Dan’s Route into Road Biking

DanCurran
  1. Cycled to school on a red Raleigh “racing bike” as a teenager.
  2. Lots of mountain biking – to around “red run” standards. I wasn’t great but I liked the suffering of the uphill to earn the thrill and speed of the downhill.
  3. Huge fan of professional road biking since Channel 4 started covering it in the mid-1980’s. Initially this was just the TdF but over the years it has progressed to all races.
  4. In 2012 I discovered a safe-ish route for commuting 11 miles to work. For this pan-flat route I bought a single speed bike, although I wasn’t hipster enough to do the beard as well!
  5. Over Christmas 2013 I drunkenly agreed to ride the L’Eroica sportive (http://eroicabritannia.co.uk) around the hills of Bakewell the following summer with 3 friends. This is a modern “historic” event requiring a bike built before 1987, no clippy shoes and woollen jerseys. This is my 1984 Raleigh Royale with all of 10 gears! Not the red Team Raleigh TI replica unfortunately that I wanted.

Amazingly I made it around without climbing off on any hills with a time of 10 hours!


Dittons Velo Club

DanCurran3
DanCurran2

I joined in July 2014 virtually straight after the L’Eroica. I rode my Eroica bike with old trainers, baggy mountain bike shorts and flouro yellow commuting gear. You can probably see how I won the “Best Dressed” award at my first DV Christmas Dinner! After my first club ride I got home and slept for 2 hours, I was that knackered . . . but I was completely hooked. It was exactly what I was looking for: friendly but challenging.

My Cycling Words of Wisdom

  1. An expensive bike will make you feel better but you will be no faster than on a medium-priced bike.
  2. I can repair a puncture (sometimes!) but that’s about it. I have no idea when technical conversations go on.
  3. Lycra = Cycling, get over it!
  4. Lycra should always be as tight as possible.
  5. All distances/ascents are measured in km/m and never miles/feet, not because French is the language of cycling but because these numbers always sound larger!
  6. All cake/beer consumed on/after a ride do not count towards your daily allowance.
  7. Strava will one-day take over the world.
  8. Ralph still rides in our hearts.

Palmares (>150k distance or >1500m vertical ascent)

June 2014 – L’Eroica (long route): 160k / 2400m

July 2015 – Alpine 3 summits incl Col du Joux Plane: 65k / 2868m

August 2015 – Prudential London Ride100: 186k / 1354m

September 2015 – ASO London L’Etape: 211k / 1273m

October 2015 – Non-DV ride around Buxton incl Goyt and Mam Nick summits: 101k / 1699m

March 2016 – Twickenham CC Surrey Rumble (Long): 150k / 1191m

March 2016 – Cycling Weekly Surrey Cyclone (Epic): 139k / 1533m

2016 Objective – ASO L’Etape du Tour: 146k / 3335m

Preparing for a long distance solo ride

by Mark Hawkins

In 2011, I set myself a challenge to cycle from London to Africa for 2013 when I turned 50. Up until that point, the longest ride I had ever done was the London to Paris ride.

So, how do we tackle a large ride?  Well, it depends on your budget. A supported ride is a great option, but expensive to set up the logistics. On the other end of the sca

le, we have the classic touring mode where a cycle is loaded with paniers crammed with tons of kit. Supported rides makes it easier to cover great distances quickly but when the cycle is loaded up with 40KG of kit, then the 80-100 mile per day target a bit of a far reach.

I opted for the middle option, which is to travel really light and to stop in hotels. It worked well, and I have used the same strategy for the long rides I did in 2014/15. So here are some of the things I think about when planning a long ride:

  • First of all, it has to be fun, so I plan interesting and challenging routes. Spain is my favourite as the weather is often more predictable. Late August/early September is good as it’s cooler
  • The detailed route planning is part of the fun – don’t rush it. Routes can be created carefully when you have time in winter – use Google street view to verify the quality of the roads
  • What to take? My rule is this “if it does not fit in a back pack, then it does not go. So I minimise on clothing (which I wash each day). As I have a few days at my destination, I post things ahead such as the bag I need to fly the bike back to the UK
  • Basic first aid, tools, tubes and an ultra-light laptop is carried
  • The rucksack is actually lashed to a rack. On a 14 day ride, I would advise against carrying a heavy backpack
  • I do not book all of the hotels ahead, just one day at a time. This gives me the flexibility to alter the route to discover something new, speed up the pace, or slow down and take a day off
  • Use very rugged tyres and know in advance where the bike shops will be to buy spares or go for help

On the 25th August 2017, I set off on a ride from Bordeaux to Gibraltar via Lisbon. It’s just about 2,000KM and I have allowed 18 days to do it. You can view the route map and track my progress on my blog: http://www.atlantis-sailing.co.uk

