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ARE GRAVEL BIKES A GOOD THING:

ART FROM THE BIKE SHED

Our opinion piece tackles one of the most debated subjects

We interview the cycling artist; Dave Flitcroft

in cycling, since the bike was invented - fact!

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THE SOUTH HAMS CHALLENGE 2021 SUNDAY 27th JUNE

Starting at Ivybridge Railway Station car park; PL21 0PL @ 10.00 am Discovering the beauty of the South Hams riding on mostly lanes with the occasional `B` & `A` roads, distance 70 km Event run by Plymouth CTC, for entry form, route directions & GPX file contact: Trevor Bradshaw 07889984290 email: trevbrad235@gmail.com

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WELCOME TO OUR CYCLING MAGAZINE.

v o l u m e 6 9 n u m b e r 7

Hello you wonderful fellow cyclists

CHAIRMAN: KEVIN PRESLAND Hind Street House

We now have the slight feeling of “normality”. It has been great to be out in groups and enjoying the company our fellow club mates. Not to say the weather has been great, a little cold at times, but having the sun on your face on our weekly excursions is a tonic for the soul.

Hind Street Bovey Tracey TQ13 9HT T: 01626 833749 E: kevin.hindstreet@btinternet.com SECRETARY: GRAHAM BRODIE 10 Courtney Road Newton Abbot TQ12 1HP T: 01626 335130 E: brodie@bikerider.com EDITOR & DESIGN:

Even by my own standards, this particular issue of The Highwayman is substantially late. There is good reason for this. All I can say is there some exciting news noted in the forth coming pages. Your support as a club will certainly be welcome!

SHAUN EAST 5 Bridge Terrace Tuckenhay TQ9 7EH T: 07748816396 E: thehighwayman@yahoo.com SUBSCRIPTIONS & DISTRIBUTIONS: GEOFFREY SHARPE 35 Claredon Road

I would also like to thank our contributors this month for their great articles and submissions. Now that all group rides are up and running, I would like to give a call out for ride reports. They are a good means of documenting our collective memories and experiences.

Ipplepen TQ12 5QS T: 01803 812743 E: geoffsharpe35@gmail.com

LAST COPY DATE: Summer | Number 02 | 26th June PUBLICATION DATE:

Summer | Number 02 | 31st June COVER PICTURE: Sunset pastels

The next subject for our opinion piece is: Traditional touring luggage or bike packing bags?

- Dave Flitcroft.

You thoughts to: thehighwayman@yahoo.com. s p r i n g

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News & Letters

. South Devon CTC Updates & News from the cycling world.

Obituary: Mike Rice.

Some very sad news which many of you may have heard. Mike Rice from Okehampton CC died aged 64 after suffering from Covid 19 for a few days. Mike was a keen and fit cyclist, and he and Jackie joined in on several of our Brittany trips in recent years. The couple also ran a rock band - Karina and the Slaves - with Jackie as drummer, and Mike as lead guitar. His untimely death was a huge shock and a warning as to the dangers associated with the present pandemic.

Obiturary: Iris Buckler.

We have to report the sad news of the passing of Iris Buckler. Iris “Iron legs” Buckler as some her friends knew her, she was a very well respected and strong cyclist and a keen swimmer. Years ago we would call into her home at Wolverwood Lane in Plympton for tea. She ran the Plymouth CTC section for a number of years, Iris pictured left in the light blue top. s p r i n g

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News & Letters

. South Devon CTC Updates & News from the cycling world.

Jean Brierly leaving the area.

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Jean Brierly leaves the area this month. She is moving up to the Welsh borders to be near family. Jean has been a stalwart of the CTC in Devon, Torbay and Exeter for well over 50 years, primarily producing our club magazine “The Highwayman”, and helping to organise feed controls at many of our events. We are organising the commissioning of a painting to present to her later this year. Please refer to the “Art from the bikeshed” Article for more details of the artist we wish to comission. | b e k i n d | page 7


Totnes Bike Hub New Community Bike Project in Totnes is looking for support. Totnes Bike Hub aims to pedal a better future. TOTNES Bike Hub is a new bike shop aiming to be at the heart of the town’s cycling community. Residents will be able to get their bikes maintained and repaired, while having a cup of tea and a friendly chat. The hub will be an open, inclusive space with the aim of supporting and encouraging new cyclists, families and experienced cyclists alike. s p r i n g

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Volunteers will be key to the success of the shop and the team of 3 directors are keen to hear from anyone who would like to be involved. We want to provide opportunities for members of our community to contribute at all levels, such as helping to run the shop, and assist on the workshops and rides. It is the aim of this hub to not only introduce the benefits and joy of cycling but to empower our own community with a practical form of local transport. |

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The founders of Totnes Bike Hub (L-R) Lizzie & Imogen Woodall, Shaun East & Rob Hill. The team have set up the hub as a CIC (Community Interest Company) and are on the lookout for suitable premises; they welcome enquiries from anyone who can assist with this. Lizzie Woodall, one of the co-directors, says: ‘We are a group of friends who are passionate about cycling, both as a practical form of transport and for the pure fun of it. Our aim is to share the love of two wheels with others in our community.’

