Issue 82 Autumn: September/October/November 2014



 Editorial – A Very Personal One


The day dawned bright and with a new bike under my bum I met up with David and we proceeded to the Harvester to meet up with others for Steve`s Longest Day Ride on 21st June. Plenty of laughing and joking and off we set for the 45 mile Ridgeway ride.

Unfortunately that`s all I remember as I had the misfortune to be propelled into the undergrowth by a section of Rousebarn Lane that had been raised by a tree root growing underneath, making a hump like a sleeping policeman. I am told that`s what happened as I was unconscious for around 15 minutes and can`t remember anything after the initial turn into Rousebarn Lane. Four days later I was released from hospital with a double fracture of a neck vertebrae and a detached ligament in my right thumb. After seven weeks wearing a neck brace 24/7, I was allowed to remove it- aaahh bliss. I am glad to say that the injuries are healing satisfactorily and I hope to start taking some short rides soon.

I would like to thank all those that very ably assisted me on the day and subsequently supported me (taking me out in their cars etc) through my convalescence. All the phone calls have been very therapeutic. Hope to see you on rides later in the year. .

Roger Robbins
Editor: Roger Robbins

Accompanying Roger

I am David a recent Spokes member. I joined in April after riding on one of Roger Robbins (Ed) rides which set off from Bushey around Moor Park and Harefield. There were eight of us on that day which was the same number  that set off on Roger’s fateful ride on June 21st, the one we both joke as ‘The Longest Day, the Shortest Ride’. A Steve Tarn special not to be missed!

I was stunned when we found Roger lying face down unconscious in the ditch and couldn’t quite understand at the time how an experienced Ride Leader could sustain these injuries on the regularly used Rousebarn Lane. We were both taken by ambulance by Watford Paramedics on a very slow and careful drive to Watford General Hospital. I was impressed by the way Steve Tarn handled the situation calmly and miraculously had an ambulance there with 15 minutes of Roger’s fall.

Throughout the journey Roger kept repeating the words, ‘What happened Dave, what happened?’ The Paramedics explained that after being knocked into a state of unconsciousness, the brain tries to reassemble the missing time by consistently asking questions. So Roger was well and truly knocked cold!

A couple of days later I rode back up Rousebarn Lane with my iPhone in hand to take some photos and video of the incident area. I largely did this to help Roger assimilate what had happened to him. I filmed the area and photographed the offending hazard and at the time noticed a temporary ‘RAMP,’ road sign propped up in the hedgerow further on down the lane from the tree root. Here take a look; you can make it out in the hedgerow:

I am standing on the offending tree root which is 25 metres forward of the ‘Ramp’ sign which clearly isn’t doing its job as one thinks it should be in front of the obstacle and not 25 metres behind.

Some days later after involving Roger Bangs (who was also on the ride) and Kate Jenkins who contacted the Local Authority, I rode out again to discover a plague of ramp signs. Is this a temporary cure?


You can see what I filmed on that day on YouTube:

I guess you are all with me when I say I hope that we can see an end to the poor state of our roads, especially a favoured cycle route. An end to epidemics of useless road signs when reparation should be the priority!

By the way, a couple of weeks later I was on one of Dennis’s rides. He knows the area like the back of his hand and mentioned that another cyclist had fractured his skull in the very same area!

 Ebury Way – Seat

Have you seen this seat whilst cycling along the Ebury Way?

The seat and tree were provided by SPOKES in memory of John Mann one of the founder members of SPOKES. The seat was made by Peter Hitchcock the late husband of Maureen another founder member.


Earlier this year John & Suz Inman members of SPOKES & SUSTRANS renovated the seat & surrounding area providing an attractive rest place for people using the Ebury Way.

Cycling in Germany by Roger Bangs

In June this year my wife & I had reason to be in Germany, so we decided to extend our stay and cycle & camp in the Mozel and Black Forest Regions.

Our first few nights were in the Mozel Valley where there are continuous cycle routes for 170 miles, often on both sides of the valley. Although the valley sides are steep and often covered in vines the cycle routes are in excellent condition and mainly flat.


The later part of our holiday was mainly in the Black Forest where we found an good camp site at Shiltach in the Kinzigtal Valley. Again the area had excellent cycle routes. It was explained to us that 1euro of the camp fee was for the local tax, 35 cent of this being for local transport, but as a visitor you are allowed to travel free on local bus’s & trains.

