The Sunday Gang

An earlier trip out with ‘The Gang’ on our previous tandem (we’re the ones in white)

The Sunday Gang is the nickname my husband gave to the cycling group we have often ridden out with in the past. It is not a club, just a group of friends and acquaintances who enjoy cycling together, no strings attached. It is organised by Bill (not his real name), in so far as it is organised at all – he co-ordinates the group, arranges the routes and e-mails round to let everyone know. They ride at the pace of the slowest rider so no-one gets left too far behind and usually cover around 20-35 miles with a café stop.

Several of the regulars also go out on a Wednesday when they ride further and at a much faster pace and we have joined them on a couple of occasions. I have to admit to never being very comfortable with the group as I have often been the only lady and at best there has only been two others, both of whom ride faster than me.

The group meets in the morning and we have a 7-8 mile drive in the car with the bikes on the back in order to join them, then on the return we have to re-load the bikes and drive home. This all takes extra time so sometimes, when the group has been heading out in our home direction we have arranged to meet them on route and then peeled off later where convenient ride home again.

We haven’t actually ridden out with them since my husband had his mild heart attack about a year ago. Recently, having got his heart problem and treatment thereof under control, he has expressed an interest in joining them again, especially if they are heading out our way and we can meet up with them on route and peel off when it suits, so he had indicated to Bill that he would like to receive notification of the rides once more.

Yesterday we were planning on going out for a ride on the tandem and hubby had been checking his emails the night before to see what ‘The Gang’ were doing. No messages. Then he picked up a message in the morning to say they were coming out our way and describing the route although there was no timing given. The nearest point to our house was barely a mile away at a crossroads so we made the decision to ride out in the hope of meeting them there.

We arrived at the crossroads where the group should cross in front of us, but of course we had no way of knowing (not having Bill’s mobile number) whether they were still approaching or had gone past. On the basis that if they had already gone through we would never catch them we decided to turn up the way they would come in the hope of meeting them. We didn’t. We retraced their proposed route for a few miles and there was no sign of them. So, knowing that they were making their round-about way to Stone, a town nearby we headed off towards Stone where we knew they often had their café stop at ‘Morrison’s’. We decided against the detour round to Morrison’s having no idea what time they planned to get there, and instead chose to pick up their route into Stone by going up Bury Bank, which we knew they would be coming down. We could always stop at our eldest son’s for a cuppa as we would pass nearby on our way home this way.

Bury Bank is a killer! It is a long drag of a steep hill. (Coming down, of course, is a wonderful freewheeling ride.) We have ridden up it maybe three or four times in total. The first time I rode up it I had to get off and walk. About three-quarters of the way up there is a layby and we usually stop there to recover before doing the final stretch. After levelling out for a short distance our route towards our son’s house requires us to turn left and then climb another steep hill into Swynnerton before freewheeling down towards our son’s.

Sure enough, as we went up Bury Bank we met ‘The Gang’ coming down! They didn’t stop, they were having fun freewheeling. We exchanged greetings and carried on to our son’s, only to find that he was still out on his own bike ride. Our daughter-in-law gave us a brew and as we left some time later our son still hadn’t arrived, but true to the day’s form we passed him a short distance from his home as we were going in the opposite direction. We stopped for a few words of greeting but as it was getting cold we soon headed off again. In all our ride was about 18 miles.

Later hubby e-mailed Bill to let him know we hadn’t picked up his message in time to make proper plans but had hoped to meet them out and about and when we did we were on the way home. Bill e-mailed back with his apologies that he hadn’t remembered to let us know earlier and said that he was amazed to see us riding UP Bury Bank – he said we must be mad, nobody in their right mind rides UP Bury Bank! But we did and we didn’t bother to stop for a rest in the layby either.

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