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Red Ride: Sherwood Forest Visitors Centre

  • Date: 19 February 2023
  • By: Martin Bagshaw

Riders: Fast Bubble: Gary Durham, Paul Ferguson, Dave Lee, Dan Brewster, Adrian Shores, Andy Harrington, Graham Fletcher-Adams, Jon Brough.

Comfort Bubble: Mick Abbiss, Michael Sales, Lawrence Buckley, Martin Bagshaw.

A fantastic sunny morning was the order of the day as 16 riders rolled into Tickhill for this morning’s TVC rides. Only 11 for the Red ride but still a decent turn out with two noticeable absentees, ride leaders Pete & Jenny who were feeling rough! Stand in ride leaders were identified and after a couple of photos and a golden Labrador called Sam trying to steal bananas and energy gels it was time to roll out.

The fast bubble did what the fast bubble does and disappeared up the road, literally, never to be seen but more on that later. So, the four of us settled into a steady rhythm out through Harworth, past Serlby golf course and on to Mattersey at a reasonable pace for us thanks to lead out man Mick. Here we took a right to follow the Black ride route, all be it at a much more sedate pace. Progress was also restricted by a bit of a head wind which seemed to hold a couple of us up while Mike seemed impervious and set off after the fast bubble. Mick, ever the attentive back marker, held station keeping his flock together.

We regrouped at the A1 roundabout for the short hop down the A614 to the entrance of Clumber Park. It’s 4 miles from this entrance to the Carburton exit and the state of the roads combined with some undulations make this a section of the ride that’s just not fun despite the crisp bright sunshine and countryside. We reached Carburton and the left turn eventually and swapped the picturesque parkland for the busy B6034 which despite its “B” denomination does carry a lot of traffic so there wasn’t much time for taking in the view.

A couple of mini roundabouts, a hill and a few miles and we turned right into the newly refurbished Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre. A nice young man in costume directed us down a ramp to the café. As we approached it became apparent that it was pretty quiet with no bikes parked outside and no sweaty men in lycra inside! We parked up, locked up and ordered food & coffee although no bacon sandwiches were available due to staff shortages. We did off to cook but apparently that wasn’t allowed so it was pasties & pastries only. Coffee was good, so good we had two cups, a risky thing with ageing bladders and pothole strewn roads.

While we were eating and debating where the fast bubble might be we had a call from Mr Durham, stand in fast bubble leader, asking when we would be arriving at the café? “We’re already in the café, where are you?” was the reply, “So are we!” was the response. Apparently while we had opted for the planned café stop, the fast bubble had opted for the first café they came to. It would appear they won the game of café top trumps dining in a covered courtyard while we were in a soul less transport café. Note, if ever you plan a trip to Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, call in at The Café in Sherwood Forest based in the Sherwood Forest Art & Craft Centre on the left rather than the Visitor Centre on the right (Legal Disclaimer: Views are those of the author not Tickhill Velo Club or its Committee).

Refuelled and aging bladders emptied, we headed back out for the return leg retracing our tracks back to Clumber Park and taking a left to exit the park finishing the ride as we started it, on the Black route. Bit of a squeaky bum moment descending Sparkenhill into Worksop when a motorist didn’t realise cyclists went as fast as they do going downhill requiring a bit of heavy braking but we’ve had worse to contend with. Excitement over it was a routine ride through Worksop and Carlton where I left the three remaining musketeers to find their why back to Tickhill.

Nice ride in good weather, café could have been better, but we’ll know next time.

Kudos, Mick, the hoover, sterling job keeping us together, Lawrence & Me for trying to keep up with Mike, Mike for waiting for us and taking bike turns on the front.