Blackmore Vale Cycling Club
Saturday 4 August 2018
Only the ride leader (Steve Way) and Mike Pain rode the whole distance, they were joined at Wellow by Dave, Jackie and Martin and met up with Richard’s alternative ride at Bitton Station
Lorraine joined me for a shorter version of the club ride. We parked in the free car park at Wellow, went to the café, then onto the Colliers Way cycle path. We stopped at the entrance to Combe Down tunnel (to switch on lights of course) where there was a blast of cold air coming out of the tunnel. After the 2 tunnels it was back to the heat but there was plenty of shade on the Bristol and Bath cycle route. At the Bristol end of the route we went down 2 quiet streets to picnic in the shade by the river Avon. Taking a picnic was a good choice as the only place we saw with food in the 9 km after Warmley was Morrison’s at Fishponds. At Bitton station café we met the club having lunch and we had our afternoon tea. Or return was the route in reverse.
Saturday 28 July 2018
No matter how early I arrive for a Saturday ride there always seems to be someone from BVCC there before me. This morning was no exception as Richard (odd socks) was sat on a platform bench seat outside the Station Cafe at an impressive hour of 9:40am with a huge smile to greet Charlie, Alan and myself. Following the bolt sliding back on the cafe door I counted 13 enthusiastic BVCC riders(Alan, Charlie, Mary, Ron, David, Jenny, Roger & Jill, Paul, Richard N. Richard P. & Robin) sat around the tables drinking mugs of tea and coffee ready for my planned ride to Corfe Castle. As is usually the case there was a shorter alternative ride that Richard N. had planned.
As we set off along the Trail way towards Durweston I had 4 other companions Mary, Charlie, David & Ron. Where was Alan? Ooops, I had not given Alan a briefing on the planned route, and he had set off in the wrong direction. Not a good start as a ride leader! Following a few minutes wait I managed to retrieve Alan and we set off again. The weather had certainly changed on the day compared to what we have grown used to over the last few months, avg. temp for the ride was only 16 deg. C and there was a strong south westerly breeze of 26 mph. We continued on our route over the footbridges following Stourpaine to Durweston , then on to Bryanston Shchool where David commented how good it was to cycle on some newly laid surfaces of tarmac! We continued over the weir at Blandford and on towards Sturminster Marshall. Soon afterwards I managed to loose 2 more of my companions Ron & Charlie, where they turned left at Keyneston Mill along NCN 253, towards Tarrant Keynestone & returned home (and then there were 4!). My route took us through Lychett Matravers and Hamworthy where my peloton had a brief pause due to the twin sail bridges opening in front of us. Traffic through Poole & the Sandbanks road was very busy, yet we just kept to the cycle way lane and managed to catch the Sandbanks Chain Ferry just as it arrived. We paid our one pound fare and enjoyed a very wind swept crossing to Shell Bay. As we made the crossing David pointed out the impressive Hotel on Brownsea Island , owned by John Lewis, where their staff get preferential holidays. We encountered what amounted to a sand storm on disembarking from the ferry into the south westerly head wind! On leaving Studland we enjoyed good views over Poole Harbour and surrounding National Nature Reserve. Oh no, not again, Alan decided to leave us at the Corfe Castle Junction with the A351 to make his own way back to Stalbridge, due to an evening commitment. Yet another member of my Peloton (and then there were 3!).
David, Mary and myself enjoyed lunch at the Greyhound Inn in Corfe overlooking the Castle, where I had previously booked a table. The food was good and was served in a very few minutes.
Our return home was via Hartland Moor Nature Reserve, Wareham, Bere Regis & the Winterbornes, it was a little less hard work as we enjoyed a following breeze on occasions. However, there was a sting in the tail due to encountering Okeford Hill towards the end of the ride and also manging to catch several rain showers.
Just a few stats to finish my report. Distance from Stalbridge: 83.1miles; Max bike speed: 40mph (we did have Mary with us after all!).
Saturday 21 July 2018
A good turn out at Hillbrush saw the staff stretched to their limits but by 10:40 everyone had finished their drinks and cakes and were ready to leave (without Jill and Roger who were expecting a hot sunny day)
The group followed me through Mere and round Motcombe (where Robin left us), across the A350 and up towards Pithouse, where those who had gone ahead of the leader to get a head start on the climb were nearly caught out when we turned right after the tennis club.
Along the Nadder Valley through Tisbury (Bye Ron) and past the wartime railway station. At the steep descent near Teffont Manor we lost a few riders who didn’t wait to see that we were turning left at the top of the hill through the pretty village of Teffont Evias. Right and right again in Teffont Magna gave us an easier climb to the crossroads where I thought we might meet the others struggling up the 16% slope from Dinton.
