Jim Love

Willesden CC’s former president, Jim Love, passed away recently.

Jim, who lived in Kingsbury, northwest London, was a member of the Willesden Cycling Club. He joined the club at the age of 16, around the time the war was ending.

In his first time-trial – a ‘25’ – he recorded a time of 1h 19min 54sec. Within three years he had taken almost 20 minutes off that and started the 1948 season as an Olympic ‘possible’.

On 15th July, Jim received official notification of his inclusion in the six-rider squad. When training or competing at Herne Hill he would ride across town, ‘carrying my racing bike on my shoulder with the saddle just behind my ear, and the frame over my shoulders. We had to watch out for trams.’

Final selection for the pursuit team did not occur until days before the competition, after Love had received his race number (152) and embroidered badge. Ultimately, he didn’t make the foursome that took Bronze at the Olympics, a decision that came down simply to performance. On 4th August, three days before the event, the team was told to go all-out in training at Herne Hill. Love was dropped midway through the session, later noting that he was ‘slightly off form’ that day.

Jim moved to Southampton where he was a founder member of the Sotonia Cycling Club.

He kept his link to the Willesden, serving as our club president. Longer serving members remember his modesty and generosity. He was a superb ambassador for the club and noted as a true gentleman.

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Hillingdon Time Trials

I got this email the other day. For those who didn’t:

Hillingdon Time Trials

The 2024 Westerley Hillingdon time trials will start after Easter, so I wanted to let you, as a past rider of our events, know the details in case you fancy riding this year.

This year’s series starts on 24 April. The rest of the dates and other info are on our website. Entry is only via RiderHQ, there is no entry on the day.

If you plan to ride in most or all of the events, you can now book entry to the entire series at a discounted rate. This guarantees you entry to midsummer events which often sell out (see here for details).

As in the past, there are TT and road bike categories, for both men and women / adults and juniors, with an electronic timing system.  It’s a great way to do your first time trial, on your normal bike, with no cars – but its also an excellent mid-week outing for experienced time triallists.

Best regards,

Frank Proud,

Westerley CC

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Serendipitous Cycling

It was our first bike ride in over two months and it was not just our chains that were starting to rust!  So our aims would be modest – a short flatish ride around some of our favourite lanes in Bedfordshire. A planned route that barely nudged 50km and with only a few hundred metres of climbing looked just the ticket.

Following an hour’s drive to the start of the ride, a cafe and toilet was the first priority. Plus it would also replace the need for a mid ride stop. We climbed off at one of our usual cafes, with a whole 5km on the clock! After a relaxed break, we embarked on the ride proper, enjoying the sensations of being back aboard our wheels.

With only 10km of the ride left to do, I began to feel “the bonk” make an appearance. We had passed a cafe a few miles back, but I thought I could push on to the finish. Whilst pausing at a quiet junction in the middle of the countryside, I began to rue my decision and wished we had doubled-back to the cafe.
But hang on? What’s that sign over there say??
It said CAFE!
It said Cyclists welcome!!
It said OPEN!!!

It felt like an hallucination but Mrs Back confirmed she had seen it too. The cafe was just yards away and it was called the Cowshed Cafe.

The Cowshed is not only a proper cycling cafe, but by a further amazing coincidence it is also run by an old friend of the Willesden CC, Mr Rob Mortlock and his wife!! What a moment of wonderful cycling serendipity!

Rob’s cafe is superb and I urge you to try it out if you are anywhere near the area. I will also organise a weekday WoW ride to try their excellent coffee and great snacks.

An Oasis

The Cowshed is at Oak Farm, Bedford Road, Northill, SG18 9AW . It is open Wednesday to Sundays, but check their website for opening times before you go – https://www.thecowshedcafe.co.uk/

Rob and his wife’s attention to every detail in the cafe is highly impressive. From the velodrome themed table top to the CowShed jerseys and capes for sale. A TV projector streams the latest cycling races and there is a good stock of beers too!

Mrs Back and myself certainly wish the Mortlocks every success in this great new addition to the cafe scene.

Miles Back

Rob at the controls

Mystery box

Plenty of high quality Cowshed merch available

The rather wonderful Tracked themed table top

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Free tickets to the National Cycling Show in June

Julie Anderson passed this on… The National Cycling Show is presently offering some free tickets.

