Our start today was from the Ice Cream Farm, though the turnout was limited by a forecast of continuous, steady, persistent, interminable, endless rain. Dave M was out but not riding with us, which left Ken, Clive, Steve T, Bryan, George, Dave H and myself. Bryan was using today to try out his new very fine looking Canondale Synapse(?) e-bike.
I suggested a route towards Market Drayton. If conditions improved, we could go all the way, if they worsened, we could stop at Audlem, and if they stayed the same, we would stop at Norton in Hales. We headed out past Beeston Castle and through Bunbury and Haughton, before crossing the A534 at Brindley. Here I shed the heavy burden of leadership, and Ken led us on through Ravensmoor and Sound to the outskirts of Audlem. We’d been speeding along at a distinctly brisk pace and here we paused to consider our condition. Ken, unsurprisingly not dressed for winter conditions was feeling the cold, and the battery assistance on Bryan’s new bike was cutting out (as the law requires it to do) whenever our speed went above 15.5mph. Believe it or not, brisk riders, these speeds were reached quite often in the absence of any real inclines and any adverse winds. I took the lead towards Norton in Hales and remedied both these problems by finding a series of long hills as we climbed towards Norton Wood Farm. Then we had a short speedy downhill to our destination.
The Hind’s Head has been visited by us several times before. We shed our damp clothes and settled down to some well-earned food and drink. As usual many topics were discussed, but we also ventured into the forbidden territory of Brexit. Be assured, no punches were thrown and no voices raised.
Soon it was time to move on. We headed past Shavington Park and northwards by the Bhurtpore. Then it was on past the Cotton Arms and the Dusty Miller, before crossing the main road by The Cholmondeley Arms. At Bickerton Ken left us, and we then climbed up to Harthill. The rain had become noticeably heavier as we approached the later stages of our ride. A fast descent followed by that annoyingly short but steep second climb brought Dave H to a halt as his chain came off. He and I caught the rest up by the entrance to Bolesworth Castle, except for Steve T who had sped ahead. We turned right and made for the Ice Cream Farm. No Steve T, but we didn’t have to worry as he soon arrived having taken the long way round via Tattenhall centre. Despite the heavy rain at the end of the ride, the rest had been quite pleasant – you have to accept that cycling in the rain can be pleasant. We had completed a round trip of 50 miles.