A recount revealed that we had lost Steve, Alan and Jim (riding ahead of the leader!), and that Tony had sent himself off after being reprimanded for dangerous overtaking with oncoming cars near Chicksgrove.
Everyone took the long climb at their own pace and we regrouped at the top before the long fast descent to the Wyle Valley.
There was already a collection of bikes at the café including some of our friends from 3Cs, and Jim and Alan!! They had found a route avoiding the 16% climb but involving a mile of cycling on the A303!
After lunch, and swapping Caroline for Ken, we rode along the beautiful but very dry Wyle valley, through Sutton Veny, where the flags are always out, and up the long drag to Maiden Bradley. The group got quite spread out at times, but wisely waited for the leader at every junction so no-one else was lost until it was time to split for home.
Thanks to all who came with me and I think everyone who made it to the café will agree that the Ginger Piggery is an excellent lunch stop catering for the vegans and the Gluten-frees as well as the bacon lovers.
Saturday 14 July 2018
As we were house sitting at Hartgrove Farm and the projected weather forecast was good I thought it would be a good idea to start my ride from there. So on another lovely sunny day 18 riders turned up at the farm for tea and cakes on the patio. The riders were myself, Ron, Charlie, Alan, Jim, Richard N, Tony, Mike P, Ken, Dave M, Ben, Peter, Nicky, Mike A, Roger, Ed, Robin and Lorraine. 10.45 and I still hadn’t managed to get everyone away from the cakes! Roger, Ed and Lorraine were all going straight back so 15 of us eventually set off down the hill towards Bedchester where we turned left and made our way through the quiet lanes to Melbury where there were a few moans about the steep inclines (there were more to come). Across the A350 and up to Melbury Abbas (the worst hill) and just Zig Zag hill to come! which is not as bad as it at first seems apart from the rough surface. The views at the top across Charlton Downs are spectacular especially on a clear sunny day which it was. More rumblings about the hills but then a lovely slight downhill run from Ashmore (where we lost Ben off the front, hope you got back ok Ben) to Farnham and all was forgotten. A meander through Minchington and Gussage St Andrew to the A354 which had a constant stream of traffic heading for the coast and made for a difficult crossing. All safely across and onto more nice quiet lanes through Gussage St Michael and Gussage All Saints and we were there at the Horton Inn a mere 18 miles but spot on time at 12.45. Caroline had arrived by car and was putting the front wheel in her bike ready for the second leg after lunch. We all ordered our food and drinks and sat outside in the lovely weather. Those who ordered sandwiches got them quickly but anything cooked took some time to arrive so consequently we didn’t get going again till 14.20. With Ken leaving us to find his way back for the Tennis and dogs we retraced our steps for about a mile before turning left. Jim decided he’d had enough and left for home and unbeknownst to me Robin followed instead of turning with the rest of the group. So Mike A chased after him to bring him back into the fold. Together again we carried on through Moor Critchel and Witchampton and some lovely lanes to Tarrant Rawston where we lost Robin again going left instead of right despite my shouting! Again Mike A had to give chase and bring him back. After that it was a straight run up the Tarrant Valley via the Tarrant villages Monkton, Hinton and Gunville a long hard climb but with the reward of a fast downhill into Iwerne Minster. From here Caroline headed home and the rest of us headed back to Hartgrove via Bedchester (another hill). 8 of us stopped at the farm to finish off the remains of the cake while the rest left for their various abodes. A round trip of 40 miles with great weather and no major incidents, thanks to all who came.
Saturday 7 July 2018
This is a two beer composition, a ride with no military association at all — no lost pilots carrying the fate of the world underneath their wings or logistical giants depositing tanks, barrels o’ beer, thermal underwear in unwanted and obscure locations (2000 pairs of military puttees in Minsk) —— cos, as usual with my rides, nobody wanted to go. There was only Charlie (barmy), Mary (she felt sorry for me) and Ben (who seemed to be off in front looking for something —- Key of Life? 43 innit? Come on you lot you’re ALL old enough to remember that!). As usual numerous Club members were gathered in the shade of a gazebo in the forecourt of Haynes Museum (Sparkford — for the benefit of Ken). There woz:- me ‘n Charlie
Nicky n Pete
Richard (Have to consult my bit of paper! Actually the menu of the pub that I had driven over to, to arrange “lunch for between 5 and 17 hungry cyclists”)
Phitt Phill — always so quiet and reserved. It’s a job to get a word out of him!
