It was my first venture into leading a cat 3 and I was feeling a bit nervous. The main advantage of leading is the chance to direct the pace, especially as I was still a bit under the weather from the previous day's race.
We started from Hertford and went out via Datchworth, Walkern, Gravely, Hitchin, Ickleford and then shot up the A600 to Henlow and Southill. Other cycle groups were at the cafe, but we had a table reserved and we soon made ourselves comfortable.
Lots of people must have been otherwise engaged on Bank Holiday duties (or they didn’t fancy the ride) as only 7 assembled for the run to Church Farm, Ardeley. Sunny, and warm enough for shorts, but still with a strong wind.
Nine riders left on a 60m ride to Blackmore via Epping, Passingford Bridge and Kelvedon Hatch. The sunny cool and not too windy conditions made for a good pace, and after tea and cakes we left to return by the Norton Heath, Fyfield and Sheering route. No punctures or mechanicals made a good days cycling.
The glorious sunshine and light breeze accompanied the 13 riders throughout. Many exposed their lallies for the first time this year. The weather demanded a salade nicoise, drizzled with olive oil and washed down with a crisp pinot grigio. At the Mocha Cafe this was off the menu, so most riders opted for the nearest alternative, bacon sandwich on white bread with a mug of tea. Welcome to Peter and Rhys on their first rides with the club. No hindrances over 35 miles.
Fortunately clued up members John Farnham and Mike East pointed out to your doolally ride leader that the proposed café destination (Vanstone Garden Centre at Codicote) would be closed because of the Sunday Trading Act 1994, which precludes large shops with a floor area greater than 3,000sq ft from opening on Easter Sunday. Therefore Captain Bob hastily checked out Emily’s at Whitwell (which has a floor area more like 300sq ft!) and we went there instead because they were open.
Having braved the rather windy F6 time trial course, a few of us left Cole Green in search of Wandon End Golf Club, hoping that the category 6 mob had not eaten all the cakes. Luckily they hadn't and we joined them outside in the sun. The return was mostly into the wind, but broken up by a twisty lanes route. No mechanicals and, more surprisingly, no punctures, since some were on skinny racing tyres!
When you know that it's very windy, it’s a good idea to do a ride where you get the headwind out of the way on the out journey, but when the ride’s already been advertised and the café booked, you just have to bite the bullet and do the ride.
When the weather is like Sunday's and the ride still goes ahead, it is tempting for ride leaders to target in their report those who, after looking out the window, choose their quilt ahead of donning lycra. This is, of course, a very puerile and smug thing to do. Readers of this report can therefore feel assured that Sunday's lily-livered, fair-weather, lie-a-bed, lightweight snowflakes are safe from such abuse. Just wanted to make that clear!
Ten Wheelers embarked for a circuitous route to Something Lovely at Puckeridge on a dry but windy last Sunday in February. Progress out via Babbs Green was temporarily halted because of an early puncture, where we were passed by Mark T' s group chuffing up the hill towards Bakers End. The usual ribald comments were exchanged.
Brrr, my Garmin shows the temperature for the first half of this ride as -1°C but after the café stop it warmed up - to 0°C! There were times when the east wind hitting our faces made it feel much worse. We could have been in bed - what were we thinking going on a bike ride on a day like this?
Dealing with life's difficulties can be tough going; I am still coming to terms with Only Connect moving from a Monday to a Friday. The current catastrophe is the the Great Lettuce Shortage. I suspect it was the underlying cause of category 6 numbers jumping from 5 or fewer in January to 14 this week. Cycling can help put great challenges into perspective, or at least take your mind off the impending doom of an iceberg famine.
Due to the low turnout of only 3 members, we decided to huddle together with Gareth's Cat 3 group of 5 to keep warm on a very cold day and went with them to Thremhall Park, instead of Hatfield Heath.
Category 6 led by Mike East
Minus 3 degrees at 9.30 and not much warmer thereafter. Beyond Codicote the decision was made to give the Chilterns peak at Wandon End a miss and seek solace, warmth and sustenance in the base camp at Emily's, Whitwell. A pacy ride back got us to Hertford before 1 pm. Four riders, 30 miles.
Seven Wheelers, including those who turned up expecting a Cat 3, set off from Allenburys at the advertised 09.30, wondering where Barry was. Up the old A10 to High Cross, brushing aside the ascent of the hill to High Cross as if it wasn’t there, the peleton then turned into a particularly muddy Marshall’s Lane and headed for Sacombe Green, Dane End and Great Munden. Captain Bob did offer the option of taking the route via Haultwick, but there was no enthusiasm for this, so via Great Munden Church it was.