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Having secured a majority funding to implement the first phase of the project the team are seeking an experienced mechanic to manage the workshop. Interested parties should get in touch for a job description. If you are interested in receiving further information on how you could provide support, then please send us an e-mail at: totnesbikehub@gmail.com |

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Are gravel bikes a good thing ?

Below: Gravel biking & bike packing? - Marketing hype for the cycling hipster generation?

Opinion Piece. Words: Dave Prudden, Larry Clarke & Shaun East

On the previous issue of The Highwayman magazine, we asked members to provide content on the theme of; Are gravel bikes a good thing? It is evident from the submissions that it is of split opinion. In this article we sound out two of these with some final thoughts from the editor. Larry Clarke: No there expensive for your bucks, & they look like an overpriced ATB (Mountain bike) without the advantages of an ATB if you ask me. But I am all in favour of bums s p r i n g

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on saddles, so let people spend a fortune if they wish. But not me. Dave Prudden: Well, it seems that bike style varieties move on. Once folk had just the one touring bike & used it for everything, including ‘rough stuff’ riding mountain passes over mud rock & grass, long distance touring & riding to work. Some still do & it is truly amazing what can be done with just one touring bike. Gradually opportunity to have a different bike type has come |

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along in the way of mountain, cyclo cross, expedition, commuter, adventure & now gravel bikes. A gravel bike is marketed to offer instant access to any surface, tarmac, paved road, gravel, farm tracks or single tracks. I’ve heard it said that there are no gravel roads in Europe = no need for a gravel bike but I don’t think the writer cycled on S. Devon lanes with the rough tarmac repairs, potholes, grass, mud & hedge debris that I enjoy. Comfort is a big thing, some can tolerate all sorts but I think I could enjoy a slightly lower pressure in the wider tyres that comes with a gravel bike. A consequence probably is a slightly reduced speed on smooth tarmac roads but perhaps one needs more than one type of bike. It is said that reducing the revolving weight on a bike can be critical so using a tubeless tyre on a Gravel bike perhaps may help. I’ve heard that wider tyres can work with tubeless more easliy than a narrow road tyre due to the lower pressures than can be used. Anyway, you have guessed by now - I’ve ordered one. We travel hopefully. Thoughts from the Editor: It is evident from the thoughts of both Larry & Dave, but also speaking to club members, that gravel bikes seem to be somewhat of a grey area. While on one hand, any bike can be a gravel bike. If you look back of the past exploits of The Rough s p r i n g

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Stuff Fellowship, you can get a touring bike pretty much anywhere you fancy with an imagination and a whole load of tenacity. Others feel that then gravel bike offers realistic solutions for the current state of our roads with the levels of comfort that a road racing bike doesn’t offer. While the bike industry and social media “influencers” now push the gravel bike as a lifestyle choice to appeal for those who live their lives through consumerism and trends, I do think there is three real world advantages to the gravel bike: 1. Tires. Beyond the RSF, the resurgence of gravel biking started back in North America in the 2010’s with a group of riders connected with the British high-end cycling clothing brand; Rapha. Much like the RSF, they started to explore beyond the tarmac of the Oregon area. With hundreds of miles of farm tracks and fire roads, they explored the map on their handcrafted steel road bikes with tires no wider than 25mm. At the same time, Jan Heine of the Seattle Randonneurs had acquired a Rene Herse 650b cycle-rando bike, from the 1950s with 50mm wide tires. He discovered that he was quicker on both tarmac and trail. He worked with the Japanese manufacture Panasonic to create wide “all road” tires that provide grip & comfort and so the gravel tire was born. Such tires have provided much reassurance to our club members and make total sense on the Devon lanes, certainly through the winter months.

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2. Gearing. For some time production gravel bikes were supplied with group-sets not suited to off road riding. The main manufactures were still providing group-sets that were road biking specific and not suited to the rigors of all road cycling. Again, we look back to the past to look forward. The Rene Herse, Alex Singer and French built randonneur bikes of the ‘40s and 50’s provided a source of inspiration. Many of these bikes did not rely on the British triple touring set up, rather they were shod with “super compact” chain sets. This meant that you

could have the simplicity and light weight of a double with the range of a triple. Shimano has now bought out a GRX gravel specific group set that uses 46-30 teeth front chainsets. It is also clear that MTB remains an influence on the road /all road scene with the use of a 1x setup. Known as a mullet (nothing at the front, all at the back; a nod towards the icon redneck haircut!) This allows wide ranges of a 50 tooth cassette at the rear, running on a smaller, single front chain set. All in all it means we now have access to gearing that suits mere mortals. Below: Jan Heines’ Rene Herse

Opposite: A modern gravel bike.

Note: How much difference is there between them?....

