A mild and calm forecast encouraged a good turnout at Cleopatra's including four who elected for a brisk ride with Wem, Loppington and St Martin's being the destinations on offer. Wem was initially chosen but abandoned at the starting line when Ken's phone containing the planned route, decided it didn't want to be of assistance. So it fell to me to lead the briskers consisting of Ken, Andy B and Ray, on a figure-of-eight route to St Martin's. The route was last ridden in March 2016 by the Moderates on a sunny day.
In contrast to then, we soon found the lanes to be in a filthy condition following recent heavy rain and, the further we rode, the worse they seemed to get. Anyway, we set off over the bridge to Farndon and onward via Shocklach, Worthenbury and Penley. From then on the lanes became filthier and also more “undulating”. However, even in the depths of winter and on a gloomy day, the scenery was beautiful, including glimpses of the still and steely-like surfaces of Colemere and Whitemere. We had a good 15 mile workout riding the surprisingly frequent bumps between Penley and St Martin's and were ready for a rest and lunch at The Greyhound. We discovered it is in fact about a mile north of the village. We were now in relaxed mode as, with 30 miles from Holt completed, we knew it would be a much shorter return after lunch.
The pub lived up to the favourable report from the Moderates on the occasion of their last visit. We got a warm welcome and despite it being Pie Day with a good selection on offer, we all opted for the curry. Ray was also tempted by dessert with custard on the grounds that his energy resources were depleted after all those hills. The locals were interested in our journey and in return, we joined in singing “Happy Birthday Mrs Morris” when cake and candles arrived for an elderly customer who looked duly surprised at being serenaded by a group of lycra-garbed strangers. The bill was very reasonable as we took advantage of the pensioner's rate and we later calculated lime and soda to have been only 25p per pint. Is this a record?
Suitably refreshed, we made good progress back to Holt via Overton, Bangor-on-Dee and the B5130 with a total of 45 miles completed. Here, under darkening skies, we went our separate ways. Ray and I had a total recorded 68 miles and 2600 ft of ascent by the time we got back to Chester. Ken's stats would be similar and as usual, Andy would top us all by the time he arrived home in Mold. All in all It was a excellent day out in good company with plenty of chat even on those hills!
As a footnote, I see from the blog of the Moderates last visit there was much discussion of the likely outcome of the EU referendum. I wonder how many predicted Brexit|!