This is a dip into articles published in the Winter 2017/18 issue
of FELLOWSHIP NEWS 212, quarterly magazine of the Fellowship of Cycling.
The authors are all members, who write on any subject which
catches their eye, not just cycling.
Hills! Lovely hills! Many of the readers of Fellowship News’s winter edition are long-term cyclists and a majority of them love ‘em. Several of these have written about their adventures on hilly rides. One, Peter Newman tells of a strenuous tour which conquered many of the toughest Alpine passes. His list of ten included the monsters, led by the Col de Galibier (2,645 metres in 18 kilometres), though in toughness it just beats the Col d’Iseran (2,770 metres in 32 km) and the Col du Telegraphe (1,566 metres in just 1.8km). Just how much energy was expended on this holiday is proved by the fact that one of Peter’s colleagues snapped a crank on one of their later climbs.
Many of the climbs in Britain are shorter but fiercer than these continental giants, and one is the 1-in-3 Rosedale Chimney Bank in North Yorkshire. Bob Damper went with his wife on their tandem and, knowing that this brute of a climb was coming up, he fitted their machine with ultra-low gearing, by dint of the biggest sprockets and smallest chainwheels they could find. After the steep pull out of Rosedale village they came to an even steeper hairpin bend and Bob decided that this was the time to engage the lowest gear and, as he relates “Two reasonably fit riders in serious hill-climbing mode gave the tandem some serious welly”. Unhappily the freewheel suddenly stripped under this double-welly pressure, whereupon the gear ratio dropped instantly to zero inches. They managed to ride the tandem in a much higher gear to a bike shop for a replacement freewheel. The rest of the ride included the climb from Brough to lunch at England’s highest inn, Tan Hill.
More tough cycling climbs were faced by Don Forrester, an overseas member of the FCOT, who lives in the Algarve, Portugal. He writes of a Gran Fondo, an event he hadn’t ridden before. He chose an extremely hot day, with the temperature in the high 30s C. He tells of having to stop constantly for many drinks on several hefty climbs and at the end of the day he’s covered 120 kilometres. Only then does he disclose that he is 82 years of age and the organisers had to create a new 81 to 90 age group so’s he could take part.
One of the most intriguing factors about FN is that several top cyclists, some internationally known, contribute. Eileen Sheridan was in her time a prolific record breaker, including the End-to-End. In her piece she pays tribute to Suzy Remington, like the author herself a diminutive but powerful bike rider.
Vin Denson was famous in his career as a domestique (a servant of a top professional racing cyclist) but Vic was a super domestique, the lieutenant of an ace, Jacques Anquetil, Tour de France winner. Vin does as he promises, providing the reader with the inside story. And it really is an insider’s tale. One small snippet tells of Vin carrying a spare hair comb to pass on to Jacques when and if he dropped the comb he was using to primp his immaculate hair as he approached the finishing line.
Sharp criticism of the British cycle industry comes from Mick Coward. Britain was a pioneer in making pneumatic tyres, Renolds tubing and Brooks saddles. But much of the stuff provided by British manufacturers to racing teams in the past was “a bit crude and basic”. He laments: “It seems so sad when in the past we led the world with foresight and skill”.