These days your average club rider leaves behind bad weather and travels to warmer climes for some early hard miles, which I must admit makes me wish I had been born far later in the 20th Century. However, our winter training rides in the 1950's and 60's leave me with many precious memories.

In our club the first coastal training ride of the year was always to Brighton. We would set out from South East London at about 9.00 am on a winter Sunday morning and go off through Beckenham and pick up the old A23 trunk road in central Croydon. Very little traffic would have been about and a bunch of up to twenty strong had no problems in keeping in a compact group mainly riding two abreast with all riders taking their turn on the front. The intention was to keep up a good pace (probably just under evens - 20 mph) and unless someone had a mechanical there would be no stopping despite bottles never being carried on the winter bike. This was also the days of fixed wheels and this seemed to have a levelling effect on an individuals performance within the group.

The northern section of the A23 had no major climbs and once we were through Crawley the downhill sections of Pease Pottage and Handcross meant that the younger and fitter of the riders (that included me and others of my own age) could do some really fast pedalling and put some of the older and stronger sloggers under a little pressure but at this early stage of the ride there was no splitting of the group as it was recognised that there was still a long way to go. It was not the same on the climb over the South Downs into Brighton which could turn a bit competitive but usually we would arrive on the sea front as one unit.

Fully equipped for the Brighton run

Believe it or not on this first ride we would all go along to the toilets on the promenade and have a quick shower and change into dry underclothes (we would have been wearing knee length ex army trousers with a variety of sweatshirts, jumpers and ex army jackets as this was long before the days of proper cycling gear being available) and despite of the cold our efforts would have us ringing wet with good honest sweat.

Two roads back from the Prom there was a Joe Lyons Teashop and most of us had double egg or double beans on toast washed down with several cups of tea as our carbo loading, though we thought we were just having lunch.

Whilst the ride down had been ridden with much enthusiasm when you exited from the dinner stop you all knew that the hard part of the ride was about to begin. The homeward route was via Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Turners Hill and finally to Godstone where we would meet up with the non racing members Clubrun at the famous Mrs Curds Tearooms. The return journey had been nothing like the ride down and what had started out as a very tight bunch ended up as ones and twos all looking much the worse for wear. Again double egg or beans and the magic cups of tea brought about an amazing recovery by most and the climb out of Godstone over over North Downs Way always ended up with a "Burn Up" in the dark narrow lanes until a truce was called at Biggin Hill where we would split up to struggle home. In my case back to Rotherhithe with just my brother to keep me company.

I have never bothered to work out the exact mileage but I can assure you it was a very long day out but one I wouldn't have missed for the world. The legs on a Monday, after such a ride, were like lead but we were assured by the senior members in the club that these rides were essential to prepare us for a season of ten and twenty-five mile time trials. Thinking about it perhaps that was just their idea of a joke!!!

Cyclist Rhyming Slang Screen Print

Our screen print is in the shop! Hand printed (by us) using three different screens to create the colours.

This first edition is signed and a limited edition of 26

If you want one… go here  CLICK HERE

NEW Hampton Courts // Lycra Shorts Yellow T-Shirt

The first of our Cyclist Rhyming Slang t-shirts is in the shop… we though bright yellow was in order.
Check it out  HERE

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A Cold November in France... The Epic Beaujolais Run

Whatever the reality is regarding "Global Warming" this past November's weather has been warm even when it has been raining.

It has been in sharp contrast to a November weekend in the mid eighties when along with a seven other Southborough club members I took part in a charity ride to Beaume to collect the Beaujolais wine for a local Tunbridge Wells pub.

The riders plus two support vehicles (one of which was a converted undertakers hearse and was driven by the publican) set out across the channel in reasonable weather with the intention of buying the wine when it was released at midnight on the 24th. The bulk of the wine would be transported in the hearse but two bottles were to be carried in the bottle cages on the bikes.

We cyclists booked into a hotel in Beame and found a great French Bistro where we dined on French onion soup, steaks (and one more adventurous than the rest had frogs legs and escargot) whilst the unfortunate publican drove to the vineyard to await the midnight sale.

A journey of some 170 km to Paris was schedule for the next day so we all decided on an early night.

When getting up the next morning we found to our horror that it had snowed overnight and that temperature had dropped to well below freezing.

quelle heureux, il neige!

The hearse is prepared for the return journey

Undaunted we set off on what was to be an epic journey through snow sleet and freezing wind. Hands and feet were soon stiff with cold (this being the days before modern cycling gear) but we all persevered with just one or two riders having short spells in the support cars so as to thaw out.

a very cold French village

A colder French D road

We were met under the Eiffel Tower by the group from the Charity who were amazed that we had managed the whole journey. On taking the bottles of wine from the bikes we found that in fact it had started to freeze so we must have experienced an incredibly low temperature.

