South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of The Crew Family

Profile: The Crew Family - (May/Jun 2006)

The Cycling Crews

Anna, Terry and young Jonathan first enjoyed cycling as a family in 2003 when they followed the recommendations found in Sustrans Trailguide to Family Cycling for the Tissington Trail. This path is described as being traffic-free, with excellent cycle hire facilities, so they were able to enjoy safe cycling along the trail from Parsley Hay to Ashbourne with Jonathan, aged 5, safely seated in a hired rickshaw. They were pleased, on their return home, to be introduced to Carolyn Graham who told them how they could continue to enjoy cycling in South West London by joining the Saturday Beginners rides from Nonsuch Park. Anna says "The Saturday Rides have introduced us to safe local routes suitable for Jonathan and to suitable tea places which we would otherwise not get to know such as my favourite ride to Long Ditton for example".

These rides have helped Anna to become an experienced cyclist in a very short time. She had not had the benefit of growing up in a cycling family in her childhood home area of Lincoln and when she moved from the Lincolnshire countryside to Carshalton in the 70's, cycling was limited to shopping and riding to work locally on her newly purchased Raleigh shopper bicycle. The Beginners changed that.

Jonathan is now aged eight years and has progressed from stabilisers to ride his blue Raleigh 'Max' with skill. You can see Jonathan at speed in the Guardian newspaper photo of April 2005.

He recently obtained the Challenge Certificate for his local Beaver colony. He got this award for cycling 95 miles in 5 weeks and now looks forward to taking his Cycling Roadcraft training in two years time. The experiences of riding with the Beginners should help Jonathan pass easily.

What does he like most on the Saturday rides?: "I enjoy telling the leaders which route to take" and "I like the Oaks Park ride most - I like the mud"!

Terry's experience of commuting daily makes him the more experienced cyclist in the family. He rides the 13 mile journey from Hackbridge to Holborn in a fast 54 minutes or, in 1 hour and 20 minutes when conditions are not so good. This commuting has justified joining the London Cycling Campaign in addition to membership of CTC under the Household scheme. The two organisations give him contact with other commuting cyclists and advice from their magazines London Cyclist and Cycle which have helped him to develop good riding technique and mechanical knowledge.

Terry says, "I had to learn to be assertive on the road and show the right body language to motorists when I am riding through hazardous areas such as Parliament Square, Streatham, Brixton and the Elephant and Castle. Commuting by bike has benefited me in three areas. It saves me a lot of money, £72 each month on railway tickets for example. Secondly, it provides the exercise I need and avoids travel in unhealthy railway carriages. Thirdly, it gives me flexibility and freedom from keeping to timetables. Also, I have been encouraged to go out alone on longer rides such as the CTC route to Pagham which I did last summer".

The Beginners rides have given Terry further opportunities to be in touch with experienced riders who can give tips on cycle touring and on cycle mechanics (his attendance on one of the Cyclism maintenance classes has also been helpful).

Commuting wears down transmission systems fast and if he does the Lands End to John O'Groats Tour, a long-term ambition, the demands of the 1000 mile route will make that knowledge very useful!