If you want some the link to their booking page is https://editor.ne16.com/vo/?FileID=5f695c2d-972d-4db8-9ec5-5aead5a134b8&m=ffbb397c-8fc0-4b89-b7c9-ad60ee427b51&MailID=6524952&listid=1004878&RecipientID=10251895352

Track down the page to a button that says “Use code LAUNCH for free tickets” and take it from there.

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85th FFCT Semaine Fédérale registrations are opening

For the past 15 years it has become traditional for a group of Willesden CC club members to make the very enjoyable excursion to the annual “Semaine Fédérale” in France. This remarkable event is a week long celebration of cycling that attracts large numbers of cyclists. This year they are planning on around 8,000 participants to attend, the majority of which are from French cycling clubs, though each year the numbers making the trip from the UK has been gradually increasing

The “Semaine Fédérale” is impeccably organised by the FFCT (Fédération Française De Cyclotourisme) and this year will be the 85th year they have run this marvellous event. Each year it is staged in a different part of France and in 2024 it will be based in Roanne, a small town located on the banks of the Loire, just to the north west of Lyon. The event runs from 20th July through to 27th July 2024.

Over the course of the week there are seven days of riding. Each day’s ride takes you to a different part of the region. All the rides are marked with simple arrows pasted on to the kerbs or on the tarmac. Hard copy maps and GPX files are supplied, so you will never have an excuse for getting lost! Each day you have a choice of rides ranging in distance from 50-60km through to over 150kms. The rides are most definitely NOT races and there is no element of timing. You ride when you want and if you want!

Costs of the week long event are –
Semaine Fédéral Registration fee  = €40
Repatriation insurance = €24 (refundable on proof of your own travel insurance)

Camping Pitch Costs (per week)
€37.00 for cars and camper vans under 8m in length
€74.00 for camper vans over 8m

Cost per person camping
€35.00 (aged over 18)
€17.00 (aged under 18)

Evening meals are available at the event’s HQ.  These are simple, massed catered meals, this means the menu is fixed with no option for vegetarians or those with allergies/intolerances
Fri 19 July €15 per person
Sat 20 to Fri 26 July €22 per person
Gala meal Sat 27 July €40 per person

Though most of us enjoy the simplicity and conviviality of camping, you can arrange your own accommodation in a hotel, Gîte, AirB&B etc, however availability may be very limited

With regards to Route planning, Roanne offers a few different options for the ferry crossing to France. With some ports, the shortest route to Roanne will be via Paris, whilst other options avoid it. So here are the main options, with distance, time and routes calculated by Google –

Calais  700kms.  7.75hrs. Shortest route is via Paris.

Le Harve 600kms. 6.3 hrs Shortest route is via Paris.

Dieppe (option 1.) 590kms 6.5hrs Shortest route is via Paris.

Dieppe (Option 2.) 630kms 6.5 hrs but avoiding Paris

Caen 640kms 6.5 hrs Avoids Paris

Cherbourg 750 kms 7.5hrs Avoids Paris

St. Malo 680kms 7.0hrs Avoids Paris

We organise the week and keep in touch via a Whatsapp. If you would like to join this group then email at willesdencyclingclub@yahoo.co.uk

Miles Back

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Riccione Cycling Trip 2024

The proposed dates for the WCC trip to Riccione are 6th to 13th April. We are currently waiting for confirmation of prices / package from the hotel and are looking at flights. WCC members can contact me if they are interested in going this year and I’ll add you to the WhatsApp group.

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Isle of Wight Randonnee – 5th May 2024

As we look forward to riding one of the Willesden CC’s biggest events of the year, namely Liam’s Tour de Ricky in June, what better way of preparing than riding the Isle of Wight Randonnée on the May bank Holiday.

The randonnée used to be a regular annual expedition for the Willesden CC, personally I have ridden this event over a dozen times and have always enjoyed it…. and not because it is totally free to enter!

The Randonnée is not a race, you can start whenever you what and finish whenever you want. The ride goes all the way around the island and is fully signposted. You can also start from any point on the  round-the-island route. It’s an absolute gem of an event and is suitable for all types of riders.

For various reasons the club has not ridden this event for a number of years, but Marianne Harding has stepped forward to get all our wheels rolling for this year’s event. So over to Marianne to explain more about what she is proposing….

Miles Back


Happy New Year everyone,

I am going to ride the Isles of Wight Randonnée this year and wondered if anyone else from the Willesden or Minet Ladies would be interested and would like to join in the adventure?