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3. Mindset. The effect of the success of the British professional cycling at previous Olympics and in the Grand Tours has been nothing short of a miracle to the cycling culture in this country. As a result many people found the inspiration to jump on a bike again, with the majority pouring a lot of money and time into fast road bikes and associated equipment. As someone who has been swept along with this, I had found myself somewhat burnt out by the competitive nature of getting into this aspect of cycling. When living in London, I was a member of Dulwich Paragon CC. I took part in Wednesday night winter chain gangs and fast paced Saturday rides into

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North Downs. As awesome as they were, I even par-took in a few summer Wednesday night criteriums within Crystal Palace park. It was always competitive and the, due to having full time a career, I felt constantly tired and that I was not having fun with my cycling. The greatest thing about gravel biking is that it takes the pressure off people to be overly ambitious with their past time. Instead it gives people the opportunity to connect with their bike in a manner that is fun, adventurous and within their own capacity. It also means, more people are reviewing a map, for the past less pedaled and seeing new things. Now that can’t be a bad thing!

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As we are back again

Tamar BridgeLynher ValleyBodmin Moor Date: 4th April 2021 Plymouth CTC Ride Reportage. Words & Pics: Dave Newman

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at the Tamar Bridge after all the closures etc I am faced with the same old problem finding a way out of Saltash that avoids the A388 and the massive climb up Frenchman’s Lane, or the ‘four hills of hell’ from the bottom of Hatt towards Amy Tree which we seem to do every time. So, I wondered if we could grit our teeth and stay on the A388 for another two and a half miles to St Mellion and then dive into the pretty lanes to Amy tree and then a slightly different route into Callington. After such a long break due to the Pandemic I was particularly intent on finding us some unfamiliar lanes to pedal through. All we needed was some decent weather to back up the dry spell and I may not have to spend the next three weeks cleaning my bike! Well weatherman Trevor assured that it was going to be fine so when I saw the first rays of sunshine through the crack in my curtains I positively leapt from my bed only to be greeted by a heavy frost which would, rule out Les and Larry for a start. So, I set off towards the bridge wishing that I was wearing my winter gloves and a merino base layer! For once, I was first there ready to greet Trev and Graham when, to my great delight, along came Steve and Penny and Andy P. looking very sprightly on his road bike. |

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With a full and legal contingent of six we set off up the sunny fore street to get the main road out the way (and Trev’s comments about Gloucester services) as quickly as possible so that we could enjoy cycling again in a group again. Well, the different route to Amy Tree proved popular and on down Axford Hill and up the other side where turned left so that we could enter Callington from the southwest. After discovering that there were no take away coffees to be had it was the usual route through Maders, South Hill to Linkinhorne where we sat by the church in the sunshine having our first refreshment break. It was beginning to warm up now as we followed the lanes in a westerly direction we suddenly glimpsed the distinct shape of that conically lump of granite known as “Sharp Tor”. On through the lanes to Bathpool where we crossed the River Lynher and up our second ‘chevron’ to briefly join the B3254 before climbing again onto Bodmin Moor and the moorland village of Henwood. I don’t know whether the intrepid Trevor is beginning to feel his age at last, but he actually suggested that it required a chevron! (how many times have we heard him say that it’s only an undulation?) Along the lane towards Minions with it’s evocative landscape of old mining activity where we sat on the edge of the common where there was much banter, serious pontification as well as the taking of refreshment. We exited Minions by the Cornish cross known as Long Tom but instead of the usual route via Crow’s Nest and Pensilva we took the unfamiliar lanes from Higher Tremarcoombe, Tremar s p r i n g ‘ 2 1 | r i d e s a f e

and Rosecraddoc Manor to join Larry’s favourite route past Fursdon caravan park and on to Gang.(our third chevron). From here more changes were rung as we took the main road towards Newbridge, although we deviated via the small lane off to the right. The last long climb of the day back up to Amy Tree is quite a pull as we climbed over 450 feet in just over a mile. The ride back was routine and troublefree, and we arrived at Saltash services at approx 2.40pm with just over 40 miles on the clock. Thanks everyone for helping to make it such a pleasant ride and let’s hope for similar weather conditions in our next batch of rides. An extra congrats to Trevor and Andy for managing a tough-ish ride without any eco-assistance.

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What and where was Slaughterhouse 5? Cycle Tour Reportage Words: Vespucci Pics: Getty Images

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Slaughterhouse 5, a book by Kurt Vonnegut was also a film, directed by George Roy Hill. Anyone who has read the book will know the title referred to an underground, meat storage depot in Dresden. During the war American POWs were kept in that store, although taken out each day on work details. I read Vonnegut’s paperback version on my long trek to Poland, mainly because my route would take me past Dresden. On the 26th March 2019, I arrived at the docks at Plymouth, armed with a cabin ticket for the ferry boat Armorique. Before embarking, I was asked by a security officer, ‘Do you have a knife on you?’ Never before I had I been asked such a question, but this was due to the recent sensational, media reports of stabbings in London. I showed him my Swiss Army Knife. But cut myself on a rivet as I tucked it back in the pannier bag. The security office thought it was funny. However, a nurse on the ferry patched it up for me. The irony of starting on long treks, they usually start with minor accidents. Ether my heavily packed bike falls over, a….. tooth comes loose or I leave an important document behind. As usual, I stopped in Morlaix on my first night in France. Usually I stay in the Auberge de Jeuness but this time I Left: A view of Dresden after the

allies’

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1945.