Alex — Noisy devil!
To give him his due, Richard had already said that the Blackdowns were a bit much for him. He was going to Barrington (modified to Kingsbury Episcopi —- that means anything to do with bishops – for the ignorant and uninformed peons). He, poor soul, set off alone and unaccompanied. Lorraine was straight back to Stalbridge, Ron had the Toor Der Frarnse to watch, Arthur disappeared, Nicky and Peter left cos they had a chicken “bad” (in serious need of medical attention and intensive nursing I’ve been told). That only left Me (I had to be there cos ov ritin’ this!), Mary, Ben, Phitt Phil n Alex.
I wanted to show you Dorset folk some of Western Somerset, but it’s difficult to get from about Ilchester to Ash/Tintinhull without riding the 303 or performing a big, mile-adding loop. So I took us via the top (eastern) end of Yeovilton and onto the dreaded Podimore Roundabout; it was “Air Day” with carparks everywhere and tetchy cars, who’s pilots had driven miles through sweaty traffic jams to get to the event — and didn’t want any trukk with a string of bloody cyclists. Ben tried to communicate with a number of them, using ancient signs and symbols, but they didn’t seem to understand (Perhaps it was a dialectic thing?). Anyway Phil and Alex left us here (cos we were too fast for them), so that it was only 4 diehards who made it around Podimore undamaged. Then, boringly (sorry) via the Langport road to the lefthand turn to Knowle. Through that pretty village (really pretty) and on, back of Long Sutton and Long Load (I believe that’s to do with old canals – now gone). Right by the church and over bum-breaker road to Muchelney (Big Island — as in Arthur’s day, pre drainage of levels). Back of Kingsbury Epis (the pub has the escutcheon of the ol’ Winged Wheels above its door). By-pass Kingsbury and Shepton Beauchamps on backroads (and they REALLY were).
This is really the start of the hills: everyone else said that the hills were nothing, but my little ol’ septuagenarian legs didn’t subscribe to that! Ilton and across the Taunton/Ilminster road to Broadway and Horton (don’t ask me which is which). Left at Five Dials and “up the back of Chard” to Coombe St Nicholas. I was dreading this climb, it seemed horrific when I pioneered it in the van. Anyway, not so bad! And then downhill (blessing!) to the edge of Coombe St Nick, left up a couple more knapps and then a pub, The Haymaker — What a wonderful sight. Several gallons of lemonade n lime (Ben drank beer, ok, but water too — yukk! ‘S for washing n making tea!) Sat in the garden, smashin’! Lunch was good too, except Ben’s which apparently had a dearth of “the staff of life” (easily sorted)
At this point you’re surprisingly close to Chard and we turned, after a short distance through Cuttiford Gap, across the Donyatt/Chard road and on to Knowle St Giles, Dinnington, Dowlish Wake (no stops for cider)Lopen (Snap Ant! —where does a name like that come from? I have asked around, nobody knows!). Overstratton and via BT Fibre developments to Norton (where Neil lived), Stoke, Montacute. We were gonna stop at The House for refreshments, but decided to brave the climb into Odcombe and head for Gooselade Farm Emporium.
Mary had had enough of the geriatrics at this point (I think it’s cos we dribble!) and took off for that hilly place where she lives, completing,I believe, 106 miles (Stickbubbly! — as they say in Scotland). We remaining 3 took on vast amounts of fluids and, after some time, pedalled off through Yetminster to Stalbridge; Ben left us at Yetminster. Charlie n I dragged our way home. I have to say that I was sooooo pleased to see my battered old plumber’s van!
I was a bit concerned that I’d bitten off more than I could chew with this ride, but I did want folk to see somewhere new. Riding from homes (various) it probably was a bit ambitious for we “Crumblies”, but to start from Sparkford or Langport such trips are definitely within range: we don’t ride “westerly” enough.
Thankyou to my three companions for your company, I hope it was worth it. Thanks to Charlie for getting we last two back to start —— Mickeydrippin
Saturday 30 June 2018
10 riders set off from Dikes car park in brilliant sunshine. Our route took us through Bagber and Lydlinch then on to Kings Stag and Hazelbury Bryan. Jill turned for home at this point. From here we took the road south via Ansty where Ron disappeared homeward. As the weather was so hot we decided to stop for lunch at the Rivers View pub in Cheselbourne a few miles short of our original destination. Paul chose this venue specifically, because we had stopped here on a very wet and cold day in March instead of carrying on to Moreton.
