There was another good turnout at Delamere, despite the chill air and the possibility of heavy rain catching us before the end of the day. As it was, we were a bit unfortunate to encounter a shower from the off. Talking of showers, our small moderate group consisted of Rumbustious Roy, Marin Mike and myself. Roy was wearing a “Fat Lad at the Back” jersey, which I took as a personal challenge to my long-established position in the club.
Our route took us on the quiet lane at the back of Norley Hall. On the swoop down to Crowton, Mike was “doing a Pete Roberts”; I wasn't sure if this was due to sensible prudence on the wet surface, or fear of emissions from Roy and myself. We were closing on the other moderate group, but chose Ainsworth Lane, and the off-piste route to Acton Bridge. The steep climb under the main line to London had the so-called “Fat Lad at the Back” glide up ahead.
Interestingly, a nurse had told Roy that he was clinically obese, despite his build self-evidently being far closer to that of Ben Young’s rather than that of Billy Bunter. It reminds me of being referred to a Physio recently by my G.P. Practice by way of the infamous “triage” process. Physiotherapy by phone does not sound reassuring. The delayed consultation duly lived down to my expectations: an unconvincing diagnosis by checklist, a couple of obvious exercises, and no improvement in my ankle condition. It looks like we all need to be our own Google Doctors if we are to survive these second-rate experiences, or just pay to see a proper specialist, for whose expensive training we have already paid.
Anyway, we continued on a fairly straightforward route to Knutsford by way of Comberbach, Budworth Heath, and Tabley Hill. We had the wind at our backs, it was pretty sunny, and all was well in our cycling bubble. We headed through Tatton Park very close to some handsome deer. Bearing in mind the approaching wet weather, we looked in at the cafe to seek a quick self-serve, but there was a queue outside, so we returned to Plan A. As we headed for the park exit a female cyclist approached with a zip lowered on her jersey, displaying her assets to a remarkable degree, particularly given the cold air. She passed with a big smile, probably noting how disturbed we were by this unexpected vision. The new by-pass means that crossing the old A556 south of the M56 is no longer a problem. The route through the delightful Rostherne village to Booth Bank and Little Bollington was quiet and pleasant. At The Swan with Two Nicks we sat outside with a roof over our heads. The service was friendly and fast, and the food was spot-on.
We had a nice back route to Sworton Heath and then used the back wheel of Roy to keep a reasonable pace into the wind along Swineyard Lane. We had more shelter down the little lanes north and west of Arley Hall, crossing the old airfield and passing the private hangar housing two old German planes that sometimes can be seen in the adjacent field or flying overhead on a nice day. Now it was 2.30p.m. And about to be very wet and cold for the last hour to Delamere via Antrobus, Frandley, Little Leigh, Acton Bridge, Onston and Norley. If Mike and I had regretted leaving our gloves at home early in the ride, we were now going to feel a lot more cold and wet, with a strong headwind and sluicing rain. Roy headed for Runcorn before we crossed the A533, but Mike and I parted at Hatchmere with the thought of a heated car at the front of our minds. I haven't shivered so much since Steve Haywood's puncture on his first ever ride with us, in similar conditions. Still, two thirds of the outing had been very enjoyable and in relaxing company. 42 miles covered.