August Tandem Ride

What a busy weekend I had. On Saturday I finished my mini pond (see my last post) and on Sunday it was our monthly ride out with the local branch of the Tandem Club.

You may remember that when I wrote about our last outing with the club only a couple of weeks ago (here) we used the new tandem that my husband built. We had a few slight mechanical problems on the ride and the terrain was rather hilly around Ludlow in Shropshire so I did complain that it wasn’t the most enjoyable ride I had ever been on. This time the ride started at Audlem in Cheshire, about 15 or so miles from home. We took our trusty Longstaff tandem for this ride and, being Cheshire, the terrain was somewhat flatter, very gently undulating with only a few steeper climbs and on this bike my view of the scenery is not quite so restricted from my back seat.

In addition hubby has since bought and fitted an ‘Add-e’; a device that adds a small electric motor to a bicycle. This is an alteration he has been considering for some time and after the Ludlow ride he decided that he would bite the bullet despite the rather costly price tag! The tandem is quite heavy so going uphill can be a problem and a strain on his poor old knees. Normally people choose to buy a purpose built electric bike or adapt an existing bike by buying a new back wheel with the motor already fitted. These alternatives make the bikes very heavy and so people end up using the electric assist most of the time. The ‘Add-e’, by contrast, can be fitted simply and easily to any bike without the need to change anything and does not make any significant weight increase. The small motor  is fitted to the bottom bracket and works by engaging with the back wheel when turned on and peddling, disengaging when turned off of you stop peddling. The battery is also quite small and light and fits into a specially designed holder that looks just like a drinks bottle holder.  As we like our tandem the way it is, Longstaff tandems often being considered the Rolls Royce of tandems, we didn’t want to change anything so this device seemed ideal, especially considering it was required only to give us the occasional boost. The device can also be removed at any time returning the bike once more to its ‘original’ condition.

The club ride was our first proper ride out with the extra assist of the ‘Add-e’, although we had done a 18 mile ride on the Friday just to try it out. It worked very well and helped ensure we did not get left behind this time – although I doubt we would have done anyway as the pace of the ride was a bit more in our comfort zone and, as I said, the terrain was not so hilly.

Picnic lunch at Beeston Castle

Our ride took us in a big loop with a lunch stop at Beeston Castle, where I remember going with my grandmother to pick bilberries in my childhood (Beeston not being far from Wilmslow where I was born).  It has rather changed now. In the old days you could freely scramble about among the scrub land. (Somewhere I have an old photo I meant to look out!) Now it is owned by English Heritage and access is more restricted. It is also a lot less like scrub land than I remember, although perhaps we were at a different part of the site, we didn’t actually go up to the castle at the top of the hill. We all took a picnic on this occasion and picnic tables were available to use, so we were very lucky with the weather – the forecast had been rather worrying right up until the last minute. In fact we had wonderful day, warm and fine but not to hot.

Our ride continued on another loop back to Audlem with an additional stop at Overwater Marina for tea (and cake for those who wanted it). In all the ride was about 40 miles and there were 5 tandems out, one other of which was a purpose built electric bike. A couple of punctures had to be dealt with and one or two other minor problems – but not us this time thankfully. All in all a good day out. Next month’s ride is in our own neck of the woods and we are organising it.




Tandem Club Ride

Yesterday saw us off on a tandem club ride with our ‘local’ branch. The start and finish point was in Ludlow, Shropshire some 50 miles from home. This required a fairly early start in order to be ready when the ride set of at 10.00am.

Tandem Club ride

Ludlow ride mid-morning stop

I have to say this was not the most enjoyable ride I have been on with the Tandem Club. We took the ‘Champagne’ tandem, the one that the boss has built up from a frame that he bought at auction for £10. We have previously ridden it for short local rides, hoping to iron out any problems and have usually had to tweak one or two things every time we have gone out. This is the first time that we have done any significant distance and true to form we did have one or two problems, probably not helped by the fact that both wheels had to be removed in order for the bike to fit within the width of the car when on the bike rack. The first problem was that hubby had a bit of trouble getting them back in again properly, especially the back wheel.

Once we got going we found that the group set off at a considerably faster pace than we are comfortable with – most unusual as on previous rides with the club the pace has been just about right.  Added to this the minor problems which cropped up, and required us to stop several times to adjust things, meant that we were getting left behind and were constantly in catch up mode. On top of that Shropshire is very hilly so we were frequently playing catch up while going up hill!