The Isle of Wight Randonnée 2024, will be on the May Bank Holiday, Sunday 5th May.

It would be great if we could make this a social weekend, but we would need to book hotel and restaurant as soon as possible as hotel price goes up the nearer the date and will book up quickly.

Registration for the Randonnée opens in February sometimes and here is a link giving details.


As some hotels can only accommodate a couple of bikes, or outside rack to lock bike up. I am enquiring about bike storage at some hotels and awaiting replies, Travelodge in Ryde. They offer double, twin and family rooms, sharing would cut costs. I enquired about keeping bikes in the bedrooms which they were happy with, even said if we let them know, we could request a ground floor room. They also have a lift. The downer with Travelodge is, they only do a cold packed breakfast.

It would be wise to book an evening meal for the Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th as it could be hard to find somewhere on the day, especially if you are tired from the ride.

I will be sailing early-ish from Lymington to Yarmouth on the 2nd or 3rd May, and cycle to Ryde, but taking in the Needles and maybe another attraction, 😷like the National Poo Museum in Sandown on the way🤭.

If you are not keen on riding far to the hotel one can sail to Ryde directly from Portsmouth, I think, which is a very short cycle ride to the accommodation.

For those who may want to join in the social, but not want to ride the Randonnée, but ride your own distance, there is a steam train. Or a small public transport train ‘Island Line’ that goes from Ryde to Shanklin that could take you to other parts of the northeast of the island to walk/ride a coastal path or something.

Would anybody be interested in a Willesden/ Minet Weekend Adventure?

Marianne Harding

Marianne can be contacted on willesdencyclingclub@yahoo.co.uk


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Bike buddies scheme

We got the following email from Lucinda at the Bike Project recently. A cycling worthwhile cause.


My name is Lucinda and I work at The Bike Project. I am reaching out to you in the hope that you can help me with some outreach for a cycling programme that I’m running! We are a small charity dedicated to getting refugees cycling by collecting unwanted bikes, fixing them up and donating them to refugees and asylum seekers. We are based in South East London with a workshop in Deptford and in the West Midlands, with a second workshop in Birmingham. Here is our website: The Bike Project | We refurbish and donate bikes to refugees .Alongside our donations, we run a programme called Pedal Power where we take groups of Refugee Woman and teach them how to cycle. We then also have a second programme called Bike Buddies –which I am hoping to recruit more volunteers for in West London!

To give you a bit more background, the Bike Buddies programme pairs our refugee and asylum-seeking bike recipients with volunteer cyclists in their area to go on rides together. It aims to build confidence and knowledge of cycling, reduce isolation, improve well-being and encourage social integration and greater independence. It’s relatively low time commitment but garners huge rewards for those taking part. Here’s a video explaining more, with our incredible supporter Clare Balding when she volunteered for this program and was matched with Ahmed, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcV1CcyhzpA   and full information and details of how to apply can be found https://thebikeproject.co.uk/pages/join-bike-buddies .

We have found more recently that a lot of our Bike recipients are increasingly based around Ealing, Southall, Wembley and Kilburn. At the minute, we don’t have a lot of volunteers in this area and so I was hoping you could share it with your members/audience in the hope of attracting some applications!

If you want to find out more please email Lucinda Humphreys on lucinda@thebikeproject.co.uk. She will call you back if you prefer a phone discussion.


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Westerley Winter Warmer, 14th January

Our friends the Westerley Club are running their Winter Warmer event on Sunday 14th January.

There are three versions, at 110km (1200m of climbing),  61km and a the shorter version is around 44km.  The long route is a challenging winter ride which tackles several of the bigger climbs on the Chiltern ridge while the medium route has Hatches Lane as its main climb.  The short version is a very pretty route that misses out all the big hills and most of the (short) main road sections which the others have.

Entry prices are the same as last year: £10/£9/£8 for adults and free for Juniors (who must be accompanied by an adult).

Ride HQ is Chalfont St Giles Scout Hut, GPX tracks, computerised timing system and plenty of food before and after (including home-made cake).

Enter the Westerley Winter Warmer. The event sells out every time, so don’t leave entering too long.

Originally slated for this date was our Audax taster, the Watership Down event in Hampshire.  Since the Westerley event is much closer to home, it supercedes the Watership Down.

