Riders: Paul Bacon (ride leader), Andrew Rex, Mick Lee, Robert Stevenson, Pete Hanks, Helen Hand, Stewart Oades, Shaun O’Neil, Martin Crapper.


A bit on the chilly side but despite forecasts there was no frost and with a light wind we seemed to be looking forward to the ride, and, after conversations were over and the latest fashions admired ,or not, we set off. We nine and the look alike bank robber (Shaun) no sniggering your turn may come) rode as a pretty compact group past the Buttercross, round the mill dam and along Lindrick to meet the Worksop Road (A60). There was a fair bit of traffic so we were a bit selective about single file/two abreast and got a bit spread out going up Malpass Hill but were as one again by the right turn onto Thornbury Hill Lane. I have to say it was hard to spot the TVC regalia as the consensus seems to be of any kind of winter jackets. And they had been dragged out of closets and cupboards to fend off the anticipated weather. Not me though - I was the token mascot in full TVC kit! Paul had his hidden below a generic winter jacket. He also sported an ear-covering Buff and lead us safely along (all day really) to the Maltby Road where the weight of cars separated us until we took the left turn towards Firbeck.


Through Firbeck as a tidy bunch we cycled on taking the left onto Kidd Lane before meeting the hill. Ok we were  bit strung out - winter bikes are a bit heavier than proper summer bikes (i’m not one of those who have 1+N bikes so have an all-rounder)).  We regrouped at the junction with Lamb Lane and enjoying the countryside we rode as a group along and into Ramper Road to Letwell. I think most of us expected to go straight over the cross roads at Gildingwells but we were reasonably close together and turned left along Rotherham Baulk and into Carlton-in-Lindrick where Paul’s local knowledge lead us through the backstreets safely to the A60. There was not too much traffic and we turned right along Owday Lane eventually turning left onto Woodsetts Lane alongside Fox Covert before reaching the roundabout on the A57. TVC members have regrettably long memories but “no” i didn’t get lost on either of the roundabouts this time!


The A57 dual carriageway is not an especially pleasant bit of road for a cyclist but we made it Ok and left along Shireoaks common with a bit of a gap in the middle of the group but we were still a communicable group, with Paul still in front taking whatever wind was blowing and we 9 taking the shelter from said wind!


The ride was feeling different from our usual rides probably because there were fewer of us and no one was sprinting out in front or lagging seriously behind. The day was cold with a light breeze and with very clear visibility. Having past through Shireoaks and then up the hill and through Whitwell we turned onto the A60 Mansfield Road in sight of the Arrow Café. “Paul has had a change of mind” was my thought after all most Sunday 9.30 rides would have stopped for coffee at about this distance. A cruel twist to the tale - he just kept going! 


Before too long we could see a massive traffic jam which turned out to be the queue from both directions into the Dukeries Garden Centre. Welcome though a stop here would have been none of us were unaware of where our place in the café queue would have been and we kept on, also hoping that this was not the way home later. We singled out along the A60 and through Norton but were able to double up shortly after and reached the Old School Room café after 26 miles. 


We were expecting  a full house but there were plenty of seats and since it is table service we sank gratefully into chairs around two tables. It was pretty cold out so any photos were going to be inside not out! Coffee and scones were both cheap and good quality (Paul the ex-chef said so) and we all enjoyed what we ordered.  At this point I was reminded of the fashion on display as Shaun re-adjusted his buff a number of times in different styles most votes went for the version which would have left him blind so wouldn’t have worked!. Mine always stays round my neck, others have ears covered. Peter goes for the full eskimo and one of two don’t bother at all.


Helen seemed anxious to persuade Paul and Peter to buy their other halves presents and was very persuasive (but failed) and there were a number of other equally frivolous conversations before we headed out into the cold weather again.


The route back took us along Limetree Avenue and into Clumber Park at Carburton. I take great pleasure in cycling through the Park for free (even though I have membership of the National Trust)! There were not many vehicles about and few walkers along the route to Appleyhead Lodge and the A614. Robert had turned off and taken the direct route back to Worksop and home somewhere along Limetree Avenue and we were down to 9. Nobody likes the A1 roundup as it is always busy with metal missiles not seeming to notice cyclists. But we found a gap and made it across to the Babworth road where part way along for “operational” reasons we thought someone had had a “mechanical”and stopped. Whilst we pondered a group of four from Rossington wheelers overtook and kept on in our chosen direction. 


Paul wisely now joined me at the back and appreciated someone else taking the wind. At the A60 we went directly across and followed Sutton Lane north as far as the Great North Road and turned along it through Barnby Moor, past Torworth and the “millionaires” café to Ranskill before taking the left to Serlby. Peter left us here for his journey back home to Westwoodside so  we were down to 8 and beginning to stretch out. By the time we reached the A614 Bawtry / Blyth road we were more or less back as a group up until we met the Blyth road where traffic did split us up and we were further spread out at the double roundabout as vehicles interrupted the flow considerably. 


By the time we reached Tickhill Paul and I were alone along with masses of cars and more pedestrians than we had seen before. I suspect more had diverted directly home by this point; I went home and Paul went back to the cricket club for his car and his  long journey home.


This had turned out to be a very enjoyable ride despite the weather, I know they usually do! Regrettably I won’t be around next week but it will be a another good ride. Just turn up you will be welcomed.