Why I joined Dittons Velo and why I’m hooked

By Steven Hughes

So why did I join DV?
Prior to moving to Surbiton from Nottingham last year, I had started to get more into cycling. However, this was mainly commuting to work and cycling to watch my wife play hockey at various locations in the Midlands. When I arrived in Surbiton, I popped into my local bike shop (Surbiton Cycles) and asked about clubs. I knew I wanted to cycle more and it can be pretty boring clocking up anything that could be considered ‘proper’ mileage on your own – I also thought it would be a great way to meet new people and to learn some routes. Two clubs were mentioned: Kingston Wheelers and Dittons Velo (DV). DV was described as a friendly, social club, which was exactly what I was looking for.

How has it been?
DV is everything I expected from a club characterised as ‘social’. Everyone was really welcoming and shared a common passion for all things bikes and Lycra related. It is accessible to the many (not just the few), it’s a friendly club (actually friendly, not just advertised as such) and there is a pleasing focus on beer, cakes and coffee. Furthermore, the more I ride with DV the more I realise what else DV has to offer.

The Facebook group is both entertaining and informative (there is a surprising number of members with a penchant for cycling related innuendos!). There are plenty of opportunities to mix with like-minded cyclists (beer enthusiasts!) at social events, such as the Waterloo Commuters Third Thursday Club. For those that fancy it, there is a Wednesday night loop (summer and winter versions) where the pace tends to be a bit quicker. There is also a wealth of knowledge among the DV community so plenty of opportunities to get advice on anything from bike maintenance to commuter routes…to local plumbers!

I have set myself a challenge this year to ride all of the hill climbs in the South East that feature in the top 100 and 200 climbs in the UK. Some are more out of the way than others, but there are plenty of equally mad cyclists at DV who have been keen to join me in my adventures to seek out these hills.

What next?
I’m excited to get my hands on some of the newly (re)designed kit so I can represent DV while out in the Surrey Hills or further afield. My cycling has gone from strength to strength while riding with DV. I’m clocking up the miles and find myself getting so much fitter and faster than I have ever been. I’m now keen to test myself a bit more and so, noting that Dittons Velo is not a ‘racing club’, I’ve also joined Kingston Wheelers as a second club so that I can compete in the odd TT and maybe even some races. Also, their main club ride is on a Sunday and this gives me more weekend ride options for when my wife is playing hockey and I’m on babysitting duties.

Final word
Joining DV was a fantastic decision and has provided me with a whole load of great folk to ride with. I have however developed OCD (obsessive cycling disorder), evidenced by a gradual declining bank balance and increasing amount of kit. Much to my wife’s annoyance I also have an increasing number of bikes cluttering up our flat!

I encourage all members to support the club, turn out for the group rides, get involved with the conversation and be part of the community (on Facebook, Strava, or at HQ before or after rides).

In business, it’s the done thing to assess customer service by looking at the net promoter score: how likely you are to recommend something to a friend. Well, I’d have to say when it comes to DV, I’d give the club a 10 out of 10. It’s a great club, made great, of course, by the people in it.

Reverse Box Hill

A nice 30 mile route going down Box Hill Zig-Zag for a change. Heading out via Ewell and Tadworth and continue climbing gently to Box Hill. A quick coffee and cake and head home via the Chappel Lane/Blagden Hill climb. Descend to Fetcham and a few small bumps back to HQ.

The GPX route file – right click and ‘Save link as’

Robin – From the Land of Clotted Cream

Robin3

Growing up in Newton Abbot, Devon I was never too far away from either the coast or Dartmoor. After seeing the UCI World Mountain Biking championships in Plymouth my friends from school and I were all hooked on mountain bikes. So after a lot of saving up I was the proud owner of a Kona Kilauea. We used to spend school holidays and weekends hammering around the bridal ways and country roads, going right across the moor offroad, or along the coast.

Hours were spent looking at the latest innovations in Mountain Biking UK magazine – Anodised purple skewers or white onza porcupine tyres!

Around my time at Sixth Form I started going out regularly with a local group called Teign Valley Pedal Bashers – http://www.tvpb.org.uk/

TeignValleyPedalBashersHomepage

Each week we would meet on a sunday at a different location in South Devon and people took turns in planning a route. In those days planning involved a provision for both on and off road as there was a complete mix of bikes. TVPB was a great mix of ex Hash House Harriers and ex local Rugby Club members. Everyone had a nickname and mine was Indurain – as he was exactly the same height as me and was winning lots in those days. Every route involved lots of banter and always at least one pub stop for Cider or Guinness.