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Cormac Nisbet becomes a Pro Cyclist

John Wheatley has an update on Comac Nisbet’s pro cycling career.
John says “Some members may remember Cormac Nisbet, who was in the Slipstreamers then the Willesden CC, before getting serious as a racing cyclist.
In a very exciting development John adds that Cormac  “..is now part of the Wolfpack in the Soudal Quickstep development team. An outstanding achievement.”
Click here for a previous WCC blog posting when Cormac was racing as a junior
Well done Cormac!  We are all mighty proud of you and we look forward to following your career in the coming season. Chapeau!
Click on the following link for more information on Cormac’s journey to become a Soudal Quickstep pro.
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Race Report!

One of the Willesden CC’s finest riders is getting good results in a British stage race! Yes, the Willesden CC’s teleprinter has sprung into life with incoming reports of the 1953 Tour of Britain road race!  The Willesden CC’s Ken Daniels* gets a special mention in the attached film, which is available free to view on the British Film Institute’s BFI PLayer web page. Click here

*For more info on Ken Daniels, I urge you to also have a quick look at at a previous WCC blog post by clicking here



Ken Daniels

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Big Audax Sunday!

Last Sunday (29th October), WCC riders were out on a couple of traditional and popular fixtures on the Audax UK calendar, namely the “Dartmoor Devil” and the “Emitremmus”. Both rides are 100+km long but are quite different in profile.

The Dartmoor Devil

The Dartmoor Devil Brevet Card

Marianne has focused her recent training on the rigours that the Dartmoor Devil will deliver. This ride is a famous Audax fixture and it demands a lot of respect. It is rated as a “AAA” event, which stands for  “Audax Altitude Award”. In simple words it is a flippin’ ‘ard day out on a bike!

The Devil starts from Bovey Tracey, climbing up onto the high moors via pretty villages, narrow lanes and steep hills. It finishes back at in Bovey Tracey after tackling the infamous Widecombe Hill.

Marianne has had her eye on the Devil for sometime and this year was going to be her year. On Sunday morning she was ready and waiting on the start line, facing a 111km ride with 2,500 metres of climbing! Taking place in autumn makes it even more of a challenge, with less hours of daylight and plenty of late season weather to add further spices.

Marianne described the Dartmoor Devil as  “a great ride, the hills were great in gradient too, but if you love hills, you’d be in your element!”

In Audax circles, such rides with lots of climbing are described as scenic! As Marianne says “The vistas were fantastic, well worth the effort”.  She added that “…. some hills were very challenging for me and I had to stop for a breather”. As well as the hills being steep, there there was the legendary quality of our roads to add further  excitment. Marianne said  “… at times, I was going so slowly, putting so much effort in, I couldn’t guide the bike around all the potholes, so had to get off and walk until the road improved.”

Weather conditions on the ride were mixed. She reported that “the first two to three  hours were typically sunny Autumnal weather, after that, it rained sporadically, but not for long.”

The Devil throws plenty of challenges your way and the Audax time limit for the 111km ride is an exacting 8 hours and 53 minutes. As Marianne finished she thought the worst. She said  “I really thought I was out of time and shocked I had 10 minutes to spare, so to celebrate I bought the badge the organiser was selling.”

Chapeau Marianne and it’s a very nice badge it is too!

The Dartmoor Devil’s Finisher’s badge







The Emitremmus

The “Emitremmus” is a companion ride to the “Summer Time Special”. The Emitremmus is traditionally held on the day the clocks go back in October, whilst the “Summer Time Special” is held at the other end of the summer, when the clocks spring forward.  So why is it called the Emitremmus? Well, it’s “Summertime” spelt backwards….. geddit??? This passes for funny in the Audax world :o)

It always starts with Brevet card admin.

This is the first of a few Audax rides that Ian Oliver has hand picked as being a good introduction for members wanting to try Audax, whilst still being interesting for old hands at this curiously addictive type of riding.  The ride start is in Stevenage, where the cycle path rules, and then heads over to Saffron Walden, before the return back to the finish.

L-R: Dan, John, Vyv and “Miles”.

Four of the Willesden CC made the start, Dan, John W, Vyvien and myself. We all met in a cafe at the start, which seemed to have a unique ordering system and a rather random approach to serving hot drinks.