We had an enjoyable day taking the bikes on the train to the top of the valley, then cycling 40 miles mostly downhill back to the camp site


All the town and villages we visited were linked by excellent continuous safe cycling routes which were a joy to travel along. The towns had maximum speed limits of 30km/hr.(20 mph) & often 20km/h. I would recommend Germany for a cycling holiday, all their roads and cycle tracks appear to be well designed and maintained and consequently well used.



 100 Years On

You are probably aware that there is a great deal of publicity and column inches given to the Great War. But what about cycling? Here is an excerpt article recently referred to in the Daily Telegraph about British Army Cyclists in 1914.

The Army Cyclist Corps

The formation of the Army Cyclist Corps was authorised by Army Order 477 of 1914, which was dated 7 November 1914. More detailed instructions were given in Army Order 478.

A number of cyclist units already existed:

  • Some were formed for the Territorial Force in 1908 and later. Of these, most were units of infantry regiments (an example being the 7th (Cyclist) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment) while others were independent cyclist units such as the Northern Cyclist Battalion. You will find details of all of the units on this website.
  • In addition to this one cyclist company had been formed in war time for each infantry division. So for example, the structure of the 1st Division included the 1st Divisional Cyclist Company. These units were technically of the regular army. All of the new army divisions raised under Lord Kitchener’s instructions in 1914 also included a cyclist company.


When the Army Order came into effect, all men then serving with divisional cyclist companies (who had been seconded to these units from other regiments) and who were in training as cyclists to provide drafts for those companies would be transferred into the new Corps.

The Army Order did not affect the Territorial cyclist units or the men serving in them.

Officers would be seconded from other regiments and corps.

Men being enlisted for the duration of the war could now be appointed to the new Corps.

Pay was to be the same as that of the infantry. Proficiency pay would be given to men who qualified as a proficient cyclist and who had the necessary physical endurance, as defined in Army Order 438 of 1914 for the Territorial Force cyclist battalions.

The primary roles of the cyclists were reconnaissance and communications (message taking). They were armed as infantry and could provide mobile firepower if required. Those units that went overseas continued in these roles but also (one the mobile phase of war had settled down into entrenched warfare) spent much time in trench-holding duties and on manual work.


Men of the Army Cyclist Corps resting in Courcelles, March 1917.

In May and June 1916 the divisional cyclist companies were withdrawn to form a cyclist battalion for each Corps Headquarters (so for example, the IX Corps Divisional Cyclist Battalion came into existence and was a unit of the Army Cyclist Corps).

War diaries exist for most of the cyclist units and are held at the National Archives. There is no published regimental history and no regimental museum.


Peloton of Belgium Army Cyclists August 1914

See more about life in the trenches at:

100 Years On and we need volunteers


Four months ago I joined Spokes, largely to ride bikes with likeminded people in Hertfordshire, but I soon started to be involved in helping what I have come to term as the ‘Spokes Peloton’ in the revival of the Internet and Lively Communication,  but it is bigger than that.

At the outset I helped Dave Baldwin who had for a number of months laid down the foundations for a modern community using all his acquired skills in Facebook, WordPress, Twitter and alike. Sadly Dave left recently and has left a void that needs to be filled.

The ‘Peloton’ set out some aims not long after the April AGM. You will see these and how we have been coping in the Spokes Forum. For those who are not familiar with the new Forum this is what was said:

  1. We need to attract more ‘active’ members.
  2. We need to centralise membership data/intelligence.
  3. We need to establish (or re-launch) the use of the Spokes Cycling Group Yahoo Groups
  4. We need to encourage members to ride and/or be actively involved in campaigning.
  5. We must ensure everything we implement is easy to understand and use.

So how are we doing?

Not long after joining we scrapped the Yahoo Groups and implemented something simpler. We then set about ensuring that we adopt the most modern formats. We want to ensure our web site and forum presence is acceptable to any age group and any device, such as smartphones and tablets. This work is ongoing and you will see the fruits of our labour shortly, but we need help!