Today we all sat outside under a splendid seating area. While we were waiting for our food, Robin’s rear inner tube was changed – he had punctured in sight of the lunch spot. The route home was via Bullbarrow Hill, Okeford Fitzpaine, then 7 of us had a further CTC stop at Paul Nicholson’s pad at 3.30 – a welcome rest as the sun was still beating down. After this, we split up east of Marnhull, 2 turning left to Stalbridge and 4 towards Gillingham.
Thanks to David, Robin, Jackie, Martin, Mike A, Paul and Caroline/Ken for company on an enjoyable but very hot ride.
A distance of 42 miles for me and only Robin’s puncture worth mentioning.
PS, Lets Start Again
PS Let’s start again – On Friday, Ben (the planned ride leader) sent me an email stating that he would not be fit to lead cos he had been ill all week – he would however turn up at Dikes and show us his intended route to Tolpuddle.
So on Saturday morning in the brilliant sunshine – for the 10th consecutive day – 13 members arrived at Dikes café in Stalbridge. Mary was not present as she was fiddling at the Shaftesbury Fringe event. We forgave her as she managed to cover over 100 miles on Wednesday in the scorching heat. Mike P did not show up – he was probably riding 1500 miles up in Scotland or Ireland or Madagascar!
Indeed Ben was there with his map, Jackie, Martin, David, Mike A, Paul, one half of the Caroline/Ken act (see later), Robin, Jill, Roger, Ron and Ed. In the following 20 minutes, I had delegated David and Paul as joint leaders with Robin riding shotgun. The ride might have to be modified due to the heat of the day and the calibre of the remaining riders as :- the poorly Ben was going straight home as was Roger (too hot for skin exposure) as was Ed who had plenty to do as he is the big boss organising the Shaftesbury and Gillingham Show this year.
Off we go then, 10 of us riding into the hot sun with a following wind. A fast pace was set by David and Jill at the front, whizzing along via Bagber, Lydlinch, Kings Stag and Hazelbury Bryan. Jill decided to turn left for home as she tends to collapse at elevated temperatures – even though there was no shortage of volunteers in the group willing to administer the kiss of life if required. As we carried on, I realised that Robin was not sporting his many layers of upper attire. The only garment under his club jersey was his skin! He is obviously not afraid of the heat being a native of South Africa. I should have taken a photo.
We then carried on through Higher Anstey where Ron abandoned us, family commitments et al. That left 8 of us going up and down the hills through Melcombe Bingham, ending up just outside Cheselbourne where Robin decided to puncture. This must have been the first puncture since the last one – way back in February when Lorraine’s tyre went flat in Blandford.
We elected to stop at The Rivers Arms in Cheselbourne, a grand affair with split level seating and a large outdoor eating area complete with plastic roof, but open at four sides for ventilation. As we waited for our food, Robin’s inner tube was replaced. Now, a few words about the Caroline/Ken ride arrangement. Caroline rides the first leg to lunch while Ken drives the car to lunch and does the afternoon shift while Caroline drives home. This means that their dogs are not left at home for long periods. Ken however has a predilection of not being able to find the lunch stop. Last week in Weymouth he had to stop at Asda and ask the way to Morrisons! Today he was told to meet us at Rivers Arms at 12.30 but failed to show until after 1.00. But to be fair, he was smiling when he appeared – he is ALWAYS smiling. It’s great to have happy people in our club. But can I make a suggestion – Ken does the morning shift then Caroline drives to lunch and cycles home. Problem solved.
The only negative part of the lunch was that Robin, who is fairly slim at the best of times – became completely invisible to the young bar person. It took him a good 5 minutes to attract her attention. He really needs to raise his voice above a whisper from time to time besides yelling ‘Car Up’.
After waving Caroline goodbye, David led us back up to Bullbarrow Hill where Martin eventually took the obligatory group photo. Just outside Manston, Paul insisted we visit Chez Nicholson for further CTC (coffee, tea, cake) which we did. Plus an added extra of toasted teacakes! We look forward to being invited again.
Still homeward in unrelenting hot sunshine, we split up east of Marnhull to return to Stalbridge and the Gillingham area.
Here endeth the second report.
A Cycling Holiday Ride Report from the Lost Soul’s Perspective
Following on from Dave’s ride report of our holiday in Warwickshire, I thought it might be appropriate to present my side of the “Lost Soul Saga”.
First of all, I should say that I have had quite a lot of experience of dealing with the Army during my 30 odd years in the Royal Air Force and I was, therefore, not altogether surprised that things turned out as they did.
