We were TEN, a record this year, including two newbies, both ladies. We were Peter Hanks, Diane Jordan, Michelle Greco, Karen Cleminson, Sep Cuss ( who had trouble remembering who he was and how to spell it), Linda Bardsley, Kevin Thomas, Dave Bowden and Robin Heyward (whose name I had to check) - oh! and me. Karen came to try and recover from her Triathlon a couple of weeks ago and Diane was in training for the big event next Sunday (that up north thingy with trains and castles). The rest came ……. well were else was there to go?
We wandered through the village getting to know the two new ladies only to discover they had credentials - “Breeze” and “leaders” came into it. But as usual I digress - the wanderings took us eventually up Apy Hill Lane where at the top we received a salute from Gareth, with dog but no bike. He looked healthy enough and it was good to see him though briefly. A few lefts and rights or rights and lefts and we were in Braithwell and heading for Micklebring and still reasonably compact as a group.Main roads seemed busy but the smaller ones were clear and we made good progress despite my attempts to keep the speed down. Noticeable was the chattering behind! It was the sign of a good bike ride.
Once into the Hellaby industrial estate we paused so I could outline a cunning plan to get us through the road works on the main road leading to the motorway - basically involved riding on the path. But when we got there it had all been tidied up - not removed but better that a few days earlier. We did the path anyway - you can’t offer a treat then take it away! we turned and headed towards Thurnscoe and as usual “don’t get infront of the ride leader” was ignored and I followed half a dozen of our group including Linda who kindly went slow enough to let me draught up the steep bits!
Right and left again on the double roundabouts and on towards Brampton and a few more slopes. Onwards through Laughton Common and turning along the main road to our destination. And a very pretty sight it is/was too. SHUt but ….. ! The new sign announced Sunday opening at 11am so with the prospects of a 40 minute wait we did that democracy thing again and went on to the Butterfly Farm! The little bit of main road before we turned left was scarily busy - we were glad to get onto Common Lane and away from the nutters on four wheels. There were no complaints when we went up the hill in North Anston - I think the thought of coffee had kicked in by then. We made it into the grounds where there were no cars in the main car park and only a few nearer the entrance so we were going to have a wide choice of table.
We all ordered and went to find a table. How do you get ten cyclists into a pod made for 6? Fortunately by this time we were all friends and we squeezed in! The chatting continued unabated and that kept us going despite long wait for our orders to arrive. They did apologise for the delay - there had been a big order just before ours. Didn’t matter though we were having a good time.
Second retrial question - if you are first in to a crammed pod how do you get out first when you need the Loo? Answer provided by Michelle - you limbo out. We were all very impressed especially those of us who didn’t think we could even get into the starting pose. Unfortunately she was canny enough to sit next to the door when she came back - must have spotted the cameras!
The journey back started slowly - herding ten riders away with only one Loo is challenging but we were away eventually. Turning left in Woodsetts and on to Gildingwells. And the chattering went on. It’s like backward facing radar when you can hear what’s there. We went on through Letwell and turned right on the main road intending to freewheel down Kidd Lane. But with me left indicator stuck right out a little voice said “I’m going straight on”. Made sense for Pete to start thinking about heading for home so we all went straight on and into Oldcotes.
Oldcotes! We went passed the church rather than queueing at the lights and as we were coming out onto the Blyth road we didn’t all make it. A few shouts and we all stopped. I’m not saying she was a drama queen or anything like that. No, no its turned out to be Diane’s rear mech cable - broken! Sep Kiss had a go at fixing it but although it was probably sparking clean he couldn’t do much to repair a cable. Not easy to put a knot in it I gather!
Not to be outdone Michelle managed to get stung by a bee and needed antihistamine curtsy of Linda. But back to the other problem. Since Diane is off on a long ride next week this was a better day to have a cable snap. And luckily Karen was on hand to cycle home and come back in her car to provide a taxi service. Big ear and hills don’t mix. So we left Diane (sorry D) and Karen and went four way passed the Manor Café and on to Styrrup hoping for no more problems. Worst case was that rain anticipated 5 hours hence might come early. But our luck was in - no rain. We stopped in the entrance to the stables to say goodbye to Pete then made our way back to the cricket club. Linda and Michelle stopped on Sunderland street where they had left cars and we others had a brief chat in the cricket club before going home.
A good ride, shame about next Sundays ride - I had planned on the Butterfly farm! Wait and see!