On waking up to pouring rain I nearly opted out of today’s run: but I’m glad I didn’t, we had a great ride. A fairly tortuous decision-making process at the start resolved itself with Martin leading one group going to Two Mills (the planned route to Loggerheads was deemed over-ambitious given the wind and rain) and a shorter ride going to the ice-cream farm. And so we set off, steadily to start with, until splitting up at Eaton. The Two Mills group then battled with strong winds through Bruera and Saighton, and then on the road to Chester we ended up riding into driving sleet which really hurt! We kept going, dropping onto the more sheltered canal path into Chester, where Jed and a small group left us. We continued on a labyrinthine route through the back streets of Chester, eventually (thanks to Martin’s incredible navigational skills) finding the old railway path up towards Connah’s Quay, which was very exposed and windy. We turned off towards Shotwick, then onto a muddy and rutted puddle-filled bridleway and eventually to Two Mills. Whilst everyone else bravely took turns at the front, I lurked around at the back taking shelter from various wheels, so when I arrived at the café I looked like a miner!
Dave Astles joined us at the café just as we were about to leave, which gave us a nice excuse to stay a bit longer, and we kept putting off our departure from the café as the rain didn’t let up. In the end our concern about impending dusk prompted us to leave anyway in the rain. We rode back at a fairly sensible pace, despite Ewart and John making occasional very impressive accelerations off the front, which most of us chose to ignore! And then as always the pace picked up for the race back through the forest – with Martin, John and Ewart setting a cracking pace at the front, and Derek and I working together to try and keep up. By the time we reached Hatchmere I was hoping for the normal rest and catch up but the lack of light persuaded everyone to keep going, so I never got my rest.
I got home with nothing left in the tank – the wind and wet conditions had made it really hard going. Thanks to Martin for coming up with and leading a great route, and to everyone else for their company and in particular for the protection of their wheels!
Thanks to Eleanor Underhill. Sounds gruelling!!!!!!!!!!!