We went on ‘tour’ to Brittany with full panniers – cycling to plymouth and getting the Roscoff ferry with just our bikes which was great fun. Our bikes had to be strapped down on the way back as it was massively rough weather.

Robin1  Robin2

Moving up to Surrey after University I still had a mountain bike and went out only very occasionally as I was playing Rugby for Farnham and then joined Richmond RFC which took up my spare time. In 2005 we moved to Speer Road in Thames Ditton.

In 2013 a friend of mine mentioned that he wanted to do the London to Edinburgh Rat Race ride. (4 days – 425 miles). Which sounded like a good challenge. There was just the minor problem of not having a road bike or indeed any experience on one! I promptly did some research and after a bike fitting appointment at Sigma Sport in Hampton Wick, got a Trek Madone 2.1 through the cycle to work scheme. It was amazing cycling into Murrayfield having left Wembley Stadium some 4 days previous in Aug 2013.

I noticed an article about Dittons Velo in the About Thames Ditton Magazine, and decided I should get involved, and was bowled over by how friendly and welcoming everyone was. Joining the club has really helped me learn about road riding in a group and also taught me a lot about myself – how much food/energy I need for long rides, when to drink, and how much I love going downhill! I’m always bumping into fellow DV members on the train, in the village and in central London!

Since 2013 I have completed various Wiggle and Evans Sportives around the country, plus also the Gran Frondo Tour of Cambridge on closed roads. I also do yearly weekend trips to Bike Park Wales and the Brecon Beacons for a few days of downhill mountain biking adrenalin. I’ve also done a track taster session at the Olympic velodrome which was superb.

Over Easter 2016 I decided I wanted to cycle back to Devon – so planned a two day route to do just that and saw us rolling into Newton Abbot at 4pm on Easter Saturday afternoon. 192 miles of mostly country lanes and beautiful countryside. Devon and Somerset make the Surrey Hills look like the Netherlands.

I really enjoy the Saturday morning rides with Dittons Velo which I juggle with family commitments. If I can’t get there I often go out early just to be able to do one ride over the weekend.

Like

  • Exploring our local area
  • Carrot cake and Flat White at the Dabbling Duck, Shere
  • Social rides with lunch afterwards
  • Any fast descent
  • Group banter
  • Steve Heath’s helpfulness

Dislike

  • State of some of the roads
  • Strange overtaking decisions of various car drivers
  • Cold wet feet
  • Steve Heath’s year on year domination of helpfulness

DV Three Hills

Three good hills in a 40 mile route to test the climbing legs. Staple Lane, Crocknorth and Box Hill. The usual coffee stop is at the Box Hill cafe. The homeward leg includes the fast-as-you-can Horton roundabouts section!

The GPX route file – right click and ‘Save link as’

Lightbox Arts Centre, Woking – Café

Dr D and I had a little ride out the other day and happened to be coming through Woking, just when I needed a boost of energy. I was needing to refuel after chasing David round Surrey. Woking offers many coffee shops, but I knew of somewhere a little different and that was the café in the Lightbox Arts Centre.

light_box_woking_3   IMG-20160329-WA0003

There is plenty of space for bicycles and a large seating area, both inside and out. They have a fairly large selection of cakes and light bights. The Cappuccino I had was well made and strong, the way I like it and Dr D’s White Caffè Americano looked good and I didn’t hear any complaints :) We both had the Triple Chocolate Flapjack which was good, but not quite as good as the Flapjack from Shere’s Dabbling Duck.

All in all, it was well worth a visit, with friendly staff and a clean, light environment. If you would like to make it a destination, or just have a longer stay, there are always interesting art shows on. Although, be careful and don’t get carried away and end up buying a large picture, as you will have to cycle home with it!

Brett

Dan – Baggy Shorts to Tight Lycra

Route into Road Biking

DanCurran

  1. Cycled to school on a red Raleigh “racing bike” as a teenager.
  2. Lots of mountain biking – to around “red run” standards. I wasn’t great but I liked the suffering of the uphill to earn the thrill and speed of the downhill.
  3. Huge fan of professional road biking since Channel 4 started covering it in the mid-1980’s. Initially this was just the TdF but over the years it has progressed to all races.
  4. In 2012 I discovered a safe-ish route for commuting 11 miles to work. For this pan-flat route I bought a single speed bike, although I wasn’t hipster enough to do the beard as well!
  5. Over Christmas 2013 I drunkenly agreed to ride the L’Eroica sportive (http://eroicabritannia.co.uk) around the hills of Bakewell the following summer with 3 friends. This is a modern “historic” event requiring a bike built before 1987, no clippy shoes and woollen jerseys. This is my 1984 Raleigh Royale with all of 10 gears! Not the red Team Raleigh TI replica unfortunately that I wanted.