One of the problems, that we have had before with this bike, is that the back wheel tends to shift a little causing it to rub against the bike frame. This needed adjusting and tightening. A new problem that cropped up was caused by the fact that hubby has changed the wheels since we last rode the bike and the brake blocks don’t really fit the new back wheel properly so were rubbing lightly against the tyre all the time – nothing much could be done about this other than make the decision to buy new brake blocks. The third problem to beset us was that, with a loud ping that made me think it had broken, the left hand chain came off. (A tandem has two chains, one on each side and the left hand one or ‘timing chain’ connects the two sets of pedals so that they go round together.) I found myself riding along anxiously wondering what was going to go wrong next!

From my point of view a further issue that detracted from enjoyment was the fact that I can see even less from my back seat (stoker’s position) than on our other tandem. My handlebars are lower so I could not see over hubby’s shoulders at all without taking my hands off the bars and sitting up. Also many of the hedgerows alongside the lanes were quite high so I couldn’t see over them at the side either and I do like to enjoy the scenery while we are riding along. At times I thought I might just as well be at home on the turbo trainer.

Scenic river view

Scenic river view

Well that’s enough complaining, to be fair it was a good ride and we were out in the fresh air in good company with people who didn’t complain about having to stop from time-to-time to wait for us to catch up and we did make it round the route. We had a short mid-morning stop on the way beside a very scenic river and bridge, with a lunchtime stop at an excellent café in Craven Arms where I ate rather more than was good for me considering we still had several hilly miles to go.

Once back at the car park in Ludlow, having ridden a good 33 miles, we had to again remove the wheels and load the tandem before heading home. We got back home at around 4.45pm feeling rather tired but after an excellent night’s sleep we are once more raring to go. Hubby has already bought the new brake blocks and fitted them so we are all ready to go again!

Cycling Again!

No Haiku today as I have now finished posting all 10 of my Holiday Haiku (the 10th, about falling off my bike was posted first!). This has actually worked out quite well as I shall be away for the weekend so I can start afresh on my return.

By the time you read this we will be in York for Cycling UK’s ‘York Rally’ which takes place from Friday 21st to Monday 24th June. We attended last year and enjoyed it so much that this year we are going as volunteer helpers from Thursday 20th – a day earlier than the official start of the Rally. This is making it rather confusing for me as I am writing this post on Wednesday to schedule for today, Friday (we have an early start on Thursday morning!).  We will be in our Motorhome with no electric hook-up or much in the way of WIFI so I am not even bothering to take my computer with me; I will not, therefore, be posting anything here for Monday but should be back on-line on Wednesday next week.

Being helpers does not mean we will miss out on the cycling and we are particularly looking forward to the Retro Ride which is a new addition to the programme on Saturday. We have our classic road racing bikes with us for this, but we also have one of our tandems for any other rides. The Rally offers a choice of several rides each day and other than the Retro Ride we have not yet decided which others we might do. We’ll wait until we get there to choose from the full programme and as usual I will report on the event on our return.


Travellers Return

I’m back. We have returned from approximately 8 weeks travelling through France and Spain in our motorhome. We have had a mixed bag of weather – snow (yes, snow), rain, thunderstorms, strong winds and I admit, some hot days with sunshine – enough to at least show some slight signs of a suntan (I’m fair skinned and don’t tan easily at the best of times), but generally a lot colder than we are used to when visiting this time of the year.

Family at La Pedals de CLip

Photo from La Pedals de Clip website

I now have an awful lot of catching up to do so I don’t intend to give you chapter and verse of my time away. However one thing we did do is take part once again La Pedals de Clip, a rally for classic road-race bikes, together with our daughter. I have reported on this event in the past (here) so there is no need for me to fully explain it again. Basically it is a fun event that ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’, very friendly and enjoyable. My husband and I both rode our Henry Burton classic bikes (built locally to our home in the UK) and our daughter rode her James Fothergill which was built in Liverpool. At one point I thought I might not be able to take part, having taken a tumble from my bike a couple of weeks before the event and hurt my elbow rather badly – beware of pedestrians in Spain, they have right of way apparently and do not always look before stepping out to cross the road! (Hubby stopped suddenly to avoid hitting the pedestrian and I crashed into hubby’s bike.) Fortunately the pain had subsided sufficiently by the ride day, although I did ache a bit afterwards!

Always a fairly tough ride, up and hill and down dale with a final 1Km hill climb to the castle of Sant Marti Sarroca where the event finishes, this year’s ride was tougher than last time we did it due to an almost continuous strong headwind all the way round. (I gather that last year’s event, which we didn’t do, was worse as the weather was very cold and wet.)