Credit...Foto Frost/ullstein bild, via Getty Images s p r i n g

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“I was asked by a security officer, ‘Do you have a knife on you?’...” stopped with friends in rue Dupleix on the other side of the estuary. The following day I started out across country, to Laval. I’d already had an e mail explaining, that the people would be away, the house key would be found under a cushion in the veranda at the rear. Everything was organised, with little sticky notes strategically placed, plus vegetarian food left for me in the fridge. Stopping at Orleans then Reims the champagne city, I entered Germany by following the Moselle to Koblenz. Opposite the junction of the Rhine and Mosel called the ‘Deutsches Eck’*, I stayed at the Youth Hostel (Jugendherberge). It was in part of the massive fort of Festung Ehrenbreitstein perched on the high bluff overlooking the Rhine and Koblenz. Apparently it is one of the largest forts in Europe. |

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Previous Page: A view from the Town Hall tower over the destroyed city center. Credit...Deutsche Fotothek, via Getty Images

At the end of April the weather turned into torrential, cold rain and followed me along a cycle path leading to the Elbe. A drainage ditch on either side ensured that it was never completely waterlogged. Arriving at the small town of Wilsdorf, I parked my bike outside a café - bakery, entered and created a pool of water with my sodden clothing. After my break I halfheartedly put on my waterproofs, stepped outside and shivered in the chilly air. It was probably a penalty for my cosy café sojourn. Soon, I approached steep hill leading down to the Elbe. My dilemma was the heavily laden bags; unsurprisingly making it difficult to hold back the bike going downhill. Squeezing the calliper brakes was ineffective with the road awash with dirty water. With the brakes fully on; I was still moving and gathering speed. I could not stop! Shoes scraping on the ground, I managed to take the long way around a left-hand. Somehow I managed to slide into high weeds and bushes. Heart pumping, ignoring the scratches and stings I walked the rest of the way downhill. I cursed myself for not having disc brakes. Under a leaky railway at the foot of the hill I squeezed as much water as possible out of the gloves. My hands shook with s p r i n g ‘ 2 1 | r i d e s a f e

the cold so reluctantly replaced them on my hands. But at least it gave some damp warmth. In dry sunny weather it would have been delightful cycling, but the deluge was in for the rest of the day as I followed the Elbe. Shivering and pondering on the possibility of becoming hypothermic, I continued to Dresden along the riverside cycle path. Dresden was approximately the size of Manchester in 1945. Before the war it was a thriving industrial city, producing numerous items such as cigarette machines; brassieres; coffee filters and squeezable toothpaste tubes were first made there. But precision engineering was one of the main functions of industry such as the manufacture of Zeiss cameras. A cycle path followed the river Elbe. At last shelter was found in a blackened tunnel under the Elbe Terrace garden walk. In front of me was the Munzgasse, known for its fine restaurants before the war; led to the Altstadt. This area was the centre of the firestorm in 1945. Whilst sheltering I heard the jaunty whistle of the river steamers taking tourist on the river. Standing, shivering and cursing the weather it was easy to be reminded of Manchester. The bad weather looked to be set for the rest of the day. So I wheeled the bike along Munzgasse to the Altstadt and to see Fruenkirche. Where reminders of the bombing remain, surprisingly there were still a number of Japanese tourists mostly cowering under shop awnings or escaping the weather in restaurants. |

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“Mosquito pathfinders first dropped flares followed by 796 Avro Lancaster’s and 326 Halifax’s.” The firestorm at Dresden was initiated on February 13th 1945, Shrove Tuesday just after midday. Cafes in the city were all open and busy and the famous circus of Sarralani was holding performances in a great domed tent. People felt save from being bombed as the city was a long way from the industrial heartland. Mosquito pathfinders first dropped flares followed by 796 Avro Lancaster’s and 326 Halifax’s. Raids continued into Ash Wednesday when the Americans arrived in the morning with B 17s Flying fortresses. But half of the 431 planes went to the wrong city…Prague. Because they thought the city looked like Dresden from the air. s p r i n g

