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Blue ride to Sandtoft and the Happy Café

  • Date: 09 July 2023
  • By: Martin Crapper

To be honest after last nights thunderstorm and having seen the rain as I drove home the night before I wasn’t expecting to find anyone at the cricket club. I wasn’t even sure I minded - I was going out to enjoy myself regardless! But when I got there I found people - cyclists! Including potential Blue cyclists.

They/we were, Diana Simpson, Pete Hanks, Dave Bowden, Rob Drohan and Martin Crapper. And the winner of the prize for he who had nothing better to do went to Rob S (of the red ride) who spotted that the ride advert used a photo from the wrong airfield! Not sure anyone else even saw the advert.

9am prompt and we set off along Sunderland Street heading east. It was fresh, cloudy but warm and ‘close’ and we picked up speed quickly. The route took us towards Rossington and on one of the long gently uphill bits we hit 17mph and that went up to 20 mph on the flat at the top. I kept thinking “We are all together it can’t last” but it did!

Congratulations to Diana, who didn’t seem stressed by it and especially because she didn’t give me grief this time for going too fast - ride rules are ride rules normally!

We meandered through Rossington, passed GoOutdoors took a right and left and with my eyes down went straight over the roundabout instead of right! A bit of thinking diverted us to the traffic lights in Hayfield Green where we turned right before rejoining the plan at the airport.

From there we hardly noticed where we were as we chatted and gossiped our way through Blaxton narrowly missing the Simpson estate and along to the Wroot turnoff. We passed the old TIA café now thought to have returned to farm and with a turn or two were on idle bank.

We paused at the junction amongst other things to discuss the banning of heavy goods vehicles on the road. The discussion paused and then stopped as we spotted the first of a succession of horse boxes. As we set off along the short section before our turn off we realised they, the horse boxes, were all (yes more than a few) going our way. We turned right heading towards Epworth.

A couple of swans on an empty nest took our attention for a while but more horse boxes forced a return to the main action. Where were they going? They couldn’t all be lost?

The answer was the showground where what seemed like half the known worlds supply of horse boxes was at a do hosted by the pony club. We ignored them, our interest no longer there, and continued into Epworth.

Another brief discussion and we resumed our way to Belton keeping well together - most unlike many blue rides! And in Belton we turned left along Peter’s well used short cut. It cuts out the main road and it may be shorter but short cut it isn’t. It lead us back eventually to join Westgate Road not far from the airfield and café.

It was warm and ideal weather for an outside table so we quickly found one and went in to order. There were lots of other visitors so service took a while but it was worth the wait. And there were planes landing and taking off by way of entertainment. I planned on a photo of some of us eating/drinking with a plane coming in to land in the background. The first one I missed because I wasn’t expecting it. The second because I was too slow and the third because my coffee arrived to distract me. Imagine it though it’s as near as you are going to get!

With a group photo still in mind the phone went to Pete to do a self. His arms were too short so Rob offered to assist by pressing the button if Pete carried on holding the phone. Perfect photo but no Rob so we reverted to a timed shot, hence two photos!

We set off again to the sight of a plane being pushed off the runway by 4 or 5 enthusiasts or pressed men and turned left.

We knew that first Diana, then Pete and finally Rob were going to leave us so planned a route which best suited us all. That meant the full length of Idle Bank (8.95km) with a bit of a head wind. But Rob was up for it so we let him take the wind! We stopped at the Wroot turnoff to say goodbye to Diana and carried on until we said goodby to Pete who went left to Westwoodside and we went right along Sandersons Bank.

Rob was on a roll so we tucked in behind and hoped he didn’t notice or get tired. He didn’t seem to and before long we turned off towards Misson. The head wind was growing - a wind now not a breeze - or were we just tired? It couldn’t have been that because the pace continued!

We passed through Misson and the rocket site and were in Newington without much change. Even Dave had worked out that if we kept quiet Rob would carry on!

And he did, through Bawtry and up the hill towards Bircotes where we stopped briefly to say goodbye and Dave and I carried on at a leisurely pace back to the cricket club.

We stopped briefly with me longing for a shower and Dave explaining that he needed to go over the first part of our outward route to Hayfield green and another mile or so home. We had both, and hopefully all, had a good ride and as to be expected - no rain!