Three things learned on this category 6 ride:
1. It seemed to be "Drive a 4 Wheel Drive' day
2. Everyone in Sawbridgeworth has a living mother who needs fetching/ visiting by car on Mothers' Day
3. Local motorists have read about the possibility of introducing an offence for not giving cyclists sufficient clearance and are terrifying us while they still can.
The cat six put out their first eleven today and, unlike Manchester City who could only manage six substitutes, we made do with none. The ride was managed in such a professional way that the need for fresh legs never arose and we got through the whole game without any mishaps. I was expecting a much quieter ride today knowing that a certain Mr Santos was having a go at the TT but, like a bad penny, who should turn up but Phil the Power (of his vocal chords) Taylor. So much for the peaceful Sunday ride.
A melange of category 6 and 5 riders, plus those who are doubtful, conglomerated at Allenbury's. All set off together for Something Lovely. As Puckeridge is only about 7 miles as the old A10 flies, the group followed a loopy course via Bakers End and Levens Green to arrive bang on time at the cafe. The downstairs toddlers' room was booked, accommodating the 15 riders exactly. Staff confirmed this was a record number of children in that room. Food and service was excellent.
Our pre 'Christmas Lunch' appetiser ride drew 9 members out of their beds for a 9.00 am start from Ware, although not all of them were there to hone their appetites. A figure of 8 ride through Thundridge, Cold Christmas, Much Hadham, Westland Green, Wellpond Green, Standon, Puckeridge, Latchford, Barwick, Wareside back to Ware. 22 miles at 12.0 mph average. No points awarded for this meagre ride to avoid upsetting anybody.
I was mortified today to find out that I'd made a mistake when heading up last week's club ride report (*). Not only was I castigated by Tony DosS, but he was in the right!
Then Martin had a go, suggesting that the ride might end up 0.4 of a mile short:- tantamount to treason!
Cold and windy but sunny was the forecast and that was the way it turned out; the wind was certainly enough to test us all the way to the café stop, although the effort it required offset the cold somewhat. Eight hardy riders turned up with heavyweight gloves (“lobsters” much in evidence), winter shoes and bodies packed out of shape with layers of clothing matched, in many cases, by dark glasses to deal with the glare from the low and very bright sun (no heat though, just light).
Krampus, the devil of Christmas, must have had some spare time on his hands after "dealing with" children who have been naughty over the festive period. On Sunday he/ it seemed to be seeking retribution on the category 6 group departing, in the main, from Hertford - sharpening flints and turning thorns over for maximum puncture impact. There were 3 on this ride, one before we set off, one discovered on returning to our bikes after coffee, and the final one in Old Welwyn.
And so it came to pass: the time had come to lead my first Cat 3 Ride, and I duly turned up at 09.15 at Allenburys shortly followed by Gareth, and then waited and waited. This is when I thought “Goodness Gracious Me, This Might be a Challenging First Ride To Lead” (or words to that effect, not suitable to be written here). And then in a flash 4 others turned up. Phew!
A freezing frosty morning and the thought of icy roads meant only the bravest, hardest and best looking Wheelers bothered to show up for today's ride. The route to Theydon uses mainly larger roads which meant, luckily enough, no ice patches. Although it's a hilly route, the road surfaces are very good meaning our average speed was well up to cat 6 standards. The cafe stop took a bit longer than is usual for Belgique but it was quite busy and the food was great as usual.
Nine keen Wheelers assembled at Allenburys, most cursing the BBC Weather Forecast, which had given them false hope of a pleasant morning. It was cold, grey and bone-chillingly damp!
Out via Much Hadham, Little Hadham, Albury, Furneux Pelham and Braughing, the nine arrived late at Something Lovely largely because of miscalculation by the ride leader, Captain Bob.
Excellent refreshments and service as usual and time for a chat with a Watton Wheelers group who were already in there.
Just over a month from now members will be opening the cyclist’s alternative to socks - a gift of inner tubes. With a bit of luck you end up with the right size! Before that joyous occasion we have a month of build up, starting on Friday with opening the first window of our advent calendars. Expensive adult ones are apparently the latest craze. And I thought the days of advent calendars were numbered.
The previous week the group had arrived at the cafe in dribs and drabs, but formed a tight efficient peloton on the way home. This week it was the opposite as the group arrived en bloc at the Buntingford Cafe. After refreshments there were multiple options, longer, shorter or the designated route. No incidents, no reports of arrivals after dark. The main group rode 35 miles.