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Meanwhile the Americans locked in the underground stores were amongst some of the survivors. The raging firestorm destroyed 647 shops, 64 warehouses, 24 Banks and 26 insurance buildings. Human casualties ranged from 25,000 to 150, 000; a great majority were refugees fleeing from the Russians. Before I arrived at my old friends place close to the Ukraine frontier, I stopped at Krakow; unfortunately it was packed with visitors from many countries, most from the Far East. An astonishing site was a girl sitting on the pavement with a placard, the words written in English – ‘I HAVE BEEN ROBBED – PLEASE HELP ME!’ I doubted its truth, and whatever nationality, it would have been usual to contact the police or consulate. Whilst staying with friends in Poland close to the Ukraine frontier, I was unlucky enough on 10th May to encounter snow. So I had time to do some walking and see the condition of my bike used in the Sahara. It was in the basement. Rust showed on the pedals and only a few fragments of handlebar tape remained. I returned to the UK via Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany staying at Friburg and crossed into France at Strasbourg. - Vespucci

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Art From The Bikeshed

An interview with cycling artist Dave Flitcroft Words: The Highwayman & Dave Flitcroft Pics: Dave Flitcroft

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When I take a picture on my camera.......... I often wonder whether it truly captures the spirit of the moment. Truly great photography is a thing to marvel, no doubt. But painting, the sketch and the print can stir our inner emotions. To me, art is a language that transcends all. Maybe it is that the action of the brain to hand to medium that is more connected than the separation of the shutter and the lens? I leave it to the reader to muse further. I have been aware of Dave Flitcroft, also know as Art From the Bikeshed, for a few years now, some of you may also a few pieces procured through his Etsy page. Now retired and living in France, Dave captures the essence of cycling, especially that of the cycle tourer. For those who are yet to be familiar with his work, The Highwayman asked Dave to kindly give up a little of his time to partake in an interview for the Highwayman. Without further a do, we kick the interview off with a few quick fire questions, followed by some in depth conversation and some examples of his fine work. We hope you enjoy! - The Highwayman. s p r i n g

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THM: Single, double or triple (chain-set, not measures)? DF: I most frequently ride a tandem with Sue, my wife. We have 3, a tourer, road and MTB. All have triple 10 speed, we need the range. My go to single bike has Rohloff gears so that’s a single, I also ride fixed gear, and a road bike with double. My preference is definitely the Rohloff gearing system, so Single.  THM: Tea or coffee? DF: Fresh coffee in the morning. When out for a few hours we may take a flask of coffee. I don’t like flask tea.   THM: Favourite cycling cafe stop? DF: (pre Covid 19 restrictions) With the caveat that the French don’t do English style café/tea rooms it’s any attractive looking pavement café. But there is a lovely English run café called Arthé in Confolens, about 50kms from my home who do great tea and cake, they have lots of art on the walls too so that’s a favourite.  THM: Paper map or GPS? DF: Map with cue list plus a great app called ‘IphGeNie’ which has all the France IGN maps. It seemlessly zooms in to cadastral level detail then arial photography. Great for seeing where that intriguing track goes. I recommend it highly for cycletours in France. THM: Have you ever ridden in Devon? DF: A little during 2 bike tours of Somerset, Devon & Cornwall. |

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THM: What came first, your love of art or your love of cycling? DF: Definitely cycling. Bike tours always involved sketching in a travel journal though. THM: How did you know you were good at art? More importantly, who recognised your ability? - Has always been a natural ability you have developed or a hobby that you have stuck at and got better at practicing? DF: Art was my favourite subject at school, I did A level art and won the school art prize, I’m still chuffed about that. I was encouraged by my art teacher to go to University to pursue a degree in Fine Art, unfortunately my old man would have none of it, he didn’t see it as a viable career path. I left school and joined the police who were recruiting at the time. That turned out to be a good choice. I continued to sketch from time to time throughout my police career, but the main opportunities for sketching were on cycle touring holidays. So cycling and art have always felt connected to me.  THM: You now reside in the Charente region of France. Can you tell us about how you ended up there and your life in the UK beforehand ? DF: I’m from Bolton in Lancashire, I joined the police aged 18 (seems ridiculously young now) and worked in Greater Manchester for the 30 years of my career. Sue and I married in 1982. Cycling to work was pretty well a financial necessity at first but became a lifestyle. We were car free for 18 years, only owning a car when s p r i n g ‘ 2 1 | r i d e s a f e

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it was necessary to use at work as I got promoted. We ferried our 2 children all over on the back of bikes. Time off was spent cycling alone or as a family and all holidays were bike tours (which continues to be the case). I got very keen on riding ever longer distance Audax events in the 90s and much to my surprise Sue suggested that we celebrate our 10th anniversary by buying a tandem (what a life changer). Since that time most of our cycling has been on tandem. We saw the European Bike Express at a York Rally in 1992 and immediately booked our first family tour in France for the following year. That touring experience was another life changer. Subsequently we have toured most regions of France either as a family or, as the kids grew older, alone. We also toured Italy and Ireland, but France increasingly felt like home to us. 

