Honiton Spinners 2023 AGM

The Heathfield Inn, Honiton Thursday 9th November 7pm

Chair’s Report

Tony summarised the various events of the year, including the bike maintenance course in January provided by Gary at Ciclo, weekend and evening rides, plus numerous audaxes and sportives. The impact of the weather was a consistent theme, whether too hot, too cold or too windy. Despite this, the club enjoyed a photo shoot in April with Chris Grady Photography, the first Women-only ride, the BBQ organised by Kev Goss and hosted by Steve and Heather Carpenter and a club trip to Italy. The club also supported charities, including the ride for Motor Neurone Disease ride, the Nello for cancer group Force,  and the ride to support the Yeovil Hospital Breast Cancer unit  appeal.

Tony, as Chair, thanked members of the club for all their various contributions, from leading rides, to website development and committee functions. He also thanked  members for their understanding of his personal situation this year, making the point that Honiton Spinners is about all members contributing to what is a brilliant club. There are, he concluded, plans to move the club forward in 2024, plus a pub lunch trip before the end of this year.

The existing committee was dissolved, with thanks going to Lin Grady, who stepped down from the role of Vice Chair.

The new committee was unopposed and now stands as

  • Chair – Tony Peek
  • Vice Chair – Claire Barrow
  • Treasurer – Hannah Dingle
  • Secretary – Jennie Sleeman
  • Website, social media – Roger Saunders, John Burgess
  • Lin Grady
  • Richard Harvey

Treasurer’s Report

Hannah Dingle, having succeeded Ben Greenland as Treasurer, provided particulars of the income, expenditure and funds over the last four years.

Income and expenditure account for the year ended 31st July 2023:

  • Income (membership fees) – £635
  • Expenditure (affiliations, website, trophies and events) – £964
  • Funds carried forward – £2,058

For further details, please contact Hannah.

Italian Holiday Report

John Burgess identified some of the many highlights of the enjoyable club trip. Please see the full report on the club website here.


John then entertained members with a club-focussed quiz, with Strava data, photos of popular ride locations, a map and disguised images of club riders.

After all that excitement and activity, everyone was ready to tuck into the buffet provided by the Heathfield Inn.


The much-anticipated awarding of the trophies concluded the excellent evening.

Tony introduced each category and gave reasons for the choices.

  • KOM (King of members) – Dustin Riley
  • QOM (Queen of Members) – Liz Polley
  • Huff + Puff – Jennie Sleeman
  • Annual Achievement Award (special trophy for 2023) – Craig Boyde
  • Members’ member – Kevin Goss

Ride to 4 National Trust sites in Somerset

Roger Saunders having been inspired by a conversation in Payhembury Provisions devised a route across south Somerset to visit four National Trust houses and gardens and a select group of John Burgess and Sue Jones joined him to enjoy the Somerset lanes as a mid-week social ride. It was 37 miles in total on mainly quiet roads and happily no big hills.

Starting the ride from the free car park at Barrington Court the first destination was Montecute House at 9 miles with a ride through the village of Montecute with picturesque brown stoned houses to reach the entrance. It is an impressive mansion and John informed us this was where Sense and Sensibility was filmed. It was then a short 3 mile ride to Tintinhull Gardens which happened to be closed but all we needed was the entrance sign for a photo.

We then set out to Lytes Carey Manor at 21 miles into the ride which had lovely gardens and topiary and chimneys. This was a good place to have lunch being just over half way and Sue was in need of sustenance by then. The NT staff were keen to get John and Roger’s cards scanned even though we were nominally only visiting the café. More visitors helps them fund the site apparently.

After being fuelled up we then set out on the return leg to Barrington Court via Somerton. John and Sue kept recognising part of this leg being the Spinners Glastonbury ride. Sadly we experienced the 10% rain forecast from the Met Office cycling through Somerton but it soon dried up again. Almost inevitably one lane on this leg was signed ‘closed’ though we managed to squeeze past the road works. On reaching the final destination at Barrington Court we celebrated with a well earned cup of Tea! It was agreed to repeat the ride next year to allow more riders to enjoy the route.