We made one or two interesting observations at the cycling event. First we got the impression that there seemed to be slightly fewer participants than previously – possible due to last year’s weather – but there did seem to be more younger people in evidence, which must bode well for the future of the event. I also got the impression that there was not as many females this time and in fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I was probably one of the oldest females, if not the oldest, taking part.

Before we went away I challenged myself to write at least one poem a week during the holiday. Usually when on holiday I do very little writing other than keeping a journal so I decided I wanted to make better use of some of my ‘spare time’. Although I didn’t literally  write a poem every week, (some weeks I wrote two and then maybe nothing for the next week) overall I wrote 9 poems plus 2 Elfje, 2 Tanka and 10 Haiku or Senryu and I wrote my usual journal. I have impressed myself – not bad for just under 8 weeks away! Most of the poems do need some further polishing (I didn’t say they were good poems!) but I hope to share the Elfje, Tanka and Haiku/Senryu with you over the coming days, starting here with one about my little accident:

Falling off my bike
the road bites my arm and leg.
My elbow swells up.


Bike Testing

Several weeks ago my husband took himself off to a bike auction. He came back with a brand new tandem frame that had never been built up into a bike and had only been painted with undercoat, and also a rather nice classic Claud Butler bike in need of some TLC. He is currently in the process of building up the new tandem (as if we need another tandem!) and has renovated the Claud Butler. He has also been doing some work on my classic Henry Burton Bike, which I intend to ride when we go to do La Pedals de Clip classic road-race bike event in Catalonia in May. He has upgraded the gears so that I now have a front chain ring giving me 10 rather than just the 5 original gears; this should make it easier for me to get up the hills. He has also been doing some maintenance on his Falcon Henry Burton bike that he will ride at the Spanish event.

New Raleigh bike

Raleigh Record Ace

Last week he went to visit  one of his part-suppliers for the classic bikes where he saw a rather nice 1982 craftsman built Raleigh Record Ace bike (British made) with a fairly small frame which he thought would do for me. The next day (Friday) he took me up to see it and yes it is very nice indeed, fully original and almost pristine – it had been virtually mothballed for many years. Did I need another bike? Probably not but hey-ho, N+1!

Well actually not this time as we traded in the Motobecane “Captain Beaky” which we had originally bought for me to do the Pedals de Clip a couple of years ago.  “Captain Beaky” was a bit on the big side for me and after the event, we bought me the Henry Burton instead. Hubby had taken to riding the ‘Motobeaky’, as it became known, but as he had several others it was rather surplus to requirements so, nice bike though it is, we decided it could go.

The upshot of all this is that we each had two bikes that needed to be tested and last Saturday was testing day. It had rained overnight but the morning was fine and fairly mild. We went out first on the two Henry Burton bikes, me to test my gears and him to check that the various things the had done were all working OK. We had to stop a couple of times to adjust saddle heights but basically everything worked pleasingly well, although we did get a bit muddy as the lanes we chose were still wet from overnight. The only problem that showed up was that the rear sprocket of my bike is shot, the bearings have had it, they have been making a noise for some time but only now has hubby decided it was time to do something about it before the Pedals de Clip. A new part has been ordered but not yet arrived. This little testing ride was about 4.7 miles.

We then returned home for a cup of coffee and to change bikes. Off we went again, this time hubby rode his refurbished Claud Butler and I rode the new Raleigh, which had already had a shorter handlebar stem fitted to shorten the reach for me. Again all went well other than having to stop for saddle adjustments and also at one point my chain came off, probably because I had pulled the gear lever too far back on the front chain ring and the back chain ring was on a fairly high gear so it was slightly cross-chained. Some adjustment is needed by both me and the bike – we don’t know each other very well yet!

This ride was over a different local route, on drier roads so we didn’t get the bikes muddy, and was only a bit over 3 miles. In all we only rode about 8 miles but as a testing exercise it was well worth while. We were all done and dusted by lunchtime when the wind was beginning to rise with the promise of the forecast storms and there were some rain showers, the best of the day had gone along with the sunshine.

The Tandem Club

Tandem Club preparing to leave the cafe

Tandem Club preparing to leave the café

We first became aware of the existence of the Tandem Club around the time that we bought our first tandem a few years ago, but at the time we didn’t think about joining it. However a few weeks ago my husband was after a few bits and pieces for a tandem he was building so we went on a visit to a bespoke tandem builder on the outskirts of Telford and not too far from our home. While there we saw an advert for the Tandem Club and noted that there was a local branch serving Staffordshire and Shropshire, offering rides out once a month, always in a different area of the region. So hubby decided to join. Yesterday we went out on our first ride with the club, which met up at Wem in Shropshire, not far from the Welsh border and about an hour’s drive from home.