Handing over the frozen bottle of wine

We were taken to the hotel in Paris where the charity group had stayed over night and after a quick shower we were then driven back to Tunbridge Wells to arrive just in time for our annual club dinner.

At the dinner we were toasted for our efforts in the wine we had carried, which I can remember as being classed as a wine that did "not travel well."

Thursday, 13 November 2014

More Cycling Themed Christmas Cards

A must have Christmas item to make you friends laugh… none of those rubbish cards you get everywhere - these are made especially for you.

This pack of 5 cards is £6. To see our full range of cycling Christmas cards… oh yes! Click HERE

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Social Season: An Old Cyclist Remembers The Excitement of the Balloon Release 1950's Style

Whilst the weather never stopped or even reduced the amount of cycling the 1950's club riders did in the months from October to January this time of year meant more to us than just turning the pedals.

This was the Social Season, that is not to say we were not very social beings at other times of the year, but a full programme of Cycling Club Dances and Dinner Dances brought the people that we had seen out on the road into a completely different environment. Most of the time we would cycle to the local events with a change of clothes carefully stowed in the saddlebag (this must have been much more of a problem for the ladies and looking back it is amazing what they achieved under what must have been really trying circumstances).

It was at these social gatherings that you really got to know that cyclist had other skills and talents than just riding. You found out who could make a good after dinner speech, who had a good sense of rhythm and enjoyed music and dance and also those who could drink alcohol and those that never should.

One of the most memorable after dinner speakers had almost got to the end of his oration, which he was carefully reading from handwritten notes, when he lost his place in the text so without any embarrassment he turned back the pages and began over from the beginning, to the delight of all those present! (it wouldn't have been so bad if it had been interesting the first time round)

The dance always culminated in a giant knees up and the release of a big net of balloons which couples fought tooth and nail for only to burst them. Another great tradition was the Spot Waltz which was always contested with as much energy as any sprint finish with much pushing and shoving that would have mean't disqualification had Eddie Wingrave been in charge.

The excitement of the balloon release 1950's style

The social events were the reason why so many looked on cycling not just as a sport but more as "a way of life".

Next week: bicycle pumps.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Love Yellow's cards in Paperchase

Our cards have just launched in the Paperchase store in Tottenham Court Road, London. It's nice to be in such good company, there are some hilarious cards and a few other nice bits and pieces on show… as well as tasty cakes and coffee upstairs…

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Cyclist Rhyming Slang Greeting Cards

Check out our new bold and brightly coloured Cyclist Rhyming Slang designs… here are the cards. In Love Yellow's online shop.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Magic Time Trials

Some years ago, when I was approaching middle age (or was it nearing 65?) I rode a club evening 10 mile time trial which to me at the time was absolute magic. It was a time when everything came together in perfect unison.

I had just had a good uninterrupted few weeks training, the event was being held on the fastest local course and the weather conditions could not have been better. I remember that I arrived at the start early and did a proper warm up on the turbo trainer. The actual ride went off without a hitch, everything was just right. It was in fact my magic time trial, and to cap it all the ride meant that I had broken the club veterans 10 mile record. 

But that is just my small scale personal story. Since that time I have been lucky to witness three absolutely magic time trials all ridden by one man. That man is Sir Bradley Wiggins. The three rides were the final time trial in the 2012 Tour de France, the time trial in the 2012 Olympics and last and by no means least the 2014 World Time Trial Championship.

I had the extra pleasure of being at the roadside for two of them and the third I watched on the T.V. but on all three occasions as soon as he rolled down the ramp it was impossible not to realise that Brad was doing a Magic Time Trial.

At the T de F the anticipation of Brad's arrival was coped with by taking our own time checks on the top seeded riders and by eating some gorgeous french pastries which we purchased in the local village boulangerie and although this was extremely enjoyable the arrival of our top man hurtling by in the famous aerodynamic position beat the pleasure of the cakes into a "cocked hat".

At the Olympics the excitement generated by the crowd made waiting for the now world superstar "Wiggo" almost unbearable and the incredible noise of the spectators as he swept by in majestic style was something that no one could possibly forget.

My view of this years World's was only on the 'box' but the pleasure here was being able to see more of the superb style, effort and pace judgement and the demonstration of how a time trial should be ridden. Even in the first few metres on leaving the starting ramp it was evident that the man in the Sky skin suit was flying (and in all probability out to prove a point to some of his doubters). At no time when the camera tracked him did there seem to be any doubt of what the final result would be.

To me (and I suspect to many others) all three rides can be described in two words.

JUST PERFECT! (or even one word "MAGIC").

My problem now, is that my personal magic ride is now in my memory as just another good evening club event and can in no way be described as magic.