South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of David Vines

Profile: David Vines - (Mar/Apr 2002)

I became interested in cycling at an early age after hearing my grandparents anecdotes of their tandeming exploits in the 1930's and 40's - stories that stick vividly in my mind. Stories of riding all night to and from Barnstaple in North Devon from Carshalton, (with the dog in the side-car), and riding to Lewes Crown Court as witnesses to a car accident and the subsequent picking of blackberries on a late night ride home culminating in an early hours of the morning vigil over the Rayburn coal stove to witness the cooking of the inevitable blackberry suet pudding.

My grandparents didn't ride with the CTC, but rode together with my grandfather's sister and her husband on their tandem. They were I believe members of the National Cyclists Union and I still have my great-aunt Doris's enamelled NCU lapel badge.

My first contact with the SW London DA came when I saw in around 1985 an advertisement in a local paper for a National Bike Week ride organised by our very own Shirley Quemby. It was a Sunday ride with elevenses at Headley and lunch at Brockham. A helpful person on that ride was John Knox who would pick me up from my house and accompany me to elevenses with the Family (now Downland) Section. So with John's help, as a youngster in my mid-teens, I got to know my way around the Surrey countryside.

In school holidays I was able to sample the delights of riding on Wednesdays with the Midweek Wayfarers. While I am now only able to make the Wednesday rides very occasionally, it is possible that I may qualify for the title of 'the Midweek's youngest and longest serving member' (Any other contenders for this title? Ed). I often think that I entered the DA at the time of the 'end of the old and beginning of the new' for I can remember some very well-known DA characters of this era - Alf and Mary Lawrence, Syd Richardson, Bill Price, Harold Wares, Alan Hutchins, Don Corke and many others.

I have very fond memories of Saturday Section Rides, with Harold Wares, who always amazed me that he could lead rides into the hilliest parts of Kent and yet always rode a Sturmey hub gear, Don Corke as many people probably remember used to edit and produce the Sou'Wester, when it was a much weightier tome. For many years I used to write the Family Section reports.

It was a period well remembered also for its tea venues - the Headley Forge Tea Rooms (still remembered by my grandmother from her cycling days) - the Firs at Leigh, Cobbles at Bletchingley, the original wooden Barn Tea Rooms at Newlands Corner, the opening and closing of Pampas at Send and the Patio tea rooms behind Dorking High Street. Sadly all are gone but not forgotten.

I still look back at the time I rode with the Family Section as golden years - weekends in Boulogne and Dieppe organised by Rita and Maurice Wilkins, the St Lo Cider meet and Cirencester weekend at the Royal Agricultural College being very happy times which I will remember for the rest of my life.

In recent years my study and work commitments and the attraction of an alternative hobby - Ballroom and Latin Dancing - have reduced the time for leisure cycling to occasional rides with the Cheam and Morden Section. I always enjoy these but enjoy less my daily commuting to London. I started to commute in 1989 when I won a place at Kings College to read Biochemistry. After graduating I worked for a firm of scientific publishers in Holborn then gained a place at St Georges Hospital Medical School to conduct research leading to a PhD in Biochemistry in 1997, followed by a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in Thrombosis, located in Chelsea, ending with my present work, a Structural Biology Fellowship at University College London's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

(With such an impressive list of achievements we now understand the insistent demands heard from David on C&M rides that we should address him correctly.... "Dr Vines - if you please!" Ed).