This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 20.

Westley Waterless

Dear Folks,

I thought that I really must write to express my thanks for your organising the leisurely cycle ride which I joined on the 9th August. By the time I reached the tea stop I had been relieved from the chronic stress aches in my neck and shoulders which no amount of osteopathy or massage has ever done. I had never joined one of your rides before as I had no idea of the likely pace or distance and was concerned whether at my age I could keep up with the group but there was no problem whatever in that respect: leisurely means leisurely. The run was headed by David who made sure that any stragglers caught up from time to time and was ready with help for any problem.

Westley Waterless was the tea stop but unfortunately it lived up to its name and the tea room was closed. This didn’t matter though as we found an all-day pub nearby which enabled all to obtain refreshment, alcoholic or teetotal as desired. We travelled on quiet roads from Cambridge and used cycle paths where available. I think it would be useful to state in the diary that bridle paths may well be used to ensure that members come along on a suitable machine and can relax and enjoy the quiet countryside without fear of wheel collapse. I was OK, I came along on a pre-war roadster with a pair of substantial stainless steel wheels I rescued from an old Raleigh.

A minor quibble is that I had no indication of length of ride or likely duration and so could not tell my wife when I was likely to arrive back home. Perhaps this too could be stated in the programme as I am sure that others may have the same problem.

Anyway, I parted company with my new friends near Six Mile Bottom and thought I would go home by the quickest way – ha ha. First, I had a puncture before I reached Quy (a blackthorn prickle) and then I was cut up by some maniac on one of the slip roads, Milton I think, on the A14 and just caught the little angled kerb that one finds planted in such places. I did a somersault, chest hard on the galvanised barrier, sprained both wrists, had various cuts from glass, gravel and debris from previous wrecks and have a left leg purple from the knee downwards. I will go home the quiet way in future. At least the bicycle landed on top of me and so was not damaged.

Best wishes. I look forward to the next ride.

Keith Morris, Bar Hill

I’m pleased to report that Keith has recovered from his ordeal. I must say I really enjoyed that particular ride, and it was great to see some new faces amongst the nine riders.

In the past, we’ve always avoided quoting distances, for fear that it might put people off coming (20 miles sounds like a terribly long way if you’ve never cycled that way at a gentle pace). However, Keith is one of several people to have made this point recently, so I’ll make an effort to plan further ahead and publish destinations in each newsletter.

This will have a couple of added bonuses. We can start occasional rides by train, for a change of scenery, and we can let the Tourist Information Centre and Cambridge Evening News know about rides too. We’ve always said non-members are welcome too, but we’ve never really told non-members!

Clare Macrae

Another use for a helmet

In recent years, my primary reason for wearing a cycle helmet has changed, and it is not one I see aired very often, if at all: I wear a cycle helmet because it is the best (possibly only) place to mount my helmet mirror.

When I first bought the mirror a few years ago I was surprised at how useful it was. When I broke it a few months ago and had to wait a while to get a replacement, I was disturbed at how relatively unsafe cycling felt – as a result of being less aware of the overall road environment.

Whilst I’m not totally convinced by either side of the argument about whether helmets are worth it in a crash, I’m fairly sure that my helmet/mirror significantly reduces my chances of being in a crash to start with.

Dave Prince

I use my helmet to hold a mirror, too, and I hope never to need the helmet for anything else. This featured in Newsletter 10.

Mark Irving, editor

Interview with John Richards

I am concerned about John’s idea of protecting the cyclist by making them give way (e.g. Milton Road/Barton Road), so that the onus is on the cyclist to not make an ‘error’ and not the motorist, as the cyclist always comes off worse in a collision. I suggest that John (and many other planners) is making a severe and repeated miscalculation, looking at this from my profession of interface design. A motorist has on average 20+ hours of driving tuition, must pass an exam, and has to be over 17. A cyclist can be any age with no Highway Code knowledge and open to the elements which can reduce concentration. Give Way markings on the roads are more likely to be ignored/missed by young cyclists than by motorists, and ‘giving in’ to motorists perpetuates their belief of ‘owning’ the road, when the message in city centres should be to share it.

Indeed giving cyclists priority at junctions consistently would raise the awareness of cyclists’ existence among drivers, and not only when one meets the other. Pavlov’s theory of conditioning will bear out this long-known concept.

Matt Polaine