South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Pat Matthews

Profile: Pat Matthews - (Sep/Oct 2006)

I was born in Hook, Surrey in 1938 and have lived in Tolworth since 1967.

My first job was at Sainsbury, when you had to cut the cheese with a wire, but after a year I got a job at the Milk Marketing Board at Thames Ditton. I trained as a comptometer operator (no computers then!).

In 1956 a workmate and I decided to spend a week cycling in the West Country, staying at youth hostels. I had a Sun bike, with a Sturmey Archer hub gear, which I used for work.

Next year I did it on my own. In 1958 I received some information from Epsom & Ewell YHA Group with my renewal forms and I joined them. I'd also joined the CTC in 1956 so I rode with them from 1958 also. It was at this time that I bought myself a Dawes Windrush.

Both Epsom & Ewell groups eventually folded and I joined West London YHA Group who met near Hammersmith. I represented cycling members for a while and met my husband, Harold, there. We married in 1967 and our two sons were born in 1972 and 1974. There wasn't much cycling when the boys got too big for the sidecar and kiddie seats but we did some walking and hostelling with them.

Eventually I got onto the CTC and they put me in touch with the Family Section of S.W. London DA. I rode with them for many years but now ride with the Midweek Wayfarers.

I've owned a Holdsworth cycle. I bought the frame and built it up myself. This was followed by a handbuilt Emperor which I also built up myself. My current cycle is a Dawes Super Galaxy with which I have been pleased and have been riding for some years now.

I joined the Rough Stuff Fellowship in April 1961 and was touring Wales during the 1960's when I met three cyclists on a track, going in the opposite direction. We exchanged a few words and then, a few days later, the same thing happened. One of them took a photo and sent me a copy. He also said that I may enjoy going to the RSF's Easter Meet some time. This gentleman turned out to be Albert Winstanley. I did go to the next Easter Meet and to several others. Albert and I became good friends and I've enjoyed several tours with him, including Norway and Spain, with two other RSF friends. We still keep in touch and Albert still rides, at the age of 90, using a Brompton.

I hadn't flown nor gone too far afield 'til 1989 when I went to Nepal on a CTC tour. However, the tour was altered 2½ weeks before we were due to go and we would have been in the Katmandu area most of the time. I arranged, with tour leader, Tom Race, to go off on my own for 5 days and visited Pokhara.

Other CTC tours took me to Madagascar, Crete, Bhutan, Taiwan, Morocco, Ukraine, Costa Rica, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Chile and Europe including Calais to Constanta.

When the Mileage Shield was reintroduced as a DA Award in 1989 I just happened to have done the highest mileage for a female rider. I was bitten by a dog in March 2005, requiring a skin graft. I was off the bike for a while and took to going out on Friday mornings later in the year. I have since developed aching joints so I no longer lead rides.

I have been to the York Rally and the Home Counties Rallies in the past and have done seven CTC 100 mile Triennial Veterans Rides.

I have dragged my loaded bike over many rough tracks on my own and slept in bothies and sheds en route. You may have seen my photos taken on these tours which have been entered for the DA Photographic Competition over the years.

I rode the End to End in 1990, via Cape Wrath, alone and staying in hostels. I took 15 days and averaged 83.3 miles per day.

I enjoy the companionship of riding with the Wayfarers and find that most cyclists are easy to get on with, but those who do annoy me are the ones who behave badly on the roads and get us all a bad name.

Bill and I met in the Family Section and have now been married for over 9 years. Time flies!

Postscript In the Rangers' Offices at Horton Country Park at close of duty at 11 pm one Sunday evening in March/April 2001 one Ranger commented, "I keep on seeing this lady going round the Park on a bicycle in the dark. It's very curious. What is she doing at this time of the night?" I guessed whom this may have been and described Pat Matthews and her bicycle. "Yes that's the lady. You must know her. What is she up to?" I explained that this lady had a target of miles to achieve every week so she was circling the Park to get in the extra miles! Editor and ex-Parks Ranger, Clive Oxx.