Yeovil Hospital Charity Ride Sept 10th 2023

Start of the ride

All was set: the sun had been shining all week, the detailed route description and maps were downloaded onto various devices, transport to the start was organised. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot it seems.

Before she left home, Lin discovered a puncture, which was swiftly fixed by Chris when they met in Honiton. Problem one solved. Liz arrived at the start on time, despite having cycled 27 hilly miles from Axminster, and all riders moved towards the start line when a deluge sent everyone rushing for shelter under trees. The sun reappeared after about 3 miles, so raincoats were removed. Problem 2 solved.

All three routes followed the same road until the first route split after 2 miles, with John leading the Spinners. At this point, Lin and Chris abandoned the Spinners and followed the shorter routes, but after several frantic phone calls re-joined the Spinners. Problem 3 solved.

The route was beautiful: Iain Crabtree had obviously chosen a route through the prettiest villages in Somerset and then selected lovely settings for the three food stops. At the first, in an orchard, Jennie ate the best walnut cake ever and Sue decided to check that the cider was good: it was.

Tubeless tyres are the best. Until they aren’t as Liz discovered. Ten miles in, near Ilminster, Liz had a puncture. Again, Chris came to the rescue. Although the other four riders set off without them, Liz and Chris rode at a great pace to re-join the group at the first food stop. Problem 4 solved.

All was well and we settled into an easy spin, although we were joined by Graham, the ‘sweep wagon’ (a man on an electric bike) at Long Sutton, who patiently followed us all the way home, even posing for photos with us and pointing out the last thatched windmill in the country.

Following a route in reverse can be disconcerting as we found when, between Low Ham and High Ham (yes, the names are a clue) we suddenly and unexpectedly faced the steepest climb of the ride.

The next challenge was ‘the worst farm in Somerset’, according to Graham: imagine the combination of mud, slurry and rainwater about 3 cm deep. The bikes were so clogged up with muck that John suddenly shot off the road into a hedge, leaving only a rear wheel on view. No lasting damage was done. Problem 5 sorted.

After 65.5 miles – with a bit more for Lin and Chris – we arrived at the Finish, only to find that the BBQ and refreshments had been packed away and the raffle draw was underway. Luckily, Liz had her own supply of flapjack to fuel her journey home, which totalled a staggering 110 miles!

It was a great day out with lovely, friendly company in a beautiful part of the country, with the added bonus of supporting a worthy charity appeal for the new breast cancer unit at Yeovil Hospital. Thanks go to Iain Crabtree and his vast support team for organising a wonderful event.

Spinners BBQ

Good to see so many at the Spinners Summer BBQ at Steve Carpenter’s in Broadhembury on Sunday 20 August. Thanks to Steve for hosting and Jennie and Kevin for helping out with the food and the weather for staying dry at least during the BBQ.

Craig’s latest Audax

I wouldn’t say my latest attempt at a 300km audax was a disaster, I did after all make it back to Warmley station under my own steam (no pun intended).

The fact I took on one that was packed with Wills Hills after back to back weekends riding the same distance may have been enough keep the odds of success on a knife edge, but add to that a few navigation issues mostly at roundabouts that seem to confuse RWGPS navigation (and the rider), I caught a delayed Sandbanks ferry (about 40mins wait) to let a tanker out the harbour then swiftly followed by a deluge of rain that didn’t really let up for the next 3-4 hours!

Before I conclude some highlights were meeting Peter Corfe, Kevin Daffey, Mark Harding, Phil Collard, Owen Wood at the start. The fact I actually rode down to Lulworth Cove from Bristol to begin within such a good time I find mind boggling (probably went a bit to hard TBH) and an ice cream that cost me £6 and not even a cone I find equally staggering!

The ferry crossing was enjoyable but so is any ferry especially crossing with bike as well. Plus I’m glad I chose to eat on Poole Quay as there was very little if no choice thereafter aside from the odd village pub and one shop.