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One of the good things about joining the police when I did was that the contract was for 30 yrs so in 2009 I could retire. At that point, aged 48, Sue and I had the chance to radically change our lives. A couple of years prior we had discussed in detail our options and had decided to emigrate France on retirement.  With a good knowledge of riding in France and knowing the landscapes suitable for our tandem riding (I.e. not too mountainous) we boiled down our options to either Burgundy or Charente/Limousin. The latter won because of a sunnier climate. Coincidentally the author Graham Robb published his book ‘A Discovery of France’ in 2007. (I highly recommend the book for cycling francophiles, it was researched by riding 14000 miles on a touring bike.) in the book he describes a significant geographic location where the  “landscape arranges itself in a textbook

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“landscape arranges itself in a textbook illustration of the North-South divide: the Croissant is marked by the forest, the northern, ‘oil’(oui) side by the wheat field and the southern ‘Oc’ side by a vineyard” This exact location is in the Charente, to the north east of Angouleme, on a tiny road where the Braconne Forest opens onto the valley of the Charente. We now live 5kms from that very location. Surrounded by an infinite network of quiet lanes and tracks, an hour riding in the various directions puts us in very different landscapes from extremely hilly, bocage and forest to gently rolling vineyards very similar to Tuscany in appearance, and very different in landscape and climate to the West Pennine moors of our origins. THM: I subscribe to the Floydian (Keith Floyd) adage to let your hunger and thirst lead you on your travels. From a truly selfish stand point, can you pick out a particular local produce and wine from your region of France? DF: The emblem of the Charente Department is a snail with wings, the strap line is ‘la vie douce’ (translates as the slow/easy/sweet life), the emblematic products are, most famously Cognac, a pair of handmade felt slippers known as ‘charentaises’ and Cagouilles charentaises, which is a dish of snails cooked in a sausage meat and tomato sauce. My epicurean choice of the Charente would be an aperitif of Cognac with Tonic known as ‘Cognac Schweppes’ and a dish of cagouilles charentaises. s p r i n g

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THM: Tell us. As a prolific artist, what does a normal day look like for Dave Flitcroft? DF: A typical day here has several varieties, the common feature is that they all start off with a big cup of coffee, and usually finish up with me spending hours doing my art in the bike shed. The main portion of  days are focussed on either continuing to renovate the old farmhouse and outbuildings we call home, going for a big ride, gardening or dedicating the full day to my art. At this time of year, the weather will be the key determining factor. THM: I notice that you work in a range of different mediums. Was it a case of starting with one you are more familiar with then exploring others? Is there one particular medium you are currently fond of? If so, why? DF: All my art starts with sketching, and I practice drawing cyclists and bikes an awful lot, art is like cycling in that you need to do it consistently to maintain or improve your standard. One of my favourite media at school was linocut, and I have had a heavy, cast iron book nipping press all my adult life. In 2014, after the initial blitz on house renovation was complete and we had a comfortable home and useable outbuildings I bought some lino and transferred some sketches onto it to revisit linocut printmaking. I shared some of the results on Twitter and because some people wanted to buy a print I opened my Etsy shop ‘Art from the bike shed’, a name derived from my Ronseal approach to marketing.  | b e k i n d | page 29


Printmaking has been described as taking a simple drawing and making the process as complicated as possible, but the result is that you can produce editions of your artwork, each one numbered, signed, handprinted and original. This in turn means that an original artwork can be sold at a reasonable price, and I get to keep one too. Linocuts take a lot of time to make, my process from the initial sketch is: 1. Produce a simplified line drawing for the size of lino I want to use. 2. Trace and transfer the drawing onto lino 3. Go over the tracing in a marker on the lino so that it doesn’t rub off 4. Decide on the black/white transition for monochrome or colour/tone/value for a colour reduction print. 5. Gouge and cut away the unwanted lino to produce a printing block 6. Produce the prints. I also paint using watercolour and soft pastel. This provides a more immediate and fluent artistic release. Obviously the paintings are unique and once sold they’re gone, for that reason I have mainly offered linocut prints for sale, recently I have decided to sell some of my original paintings, and these have proved very popular, often selling via Twitter or Instagram before they are listed on my Etsy shop. THM: Do you work from real life or photographs to subject your pieces around? Where do you find your inspiration? DF: My inspiration comes from the landscape I ride through, the natural world, and the experiences encountered on the bike and in my life. I love above all a landscape with the line of a quiet lane or track winding it’s way into the distance. I’m fascinated by introducing the simple shape of a cyclist or bike into a landscape to give focus and hint at a story. I use reference photos I take, as well as open source photos of cyclists and sketches made on rides or in the shed. I use artist’s license as and where I feel fit, and most of my pictures are composed from various elements, rather than attempts s p r i n g ‘ 2 1 | r i d e s a f e | b e k i n d |

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at portraying a particular place. I try to capture the feel of the ride. I am skewed toward cycletouring and utility cycling rather than cycle sport as an inspiration. THM: Other than the visual elements of cycling; i.e the landscape, weather, light and the bicycle, are there other connections or parallels that you make between being an artist and a cyclist?

