A ride leader’s lot is a very happy one, select a route, nice lanes, a few hills, meet friends, drink coffee, eat cake but once in a while it just goes completely pear shaped…
The planned ride was ‘The Flandrian‘, a hilly little beast and I had gleefully promised to deliver both joy and suffering depending upon how you look at it. Well, I left home at 7.45 as usual for my twiddle over the Mersey to Frodsham, however, at Halewood my peddle snapped clean off. Not wanting to let my clubmates down and deprive myself of a ride I had been looking forward to, I gave word to the rest of the ‘A’s (a bunch 11 x strong) to ride the route as planned and I would see them (hopefully) at Till’s caff to ride the return leg together.
Well after riding home uphill on 1 pedal, dragging the summer steed from the shed, switching gear from one bike to another, pumping tyres and changing kit after a malfunction I finally left home 45 minutes late and rode like the wind to Frodsham in 46 minutes… a new record… but still 20 minutes behind the bunch!!
Confident that I could pull back further time on the summer steed I pushed on, up Ridgeway then the Yeld to Utkinton and Tarporley, carefully following the planned route, even the extra little bit of Shady Oak bridge before beginning the assault of Harthill, blood running from my eyes in a superhuman effort to catch the bunch. I rolled into Bunbury after a 44 mile TT a hollow shell of a man but all was not in vain as my clubmates were outside the caff…
I must have caught them at the perfect time and my mind drifted to Cappuccino and Poached Eggs… Hold On… a gleeful call of ‘2 minutes’ and I realised they hadn’t arrived but were leaving!! Rather than ride the hills as planned the blighters after ascending the Yeld had followed the path of least resistance following the scent of coffee beans to Tilly’s. Hey Ho, I topped up my bottle and off we went, the bunch determined to have some of those hills.
speeds approaching 40mph … on the flat!!
We followed the lovely lanes through Peckforton and passed the Bickerton Poacher and readied ourselves for the Harthill reverse climb. At the summit, the madness began that would shape the return ride…..on fresh legs and stimulated by caffeine the bunch were like monsters and proceeded to smash it towards Tattenhall at speeds approaching 40mph (I’m talking on the flat!!), Aidan Warder, Smasher Gary Hartley and Dave Wetherall always near the fore, (me always near the rear supposedly to marshall the bunch but I was hurting)
Some semblance of sanity was restored in Tattenhall but it was just a pause and the pace quickened again through Huxley and Clotton, Baz James determined to keep the tempo high, trying to dull our legs for the Willington Climb, I wondered????? However, lo and behold Baz was on an early home strategy and swerved the second climb of the return leg, Willington Corner.
What next – Yeld reverse of course!!
It was twiddled by most but Aidan, Nathan Morgan-Astle and Kevin Sales were climbing strongly. What next – Yeld reverse of course!! then on to Dark Ark Lane which we all hate, especially Gary Hartley who suffered a mechanical and proceeded to give his bike a damn good verbal thrashing. My tank was empty by this stage but determined to mete out some retaliatory punishment I demanded a New Pale Road reverse where an idiot presumably called Roy tried to scare us by seeing how close he could buzz us… (drives a Volvo).
Well after a nice relaxing Ridgeway descent the group knew they had got one over on me and felt duty bound to do a final Bellemonte ascent as penance. I had promised this if they were good… good they were not, in fact quite naughty and mischievous, so they exited right at the Netherton Arms, like a bunch of naughty schoolkids off to do their detention, but I’m sure I heard a snigger or two as we went our separate ways…..
For the record – see ‘Flyby’s‘ on Strava of this ride – they are priceless!! I nearly caught the bunch by Beeston… they headed for a cuppa… I headed for purgatory! 🙁 🙁
I’m off to Tuscany to sulk with clubmates James Male and Ryan Jackson… will keep in touch.