Go put the kettle on, make a cuppa and make yourself comfy.

Today’s feature riders were; Diana Simpson; Christina Cooper; Paul Russell and Paul Bacon.

There was a good forecast and four feature riders met at North Wheatley.  Not much to say about the preliminary ride chat... there were only four of us, what could go wrong?

The first goal was to reach the Giant shop at Doddington.  The roads were reasonably quiet, if a little rough, as we left North Wheatley.  We maintained a steady ‘Blue’ pace and two by two we took the magenta through Sturton le Steeple; North and South Leverton, all the way to the A57 at Dunham Bridge.  I’m still not quite sure why some motorists feel the need to overtake when it’s obvious they are about to be in a queue and the cyclists are going to go past them (at the bridge) so they’ll have to come past us again anyways.

We spent a mundane five minutes on the A57, keeping single file, as this road is quite wide and it allowed the free flow of cars past us.  But then the A1133 beckoned to the right and we negotiated the busy road, happy to be back in 2x2.

As I explained at the preliminaries, most of the route I knew, some of the route I had ridden before but to say I ‘knew it’ would be stretching the truth a little and... some parts of the route would be an adventure (as in, I’d never ridden them before.  ‘What?’ I hear you shout, ‘a ride leader, leading a ride on roads he’s not ridden?’  It was only a couple, ‘onest guv, and I’d checked them out on Google thingy me whatsit).

I checked my route, which was neatly typed and held in my dhb Jersey Bin Waterproof Pocket, which is clear, to see where the next turn was.  Not my usual route but we made the left to Spalford with a split in the group – it only seemed appropriate as there were no separate ladies or gents available in the middle of nowhere.  The ladies rode on ahead, just past the next turn so if you look at the Garmin or Strava, that’s the bit in Spalford where we doubled back... we weren’t lost, needs must.  We continued on through North Scarle (a good tea room here but not sure of opening times) and then made towards Eagle.  We were getting close.  Eagle Hall, Eagle and Eagle Moor... seems to be a theme and then a couple of left turns and... Doddington.  Had a break, refreshments and a look round the shop.  They have a sale on if you’re in the market for a new bike.

We made our way out of Doddington on Kennel Lane and then on the tarmac cycle path which took us to the Sustrans Route 64.  It was a wonderful ride into Lincoln.  Tarmac and smooth with some shady bits too.  Met several walkers and cyclists and passed the time of day.  Once past the Pyewipe Inn, the route takes you along the side of the Fossdyke Navigation which is probably the oldest canal in England still in use (canal and river trust’s words, not mine!)  There was some negotiation to be done along Brayford Waterfront and I was all excited at the thought of lunch I took a left one left too early but it was only by a few yards.  The next left was good and we were still riding traffic free as we turned right onto Guildhall Street.  We found a suitable post and Diana checked with the owners that we could lock the bikes up there while Christina used her northern charm to secure us a table.  There was no mention in the preliminaries about why Lincoln and a very nice, chatty gentleman at Doddington had to be ‘shushed’ in case he gave the game away.  As we sat waiting for refreshments (which we agreed were 5*) clues were being presented until Christina guessed it... ‘Steam Punk.’  If you’ve already looked at the pictures you’re guessed it too I guess.

Now, during lunch there was a discussion as to a route home.  I had of course planned one (90% ridden, 5% known, 5% adventure).  The other option was to retrace our steps and ride the Sustrans Route back to Fledborough (the final section being gravel/cinder).  As this latter option afforded us more shade we (I think it was we...) decided to retrace our steps.  There was a snag though.  If we retraced our steps we wouldn’t get the real flavour of ‘Steam Punk’ so we... yes we decided to ride to the top of the hill, that is, up Lindum Road, navigate the Minster and have a look around the castle entrance.  It was a plan.

We’d just started up Lindum Road when I was aware of Christina shouting and looking in my mirror could see the other three riders stopped by a barrier.  It would seem that Diana was trying to attempt Lindum Hill horizontally rather than vertically but the barrier got in the way.  We decided to walk the rest of the way up the hill, around the minster and to the junction of Bailgate, Exchequer Gate and Castle Hill.  There was barely room to move, so, we parked the bikes, Paul R volunteered to watch them and we three went on a walkabout.  Christina’s comment on FB is quite correct.  We looked like, ‘fish out of water.’  Our pictures don’t do the event justice; there wasn’t room to turn around and everywhere you looked there was a photograph waiting to be taken.  We went back to Paul R and the ladies watched the bikes while we went on walkabout. 

Finally, we pulled ourselves away and made our way back to Brayford Waterfront and back to route 64.  Good call.  There was shade.  Paul R had a moment when his chain decided to do a flip off the chain ring but normal service was resumed in a moment and we were on our way.  Somehow... we found our way to Daisy Made Farm and enjoyed home-made ice-cream (what happens on the ride, stays on the ride).  Again, worth a visit.

Back to route 64 and now tacking the gravel/cinder section; which we did, successfully, taking in the view from the Fledborough viaduct. It was now a matter of a straightforward ride up through Ragnall, over the A57, Leverton, Sturton and back to North Wheatley.  I We (I know ‘cos they said so) thoroughly enjoyed ourselves today.  Paul R had to get back home so the three remaining riders took a fourth refreshment break.  I know, four... is that a record?  Tea cakes; paninis; ice cream and... fresh cream scones.  What a ride!  Not quite as many miles as we expected to do but it wasn’t about miles it was about a day out.  Thank you my friends for making it a really, really enjoyable day.  We must do it again sometime... soon.