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DF: I find lots of parallels between a cycling lifestyle and a creative one, some of which I’ve mentioned already. It’s only through art that I feel that I can capture my feelings and experiences. A photograph doesn’t do it, it captures the where, but not the why. Art allows me to include the smaller details, the butterflies in the field, the deer glimpsed at the edge of the woods, the bird seen flitting along the hedgerow. It also allows me to portray my idealised world, cut out the unsightly, invent my own utopia. Whilst riding my mind wanders, capturing momentary images to be jotted down later in a sketch pad, dreaming up ideal cycling experiences. The more I ride the more I create. The sweet spot and flow I feel sometimes on a bike ride is experienced equally when I’m painting, drawing, or losing hours engrossed in my linocuts. For me, art and cycling are perfect companions and my aim is to share my passion with like minded folk.  e k i n d | page 31


Left: The Author in the South Bucks 12 of 1970.

(From The

Beech Leaf of 1971, the South Bucks DA equivalent of The Highwayman).

Cycling Past Reminiscing his lifetime and the bike. Words: Roger Grimes Pics: Roger Grimes s p r i n g

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This piece was inspired, if that’s the word, by the description in The Highwayman of Graham Brodie’s 1951 Rotrax. It strongly reminded me of the dramatic changes in cycling that have taken place in my lifetime and I felt that some of The Highwayman’s readers might find the changes of interest. So, a bit of background. My family (me as a four-year-old) had moved to live in the New Forest in 1939, just after the outbreak of WWII. There were no cars for civilian use and the nearest, rather limited, bus service was rather more than a mile away. You walked, or cycled

wherever you wanted to go. Thus, by the age of eleven, when I started school in Southampton (eight miles away) I was a fairly experienced cyclist, proudly commuting on my Raleigh Sports bicycle. It was then that I discovered this wonderful Aladdin’s Cave – the Rotrax shop - with its beautiful, exotic, handbuilt frames. I was too timid ever to enter the shop, but it undoubtedly was a major factor in turning me into a “dyed in the wool” cyclist. Probably, the next factor was the Scout movement. At about the same time I had become a Scout (actually a Sea Scout, but because of the war we had no boats) and we frequently camped in the New Forest west of Lyndhurst (in those days, provided you had a permit, you could

The Author as an eleven year-old Sea Scout. s p r i n g

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camp anywhere in the forest, apart from the enclosures). Our route home took us through the village of Ashurst which had a café popular with club cyclists returning to Southampton after their weekly club run. On summer Sunday evenings there were always dozens of, to my eyes, perfect lightweight bicycles scattered around. Most were conventional (Rotrax being the most common) but also the oddities like Thanet and, oddest of all, the occasional Paris Galibier which, as well as its unique frame design was also the most flamboyantly painted. While I was quite happy with my Raleigh Sports, with its three speed Sturmey Archer gears and hub dynamo, what I really lusted after was one of these lightweight machines. And the surprising break came from the Forestry Commission who were, even then, much criticised for only planting conifers, but who in about 1950 were suddenly offering to buy New Forest acorns for two (old) pence per pound. I do not now know whether my belief is correct, but I understood that the acorns were to be used in a re-forestation programme somewhere in Scotland. But be that as it may, our garden boundary contained three mature oak trees and I could pick up several pounds weight without leaving home and in a very short time. So, the Forestry Commission, augmented by my pocket money, funded my access into what has been called the “golden age of cycling”. And I like to think that now there are young(ish) oak trees growing somewhere in Scotland from acorns that funded my entry to club cycling. Anyway, s p r i n g ‘ 2 1 | r i d e s a f e

it allowed me to buy my Bates of London BAR frame and the necessary components for about £30 dividing roughly half in half between frame and components.

“Anyway, it allowed me to buy my Bates of London BAR frame and the necessary components for about £30...” What then of the differences between cycling then and now? Perhaps the first thing to remember is that shops like Rotrax did not sell bicycles. They sold made to order frames and the accessories with which the purchaser would build up the frame into a bicycle. It was assumed that the purchaser had the necessary knowledge and skills to complete the machine (which was, admittedly, considerably simpler than today’s equivalent). The frames were made up from sets of Reynolds Tube Company’s “531” double butted steel tubes brazed together with (frequently beautifully carved) lugs. Alloy steel was the only frame material, aluminium |

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Starting, quite possibly in his first time trial (1951).

being viewed with contempt because of its lack of rigidity and I do not recall ride comfort ever being mentioned. Neither the United States nor the Japanese had any role so we had shoe plates, not cleats and high pressure wheels/tyres (or sprints for those using tubular tyres) not clinchers. Sealed, non-adjustable, bottom bracket units were to come (and be very welcome) in the dim and distant future, but in the meantime we had steel cranks attached to the bottom bracket axle by means of cotter pins. As purchased, these tapered steel pins never protruded sufficiently far through the crank to allow the securing nut and washer to be fitted so it was necessary to develop a good filing technique. Wheels were also made to order by the lightweight shops and we s p r i n g