In truth the ride down was fun but the ride back was far from it, the only highlight was riding another section of the Castlemaine trail I haven’t previously ridden. Aside from that it was a bleak, very rural, very very wet and a long slow slog all the way to Devizes.

The only shop I saw was in Sixpenny Hadley, my ever sinking mood was compounded by a slow puncture I found at Fovant and the only saving grace was it had finally stopped raining, it was still daylight (just) and I had the luxury of a village social club patio to fix on.

The final blow came when I arrived at Ginny’s cafe and they were closed and it dawned on me I was already out of time only 2 hours through the struggle and that I’d miss already the cut of times for the last 2 controls as being 10:30pm and 12:30pm whereas they were in fact 20:30 and 22:30 (bloody 24hr clock!)

Although I was ready to throw in the towel and head to Warminster Station I was it seemed so close to Moonrakers in Devizes that it felt daft quitting just yet. Little did I know that getting there meant traversing Salisbury Plain, yet another long drag after several others on the ride north from Poole.

At 12:30am I found Moonrakers, closed as it was gone midnight and without yes-was-here to mark the occasion selfie or bike photo I slipped away a 24hr gangtok find food, then ditched the navigation in favour of following the road signs to make B-line back to Bath.

Crossing Bath City centre at 2:30am in the morning was an experience in itself although it compared little in comparison to the ordeal I’d just been through and I was soon back on the Bath to Bristol cycle path and rolled into Warmley Station at about 3am in the morning.

My B&B was only 10 mins down the road and after all the rain, mud and muck, the debris and floods in got out of my damp kit and in the shower looking as black as if I’d been down a coal mine that day!

So disaster no, bad luck yes. The conditions we endured on the Sunseekers and Moonrakers yesterday was enough to break the most audacious and strongest of riders. The fact I got round and back without quitting was a victory in itself.

Four Spinners take on Tuscany Terrain

John Burgess, Sue Jones. Lin Grady and Roger Saunders flew to Pisa to cycle from Pisa to Florence in 5 days. Mike Bowring was due to join them but unfortunately fell ill the week before and had to withdraw. Mountain bikes were provided by Saddle Skeddadle at the start which weighed a ton compared to the road bikes back home but Roger was pleased as they had straight handlebars and no cleats.

Day 1. Pisa to Lucca. After the mandatory starting photo with the leaning tower in the background the route led out of Pisa and along the side of an old roman aqueduct. One hairpin hill was encountered, but thankfully not Alp d’Huez. The ride into Lucca was by the river Serchio and then up around the city on top of the city wall. We just managed to reach our B&B before thundery weather arrived with a downpour. Impressive mammatus clouds were spotted in the sky. It was only 28 miles so some time was had to walk round Lucca, which is a gem of a city and less crowded than Pisa.

Day 2. Lucca to Montecarlo via Pinocchio writer’s town. This 26 mile leg had lots of climbing, but wonderful views. Boy was it hot with warm water in drinks bottles rapidly running out but luckily public fountains/taps came along and kept us going. The morning cafe stop was opposite a hideous looking church but it was just wonderful inside. After a stop to take in the stunning views of the Tuscan countryside Lin left her glasses on the wall. Four miles later on the other side of the hill she remembered and so Roger heroically cycled back to retrieve them. Beautiful Villas round every corner and then a sapping climb and fast descent to Collodi, a town associated with Pinocchio. Delicious pizza and cold beer revitalised the legs for another climb under the remorseless yellow disk in the sky up to Montecarlo, a hill top town. We were greeted with medieval looking soldiers with swords and a trebuchet as their festival was that evening allowing us to watch the procession.

Day 3 – Montecarlo to Montecatini. Only 15 miles but mama-mia one long hard climb up to Buggiano Castello that finished up on cobbles at over 20% so we all had to push the heavy touring bikes up. Thankfully John had taken his pills. A lovely stop for more iced drinks and ice cream saw morale fully restored and we went serenely on our way down a lovely twisting downhill section on the edge of Montecatini. Saddle Skeddadle then threw a spanner in the works by routing us from a perfectly good flat road up a short gripping 20%. Seeing Roger collapsed over the bars at the top was not a good sign. Then hotel, food, shower and up the funicular to Montecatini Alta, and more drink, ice cream, food and fantastic views.

