Twelve riders set out from Cleopatra's in Holt: George, Steve Haywood, Steve Tan, Clive, Ray, Mold Andy, cheeky Andy, Tom, Keith, Trevor and Jim. It has become increasingly common, and sociably enjoyable, to go out on a united club run. Nevertheless, differences in pace will often mean that riding in two (or three?) separate groups continues in the future.
My route was intended to explore some lanes new to everyone. The weather was hard to judge, particularly in deciding what to wear. Dave and Liz would have had a wardrobe frenzy! We headed for Tilston via Crewe-by-Farndon. From there we rode to Threapwood by way of Chorlton Lane. At Tallarn Green we cycled south-west to Drury Lane, and across to Whitewell, an unusual, but quiet and scenic route. It was soon time to ring either The Raven at Tilley, or The Burlton Arms to see if they wanted to cope with twelve old sweats in lycra. Clive thought that The Raven could get busy, and I agreed, so Burlton it was. Ray had to get back, so took his leave at Fenn's Heath. This was now prime Shropshire easy riding, wafting along in midsummer on well-surfaced roads meandering lazily through lush green countryside. Whixall, Waterloo and Wolverley were the way, and soon we were passing The Dickin Arms at Loppington. The staff at The Burlton Arms were friendly. The eating environment is attractive, and the food is consistently very good. It took a while to prepare, because we were such a large group, but this pub is certainly one of our favourites. We should have let the faster lads take off a few more miles out, in order to stagger the food preparation to everyone's advantage. On the other hand they would probably have got lost! 'Crossover Clive' would never get lost, but he was still under the impression that we were going to Tilley.
All things considered, a direct route home was favourite, although small, more rarely used lanes were still on the agenda. The weather after lunch wasn't as pleasant as forecast, but nobody got too damp. The route to Penley was through English Frankton, Lyneal, Welsh Hampton, Breadon Heath and Tarts Hill. Jim left us here for Malpas where he was cat-sitting. I may have been leading in theory, but at this point I had two groups of riders in front, and instead of taking time for a final map check, led a waiting group inadvertently south at the last junction before Penley. The next cross roads at Hampton Wood had signs left, right and centre, all to places we didn't want to go! We retraced our steps and eventually joined Clive and co., sheltering from a shower in Penley.
The rest of the route was a brisk, familiar ride north through Holly Bush, Worthenbury and Shocklach. Despite a semi-sprint by many over the last six miles or so, Lewis's were shut fifteen minutes early, or so I was led to believe, but I've just checked their website and they close at 16.30! We finished up at Cleopatra's at 4.52, and were accommodated by a friendly member of staff from the North-East, despite their official closing time being 5p.m. He earned a tip or two for his trouble.
It was good to have had Trevor and Jim properly on board again, and in great form. George was in notable good shape after his weeks away. I suspect some extra training miles have been going on, which bodes well for the moderate '100' next week. I think I'll pack a tow rope! 56 miles easy miles were covered in the usual agreeable company.
See route map and/or gpx file download.