This year we decided to make a change and go to a new venue, The Red Cow at Chrishall, where 29 Windmillers and their guests met to celebrate Christmas and to review a year of cycling in 2018. As it was such a lovely day, albeit a bit chilly, Andrew rode up from Wendens Ambo, Sandra rode up from near Royston, Simon came from Littlebury Green and Ken, Graham and Martin climbed up from Ickleton. All needed brandy after getting back home.
Meeting at 12.00 for 1.00pm gave everyone a good chance for a chinwag before sitting down to an excellent lunch with dishes including starters of parsnip soup, chicken and ham terrine, and smoked salmon; mains of turkey with all the trimmings, pheasant and pork casserole, sea bream and a chestnut and onion tart for the veggies; followed by a selection of puds including the Christmas variety, and cheese for those without a sweet tooth. And a very good lunch it was considered to be too, with good service, all washed down with some fine wines and beers.
Here are some pics of the happy occasion (with apologies from the photographers whose cameras could not cope very well with the lighting conditions):
After lunch, Andrew rose to his (remarkably steady) feet and commenced the formal part of the proceedings by firstly thanking Maurice for all the planning he had done during the year which enabled many enjoyable rides to be had. Maurice then rose to his (fairly steady) feet and thanked all the members for taking part and contributing £3.00 per ride for the charities we support. This resulted in the distribution of a total of £2,000 to four charities:
£250 to Cystic Fibrosis, £750 to the Eve Appeal for research into womb cancer, £500 to EACH, (East Anglian Children’s Hospice), and £500 to Macmillan Cancer Research. This was greeted with much applause from the assembled gathering.
Andrew then asked Martin to rise to his (not so steady) feet to announce the results of his analysis of the year’s blog. He started by stating that the blog was in its 4th year and had been viewed over 5,000 times to date. In 2018 it had been viewed 883 times so far by 421 visitors from countries including the US, France, the Netherlands, India and the United Arab Emirates. He thanked his fellow bloggers Brian and Sandra, plus Andrew who helps out if necessary. Here is a link to all the blogs since it started: https://thewindmillclubdotnet.wordpress.com .
No. of rides since 4 January 2018: 77 (approx. 80 for the year as a whole to 31 December)
Total distance to date: 1,994 miles
Av. distance per ride: 25.9 miles
Longest ride: 51 miles (never again)
Shortest ride: several of 17 miles on Monday evenings
Largest mileage by members: Sandra (3,000 miles+), Andrew (2,500 miles), Ric (unknown but often rides to and from starting point) and new member Graham expected to be in fierce contention in 2019
No. of pubs visited: 22
Most frequented pubs: The Tally Ho! – 17 times, The Bull – 13 (+ a few visits whilst en route to The Tally Ho!), The Fleur de Lys – 9, The Fox and Duck – 5, and 3 times each to The Pig and Abbot. The Black Bull, The Fox and Hounds, The Bell and The Sword Inn Hand.
Largest no. of riders on a ride: 15 on Vernon’s birthday on 8 November, when he bought a round of drinks (was there a connection?)
Other birthdays celebrated: Brian, John T, Maurice, John B, Andrew, Sandra, Ric, Keith, Lawrence, Ken and Martin (apologies for any omissions)
Smallest no. of riders on a ride: 1 – just Sandra on a cold day on 8 Jan, when The Tally Ho! was shut too at the end of her ride. What lengths will some people go to in the interests of the club?
Accidents, illnesses and ailments: No falling off ladders this year (Nigel, last year) but there was Ric’s nasty accident on 24 May when he hit a pile of loose gravel and fell off breaking his collar bone. But a quick recovery had Ric back on his bike, which needed straightening out by Maurice, by 12 July. Well done, Ric! Very few illnesses or ailments except for Maurice’s hip operation on or around 17 May followed by lunch a week later at The Fleur and back on an electric bike on 28 June. A remarkable recovery – well done Maurice!