We don’t need technical help but we need involvement from you the members. We need to get more of you out on bikes, more of you communicating with each other using these tools that we have provided. We need to hear from you, hear what you want the ‘Peloton’ to provide and where we could do better?

So this is the end of my appeal. I’m David, you will see me in the forum (as davidb) and on rides wearing retro training jerseys.

By the way in four months I have progressed from losing my breath going up Rosecroft Drive to completing 20-30 mile rides weekly and keeping up with Steve Tarn on his more challenging rides!  Who loves Spokes!

The Re-Skinned Web Site and Forum

We are completing the design work on our Web Site that Dave Baldwin undertook last month. We should see this shortly or by the time you read this it might be already be complete, take a look.

We also have been using the Forum for the past two months and would like you to join us. We are going to encourage you to arrange, book and join rides on an ad-hoc basis. We are doing this now, so come and join us.

If you want to help out then join our Peloton user group

Below is a screenshot of the new site.


Spokes Rides & Events

Remember to bring: water, spare inner tube, lights, reflective and waterproof clothing as appropriate.

Disclaimer: Participants of rides must be over 16 unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. Insurance is your responsibility. Spokes cannot accept liability for you or your possessions. It is your responsibility to follow advice and the Highway Code at all times. Your participation is the acceptance of these terms.

Please make sure you arrive in plenty of time at the start so rides can leave at the stated time


Ride Speed Guide


Slow ——— Gentle pace up to 8 mph

Medium — Average pace of 9 to 12 mph

Fast ———- Faster than 12 mph



 Monday 1st            19.30     SPOKES/CTC Cycle Campaigners Workshop

Watford Cycle Hub, The Pavilion, Chaffinch Lane, Watford, WD18 9QD. Space for Cycling in SW Herts. If you want more Space for Cycling in Three Rivers District, Watford Borough, or Bushey then come to the second meeting to help make it happen. Please bring a list of locations that you feel have particularly bad cycling problems.                                  Peter                      01923 712655

 Tuesday 9th            10.00     Tuesday Morning Ride        Harvester, Baldwins Lane

Cycle mainly on tracks & lanes east of Watford.

18 miles                   Roger                     01923 720143

Thursday 11th        10.00     St. Albans                              Pump House, Local Board Rd

Bricket Wood, How Wood and Chiswell Green for a cuppa at McD

20 miles                 Dennis                    01923 463898

 Thursday 11th            20.00     Social Night           Moon Under the Water. Watford

Everybody welcome to the monthly social. We are normally in the rear section,

should be a Spokes sign on the table.              Diana                      01923 221955

Tuesday 16th         19.30     Three Rivers District Council Meeting, Three Rivers House, Northway, Rickmansworth, WD3 1RL. All councillors will be able to discuss our petition asking for safe cycle routes to our schools funded from the Community Infrastructure Levy. Please come early and ask councillors to support it.

Peter                      01923 712655

Thursday 18th        20.30 – 23.00                      Pump House, Watford

Diana`s drummer brother is playing with Rancie`s Rockin` Chair Band

 Saturday 20th        10.00     Royal Standard Beaconsfield             Watford Cycle Hub Strong paced ride through the Chalfont’s to Beaconsfield for lunch stop at the Royal Standard. Mostly on lanes with little off-road but some challenging hills.

40 miles                 Steve                      07973 305152

 Sunday 28th           10.00     The Valley and The Hill       Harvester, Baldwins Lane

A lovely downhill ride along the Ebury Way and canal towpath to Denham followed by a climb up the only significant hill on the route. Then sit back in your saddle and enjoy the views as you cycle back to the towpath and then back to the start. A lot of off-road. Not too strenuous!

21 miles                 Brian                       07400 772113


Sunday 5th             10.30     Out Into The Chilterns       Amersham Station

A varied tour of the Misbourne valley and surrounding hills, taking in attractive villages such as Great and Little Missenden, The Lee and Holmer Green, with their brick and flint cottages and lovely pubs. The terrain is quite hilly, so be prepared for a few stiff climbs, but the scenery makes it all worthwhile and there are downhills too!                       25 miles                     Pam                        07922 458196

 Tuesday 7th            10.00     Tuesday Morning Ride        Harvester, Baldwins Lane

Cycle mainly on lanes into the Chilterns. Coffee stop at Chipperfield.