Club Chairman John summed up the beginning of the day  – “The start cafe was slightly disappointing, as you needed to have ordered everything weeks ahead, but the sun was out and the roads were very quiet. Some lovely scenic villages on a great route.”  We can’t really report on the state of the potholes, as for a good part of the ride the road (and any holes!) were invisible under large expanses of muddy flood water.

On the ride out to Saffon Walden we serendipitously met up with the famous Hippy from the Willesden CC. He was at the side of the road with Mrs Hippy, who was putting the finishing touches to fixing her punctured rear wheel.

Mrs Hippy and Mr Hippy meet up wit the Willesden Massive

The ride passed through great handfuls of pretty villages and we gazed upon thatched cottage after thatched cottage.  As the ride passed through Manuden we stopped for photos of Vyv outside the house where she grew up.

Wot, no blue plaque!


We arrived at Saffron Walden after 65km of riding and we had to hunt down our own cafe, as there was no organised stop. At this point we had our second serendipitous moment, a perfect cafe appeared with next to zero faffing about. As soon as we were seated inside we were amazed by a beyond-epic downpour. We could scarcely believe we had dodged it! The cafe was bustling and its service was a blend of friendly and slow. But we were unperturbed as the rain  was proving stubborn to any suggestion of stopping and moving on to some where else.  John continued his patient vigil for his first coffee of the day – it turned up just before noon. When the food arrived it was high quality, delicious and more than ample.


The return leg was a good twenty km shorter than the outward route. Riding home we were treated to a number of halloween displays.

A friendly rider out on his bone shaker. Wouldn’t wanted to have met him on a night time Audax!


Unusually for a short distance Audax, the finish was in a different place to the start. It was not all bad news as John reports –

“The finish was 8k from the start BUT IT WAS IN A PUB! We duly honoured WCC tradition and ours were the only bikes outside, as darkness descended. The route back took us almost to the start, via a few identical looking dogging car parks but we made it back without incident. A Grand Day Out.”

After the unnecessary excursion we arrived back to our cars in total darkness. Everyone else had been and gone! It was a great ride and one we should do as a club ride in the summer of 2024.


Oh, and we got a badge as well!

If you have not done an Audax ride before or are fairly new to this enjoyable cycling discipline then contact us at info@willesdencyclingclub.org.uk  Audax UK’s web site gives a great explanation of this non-competetive alternative to the more expensive Sportive.



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Peter Persistently Picks Plenty of P*nct*r*es (WoW Ride 25th Oct)

Today’s WoW route to Velolife


This week’s WoW* ride had a great turn out of eight riders, namely Vyv, Anne, Juli-E, Marianne, Ian, Gerry, Pete and yours truly.

As we got ready, a buzz went around the groupetto as we began to notice Ian was quietly draped over a very fetching Italian e-bike. We all admired and approvingly cooed over the new addition to his bike family, which has already earned him a new sobriquet of “Eon Why”.

Conditions at the start were normal for a grey day at the end of October. Despite a forecasted dry day, we wanted to keep the run reasonably short in duration, but the P*nct*r* Fairy ws out to have her fun!

We agreed to go to Velolife via Cookham Bridge and Winter Hill. It is said that the P*nct*r* Fairy loves to make fools of people who make plans.  She must have been listening to us with a smirk on her beautiful face. About half way into our ride she aimed her wand at Pete’s front tyre, which she had acquired a taste for from a previous ride. Her wand was waved and Pete instantly shouted “P*nct*r*!!!”.

A P*nct*r* Party was formed and Pete’s wheel, tyre and tube were efficiently separated from each other. The hunt was now on to find the exact spot where her magic wand had struck. Her work was hard to spot, but Anne eventually found a tiny, tiny hole in the tube. Our attention then shifted to the tyre, to pluck out either the tiny shard of glass, microscopic flint or whooping 6 inch nail that had caused the flat. Despite a very thorough and diligent search no culprit could be found. This was most unsatisfying. I had an uneasy feeling that the P*nct*r* Fairy was out to sport with us today.

The first of our P*nct*r* parties.

Velolife was reached and was bustling with non-cycling clientele. We found a table an enjoyed our break, Campervans seemed to be one of our main topics. When we returned to our bikes the clouds had vanished, the roads were dry and the skies were blue, but Pete had a look of concern on his face. His tyre was soft. More air was sought from the cafe’s track pump. As Pete got to grips with an unfamiliar  track pump, he involuntarily opted for a complete change of air in the tube. Once full pressure was restored, we gingerly returned to Beaconsfield, with a strategy of regular stops to check and pump up as necessary.