The ride began pleasantly enough and we were all looking forward to our first tea stop, it being a very warm day, and we were thus a little fractious when we couldn’t find it. Dave had evidently arranged to have it heavily camouflaged and moved to the other side of the road. Strike One to the Army!
The next part of our assault course came when the innocently entitled “unmade road” turned out to be a quagmire that only a Chieftain tank could have successfully negotiated.
Strike Two to the Army!
A further blow to team morale came when it was discovered that the much anticipated luncheon venue was in fact extinct. Dave’s dastardly plan was, however, thwarted by enterprising team members who led us to a most excellent pub for a slap-up lunch. Ball One to the Army!
As you will all know, Dave is a firm believer in paper maps for en route navigation that require the rider to stop every 5 minutes to turn over the page and are, in any case, covered in Napoleonic measurements that nobody but Dave can understand. As a result of having fallen off the map, we found ourselves being led down a lane, at the beginning of which was a large T sign intimating that it didn’t go anywhere. Much milling ensued and I volunteered to our leader to investigate. I should have realised that, as usual, Army comms were not up to much and my message had not been received. Ball One to me!
Anyway, I cycled about 200 yards (182.88 meters in eurogabble) down the lane and realised quite quickly that it led nowhere. Arriving back at the T-junction a few moments later to find no one in sight initially caused me to think it was an Army jape and that they would all be hiding round the corner, Not so! I then realised that it was actually an Army initiative test, a variation on the many Escape and Evasion Exercises I had undergone in the RAF. Put the victim in an enclosed truck, drive him for hours without food or water and then throw him out in some benighted spot with no money, no phone, no map, no water, and worst of all no specs, and leave him to find his own way home. Having very little idea of where I was and knowing that I wanted to go to a village whose name I was unsure how to pronounce, I began to think that maybe the Army had won. But no, I made it back and 10 minutes before the main team to boot! Ball Two to the Army!
Well, what I really wanted to do was to say that I have thoroughly hoisted aboard all the lessons to be learned here and that I know I am getting a barbag for my birthday in which to store all the things I should have had with me on this ride. I also wanted to apologise to my leader and to all the other members of the peleton for the delays and inconvenience my getting lost caused. It will not happen again. And finally, I wanted to record my thanks to the lovely young lass behind the bar in the pub who went to great lengths to find me a way home without using A roads. Pity she had to spoil it by calling me a LOM. Little maybe, but old – NO WAY!!
Saturday 23 June 2018
10 riders assembled in the sunshine at the Gold Hill café in Child Okeford. After CTC (coffee, tea and cakes) we set off to Hazelbury Bryan where Jill, Roger and Robin turned off for home. The remaining magnificent seven continued down the Piddle valley to Dorchester and then faced the long climb up to the ridge, before swooping down the cycle way to Weymouth. After a democratic vote it was decided to eat at Morrisons rather than battle with the day trippers on the sea front. At this point Caroline tried to make contact with Ken, who was to take over for the ride back. As ground controller she tried to talk him in, but his phone ran out of credit, and he had to land in Asda to seek directions to Morrisons (which went down well with the Asda staff). Reunited we set off down to the front where Ed, deprived of his swim, changed out of his trunks in front of an admiring audience for something more comfortable for cycling. Heading through Preston we successfully tackled the steep climb back up to the ridge and then headed for the Blue Vinney in Puddletown for liquid refreshment. Ron decided his battery didn’t need topping up and left us here. We then headed back up the valley to Ansty at which point Charlie, Mike P, Alan S and Ed pealed off towards Hazelbury Bryan, leaving Ken and myself to return home via Bulbarrow, dodging low flying para-gliders on the way. Perfect weather, no-one dropped and no punctures. A good ride.
60 miles and 1243 metres of ascent. Max temp 31 o according to my Garmin.
Saturday 16 June 2018
An overcast day with showers forecast and a strong South Westerly blowing did not put off the ten who gathered for coffee at Castle Gardens. Although the majority had been born before the advent of the NHS it was considered, after comparison of medical histories that it was largely thanks to the care of this institution that all were able to set off on the ride!!
Our route took us through Barwick, Nash and onto Ham Hill. The motorcyclist descending the hill, having the benefit of a twin disc brake, may have been surprised to have been overtaken by a cyclist. Guess who?
All having safely avoided the escape route through the Post Office door, it was on into Martock, Muchelney, Langport and lunch at The Potting Shed. Despite the notice at the door, requesting the services of a cook, this proved an excellent venue. With reserved table and extensive menu to suit the needs of hungry cyclists. We expect they may have had “chocolate in the fridge!!” Who said, “The ride leader would not know his Focaccia from his Ciabatta?” Mike N travelled from Somerton to join us for lunch.
