Saturday 13 April 2019
Ok, I know it is a Cycling Club, however anyone lucky enough to lead a ride in April will be blessed with a botanical bonanza which must not be ignored. I will describe the specimens as we relive the ride.
First, so many bikes outside Dikes I panicked – not enough lunch spaces booked. It was fine, most were only as Charlie names them “Clingons”. Caroline, Roger, Jenny, Mary and Keith were not lunching with us, off to do other exciting things….So for cycling company I had Richard, Dave M, Paul, Ron, David WM, Ben and Charlie with Peter and Nicky meeting us on the road.
Out through the Caundles my back marker Paul made a knowing comment – he told me the only rider behind him was the leader – I had made a premature left turn down a farm track, while discussing planning matters with Dave – reminder to self, if you are leading: concentrate!
Entertainment was provided as we travelled towards Glanvilles Wootton, with a succession of old MGs on a rally, roaring past us, the occupants all squashed into their tiny cockpits wearing fat leather and sheepskin hats and coats. They needed them, it was a cold east wind blowing us along, a tailwind we noted.
Just before Hermitage and the A352 junction, there outside the bus shelter two familiar bicycles, Peter and Nicky ready to join us. Once a cross the road the nature study lesson was about to begin. By now all the usual suspects for April had been spotted frequently: primroses in clumps, scattered celandines, bountiful bluebells as well as greening hedgerows and blackthorn blossom. As we approached Chetnole I was prepared, I knew from previous spring rides that the pyramidal purple orchids might be out on a bank near the village boundary, yes not disappointed, photographed and admired, I then had to catch up my group. Only to be distracted by wood anemones and even violets!
Once I found my cyclists we carried on through Hamlet, onto the outskirts of Ryme, thence to Hamish’s. Excellent all day breakfasts, soup and egg dishes consumed, Richard of course had pudding with custard…While we were there such a lovely surprise, Mike Phillips had ridden out to meet us, a delight to see him on his bike looking great. After lunch the depleted group set off east, into the headwind. I had thought of diverting through Leigh, in my unfit condition, to avoid the drag and sharp hill onto Bailey Ridge. No my friend Charlie said “It is only a hill, think of your fitness and the benefit…..” so I struggled up, hoping he will be right. Next my plan was to return via the lanes towards Folke to see swathes of bluebells in the woods, luckily not vetoed by fellow riders, however very few bluebells out yet, only banks of wild garlic leaves instead. Over through Alweston lanes, right up the hill towards Stourton Caundle, with more wood anemones and violets we arrived back at Stalbridge. When I reached home it was 45 miles, enough on a cold slightly sunny day. Thanks to those who came, and remember, look out for orchids on your next ride!