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specified rims, hubs and spokes. My first high pressure wheels specified Harden large flange, drilled, hubs. These were beautifully machined from aluminium alloy castings with ball race bearings, rather than the traditional cup and cone and the quality matched anything that Campag has ever made. In the Southampton area I can recall the names of five cycling clubs that were affiliated to the NCU (as the body responsible for track racing and closed circuit “mass start” road racing) and the RTTC for time trials. Virtually all of the members of these clubs rode single speed, fixed wheels, generally in combination with a single brake operating on the front wheel. And, for those who doubt it, it was |

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possible to stop remarkably quickly with this combination albeit application of the front brake had (has!) to be judicious. In addition to the five “traditional” cycling clubs there was one (I think) named VC Aquila, affiliated to the BLRC, that aped all things continental like Simplex and Huret gears and South France handlebars and promoted road races on open roads. Most of the members of the traditional clubs participated in time trials and while we had moved on from the days of alpaca tights the open events still started at ungodly hours and we were expected to wear “dark” clothing. This was, of course, long before Lycra. Racing shorts were made from wool with a chamois leather seat insert and woe betide you if, when washing the shorts, you rinsed them so thoroughly that no soap suds were left in the chamois, because then, the chamois was converted into something more reminiscent of the coarsest grade of sandpaper. A typical open 25 mile time trial would be run on Sunday and have 120 riders starting at minute intervals from 06:01am so that the last starter should be off the road by about 09:00am, the time at which the RTTC judged normal people came onto the roads. Track racing was very popular with local weekly track leagues at Southampton and Portsmouth but the big event, in the south of England, was the Good Friday meeting at Herne Hill. This attracted capacity crowds, particularly to see professional sprint matches between Reg Harris and the likes of Arie Van Vliet s p r i n g

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who, apart from their sprinting prowess were great showmen. Races with “penny farthings” were also a very popular feature. I would cycle up to London on the preceding Thursday, stay with my aunt in Wembley and then cycle to Herne Hill the following day. On the first occasion that I did this I was less than confident with the route but felt that I must have it right when I encountered a cyclist on a track bicycle carrying his sprint wheels attached to his front wheel spindle and crash hat on his saddle bag. I was too timid to speak but followed at a polite distance, only to end up at the Paddington Recreation Ground track. Fortunately, not too far off my intended route. The Herne Hill cycle park on these occasions was filled with many hundreds of bicycles, with barely a lock, or chain, to be seen. While writing these few words and having started cycling with a fixed wheel in 1951, I was surprised to discover that in 1970 I was still time trialling without gears. Occasionally, now, as I struggle up the hill out of Beesands on my 34X32 bottom gear (of twenty) I wonder how I would have coped with the 48X18 fixed gear of my youth. -RG

The cycle park at Herne Hill for the Good Friday meeting.

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Classics’ Corner Words: Graham Brodie Pics: Graham Brodie

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1974 ALAN Super Record

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“Lugs, lugs glorious lugs!” Many, bikes have them, many don’t and usually they are cast steel, and have the frame tubes brazed or soldered into them, they can be bland or intricate or anywhere in between. This “Classic Corner” features a 1974 “ALAN” bicycle. ALAN were founded in 1972 by Lodovico Falconi an engineer who had worked for Torpado . The frames were completely aluminium lugs and tubes, and had a reputation for structural integrity, due to their unique system of threading the tube and lug joints, making both a mechanical and bonded connection, referred to as “Glued and Screwed.” The ALAN brand became very popular for Cyclocross bikes, dominating the market s p r i n g ‘ 2 1 | r i d e s a f e

for around 20 years. Their road bikes were also successful ALAN also supplied frames for other labels including Colnago. Owners of older ALAN frames and bikes often come across problems of cracking on the lugs, aluminium becomes brittle with age and use, and also the epoxy resin used in construction ages, and this can fail. My Super Record is in quite good shape, although I have spotted evidence of a hairline crack in the lug at the top of the head tube. The most common problem I’ve seen evidence seems to be a vertical crack in these head lugs, so like many of my elderly classics it will be ridden gently! The bike is equipped with Campagnolo gears and chainset, and Galli brakes and pedals. I’m a fan of the earlier Galli equipment, very similar to Campagnolo, and works as well if not better, and doesn’t command silly prices on Ebay ( yet!). The wheels are the classic Mavic MA2 silver rims, laced to Campagnolo Record hubs. The bike rides very well, it’s a very smooth and comfortable ride, and the brakes works surprisingly well for a bike of this era. The anodised blue frame tubes are suffering from fading especially on the front fork blades, but this bike is pretty much original with original yellow decals also a little faded. - GB |

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Group Rides s p r i n g

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Chris Bennett Memorial 300km Audax (Permanent) s p r i n g

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Tuesday Ride to Chudleigh & Haldon

Tuesday Ride to Manaton s p r i n g

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Sunday Ride to Fernworthy

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Sunday Ride to Crediton s p r i n g

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Wednesday Night to Kevins’s

Wednesday Night to Paul’s

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Profile for thehighwayman

The Highwayman Magazine - Spring 2021  

The Highwayman Magazine - Spring 2021  

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