15 Feb 2018. Birthday boy avoids puncture and exploding cafetiere. 30 miles.

The gods were with birthday boy John T today as he was in the 60% group of  Windmillers who avoided getting a puncture on this glorious early Spring day. The other 40% all succumbed, starting with The Revd Moley Martin, who had clearly not said his prayers that morning, followed at steady intervals by Chris, Sandra and, finally, Yorkshire Brian.

Little did we know, as 10 Windmillers set forth from The Black Bull in Balsham, having firstly placed their orders for lunch, what puncture carnage was to come. The others, whose gods were also shining on them, were Maurice, Andrew, Vernon, Ken and Brummie Brian. Here is the route taken:

bike ride 15 Feb 18

Birthday John T on the left and others in sunny Bartlow, all looking happy and not knowing what was to come

La route du puncture which Maurice had devised, taking in several lanes for the first time, took us firstly to Bartlow and then through to Castle Camps, passing a fine herd of deer on the way, and Steeple Bumpstead where coffee was due to be taken around 11.00am in The Fox and Hounds. That was the theory but thanks to Martin having the first puncture, and not breaking any records in repairing it, followed shortly afterwards by Chris, most arrived at The Fox and Hounds somewhat later than planned but received a very warm welcome from the temporary staff who had opened early specially for us.

15 Feb 2
How many Windmillers does it take to mend Martin’s puncture?
Puncture no. 2 for Chris. What a lovely day to have one!

The coffee was good and so were the cakes / biscuits provided f.o.c and then refills of coffee and chocolate even arrived too. But that’s when a cafetiere decided to explode when Martin plunged it too fast / hard or for some other unexplained technical reason but which turned out to be much messier than an exploding tyre, with hot coffee and grains being distributed liberally over Martin and the surrounding table, leaving little in the cafetiere. Luckily Martin was still wearing his coffee-proof hi viz jacket which promptly changed colour to match the cafetiere.

Mopping up after the cafetiere explosion
All hyped up after coffee

After coffee it was Sandra’s turn to demonstrate her puncture repairing skills, which were indeed impressive. Once again a mini piece of sharp flint had punctured her rear tyre, this time a  Schwalbe Marathon which dispelled the notion that they were puncture-proof.

Sandra’s turn at puncture repairing

Off we set again to catch up with the others who were waiting patiently at Baythorne End, after which there were some steady climbs into a strong headwind but the weather was otherwise still perfect.

The church of St Peter and St Paul in Kedington bathed in Suffolk sunshine
The thatched village sign of Great Wratting, with daffodils about to emerge

Then it was Yorkshire Brian’s turn to get a puncture after he had descended into a deep pothole, scoring his first puncture since buying his new bike. But that was repaired quickly and so we were soon heading homewards to The Black Bull via West Wratting after an eventful ride. The verdict on the punctures is that they were caused primarily by recent rains washing small flints on to the road surface. The invincibility of Schwalbe Marathons was shaken  (Andrew is thought to have shares in the company) along with Martin’s Schwalbe Supremes which were nearly new, Chris’s Continental Four Seasons (?) and the unknown make of tyres that came with Brian’s bike. Can anything withstand Suffolk flints? Perhaps not.

Lunch was taken at The Black Bull where we celebrated John T’s birthday and thanked him for his generous round of drinks. Strange how turnouts are always greater when knowledge gets around beforehand that it is going to be someone’s birthday…………..

Birthday boy John T celebrating both his birthday and Sandra being his Valentine

Thanks to Maurice for planning a very scenic circuit and to Andrew for marshalling us. Next time we might employ a road sweeper beforehand!





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