Discussions were held on the preferred route home. Who had the map (Four OS maps are required for this 45 mile ride) decision made, we would all stay together until Goose Slade Farm. Garmin got a bit confused going through Ash on the second lap, but by careful route planning we doubt anyone rode the same stretch of road more than three times.
Safely at Goose Slade Farm tea was taken. No punctures or mechanical failures to report. No one lost despite Ron’s best efforts.
All will have covered at least 50 miles before reaching home, some 60 or 70, others perhaps 80 and guess who 104?
Thank you to Mary, Jill, Roger, Charlie, Mike A, Ed, Paul and Ron for your support.
Peter and Nicky Vaughan
Jinney Ring Craft Centre
Having driven through heavy showers on the drive up, we were pleasantly surprised when the rain stopped as we neared our hotel. A large group of 23 assembled for the first ride of the holiday. We set of up a narrow potholed lane which reminded us of Dorset roads and then joined a very busy B road. After leaving this the leader’s Garmin tried to take us up a muddy farm track. Ignoring this shortcut and with advice from our local guides, we were soon back on course. But not for long. The leader missed a turning and we had to retrace our steps. Charlie announced that if he got lost again he would be sacked from the leaders list. Encouraged by this the Garmin tried to take us up someone’s driveway. Lost again, and it was a small miracle that we reached our tea stop at the Jinney Ring craft centre. Having set the target for the holiday of losing his way three times, the leader wisely decided to take the direct route back, and was once again helped by our local guide. No rain, no riders lost, no punctures and only Jim fell off.
PS Note to self for future Garmin route planning – set the route to follow roads!
We went via Bidford-on-Avon and Pebworth. Our only major hill of the day was from Mickleton to Hidcote for our coffee. We went our different ways to look around the colourful gardens designed as outdoor rooms. After lunch Hidcote sheep were making a lot of noise so we investigated. The lambs had been separated from their mothers whilst the sheep were being sheared.
Then into Stratford-upon-Avon on the track of the old tramway but both were spoilt by the mass of humanity. After the railway station we needed to turn right twice on cycle route 5, but signs were not to be seen. Local people told us how to get onto the canal bank and cycle route 5. At Wilmcote we went to Mary Arden’s house for tea and back to the hotel via the ford.
The people with me were Jill & Roger, Jackie Fortis, Lorraine, Robin, Ken & Caroline, Jenny and Mike Phillips.
Upton on Severn
I’d been asked to lead a ride so I picked somewhere where I’d been before and knew there were plenty of places to eat. Upton on Severn. It would be about a 60 mile round trip and I hoped some of the club would join me.
And they did -11 of them (Nicky, Peter, Ed, Paul, Charlie, Dave, Ron, Mike P, Mike A, Martin, and Jim)
My original route was to go straight up Alcester Heath, but having experienced the traffic on that road on Wednesday I changed my mind. So I gave the group a guided tour around Alcester taking in my childhood residences. We eventually found our way out of town on the right road (they’ve built a by-pass since I lived there) on a route past Ragley Hall, through Bishampton and Throckmorton to Pershore for coffee. On to Upton via Cycleroutes 442 and 45 and round Croome Park (NT -a Capability Brown landscape garden).
In Upton we quickly chose the Boathouse for lunch where we had excellent personal service from all the staff and weather forecasts were consulted to see when the thunderstorms were coming -rain by 3 o’clock was the prediction!
After lunch the mystery tour began as I led the group down a no-through road which stopped at a marina on the river Avon. The “Shakespeare’s Avon Way” long distance footpath crosses the river at this point via a series of bridges across a couple of islands, so I was hoping we could get our bikes through. Shoulder high nettles kept the lions and crocodiles at bay and all was fine until the final swing bridge -it wasn’t across the river! The only option was to cross over the lock gate, with a team effort to carry the bikes we all got over without dropping anything in the lock, and I heard a sigh of relief when the gate in the next field opened out onto a road!
The rest of the afternoon ride took us through some very pretty “black and white” villages and to the cafe at Craycombe. The friendly staff didn’t seem to mind that we arrived 5 minutes before their closing time and rearranged furniture so that we could all sit outside in the sunshine. Tea came in one enormous tea pot poured into mugs and everyone had cake or ice cream.
The final leg of the journey was uneventful -no punctures and no rain, and we arrived back at the hotel in plenty of time for a shower before the evening meal.
