Today’s riders were; Martin Crapper; Noreen Dunnett; David Orridge; Pete Hanks; Hilary Thompson; Christina Cooper; Paul Bacon; Diana Simpson; Darren O’Connor; Clair Scammell; Mick Lee; Oliver Hartmann; Stewart Oades; Helen Hand; Denise Motley; Mark Motley; Owen Thomas and Kevin Thomas.

Absent from the ride today were Nick and Robert as they decided to have a ride out with the 9 o’clock group and seemingly Stewart’s shoes as he had to ride back to get the correct pair.  (Don’t ask me... I don’t know)  So eighteen became seventeen and two groups set off on the familiar route to Harworth and Serlby.

The early morning drizzle, yes there was drizzle at 7am this morning had passed and we (in the lead group, can’t say for the others!) enjoyed chatting as we clocked up a few miles.  As a ‘phone call was needed to the cafe we pulled over in the entrance to Pusto Farm.  The following riders (not TVC), who had been drafting us rode past, comfort breaks were taken and ‘phone call made.  There was a just a trace of excitement in my fellow riders shouts as the second group were sighted and were bearing down on us. A quick mount and we were on our way through to Clayworth.

Now, during the cafe break Strawberry Hill was mentioned, or rather it was said that Strawberry Hill hadn’t been mentioned in the ride notice.  I (being ride leader, notice poster and report writer) eluded to the fact that we would go up Haughgate Hill (strawberries cannot be found here, you have to get to North Wheatley for strawberries) as I detailed going through North Wheatley and Leverton (so there).

Back to the ride and a warning.  If you have the pleasure of riding with Clair, and it is a pleasure, make sure you are able to either a) replace a lost water bottle, b) repair a broken water bottle, c) retrieve a lost water bottle from under a car, d) volunteer some unsuspecting individual to retrieve a water bottle from under a car (say... someone like Diana).

Well, we all made it up Straw Haughgate Hill and we waited at the crossroads for the second group.  Pete arrived first and assured us he knew where he was going so we set off once more.  We had been passing sportive riders for a few miles and we were to pass many, many more.  They were from Southwell on the Altura Nottinghamshire Wheeler Sportive and the riders we saw were either doing the standard ride (76 miles) or the epic (101 miles) and for those members of TVC who said they saw the same riders twice... maybe you did, but you weren’t supposed to!  There was no loop so they must have been lost.

Coming out of North Wheatley Mick and Helen got their crazy heads on and left the rest of us for the ride to Leverton where we regrouped at the cross roads.  The road through Leverton is atrocious but we rode over the bumps and made our way up Retford Road.  We made our way down Leverton Road but then took the left to Little Gringley.  I wasn’t sure whether the other riders knew the turn so I waited for them.  Darren was first up having clocked an inspiring 43mph on the way.  We (now the second group) made our way through Little Gringley, along Grove Lane and Bracken Lane.  Much better than negotiating the lights and traffic through Retford. 

Arriving at the cafe (seventeen became eighteen again) our hopes of receiving the great service we had before were dashed as the tables were littered with used crockery and the folks on the next table told us they had to wait half an hour for their food.  Not us... Christina was in the cafe and we had menus (but then suffered a slight choking moment a little later with her black coffee!)  It did take a while for our order to be taken but the drinks and food followed fairly quickly (well, most of it).  It wasn’t the best cafe stop but not the worst either.  (Looks like cafe award of the week goes to the 9 o’clock group!)

The return home was by way of the shortest route which lead us up the Great North Road to Barnby Moor and then on to Blyth.  During the ride home we said bye to a number of riders so as we came down into Harworth there was only Kevin, Owen, Olly and me.  Someone, not sure who, decided this would be a good time to try out all the different colours of club rides so we went from red, to blue, to black and then back to red... And back to the cricket club with the second group close on our heels.

Thank you to all the riders who joined the ride today and made it the pleasure it was.  Photographs courtesy of Pete and Ollie.