Day 4 – Montecatini to Vinci. 16 miles today, with no hills, to Leonardo’s town. With the relentless heat up to 36 degC in the afternoon we decided to arrive at lunchtime. This allowed time to visit the museum on Leonardo’s paintings and undertake some bridge building. More lovely views from the castle area above the town.

At the top of the long hill before Florence.

Day 5 – Vinci to Florence. Weset off from the Mona Lisa Hotel with 26 miles ahead of us and were soon at the start of a long hill, over 4 miles, but no severe gradients, just lots of bends. This was followed by a lovely long descent which we interrupted with a café stop. Another kick up after a few miles, and then some pleasant riding alongside the river Arno which seemed to have the world’s longest street market. After reaching the centre of Florence we had a celebratory lunch, and then across the river to journey’s end at the Classic Hotel.

The whole journey was enjoyed by all with good food and drink every day and the accommodation chosen by Saddle Skeddadle was of a high standard. Being able to enjoy the Tuscan countryside on a bike is definitely the way to do it.

Our final destination.

Spinners First Women-only ride

The first Spinners women-only ride took place on Saturday 10th June.

Nine riders, including Spinners Lin Grady, Sue Jones, Claire Barrow, Liz Polley and Jennie Sleeman met at the old A30 lay-by, with the first rain clouds for weeks gathering overhead. The 17 mile route took them through Escot Park and Cadhay Park, along Devon lanes and finished just as the drizzle started, though that did not stop the chat and cake at the end!

The idea came, way back in the cold, wet winter, from conversations Tony Peek had had with women who wanted to start riding again, but who could not join the club on Tuesday evenings. The aim was to encourage women to ride in a friendly, undemanding group which would support riders of all abilities and levels of confidence. There was encouraging interest and, although many could not make the date chosen for the first ride, several wished to be included in future rides. Hopefully, this will be the first of many over the summer. It was another enjoyable morning on the bike!

John Burgess popped along to the start to take photos and offer advice, which was not needed!

Spinners Support Motor Neurone Disease Charity Ride

In the warm sunshine on Thursday 8th June, six Honiton Spinners joined three cyclists on the final leg (Combe Raleigh to Budleigh Salterton) of their 100 mile ride in aid of Motor Neurone Disease, in memory of Duncan Wardle. The group of Spinners contributed towards the £6,709 raised so far.

A year on from Duncan’s death from MND, friends Tim Frazer, John Kirby and Alan Ranger, cycled over the hills of Somerset and Devon to raise money for the charity, calling at places that were special to Jill and Duncan. The riders started in Bath, then crossed the Mendips and the Polden Hills, ending Day 1 at Fivehead, where Jill and Duncan lived for 27 years.  The pub hosted a very popular BBQ for the riders, friends and families. On Day 2, the riders went over the Blackdown Hills to Combe Raleigh, where Jill and Duncan moved to in 2020, and then onto Budleigh Salterton. Honiton Spinners John Burgess, Chris James, Kevin Goss, Liz Polley, Roger Saunders and Jennie Sleeman, joined the ride at Combe Raleigh, arriving in time for sandwiches and cake, which added to the enjoyment. After cycling along Honiton High Street, Spinners were surprised to turn down School Lane and then onto the Cullompton Road, before turning down a rough lane towards Weston. Despite attempts, the MND riders could not be persuaded to avoid the climb up and over Gittisham. The riders then followed the usual route to Otterton, along the river valley, but took a sudden left turn past the school in Otterton and, ignoring a ‘Road Closed’ sign, riders found themselves negotiating a tricky pathway before arriving in Budleigh in brilliant sunshine, to be met by Jill and the support crew. Spinners were delighted to be treated to cake, coffee and ice-cream. After several photos, Spinners headed back to Honiton, having had a very enjoyable afternoon.