Wem, of course, is famous for its Treacle Mines, which have apparently been in operation since the time of the first Queen Elizabeth if not longer. The local residents are known as Treacle Miners – but that’s another story!

We had an early start as we needed to be at the meeting place for 10.00am. As usual we were quite early, which was just as well as we did have some trouble finding the correct car park. It was a chilly start and at first I thought I was not going to be warm enough but of course once we got going both I and the weather did get warmer. Including us, three tandems turned up – the organisers and another couple who had travelled from Wales and also on their first outing with the club. There was also a solo cyclist who does own a tandem but apparently his wife was not well so he had come on his own.

We set off for a wonderful tour of local villages at a leisurely pace. We were in no hurry as it was only 15 miles to the lunch stop and we had two hours to get there. Meals had to be ordered in advance and the club works on the basis that if the ride has to be cancelled due to the weather then we still turn up at the lunch stop for a bit of socializing so that the café doesn’t loose out on the booking. I could list all the villages we rode through but that would be boring for those of you who have no idea where they are. Suffice it to say lunch was at a café in Baschurch, where we were joined by another couple of tandem riders who came without their tandem. It was an unhurried affair, the surroundings were very pleasant and the service excellent.

The possibility of showers had been forecast for the day and we did have a short one while we were at the café. It had stopped by the time we left, having hardly wet the ground. The sun came out and we had a delightful continuation of our round trip through the countryside and back to Wem. At one time I was almost too hot and I contemplated removing a layer of clothing but I simply resorted to unzipping my jacket a bit, which was just as well as it was beginning to get quite chilly again by the time we got back to the car park. The round trip was about 29 miles in total which we rode, as previously mentioned, at a leisurely pace, which allowed for conversation on route. The terrain was gently undulating with only one quite taxing hill up to the village of Clive. The other new members had a slight mechanical about half-way up, hubby and I stopped to see if they needed assistance, which they didn’t, and we were soon underway again. Meanwhile the others waited at the top for us to catch up and take a breather.

We got home again around mid-afternoon and were glad of a cup of tea and a warm up. We had taken a bottle of drink with us, I had bought a couple of sample sachets of a new rehydration drink to see what it was like – it was horrible! So we didn’t drink much on the way round and I will not be using that particular brand again, I’ll stick to the one I know and love.

It was a very pleasant outing, more social than trying to cover significant ground at excessive speed and, although we have no details as yet other than the date, we are looking forward to next month’s ride when maybe a few more tandems might come along.

We didn’t have time to visit the Treacle Mines of Wem and saw no signs to indicate their whereabouts but we did pass a shop with ‘The Treacle Mines’ painted on its fascia so perhaps that was the entrance and the mines are underneath the High Street. We shall have to investigate another time. Check out my post in a couple of days time when there will be more information about the Treacle Mines!



Why Cycle?

We went out for a 15 mile bike ride this morning on our modern road bikes. We had expected it to be fine though cold but in fact it was quite mild and sunny – sunglasses needed for the first time in ages; the sun was right in our eyes on the outward journey, still being low in the sky. We passed the spot where a big beech tree was blown down across the road in strong winds a few days ago. The road had been cleared and the main trunk lay like a beached whale in the field beside the road.

While riding I found myself pondering why I like to cycle. Obvious reasons are for fitness and to get out in the fresh air. I have always had a bike but for various reasons have not always ridden a lot, not as much as I do now. I have also always enjoyed walking but my husband now has trouble with his knees and can’t walk very far so he prefers to ride a bike, which he can do without any problems. The result is either I walk on my own, which I do from time to time, or I go with him on my bike. Fortunately we are only a stone’s throw from open countryside which is great as it only takes a few minutes to get out beyond the houses.

Another reason for cycling is that you can see so much more from a bike than you can from driving in a car. You can notice seasonal changes, for example, much more easily as you travel at a slower speed. You can, of course, notice even more walking but you can travel further on a bike in any given amount of time so have greater scope for seeing these changes.

Today, apart from the felled tree and amongst other things, I noticed how the snowdrops are still going strong, I could see bright yellow crocus in gardens that we passed and how some daffodils are already in flower whilst other are still only just pushing through. We also disturbed a bunch of rooks who flew off with their raucous chatter, though I couldn’t quite make out where the rookery was. You also get to hear the birds singing, twittering, calling – something it is near impossible to do from a car.

We did also have to negotiate a flooded road from the recent rains, always a bit risky as you don’t know how deep it is or if any pot-holes are lurking in the murky water. It stretched the full width of the road and was some 20 – 25 feet wide. Hubby went first, the water didn’t come up much more than just over the wheel rims and there didn’t seem to be any hazards so I followed on, rather too fast I think as I ended up quite well splashed!

