Weekend Ride – Child Okeford to Sturminster Marshall

Saturday 23 February 2019

Fifteen riders assembled at the Gold Hill café in Child Okeford for the ride to Sturminster Marshall.  Lorraine had just come for coffee so fourteen set off through Okeford Fitzpaine. Ascending the foothills of Okeford Hill Roger developed a loose crank (blame the bike builder?) so he and Jill turned back. The remainder kindly waited for me in the mist at the top as I pushed my bike up the steep bits. Keith turned back at this point. Ron and his son-in-law turned off in Turnworth towards Bulbarrow (was there cycling on TV?), and shortly afterwards Ed left us in Winterbourne Stickland.  So seven and a half miles and I had already lost six riders.  As the sunshine broke through the remaining eight enjoyed the downhill ride following the Winterbourne valley to Red Post. Crossing the A31 the route circled through lanes to Morden. Circumnavigating the Drax estate brought us back to the A31 where heavy traffic delayed our crossing. Then it was a short level ride to The Red Lion where the landlord had set a private table for us in the dining room.  There we found Roger and Jill who had found the right sized Allen key in the railway workshops in Shillingstone and then taken a shorter route via the trailway – an elaborate way of avoiding Okeford Hill.  Also waiting for us was Caroline who was playing her usual tag-team match with Ken. The service was excellent, with our drinks order being taken at the table, and the food was delicious. A good venue for future visits. Ken left in the car and the augmented ten then followed the Stour cycle route until branching off up the Tarrant valley.  We made good time until Stubhampton where we started the long drag up to the ridge. Once again the leader became the back marker.  Descending the hill to Iwerne Minster Mary had to use her brakes (a rare occurrence) as she was being held up by two cars who would not let her overtake.  Shortly afterwards Caroline and Mary turned for home, soon followed by Charlie, Roger, Jill, Dave, Mike A and Ben, leaving myself and David W-M to complete the ride.  My thanks to Mary for acting as back marker.

An enjoyable ride in perfect weather with no punctures – on England’s defeat by Wales marred the day.

Paul Nicholson

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