South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Angie Launder

Profile: Angie Launder - (May/Jun 2002)

When you are invited to contribute a profile for the Sou'Wester, Clive gives you a helpful questionnaire. The first question asks "When were you born". Well, I am a lady of that delicate age so I will answer - I just was! I am a very suburban person having been born at home. The first of my mum's babies which she didn't have to pay for as the NHS was quite new. So there -that gives you a clue to my birthday.

My dad was always fiddling about with bicycles. He used to make them up from bits from the dump. So there were always bicycles about but I never used to take much notice. But when I was about seven, Dad came home with a little rusty blue heap which was to be my first bicycle. It was beautiful when he finished with it and then he helped me ride it - no stabilisers for me, they hadn't been invented!

I then went on to ride a bike to school having passed my cycling proficiency. Age 11 onwards, loaded up with school books and at one point a weaving loom! I had to ride to school as the bus service was difficult and we couldn't afford the fares. Otherwise, family influence was nil as we weren't a cycling family.

When I married we taught the children to ride and I had a bike which I sometimes rode to my job as a school dinner lady! I used to put my son in a seat on the back and make him do the hand signals. He was only three and used to shout "help me, help me" as I cycled along. Matthew now rides a bike to and from work but doesn't belong to the CTC and isn't interested in joining a club. He thinks I'm bonkers anyway.

After my husband died, one of my friends, who had been a road racer, suggested I get my old bike out, but I thought I would buy a bike and do something other than mope about on my own. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I went into Pearson's, bought a new bike (an M-Trax silver mountain bike) and asked about cycling clubs. They put me on the right road to the Beginners in Nonsuch Park. I must say, I was welcomed very warmly into the Section and have been extremely grateful for this. Many thanks.

I have been with the Beginners ever since, about five years, I think, so now I can't get away with saying I have only just joined. I did this to get myself out on a Saturday afternoon to meet people and I have met up with some nice people. I am also a fully paid-up member of the CTC. From just riding a bike I now really enjoy cycling and I miss my bike when I go on holiday or the weather is too bad to go out. I ride to and from work at St Helier Hospital. My Consultant drew the short straw when he got me as I am the only secretary who turns up to work in leggings and yellow jacket!

I don't race, sometimes go out with the Midweek Wayfarers and the Cheam and Morden on a Sunday but mainly the Beginners on a Saturday and the Downland Section on Sundays. I have been on cycling holidays with the CTC to Spain in the summer and also went to Spain for this New Year. I have also been to Majorca with a cycling group and will be going again this year. I ride my dear Claud Butler which I bought from St John Street Cycles who sent it through the post. The bike gets me from A to B and has been so reliable that I am loathe to try another.

So, with the help of the Beginners and other Sections I feel I have now 'graduated' from non-cyclist status to a fully fledged cyclist who cycles everywhere. I have now bought a cycle rack for my car which gives me further options. Car assisted rides can be quite an encouragement to new cyclists at the end of the day, worn out and saddle sore, they can hop into the car, drive the rest of the way home without suffering the tedium of knowing that they have Pebble Hill ahead of them. I have been grateful for the friendship and encouragement I have been given. Now I want to encourage more folk to take up cycling and enjoy themselves in the same way.

Picture of Angie Launder