The forecast was poor – snow showers and blustery cold winds. Some of the back lanes still had a covering of snow/ice as I made my way to the Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall, but others were clear and dry. To ride or not to ride? That was the question on my mind as I turned into the car park. This was empty, apart from Keith’s bright red Suzuki. Well, I thought it’s early yet (ten to ten); others may turn up. Keith was in two minds about riding as well, so we decided to go inside and see who arrived. But how to get in? The cyclists entrance was locked and barred and the chairs inside were still stacked up. Fortunately, a young lady arriving at work allowed us to follow her through the side gate and into the (relative) warmth of the café. The staff were amazed to see us; they were not expecting to see any customers for the café today and certainly not any cyclists.
Shortly afterwards, Steve H arrived in civvies, followed by Ivan, also in civvies. Both had to find their way in through the ‘kiddies’ entrance. Both thought that Keith and I were mad to be even considering a ride, given the biting cold wind outside and the promise of worse to come. After a warming coffee and a chat, Steve and Ivan made to leave (the latter to pick up his new car!) and Keith and I put on several more layers before going out to get our bikes from our cars. Ivan had suggested a ride to Tarporley and the Fire Station café, giving a round trip of about 10 miles as being a sensible objective.
So that’s what we set out to do. But as we rode towards Huxley, Keith was falling a long way behind me. He was having a problem with his bike ‘wobbling’, which was causing him concern and sapping his confidence. So we decided to turn round and head back. As we rode down the hill from the bridge over the Shropshire Union canal, he said that it was alright now and that the ‘wobble, must have been due to the strong cross-wind we had been experiencing. ‘Why don’t we go a bit further?’ he said. So we went straight past the turning to the ICF and on into Tattenhall village. There we turned left towards Beeston and then took the next two lefts to bring us back to the ICF. By now, Keith was feeling a lot more confident. ‘Why don’t we go round again?’ he said. So we did, but by the time we were approaching Tattenhall again, all feeling had left the toes of my left foot and my fingers no longer felt attached to my hands. So this time, as we entered the village, we turned right and headed for Alison’s Country Kitchen. Once more, they were astonished to see any cyclists, proclaiming that we ‘must be mad’.
A cup of tea and a bacon, mushroom and cheese omelette eventually put warmth back into our extremities and so we headed back outside. As the photo shows, the roads were not too bad, it was just the intense cold wind which limited what we could do. So, this time, when we reached the ICF, we called it quits, having covered the massive distance of 10.6 miles.
But at least we had tried; it takes more than ‘the beast from the east’ to stop the ‘ultras’ of CER from riding out on what, meteorologically speaking, was the first day of Spring!