The brisk group had got themselves organised and promptly set off on their ride while the three of us hadn't even thought about where we might go. Dave and Andy didn't have any maps but I had my Garmin. However it was my first ride back after a trip to Europe and unfortunately I hadn't reloaded my British maps. I managed to find and load a route but all I had on the screen was a red line on a blank background. All I knew was that the route appeared to head down onto the Shropshire plains and was about 40 miles, two features which were acceptable to the others. And so our mystery trip began.
We turned left out of the cafe, then right and dropped down onto the canal towpath to cross Telford's aqueduct. At Rhoswiel we left the canal, crossed the A5 and found ourselves heading towards Hindford. Then it was on through Tetchill and Hordley to Bagley.
About 15 miles into the ride we started to see signs for Baschurch and I realised that we were probably heading for Ruyton-X1-Towns and the Talbot Inn. Sure enough as we approached Baschurch we turned right onto B4397. On the previous ride from Chirk, Clive had said that the Talbot Inn was closed on Thursday lunchtime and had taken us instead to Moor Farm cafe at Baschurch. Not wanting to arrive in Ruyton to find that we couldn't get any food we opted for the same alternative and ate well from the hearty menu. The pies in the farm shop looked good too (Note to self: must bring a bigger saddle bag next time!). After lunch we continued along the main road into Ruyton and noticed that the Talbot Inn appeared to be open. (Perhaps we can use it again on future rides).
If football is a game of two halves then today's ride was certainly a ride of two halves. The morning ride out had been dry but for the most part into the wind. The afternoon was just the opposite and the rain started as we headed to Wykey and Eardiston.
Now that I knew where we had been, I had a good idea of the route back. Which is just as well because as we approached Maesbury the screen on my Garmin decided to freeze. Not only was I without the maps but now I had no red line to follow either. However we found our way to the A5 crossing near Aston and then turned left towards Oswestry. I was confident that I knew the route around the suburbs of Oswestry and soon we were climbing up the road past the Old Fort.
Shortly after that we came across a car stopped blocking the road. Apparently, a herd of cattle were on their way towards us and we were advised to wait. We had to wait longer than expected and Dave decided that his light rain jacket was no longer up to the task. So he changed into his rain cape – at which point the rain stopped. If only he had decided to change earlier!
Once the cattle had passed we carried on along the top road, turned down through Weston Rhyn and found our way back to the canal for the return to Chirk. Just the three of us to complete a pleasant (despite the weather) 40 mile ride. A bit of work to do when we got home though, to wash the Shropshire mud off our bikes.