People often cite road safety as a reason for not cycling and traffic can be a problem – we have experienced many so-called ‘close passes’ when a passing car nearly brushes your leg then cuts quickly in front rather than wait to find enough space to overtake safely. A recent article I was reading on the subject in our Cycling magazine stated that those cycling at below 10 mph were at most risk and those who are safest cycle at above 12 mph. Where does that put us? We usually ride along at a comfortable cruising speed of between 10-12 mph! This is the best speed in my opinion to not cause other traffic too many problems and yet slow enough to enjoy the environment. There is an on-going campaign to educate drivers about cyclists and encourage them to allow 1.5 metres of space when overtaking. This will be included in future editions of The Highway Code, but still only advisory – in many European countries it is the law.

As we cycle along we often pass, or are passed by, other cyclists and usually try to catch their eye and give a cheery greeting. Sadly, many of those who cycle at the “safer” speeds of over 12 mph do not respond. The are simply focused on pushing the pedals round at maybe 16+ mph, eyes fixed a few feet in front of their wheels or on their cycling gizmos for recording their ride and its stats, quite often with earphones in their ears listening to heaven knows what. They are completely oblivious to the world around them and any enjoyment of their surroundings – surely this is a dangerous way to ride. All they seem to care about is beating their own, or somebody else’s Strava record for that particular route. Sad! They might as well stay on their turbo trainer at home.

To my way of thinking there are very few things you can do that costs little and enables you to keep fit whilst enjoying spending time with nature than riding a bike, especially if you take your time to look around you with awareness – after all, if there is something you want to take a closer look at, like when we saw a midday murmuration of starlings recently, you can always stop for a short while; it’s a good excuse for a rest!


over the canal bridge
I glance down at the water,
murky, silent and still.
A pair of mallards hunker by the bank.

The Yellow Peril

The Yellow Peril tandem

My husband always likes a project on the go, especially during the winter, and this winter was no exception. Now anyone who has been following my posts will know that we have more bikes than you can shake a stick at, as the saying goes, but that never stops hubby deciding we need one more (N+1). So, being mechanically minded, he decided it would be fun to have a go at building a tandem from scratch – well, out of two scrap bikes to be precise.

He took himself along to our local bike ‘re-cycling’ charity shop, Back2Bikes, and came home with two mismatched scrap frames which he then proceeded to saw up and reassemble as a tandem frame. You might wonder why we need another tandem, as indeed did I, however the frame used for the back of the bike is quite a small one and the idea is that it might suit our grandson who is too small for our current tandem but had enjoyed sitting on it.

The conversion job was finished at the end of last week, having been painted yellow and christened ‘The Yellow Peril’ (see photo above), so yesterday, a cold, misty and damp day, we went out on a shake down ride (in our thermals and well wrapped up). The plan was to meet up with the Sunday Gang, who we have ridden out or met up with in the past. We knew they were making for a café stop at Morrisons in Stone so that is where we headed. We took the scenic route out, going up past our eldest son’s home – no-one in so we didn’t stop. About a mile into our ride we heard and then saw a flock of geese flying in formation overhead and I was reminded of Rachel Field’s poem ‘Something Told the Wild Geese’:

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, “snow.”

Not that these geese were going anywhere yet. I think it is probably the same flock that has flown over our house several times, just going from one waterhole to another. We rode on, negotiated a crossing of the busy A34 main road and arrived at the café stop shortly after the Sunday Gang, enjoyed a bit of a natter and a cup of coffee with them, then set off once more on our own way home, this time by the more direct route. Our round trip was about 14 miles so was a fair test run for the ‘new’ tandem.

There is some tweaking to do! When we set off I felt fairly insecure at first. We had a bit of a wobble on the first couple of corners as hubby adjusted to the steering, which he found a bit twitchy. After the first mile or so, when we had got the feel for it, we relaxed and enjoyed the ride – except for the fact that the back end, being a bit small for me, either found me sitting fairly comfortably on the saddle and banging my knees against my thumbs on the handlebars or sitting uncomfortably further back on the saddle to give me a longer reach. This of course, won’t be a problem for our grandson. There also seems to be some room for improvement with the gear changes, so this too needs tweaking, but overall it all worked very well and was a fun ride.

This morning hubby has gone off to get some name transfers printed; his own name to go on the downtube and ‘The Yellow Peril’ to go along the front crossbar. Then, after attending to the few tweaks needed, it will be time for son and grandson to try it out – but that might have to wait for better weather!

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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