Gorgeous, but chilly start and the venue was Lewis’s cafe. A quick head count revealed 20! This included a new face, to me at least and, it appeared, was a genuine ‘L’Eroica’ cyclist, complete with handlebar moustache (very dapper indeed). With so many, I think we split into 4 groups, with a few going off doing their own thing as usual. I had a backup route to the Boathouse cafe at Ellesmere, which opened on the 15th, so something a little different, especially as I had modified my existing route with a few stunningly smooth new lanes, much to Fiona’s delight- Lol. As usual, it took a while to actually get the groups sorted. It was reminiscent of the school playground and the captains of the day, picking their football teams in turn - Lol, which left me with a right rum lot (just kidding- Lol)
Off we trot (Fiona, Elwyn, Steve T, Andy, Mike & yours truly, so only 2 women in the group- Lol). We set off at a nice steady pace, although it felt a bit tough at times, on the front. There was a light headwind, virtually all the way to the Boathouse. The route out inevitably meant finding a way around the infamous Hanmer lanes and was well received, up until that point, as the more colourful lanes came into focus- Lol.
At least there were a few smiles on arrival at the Boathouse, as we waved goodbye to John & Nick, just leaving. Mike had not been to the Boathouse before, so he found it interestingly different & a tick for me- Lol. We settled into the rear garden benches, only to find the Boathouse was fully booked and only the kiosk available for take away. This meant a limited choice on food, but we all managed to get something and of course a stunning lakeside view.
A good mix of conversation ensued, which included Andy’s realisation of a larger water bottle, after spotting my 900ml bidon, which he proceeded to try on his bike (where has he been all these years- Lol). It turns out, you just can’t please everybody, despite me slaving all night over the route and lunch stop- Lol. Not to mention any names, but one of the disgruntled was female and the other one lives with her-Lol.
The return leg was short and fast at times, with a nice tailwind, although there were a few very short steep bits. One of which was particularly tough, due to us all being in the wrong gear when we rounded the corner, only to spot a horse up ahead. Momentum suddenly lost, there was nothing to do but grind the wrong gear, out of the saddle. Mike had to turn around and head back down to get his gears sorted- Oops. I was pushing so hard and nearly stationary, that I thought I was going to snap the chain. Of course, I got the blame for that as well, having only just dried my tearful eyes from the earlier abuse; “that was more like a sea bed, not a road” was one of the comments shouted from behind, after leading the group through what I like to think was a more authentic Cycling lane - Lol.
Anyway, the little kickers now behind us and no sooner than wink, Shocklach was upon us and the traditional wind up to the finish, accept I was sabotaged, having been moaned at for the pace. Traditionally it is every man/ woman for themselves. However, I considerately slowed down and got jumped, can you believe and left behind (despicable trick- Lol).
All joking apart, it was a gorgeous day, with great company. And for the first time, all of the group arrived back at the start for a final coffee, after 41 colourful miles- Lol. The surprise was the total ascent of nearly 700mtrs, no wonder I felt a bit tired riding home. I thought this was a flat-ish ride originally, so nice one everybody, especially Mike, as he has a lot less miles in his legs than most of us in the group.