A roadkill special report
Ride Leader: Matthew Lowe , also present: Mick Lee, Stewart Oades, Helen (off the front) Hand, Nick Kay, Paul Rhodes, Noreen Dunnett, Dave Orridge, Ben Woolley, Peter Wilby, Robert Stevenson, Martin Crapper, Mark Motley, Denise Motley, Andrew Rex, Hilary Thompson, Julie Andrews, Imram Hamood, Peter Hanks, Glenn Hearne, Diana Simpson, Kieran James, David Nicklin.
Denise Motley seemed to insist on riding twice but then Micky Mouse also cycled and thank goodness Julie Andrews didn’t start singing!. Despite the list we were a group of only 21! No prizes for telling me who wasn't there.
Lovely day for a ride and at 9.30am, although the burger van man was hoping we would stay put, we were not tempted and set off in two groups towards the Buttercross at an as advertised pace. Having taken the road towards the mill pond we encountered a sleepy squadron(?) of ducks flaunting themselves all over the road. Live though so not strictly roadkill and a more than pleasing sight. Along Lindrick Lane and left onto the Worksop road where a furry brown thing looking a lot like a mink stole, or as we had left Tickhill maybe a very small dead fox, but roadkill for sure.
We all thought that Malpass Hill was to be one of the 2 gentle hills Matt mention in the enticement (or advert) on Facebook. I got nicely wound up and going easily upwards when inexplicably Matt stuck his left arm out and turned towards styrrup! I was mortified-I'm sure that for the first time I would still have been in double figures at the top (mph not kph!). But ride leaders know best. We gritted our teeth and hit the potholes on Styrrup Lane at an easy pace. Sometime later Mick Lee reached for his drink and didn't find it. He reckoned it jumped out of the cage in those pot holes but not till miles later so couldn't go back.
There was a bit of breeze but you had to think about it to notice! We went through Styrupp and right onto Serlby Road where our second legitimate bit of roadkill appeared. A dead Squirrel in the middle of the raid - without a mark on it. Well I'm not a vet and my eyesight. …. It looked unmarked to me, no tyre marks, could have just crawled there but number 2!
We regrouped before crossing the Harworth to Blyth road although really we weren't that spread out. Carrying through the industrial estate and slowing for the right turn onto Snape Lane towards Serlby we were ably assisted by a cycling stranger who, resting on his bike, kindly shouted “clear”. Helpful and proved incontestably that he was not roadkill although the only bit which i saw move was his mouth.
The crossroads before entering Serlby Park is always risky and we waited a while until it was safely clear of cars and set off at a nice easy pace - maybe we were all getting fitter. The slight hill (I used to worry about the long rise) seemed less steep! We regrouped again at the junction at Scrooby Top to find we were 3 short so waited for the 3 to catch up before turning right and then left onto Folly Nook Lane. The junction at Ranskill was clear and we took the left along the B6045 sticking to an average 14/15 mph but a little more harassed by increased numbers of cars than we had been earlier so turned left onto Brecks Lane towards Mattersey Thorpe, a much quieter road with a variety of unidentifiable roadkill.
Another left turn in Mattersey and then right towards Drakeholes before turning right onto Wiseton Road taking us towards Clayworth. Before reaching Clayworth the first half a dozen riders overtook a guy on a mountain bike who quickly upped his pace to shadow them oblivious to the other 8 riders behind. But he was off to a café he knew in Beckingham so left us by the church. I must ride with eyes closed, is there a café there?
We almost got split up at the canal where we turned left along Wheatley Road. There were a few dramatic left turns and near misses - hedges not vehicles - as those too far in front struggle to turn left rather than overshoot and come back. There seemed to be plenty of activity on the call banks although summer growth in the hedgerows made visibility a bit restricted, In all other directions the views were tremendous, you can’t knock the countryside for spectacular views on clear days like we were experiencing. It was just too good to bother with decaying stuff on the roads at this point!
However having sailed through North Wheatley we reached Strawberry Hill and I went up it like the 70 odd year old that I am, slowly drifting back through the group and even into the second group. Having made it to the top the bulk of group one settled into 14/15 mph and watched the front runners disappear towards Retford and the café.
A few minutes later we were at Café Roubaix where apart from staff we were the first arrivals. 21 or more orders made for a bit of chaos, and other groups arriving made the situation worse (and business better) but we all got seven and exchanged tales of the journey so far.
Regrettably I hadn’t been slow enough on Strawberry Hill to see the (almost) roadkill of the week, or possible month. Eye witness accounts varied as they always do but the main participant, Kieran James, with a smile on his face admitted, nay volunteered, that “I fell off”. Number 4 then, a splat but potentially the real thing and I missed it. He was smiling so no harm done, no visible bruising and a story to pass the time of day with.
The group photo seemed to take a while and somehow I ended up with about 30 shots on my phone, Some headless some steeply sloping and a very nice one of bikes.
Those from parts in the far east headed home whilst the rest of us, greatly reduced in numbers made our way back down the main road home. Practicing the, “because I can” Matthew did that left hand turn thing where he has to shout “slowing” in case we were not concentrating on the suicidal left turn he took us into and along Billy Button Lane. He had never been down it before but I guess he was ride leader so had to be correct. It worked OK and we took a right along the Blyth Road. We guessed the next “lets go right here” and returned to the main road in Ranskill and thence to Scrooby Top and back through Serlby Park, Harworth and into Tickhill.
There will be quite a few missing faces next week including Diana Simpson who will be doing the Great Bike Ride hopefully enough faces for an enjoyable ride.
I will be back in 2 weeks and looking forward as always to more good company and any kind of weather.