18 miles                 Roger B                  01923 720143

Thursday 9th          10.00     Best Lanes in SW Herts      Harvester, Baldwins Lane

Under the Heavens, Flaunden, Bovingdon, pub stop (?) at Sarratt

18 miles                 Dennis                    01923 463898

Thursday 9th               20.00     Social Night           Moon Under the Water. Watford

Everybody welcome to the monthly social. We are normally in the rear section,

should be a Spokes sign on the table.              Diana                      01923 221955

 Sunday 12th           10.00     A Beacon of Hope                Harvester, Baldwins Lane

A gradual ascent towards the Chilterns along the canal towpath. Just after Hemel Hempstead we head towards Ashridge and onto the Ivanhoe Beacon. Then into Aldbury for a lunch stop before heading back to the canal for a gentle ride back to the start. A few hills but the views are worth it and we won’t go too fast.

A lot of off-road.

39 miles                 Brian                       07400 772113

Wednesday 15th   10.00     Vince’s Midweek Meander, Harvester, Baldwins Lane

Ride through Cheslyn Gardens, then tow path to Bulstrode Lane, back via Chandlers Cross

12 miles                 Vince                      01923 267317

 Saturday 18th        10.00     Day Ride                                Harvester, Baldwins Lane

A ride into the Chilterns with a lunch stop on the way back. Return to Watford area mid afternoon.

35 miles                 Roger                     01923 72014

Saturday 25th        14.00     Afternoon Cream Tea         Band Stand, Watford Central Library. Short and gentle social ride to savour the Autumn colours with cream tea at Blacketts. Ideal for beginners and less confident riders.

5 miles                   Maureen                               01923 267416


Tuesday 4th            10.00     Tuesday Morning Ride        Harvester, Baldwins Lane

Cycle mainly on roads to Elstree for coffee

18 miles                 Roger                     01923 720143


Thursday 6th               20.00     Social Night           Moon Under the Water. Watford

Everybody welcome to the monthly social. We are normally in the rear section,

should be a Spokes sign on the table.              Diana                      01923 221955

 Thursday 13th        10.00     Watford & Three Rivers, Past and Present. Entrance to Morrison’s, Opposite Toyota Dealer. Listen to an old geezer talking about stuff he has picked up in the last 50 years living in the area. If you are bored and tell me to shut up I will. You will need good tyres as there are some rough tracks.

15 miles                 Dennis                    01923 463898

 Sunday 16th           09.30     Late Breakfast at The Boot                Watford Cycle Hub

Hoping to make this a regular quarterly social ride along towpaths, tracks and lanes, subject to weather, to The Boot at Sarratt for late breakfast and return before lunch.

20 miles                 Steve                      07973 305152

 Wednesday 19th   10.00     Vince’s Midweek Meander, Harvester, Baldwins Lane

Lanes out through Chorleywood, towards Chalfont St. Giles with refreshment stop. Hybrid bikes advised.

20 miles                 Vince                      01923 267317

Sunday 23rd           10.00     Up Wendover Way             Harvester Baldwins Lane

A lovely ride, mainly on quiet lanes with no off-road. We’ll head via Chesham through open countryside and lovely views to Wendover Woods where you’ll be looking forward to a welcome lunch at the cafe. Then a mainly downhill ride back to the start. The climbs are mainly gradual but there are a few climbs that will get your pulse racing. This won’t be a fast ride!

41 miles                 Brian                       07400 772113

Sunday 30th           10.30     Little Chalfont                      Watford Met Station

This is Ride 11 in the Blue Book of rides. Out to Little Chalfont along quiet country lanes via Chorleywood and back via Chenies and Belsize. Almost all on road – some hills, but lovely countryside.

18 miles                 Pam                        07922 458196

Spontaneous Rides on the Forum

Rides advertised within the Spokes Calendar are no longer intended to be the only rides available to Spokes members. Accessible through the Spokes Forum, (see the big yellow box ‘Join the Forum’, on our website), look out for forthcoming Spontaneous Rides. These rides may take place on the spur of the moment making good use of weather windows or could be events not known at the time the calendar is published. Within the forum, you too could effectively say, ‘I’m riding this afternoon. Care to join me’? Look out for the development of the Forum. It is the way forward.



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