SUN, MUD AND A LOST SOUL
Alcester to Kineton
I was surprised to see fourteen keen riders volunteering to join me on the hotel car park on a somewhat bright but overcast morning although unknown to me there had been very heavy rain overnight, which would prove to cause an issue later in the day. After briefing them that there was an off road section of 1050m (I was very precise after being harangued for grossly understating a distance on an earlier ride) and the overall max height difference was 50m.
We left the hotel and turned onto the very busy road into Alcester riding on the pavement, which appeared for some reason to upset a local car driver. Perhaps they prefer to remain stuck behind cyclists in this part of England?On to Alcester not repeating the day before tour of Mary’s childhood homes and heading east on quieter roads before taking our life’s in our hands crossing the A46. We then climbed a short but quite steep hill at which point the grumbling in the ranks started led by Jim. It now became apparent that although the UK had adopted the metric system in 1975 that certain members of the BVCC were still only able to equate measurements in stone age units and any mention of metres and kilometres was tantamount to specking a foreign language. Anyway when I pointed out that 50m was in fact about 165 feet and this hill was a lot less than that, the grumbling subsided.
On through the very upmarket village of Welford-on-Avon to find our first coffee stop located on a cycleway. We arrived at the spot indicated on Google maps as to the location of the café, only to find a sign saying café open with an arrow pointing up the road. After some discussion we preceded up the road some way but no café. So we about turn and return to the sign and have a closer look around but still no café. We then stop the first cyclist we see to ask directions and he points to a spot on the other side of the road. A quick recce confirmed that there was a railway carriage hosting the café very well camouflaged in the trees less than 20m from where we stood. Anyway after a coffee and cake we set off for our next challenge, the cross country section.
When planning the route I had selected a fairly short section of track which was designated as an un-adopted country road to cut out a detour on a busy A road, but I was now about to regret that choice. As leader I of course led the charge up the track only to find that overnight rain had produced a thin layer of sticky soil on top of a firm surface. Anyway off I went head down along the track and up a slight hill. It was as I was nearing the top that I sensed that as we were going uphill the normal dumping of gums from the following peloton was missing. On stopping and looking back I find I am Billy No Mates, the peloton was nowhere to be seen. After a couple of minutes I spotted electric Ron riding towards me followed by three figures all carrying their bikes. Eventually Martin, Ed and Ken approached saying at the moment I was not the most popular person in Christendom. Then my phone rang, it was Charlie, apparently there had been an outright mutiny and the others refused to come on up the track. He explaining that all the super duper road bikes with their tight wheel and brake calliper clearances had ground to a halt after a very short distance and were all now inverted and being de-gunged with sticks. Reluctantly I agreed to a change of route and continued to the top of the hill only to find the others also in the process of cleaning soil out of mudguards. Once in running order again, us five set off to meet the others on the A3400, taking in some stunning views of the Cotswold and Malvern hills on the way.
After meeting up again with the peloton we rode on along some quiet and very well surfaced “A” Roads. The only distraction being Jim asking a couple of times how far it was to lunch, I answered of course in metric units and he being a stone age luddite was none the wiser.
We arrived in Kineton a little later than planned due to the earlier mutiny, only to find that my selected cafe had closed down (it still had an active website and the phone was connected). Still all was not lost as we adjourned to the local pub for lunch. While waiting for lunch the members of the mutinous peloton continued to make a point by hunting for sticks to dig soil out from around their cleats. In the mean time Charlie being bored rebound the tape on Ken’s handlebars. After a lunch of sandwiches and triple fried chips we set off on the run back to Alcester.
On leaving Kineton I became engrossed in a conversation with Ed only to find that I had missed my turning and continued to the next village before realising my mistake and turning back. This small error would have ramifications later.
By this time the sun was out and the day was turning out to be quite hot as we peddled on at a steady pace to Oxhill, where we stopped so I could change my map page. It was at this point that Caroline said “has anyone seen Ken”. A deadly silence followed and then both backmarkers (Charlie and Nicky) stated “There was no one behind us, Gov”. It transpired that no one had seen Ken since my error of navigation some 6 km back.