Pumped up…but not for long, as Pete’s pump caddy earns his crust :o)

On the route back to Beaco’, the stops to pump up Pete’s tyre became more and more frequent. By Burnham Pete had decided to call a minicab, however Marianne wouldn’t hear of it and said she would return with her car to collect him . Thanks Marianne, you saved the day.

Despite our encounters with the P. Fairy it was a great day out on what turned out to be a gentle and warm afternoon in friendly company.

Miles Back


* What are WoW (Willesden on Wednesday) Rides?

  • We meet in Beaconsfield, but we also meet in other locations to vary our routes and cafe stops. For example WoW rides start from Biggleswade, Alton (Work in progress) and Willesden itself!
  • Our WoW cafe stops are “Slow-cial”, rather then a rapid coffee + wee pit stop.
  • We aim to ride all winter, provided if conditions are safe and the forecast is dry and over 4C, but we confirm via a Whatsapp group earlier  in the week.
  • We ride as a group and have a “no-Drop” policy – no-one is ever left behind.
  •  GPS routes available.
  • Non-Willesden members are welcome to join us for a taste of what our wonderful club has to offer.

If you would like to join us, then email me on willesdencyclingclub@yahoo.co.uk and I will send you a QR Code to join the Whatsappgroup.

Miles Back

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WoW (Willesden CC on Wednesday) Ride

This week’s WoW ride consisted entirely of Willesde-dents (Willesden residents). They are a bit of a rare species with in the club, so a 100% Willesde-dent peloton was quite a land mark…. shame it was only a two-up! Many of the regular WoW riders were either abroad or had other commitments for this Wednesday, but just as well, as the weather forecast was a bit dodgy . The night before I set about examining the rain radar forecast in micro-detail. If I looked carefully at the right angle and in the right light I could just about see a small WoW friendly weather window between 10am and 1:30pm. That looked time enough for a no-nonsense 55km ride from Beaconsfield to Velolife at Warren Row.

One unknown along the route was the newly closed Cookham Bridge. I am pleased to say we were efficiently escorted through the road works by Traffic Marshals, who were keeping a good look out for approaching cyclists and walkers. Crossing the bridge on foot gave us time to admire the river, plus the approach roads on both sides of the bridge were eerily quiet. Something I have not experienced in some 35 years of crossing this bridge.

Our WoW cafe stops are deliberately slow-ciable, giving us time for chat and even a second coffee. However today the cafe stop needed to be brief, but not so brief that we didn’t have time for their delicious coffee and cake.

Back on the bikes and it was off home via White Waltham, Cookham and Harvest Hill. We even explored a new route back through Beaconsfield to avoid THAT climb on the A40! We were back at the start by 1:30pm and bone dry-ish. A no point were rain capes, donned, unfurled or even moistened, despite the bruise coloured clouds. It was a satisfying ride and it was great to get some more miles in our legs in readiness for the WCC’s appearance on the “Emitremmus Audax” to be held on Sunday, 29th October.

Hopefully the weather will give us another dry window for a ride next Wednesday. If you would like to added to the WoW WhatsApp group then drop me an email at willesdencyclingclub@yahoo.co.uk and I will send you a QR code.

Potential new Willesden CC members would be very welcome.

See you next WoW’s Day, regards “Miles Back”

The Willesden CC Peloton en masse at Velolife.


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“Cyclist” magazine article on Jim Love

One of the many assets of the Willesden CC is our club’s remarkable history and heritage.  It is great to see an article in an edition of the “Cyclist” magazine about the previous Willesden CC’s Club President,  Jim Love.

Jim Love was in the Great Britain team for the 1948 Olympic games, which were held in London. Jim lived in Kingsbury in NW London and joined the Willesden CC at the age of 16, just around the time the war was ending. He developed rapidly as a rider and by 1948 he had earned a place on  the six man GB Olympic team.  He trained at the Herne Hill velodrome, commuting there on his road bike with his track bike jauntily slung over one shoulder! He described how the saddle was just behind his ear, but the major hazard he had to contend with was the trams and their tracks.

In one of the penultimate training sessions he had an off-day and was distanced by his team mates. So he was nominated as a team reserve. It is worth noting that in a previous conversation with Jim he mentioned that his boss would not initially allow him to take the day off work to attend the Olympics!