Then came a few prizes ahead of the official awards ceremony which would come later:
Involuntary dismount prize 2018: Several candidates including Martin, Brian, John B and Bruce but the winner was Roger who fell off twice the same day and also subsequently fell backwards off a bench on 6 September whilst clutching his pint of beer without spilling a drop. He promised to repeat his party trick at the Christmas lunch but failed to do so (sensibly).
Top speed prize 2018: Andrew and Martin both claimed 33.4 mph on 3 September and will be awarded the prize jointly unless anyone else has a better claim.
Entertainment prize 2018: Entertainment is forever present in The Windmill Club but there is only one true enter’tenor’ amongst us and that is John ‘the Tenor’ Tarrington who twice entertained us in The Tally Ho! with his butcher friend Julian to wonderful renderings from South Pacific, Oklahoma and other Rogers and Hammerstein musicals. John gets the Entertainment prize.
Punctures: 16. Martin had 4 of these and Deborah had 2 the same day and has only been a member since September. The Puncture Prize 2018 went to Martin and Deborah jointly.
Dodgy Bike Prize 2018: Several candidates – Tom had a problem with his nuts on 29 March, Keith with his spokes on 21 June but, for the second year running, Andrew had problems with his gears / chain and so won the prize once again.
Getting lost prize 2018: only one candidate – Maurice who gave us a tour of Bury St Edmunds’ suburbs when we were meant to be heading for Ickworth. Perhap’s that’s why the first lines in Maurice’s version of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ read: If you can keep your head when all about you are lost And blaming it on you ……’ But could anyone do any better?
Stuck in the mud prize 2018: again only one candidate – Andrew, who led us off road down a mile of thick Essex mud on 31 May. Vernon’s language even frightened some ducks looking on.
Photographer of the year 2018: Brian, once again, for often lying down on the ground determined to get a good shot, David Bailey style.
Keeping cool in road rage incident prize 2018: Lawrence won this coveted prize for remaining remarkably cool whilst being screeched at by a large lady in Nayland on 25 October, whose husband had scraped Lawrence with his Ford Focus. But Lawrence got his own back having flipped their left hand wing mirror whilst being scraped and removing the car’s fuel filler cap in the process.
Martin went on to say how careful Windmillers need to be at all times when out on the road.
To wind up (not before time) Martin drew attention to the huge amount of admin that Maurice and Andrew undertake for the benefit of all members, assisted by Sandra and Brian who also plan rides at times, and thanked them all. Andrew sends out 100’s of emails each year and also organises events such as the Christmas lunch. This led up to the prize of:
The Unsung Hero of the Year 2018, which was awarded jointly to Andrew for all his hard work and to Ric for recovering so quickly from his accident and hardly mentioning it, plus clocking up so many miles on his bike. Well done, lads!
Andrew then introduced Simon, ex-landlord of The Pheasant in Great Chishill, who was our special guest together with his wife Ollie. Simon recounted the early days of The Windmill Club when, out jogging, he happened to meet Maurice on his bike and that’s how it all started. He also regaled us with some great jokes in true Simon-style and threatened to join us once again on his new bike which has been waiting patiently in his garage for some time to hit the road. He would be more than welcome.
Finally, Andrew took to the floor again and thanked Simon for his and Ollie’s unfettered support for the club, presenting them with a bunch of red roses. He then announced the most important awards of the year:
The Golden Pedal Award : to Brian for his unstinting support as photographer, blogger, bike transporter and being willing to help out at any time.
The Clubman of the Year: to Sandra for hardly missing a ride, clocking up 3,000+ miles, making a massive contribution to the club in so many ways, from planning rides to mending punctures, and putting up with so many eccentric blokes.
The Super Clubman of the Year: to Maurice for his grit and determination in keeping going as his hip deteriorated and his equal determination to get fit and back on a bike as soon as possible after his operation, whilst all the time planning rides and helping us all to raise the handsome amount of £2,000 for charity.
Well done to all our special award winners!
Happy Christmas one and all.