We then enquired of Caroline, his wife, what his mobile number was, only to be told that he never carries his mobile phone and even if he did, it would not be switched on. Further questions to Caroline revealed that Ken, in whose hands once rested the defence of the western world, had no money, water or a map and even if he had a map he would not be able to read it as he didn’t have his glasses either. I thought how do I resolve this, as according to Caroline, Ken’s ground navigation skills are, can we say, a little hit or miss
First step, Charlie retraces our route for a couple of kilometres but returns without Ken. I am now getting a bit worried that Ken could shortly be anywhere in the West Midlands. So I sent Charlie and Ron back to Little Kineton. In the mean time the peloton have ditched their bikes and now look like they are sunbathing in Benidorm. Time is marching on when I notice the twitching of curtains in the village and it is now obvious that the local population are becoming concerned that a bunch of sunbathing geriatric cyclists on muddy bikes are about to set up camp in their village. Time to move on. The peloton are roused from their slumber and head off to the coffee stop at Ilmington with Martin in charge while Mike A and I await the return of the search party. After a couple of minutes Mike has the idea to ring the pub where we had lunch to see if by change our lost soul had returned. The landlady confirmed that a little old man in a blue cyclist top (her words) had called in a while ago looking for us and had been given directions back to Alcester. It was with some relief that we had some idea where Ken was going and any search would not now have to cover the whole of the West Midlands. Assuming of course that Ken could read road signs without his glasses. Charlie and Ron returned and we decided that we could do little more and set off to catch the peloton.
We arrive at the coffee stop just as it was closing but the kind proprietor remained open to serve us parched cyclists with cake and drinks. I then had the task of motivating the peloton to drink –up and get on their bikes or they would not be back for dinner. The call of dinner had the desired effect as we speed off on some very quiet and flat lanes, passed the old Long Marston Depot and on to Bidford-on-Avon where we crossed the very picturesque bridge and turned towards Alcester.
We eventually turned on to the A472 which must be the busiest road in Warwickshire and is all double white-lined, a recipe for some very frustrated drivers. Sure enough when we pulled in at the entrance to Ragley Hall we had a convoy of cars behind us as far as the eye could see. As we sat and waited for the convoy to pass, much to the frustration of the following drivers, a very considerate learner driver let us all out. A short run via the centre of Alcester and again along the pavement to the hotel in time for a quick shower before dinner.
But what of our lost soul? With visions of us having to miss dinner to send search parties out across Warwickshire, only to find Ken waiting for us, having arrived 10 minutes earlier. He had quite an adventure after leaving Kineton, visiting two further pubs for directions and having to negotiate the very busy A46 on a Friday afternoon (a very brave man). The most interesting thing being that Caroline did not seem at all concerned at her husband’s predicament, so this may not have been the first time he has gone missing!!!
Kings Court to Defford (south west of Pershore)
Most of the Club members didn’t choose to cycle with Roger, so of the 11 on the ride there were three visitors – Mary’s school pal and Lorraine’s friends from the Shirley Road Club. We set off through Coughton and all was fine. Until Richard decided to remove a jacket on a junction corner, called out to the riders in front that he was stopping but they forgot to pass on the message. The leader forgot to look for the backmarker at the following junction so three riders were isolated. Mobile phones sprang into action and it was agreed we would make our own way to 11’s. However only a few minute later eagle eyed me spotted a mob of riders turning up ahead into a tiny lane. So racing like a Time trial pro I shot off leaving Richard and Robin for dust and eventually, bellowing in my best teacher voice, stopped the group. So actually we were only abandoned for a few minutes….
Flyford Flavell was the coffee stop. We arrived through a pretty village, gardens in full bloom to Aunt Rita’s Tearoom. Notice in the front “Sorry not more than 10 cyclists can be accommodated”. I bravely admitted we were 11, and the owner said she would turn a blind eye especially if we sat outside. Well we did and it was one of the best cafes you could wish for. Everything homemade, a pirate lookalike chef, and the friendliest lady owner you could meet – with a special eye on Richard – the biggest cake of course! The sun was shining warmly and we set off through perfect traffic free lanes, lovely views of the Malverns and lots of chatter. Mary and Linda had about 40 years to catch up on!
The farm shop for lunch proudly displayed an Asparagus menu – perfect for the Vale of Evesham and enjoyed by several of us. Service was slow though so after lunch was real sprint for the next stop and tea.
By now it was really hotting up and the long drags up to the Combertons and Fladbury for tea began to be noticed. We made it though, just before closing time and refreshed ourselves for the last leg back, due north then east to Arrow and finally Alcester. Tired legs, but 55 miles in new territory was excellent. Roger gave us a splendid day out, a real taste of Worcestershire.
26 February @ 11:00 - 12:00
29 February @ 10:00 - 17:00
1 March @ 10:00 - 14:00
3 March @ 10:30 - 11:30
4 March @ 09:30 - 14:00
7 March @ 08:00 - 17:00
8 March @ 10:00 - 14:00
10 March @ 10:30 - 11:30
11 March @ 11:00 - 12:00
14 March @ 10:00 - 17:00