Jim is a superb ambassador for the club and is a true gentleman, just look at the positive comments about him on the club’s history page. It is wonderful to see this salute to him in the cycling press, so thank you “Cyclist” magazine and also a big thank you to Gill Reynolds who spotted their article.

Miles Back

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Cookham Bridge closing for five months.

Today’s WoW ride (moved forward to a Tuesday to enjoy the splendid weather) went over Cookham Bridge. I noticed with considerable surprise that our favourite way of crossing the Thames will be closed to traffic from 16th October to 22 March 2024…. some five months.

The good news is that according to the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead’s web site the bridge will be closed for to motor vehicles, however “pedestrian access will remain. Mobility scooter users will also be able to access the bridge. Cyclists will need to dismount before crossing the bridge.”

Miles Back

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Club Annual General Meeting this Friday 6th October at 19.30

Club members are invited to our AGM this Friday at the clubrooms on the Hillingdon Circuit.

We will have the usual official reports etc but there’s an interesting section on Club Development that we want to get approved and implemented. This will be vital to ensuring the long term future of the club.

Put your Willesden CC cap on and come and have your say on how we get younger members to join our wonderful club. We have so much to offer new cyclists and members.

We will be proposing using some club funds to get us back on track and we need a vote from members attending the meeting  to approve spending.

See you all Friday!




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Hillingdon High Wheelers – Sunday 24th September 2023

The Pennies are back at Hillingdon for another day of high wheel racing. At stake will be the British Penny Farthing Championship race trophy, donated by The Pickwick Bicycle Club. The other trophies originate from 1910 and are for riders of original Ordinaries (A.k.a. Pennies) to race over a course of one mile. They are magnificent trophies, standing 500mm tall.

The Pickwick Bicycle Club will run two races at Hillingdon Cycle Circuit, firstly for original Victorian Ordinaries, and secondly for modern Penny Farthings.  Not only is this a a great spectacle, but it is also free! So if you are free on the afternoon of Sunday 24th September 2023, then pop over to this wonderful and friendly event at the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit, 11-12 Springfield Road, Hayes, UB4 0LP, the entrance to the Hillingdon circuit is in the “Goals” car park

The Program for the day:

12 noon Cycle circuit is open for pre-race training rides together with social riding on the track for all machines.

2:00pm Start of Grand Old Ordinary race for original 19th Century machines to race one circuit of the track which is one mile.

3:00pm Start of the Penny Farthing race for more modern machines which will be for 30 minutes + 2 laps.

4:00pm Prize giving for both races

The impressive trophies

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PaM Goes cycling mad!

The Willesden CC’s base camp at the 2023 Semaine Fédérale.

The Semaine Fédérale might seem an odd choice of name for a cycling event, but it is a rather wonderful week full of cycling organised by the FFCT (Fédération Française de Cyclotourisme). The FFCT hold the Semaine Fédérale during late July or early August and it is hosted by a different region of France each year. It is a very French event and only a handful of Brits make it over there, but each year there are more of us. Mark Brooking introduced me to this event in 2009 and since then the Willesden CC have gone almost every year.

Leaving the camp site on the first days ride.

My first Semaine Fédérale was held in Saint Omer just a short drive from Calais. From the start I was highly impressed with the sheer size of the event and how extremely well it was organised. There were some 13,000 cyclists signed up for the event. We could choose from staying in digs or dormitories, but like many others we opted for the well laid out campsite specially set up for the event. It was a massive site and it seemed to contain every camper van known to France. The campsites are equipped with ample toilet and shower facilities. Though these are a bit basic, they are clean and perfect for the job (opps – unintentional pun!). If you are imagining full camper van hook-ups, on site swimming pools and wi-fi beamed into your tent, then you need to think again! However, the campsites have a good cycling vibe and a nice feeling of camaraderie .

Camping has its cosy moments – the record was 14 in this space

This year’s Semaine Fédérale was to be my 12th. It marked the 84th running of this annual event and the host town was the marvellous Pont-a-Mousson (PaM for short), located on the Moselle in the eastern part of France about 100km from the German Boarder. PaM has about 15,000 residents, who are known as Mussipontains, and although numbers were considerably down for this year’s event, the Semaine Fédérale still boosted the population by 40%. The town is centred on the river with a beautiful main square and a magnificent abbey. We all really we all became very fond of PaM and affectionately called it Ponty.

