The day started with steady light rain and wasn’t forecast to get much better, so it was unsurprising that only 5 riders turned up at the Ice Cream Farm: Dave H, Steve T, Ken, Andy B and myself. David M had made the sensible decision to join us in civies just for coffee. Andy was out on his new bike - a Van Nicholas Yukon - what taste! Both Dave and myself had thought of Joules’ Red Lion Inn at Market Drayton for our destination, and after a few doubts due to the weather, this is what was decided.
We headed out by Beeston Castle but due to a definite rattle I stopped to discover that the bracket for my tool bag had snapped and it was only hanging on by a Velcro strip – this turned out to be the first of three equipment failures. Stuffing it into my other bag we continued south east through Brindley and Ravensmoor, saying goodbye to Ken who was only out for a short ride. Arriving just outside Audlem, our mental maps got decidedly foggy and I powered up the satnav, but the wet touch screen conspired to prevent my wet fingers from activating the app. Luckily I had paper maps with me, and so we headed through Audlem to pick up Route 552. We cycled through the continuing rain to Norton-in-Hales, where one of our members (lacking moral fibre) suggested we could stop at the very good pub there instead of continuing to our agreed destination. Ignoring such temptation we pushed on to Market Drayton. Now, none of us really remembered where the Red Lion was, so after riding straight through the town centre we had to ask four residents for directions before we eventually arrived. For next time we noted that it was close to the church. We parked our bikes outside, and here I found that my rear light had fallen off during the ride.
The Red Lion is one of our favourites and didn’t disappoint. The radiators were on so we draped our sodden gear over them and enjoyed the food and drink. During conversation Steve T enlightened us about Chinese names, as in Mao Tse-tung. Apparently the first name is the family name, the second name is the generation name and the third name is the individual’s. Other topics discussed included Singhbury's and Morrisinghs, the materials and shape of modern dinner plates and linear eating!
Thankfully the rain was easing off as we left and soon stopped completely, allowing me to use the satnav for the return. We headed north west out of the town, through Calverhall and into Whitchurch. Here we lost Steve T as we took a crafty short cut – a loss of one is an improvement on recent rides, maybe we were being more disciplined – no, that’s unlikely! Soon rejoined, we cycled through Marbury and Harthill to make it back to the ICF just before they closed at 5pm. We agreed it had been well worth persisting through the rain and clocking up 57 miles on a good outing.
Before I set off on the bike for home, I checked out another rattle that developed and found the bracket holding my rear mudguard to the frame had snapped off. Three equipment failures in one ride!