There was an excellent turnout at Cleopatra's in Holt: Ray, Brian Miller, Dave Matthews, John, Clive, Jim, Keith, Dave and Liz, Mike, Steve Tan and myself. John wasn't riding with us today, probably going to track down a car driver who had invaded his space in order to have a therapeutic rant! Dave Matthews was able to make it today. We did feel privileged. It was like having Prince William agreeing to go with you to watch the rugby.
Jim had a route to Ellesmere that I also had been thinking of, so he agreed to lead, and I offered to write the ride up. The rest of the group was happy to go along with the suggestion. It was a pleasure to have everybody out together: just like the good old days, before Jeremy Kyle and electric handbrakes.
After crossing the river to Farndon we were soon bowling along south through Shocklach and Threapwood toward Hanmer. We made steady progress. The late summer scenery looked lovely, and there was only marginal slowing for dress adjustments. I think Dave and Liz must have been practising their routine like the Mercedes pit- stop team. It is that time of the year, in terms of cool starts that could stay chilly or become warmish. Shorts or tights? Long or short sleeves? Shell outer or not? Or, increasingly with our group, the burlesque-like unzipping and peeling off of sleeves from Aldi gilets.
Hanmer Mere looked attractive in the sun, then we climbed alongside Bettisfied Park. The narrow, rolling lanes around Cole Mere and White Mere were delightful. It is a great pleasure to pedal, buried in Shropshire's warm, late season lushness.
We decided on The Black Lion for lunch with Keith falling off in his eagerness to reach the back entrance. Steve thought that an attractive lady on the pavement had distracted him, not the first time he's fallen for a blonde, I bet!
Lunch was fine for most, but Ray and I endured the most underwhelming chili con carne of our lives. Talk about no frills! No real chef would have had the face to present this as an acceptable dish. Do you remember Vesta meals?! And, they forgot my pot of tea! Our return was via Penley, Holly Bush, Bangor on Dee and north up the B5069. After climbing up from the River Clywedog, Steve and Keith took off for the now traditional last few miles thrash. Mike waited to take to the little lanes up from Sutton Green with half the group. I speeded up, with the pull of cake and coffee getting ever stronger.
Clive and Ray caught up just before Holt, and a number of us ended the day relaxing in Cleopatra's where they treat us just fine. Forty very scenic and social miles.