The usual format of the week is six days of rides over various routes. Non of it is obligatory – you’re on holiday after all! Each day there were four “road” rides to choose from, ranging from 55 to 160kms. All the routes are marked with arrows, plus these days a GPX file is also available. The rides are tours and are most definitely not races. You can start whatever time you want and finish when you choose. If you don’t like road riding then there are Mountain bike trails that are changed each day. Still not tempted? Then how about some Gravel bike riding, there were routes for these machines too.

Chilled Sunflower

This year the Willesden had a contingent of 16. The campsite was home for 14 of us, plus the two Birch’s who were in a very cushy apartment in Nancy. Most of us arrived in PaM on the Friday, giving us a couple of days to discover all the vital items we had left at home and all the non essential things we seemed to have brought instead. All tents are frequently visited by elves with long wooden spoons, which they use to stir up the tent’s entire contents. After the elves call nothing is anywhere near where you left it …. and they call frequently.

The first day of riding was on the Sunday. The rides are all curated by the local cycling clubs and really show off the area to maximum effect. As it was the first day we decided to ride as a one big sleek team. There appears to be no French word for “Faff” as the French riders seem more than able to get up eat breakfast and set out on their choice of ride. They would half around the course before the faffers of Willesden managed to get both socks on. We eventually set off late morning and enjoyed a ride together.

The next day, Monday, the weather was sunny but ominously windy, a sign that things were on the turn. By Tuesday the storm had arrived and it decided to stick around for a three days. Well PaM is in Lorraine were and there was a lorra rain. Most us used this as an excuse to elbow cycling and to drive over to neighbouring cities. This usually involved a quick trip around a cathedral and possibly a market, followed by a slap up lunch of several hours. Our WhatsApp group was very active with pictures of meals, showing off beautiful starters, epic main courses and topped off by riders peering around the sides of enormous puddings. Steve Llewyn and Pete James, who are some of our newest recruits, were having none of this. They eschewed the high living and rode each day regardless of the conditions. Well done Guys – your Willesden CC initiation is now complete.

Post-ride recovery was taken very seriously.

We made do with the only available protein shakes in PaM

As the end of the week approached the weather improved and we enjoyed some cracking rides on the longer routes. One ride took us along an amazing traffic free bike path that was over 30kms long. It was almost as broad as a road as well as surfaced with a unique type of tarmac that doesn’t have a gapping pot-hole every 10 metres (can we but this stuff for our roads please). It packed the bonus of being a former railway line, so its slopes were very leg friendly. Marianne was the star of the week, riding solo on the longest ride possible on the final day, which included a gratuitous hill of eye crossing steepness just before the finish line in PaM.

The last hill on the last day! It was a brute!

It was now Saturday night and it was time for the closing Gala dinner laid on by the organisers. The multi-course meal was superb value and it would have cost 5 times as much in a London restaurant. Our favourite cycling accordionist was there to entertain us whilst we waited for our dinner.

Most of our party returned directly home to the UK on Sunday. The rest stayed until throwing out time on Monday morning. We had various destinations in mind, but all plans seemed to involve being ensconced in luxurious French hotels with toilets that had seats and ceilings.

Miles Back


A silly sign post

Vincent and Briand taking part in the their Willesedn CC v Twickenham CC tournament

Jan made it into the local papers.

err….insert your own caption for the Club Chairman.

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Reminder WCC Inaurgual 100km this Saturday

WCC Inaurgual 100km this Saturday
Don’t forget to let Liam FitzPatrick know to expect you for the first ever running of the Willesden 100 on Saturday.
Starting from Rickmansworth Station at 0900 the ride heads up into the Chilterns via Chesham, Cheddington, Ivinghoe and Tring. There’s even an ice cream stop at the top of the Beacon!
It will finish back at the Rickmansworth Aquadrome – where anyone who couldn’t make the ride can still join the fun over a cake or possibly a beer.
The aim is to ride at an average of 20kph (12 mph) and although we’ll probably ride together, a two group approach might work if enough people show up.
The route can be downloaded here – https://ridewithgps.com/routes/44035061 – Use the WhatsApp groups to tell us if you’re coming.
And if you  can’t join at the start, Liam will post a tracker on the Sunday Rides WhatsApp group so you can track us down later on the ride.
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