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Fred Stevens (1916 - 2005)

On October 8th 2005 Croydon Section lost one of its earliest members, and President for 24 years, Fred Stevens.

Joining the CTC in 1948, Fred soon became a mainstay of the Section spending the rest of his days dedicated to its success. Many local BCTC heats took place under Fred's organisational skills and he never shied at riding through the obligatory fords when others chose to lose points by taking the bridge.

Scotland became a favourite touring ground in the early years with wife Jean, until in the late 1970s he was persuaded to join the ever increasing numbers visiting the annual Dieppe Raid each June. Here Fred became well known amongst the French riders, enjoying the randonnees, prize presentations and evening meals right up to this year's event.

Fred and Jean had previously received from CTC Councillor Colin Quemby the Club's Certificate of Merit. In 1994 Dieppe CC President awarded Fred a souvenir "Book of the Battle" to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D Day Landings, in which he had taken part.

Never a racing man, Fred was often present at local club dinners, time trials and hill climbs, and as a member of Rough Stuff Fellowship spent most Easters at their annual meet. With camera always to hand and an intimate knowledge of southern England's lanes many a new Section member has Fred to thank for their early CTC enjoyment.

For a man who was the Croydon CTC for over half a century, and never a car owner, it was fitting that several, among the large gathering, chose to arrive by cycle and pay their final respects at the funeral of Fred Stevens.

Pedalling Around Personalities by Andy Bebington

In August Liz and I hired a cottage in Dorset to be near our daughter's future in laws and (of course) we took our bikes. In July we had met a couple we'd not seen for over 37 years and learned that they were to be camper vanning in the same area at the same time, carrying their (mountain) bikes in the van. We'd arranged to meet and to go for a ride.

Dorchester is very much Thomas Hardy territory; I didn't know that it's also TE Lawrence territory, and that his cottage, and the church in which his funeral took place and the graveyard where he was buried, were within spitting distance of our cottage. As for Hardy, the place he was born and the home he built for his adult life were both within easy range.

If you head for the Tourist Information office in any town you'll be rewarded in our case it was by finding a "Hardy Trail" showing the sort of linking of lanes that we do week in, week out on our Sunday rides, and we found that we'd already used some of the Trail route in actually getting to the Information Office to find out where we might go great minds, etc, etc except that it wasn't hard to select a route on minor roads along a valley and not a shorter one over the hill or an even shorter one on the A road.

Thomas Hardy's birthplace is buried in the woods, up a bridle track, and was well worth the visit if only for the cottage garden in August, it was magnificent. We were concerned that the thatch on the front of the cottage had been renewed and looked good, but that the back was matted, unkempt and had moss growing on it. The walls and roof at the back looked damp, and this couldn't, we thought, be good for an old cottage. When we asked about this, as to why they spent money prettying up the front whilst at the back the poor condition of the thatch threatened the entire structure, we were told that because the moss was rare, it was preserved by English Nature so they couldn’t do anything about it! I wondered what English Heritage thought of the threat to the fabric of a listed building arising from a listed moss? Hardy's house is a wonderful museum, well worth planning your day with a view to spending some time there, we felt a bit rushed by our late arrival time. The gardens aren't anything special, and when we were there, there were workmen fixing some structural issues at the front their scaffolding made an ideal bike rack! And that, of course, is a major advantage of cycling round places like that, you never had to fight for a car parking space.

Lawrence, on the other hand, was hardly a "pillar of society" like Hardy, setting himself up as he did in a cottage which (to say the least) is idiosyncratic. The decor, the consruction itself, the furniture, the letters and books, all reflect someone who typifies the word "eccentric" you left with a feeling that here was evidence that Lawrence was in fact slightly, but not dangerously, mad. And when you go to visit Moreton church, where his funeral took place, spend some time looking at the windows the nearest equivalent I can think of is the windows in the little church at Tudeley which the Club Run visited earlier this year. The grave is tucked away in a corner of Moreton graveyard, and both are a cross country spin (on good hard forest tracks) from his cottage.

Our friends thoroughly enjoyed spinning through the woods, despite three (mandatory) punctures, but they found they couldn't keep up on the road... Dorchester a city well worth spending some time around, especially if you are literature minded, but we never did see the Cerne Abbas Giant!

Vive le Tour from Cycling World

British Cycling Legend Mick Ives is the first OAP to complete the Tour de France.

Cycling Legend Mick Ives has become the first pensioner to complete the punishing Tour de France route. Riding alone two days ahead of the big race itself, Mick actually completed the 3,608 km distance under par, in just 20 days, having ridden two of the stages in one day.

The 66 year old, who has won 50 British Championships more than one for every year he has competed, rode the Tour to raise money for Cancer Research UK, but it certainly wasn't an easy ride. Mick was in the saddle for an average of eight hours every day for nearly a month, he lost his way a number of times and was at one stage even reported missing to German police.

"It was tough, I rode stages 1 and 2 in the same day and by stage 5 I was riding in torrential rain. I spent ages looking at maps when I could have been riding and during stage 7 in Germany, my support vehicle made a wrong turning and we got separated. I battled on and arrived at my destination, but they were nowhere to be seen. After two hours in the pouring rain, I went into a police station, only to find I had been reported missing, I was greeted with "Are you Mick Ives the cyclist? We have all of Germany looking for you!""

By stage 14, the weather had picked up, and Mick was riding in temperatures over 100 degrees in the Gorge de l’Aude. "It was like riding into a furnace" he said. But Mick was determined, and managed to finish in Paris in time to see Lance Armstrong take his 7th title. Mick said: "The good news is, I made it and it was worth it, because I will have raised a lot of cash for Cancer Research. I would like to thank all of those who supported me and made it possible. But most importantly keep those donations coming in."

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