South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Margaret Croad

Profile: Margaret Croad - (Jan/Feb 2003)

I was born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire in the Cottage Hospital. They never got over the shock and have since turned it into a Tesco Supermarket! I left Hitchin as a baby in 1956 and after travelling around the country to the West Country and London came to live in Morden and it was here that I married my husband Ivor in 1964.

We now live in North Cheam where our two sons Raymond, 35, and Robert, 33, grew up. They are tall boys at 6 feet 4 inches who bring us joy in our lives as we all share a love of the outdoors and a life of travel and adventure. Since my early teens I have enjoyed the excitement of many sports - mountain walking and climbing, parachuting, scuba diving and cross country marathon running.

My introduction to cycling has been only recent however. I did not start in my childhood as most of you may have done, for my family was not able to afford the cost of a bicycle in those early days. It started in an unusual way. It started in a sauna! It was in the steamy atmosphere of the sauna at the Cheam Baths where I was speaking to a lady who told me she was going to cycle over to Nonsuch Park with her grandchildren. When I said that I would like to learn to ride, the lady whose name was Pauline told me about the Saturday CTC Beginners Rides and invited me to join her at the Nonsuch cafe start on Saturday at 2pm.

So I walked my bike up there and was introduced to Shirley and Colin Quemby who made me feel very welcome and offered to help me to make a start on learning to ride. Colin suggested that it would be less embarrassing if I learnt in the seclusion and safety of the slope near the farm and the sheds by the parking area. Colin helped me by holding my bike securely as I had my first wobble down the slope. This was an important moment in my start towards enjoyment of cycling during the last four years. I have kept a note of the date. It was 17th October, 1998; five weeks later I was awarded a Certificate for cycling 15 miles and had been told about the CTC.

Thank you Colin and Shirley and members of the Beginners. During the first months of learning I had to take care because I was recovering following a series of operations made necessary by an accident when I fell from a hang glider whilst holidaying in the French Alps. My family helped to encourage me in these first months of cycling activity when they bought me my Raleigh bike as a means to strengthen legs and spine damaged by the accident. In those early days I had a few tumbles, not surprisingly, but I never really hurt myself.

After two years I bought a new Scott mountain bike, and have progressed to riding with other Sections of the South West London DA. I have enjoyed rides with all Sections in addition to the Beginners: the Downland, Cheam and Morden and the Midweek Wayfarers. This has encouraged me to go on more ambitious rides, the London to Brighton and Southend Charity events and summer rides to the coast of 80 miles with Pat and Bill Matthews. Next year, I am looking forward to joining Norman Goody's French Tour in May and will be considering a holiday in August on the CTC Birthday Rides.

From this introduction in the sauna at Cheam Baths, I have discovered that cycling is a lot of fun. I appreciate the friends who have been good enough to wait for me as I trundle up the hills. Thank you everybody.


(Postscript from the Editor. Ivor deserves a separate profile. He cycled with the Norwood Paragon and for the RAF in the sixties and seventies, touring in Britain and Europe and time trialling (his claim to a best time for a 25 mile TT of 1 hour and 3 min is no mean achievement!.) The list of the bikes he owned is a list of the classics of that period. - Paris, Hetchins, Holdsworth Cyclone (for which he built his own wheels) all equipped with top quality parts and accessories. Today, asthma limits his riding but Ivor enjoys rides on his Gary Fisher MTB in the Surrey Hills which he combines with his special interest of bird watching.)