Craig’s 200km Audax

Another weekend and another DIY audax, this one was only planned a few days ago. It was a ride I did in 2020, on that occasion I started in Abergavenny with the idea of riding the Epynt as I had never done it before, I added the Gospel pass as I’d not climbed that from the south either. A route was created and ridden in pouring rain.

Fast forward to this year and an extension was added to the route for it to qualify as a 200km audax and the start/finish location was moved down the Usk valley to Magor. The Efengyl and Epynt audax was born and ridden in glorious sunshine.

It was in my eyes anyway a huge success, a lot tougher than it looked on paper but I can look back and say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Knowing I had the hardest climb in the second half I soft tapped the pedals all the way up to Builth Wells, stopped at Morrisons in Abergavenny on the way up for a latte and sausage roll then slowly made my way up Gospel pass, so slow in fact I was passed by 2 walkers 3 times lol! They didn’t beat me to the top though. It was my 4th time up Gospel and the first time I actually got to see the view from the top, normally I’m in the clouds and there’s a gale blowing across the top.

Stopped in Hay for coffee and cake at Cafe Chameleon. Another interesting observation, every time I visit Hay on my bike it’s festival week.

Gospel and Hay done it was time for another easy spin along cycle route 8 up the Wye valley to Builth Wells, the lure of ice cream in the afternoon heat was to strong so a short pit stop was made at Erwood Station. At Builth Wells it was time to refuel before the real climbing began, ham and cheese toasties and apple Danish in Greggs just outside town did the trick.

It was at this point I thought it a good idea to check the Sennybridge ranges were open as the last thing I wanted as my reward for climbingthe Epynt was getting shot, (note to self) it’s probably a good idea to do this before you set the date for the audax.

The next section getting to the bottom of the Epynt was a rollercoaster, a potholed one at that and coupled with that I was now feeling nervous about what was to come, throw in a few loose sheep in the road. Once I got there it was a sharp left turn and the grind to the top began.

I relaxed by now which was a great help and it was very much a slow grind in bottom gear from the off, the start of the climb before the corner isn’t to bad it’s once your round that bend and you can see the whole climb rear up in front of you the hard work comes in.

I did far better than the first time, I didn’t stop until I got to the top cattle grid. I walked across to be safe but also stopped to check the MOD website again.

Although there was no red disc displayed at the bottom the guys at Sennybridge like to keep you on your toes by leaving the red flags flying!

I rode across the ranges with an earpiece in one ear that I use for navigation, while the other ear was alert to the sound of gunfire just in case. Eyes scanning the open landscape for any moving that wasn’t a sheep. To say I was relieved to stop at another Morrisons garage in Brecon is an understatement. It wasn’t exactly busy up there at 7pm on a Sunday evening, in fact aside from 2 local farmers I was the only one there.

Now the climbing was done I just had the long ride down the Usk valley left, my final stop was going to be back in Abergavenny but I stopped in Crickhowell instead, I needed to keep going as much as I could as it was getting late. Much of the route was relatively easy following the cycle route with a nice flat start along the Brecon canal. After Usk it got a bit more lumpy with the steep climb up to Celtic Manor as well and by then a lot colder too.

It was very cold and dark by the time I got back to Magor and my legs were in shreds after the effort I put in to climb the Epynt

Check out my ride on Strava: https://strava.app.link/HHneXlmRnAb

Craig’s New Forest Audax

Sundays New Forest day out audax. There were two to choose from, a 200km route or a 100km route, I chose the 100km and did 130km in total with an extra 30km loop through Milford on sea before the start as I was up and out early as the audax didn’t start in Lymington until 10am. I was staying with a friend near New Milton and they were also going out to join a ride from Ringwood.

The nice easy day wasn’t so easy to start with as we had a headwind all the way to the cafe control at Breamore House which was the furthest point but we couldn’t have wished for better weather. A busy day in the forest as you’d expect on a sunny day, lots of cyclists about not just us on the audax. It’s a popular spot, everyone from your club elites in their tightly packed groups to families out for a ride and a picnic. I had a brilliant day and absolutely loved every minute of it.