Little did we know when fixing the date for the Christmas Lunch that it would coincide with Election Day but, thankfully, politics was not on the menu when 37 Windmillers and guests sat down to an excellent lunch at The Golden Fleece in Braughing. Here is the delicious menu, all cooked to perfection by landlord Peter’s wife Jess (Peter also being an occasional Windmiller):
Gathering at noon for a 1.00pm start enabled plenty of time to chat beforehand, and also for Graham to dry out, having cycled from Ickleton in appalling weather – wet, cold and a strong headwind. If anyone was in need of a beer, he was.
Here we all are, thanks to Brian’s photos, getting in the mood for Christmas and celebrating a great year of cycling:
And after a glass of wine or three:
After lunch, Andrew sprang to his feet dressed smartly in his tartan trews, and welcomed members (who he described as a bunch of bastards – more later) and their guests to the lunch, the fifth he has organised since 2015 and which has nearly doubled in size from 20 to 37 guests. He thanked Peter and Jess, our hosts, and then welcomed Glen Ryan and Bridget Tarrington saying how much we all miss Kell and John, who sadly died in January. He also welcomed our new members and newcomers to the lunch – Charles and Fiona, Nick and Kath, Neil, Deborah, Howard and Lisa, and Frances.
Thanks were also given by Andrew to Maurice our leader for his help, guidance, route planning and managing our charity funds, whilst also wishing a continued speedy recovery from his recent knee operation. He thanked those who had donated bikes that were sold to raise the additional princely sum of £377 for charity – Vernon, Bridget and Simon O.
Due to Maurice being out of action towards the latter part of the year and Andrew cruising around on holiday, he also thanked those who had volunteered to organise rides – Simon T, Brian, Graham, Geoff, Victor, Sandra, Ken and Martin. These had provided a variety of interesting new routes which we look forward to repeating in the future.
As well as cycling around the Windmill Club territory and other parts of the UK, Andrew mentioned his ride across Brittany and Normandy in June with Lawrence, accompanied by Ken and Ann for part of the way plus Martin and Penny tagging along by car. A good time was had by all, except for Andrew’s four punctures on the same day.
Martin then staggered to his feet, stripping off his jacket as he did so but left it at that. Having analysed the year’s blog (www.thewindmillclubdotnet.wordpress.com) he provided a review of 2019 as follows:
No. of blog visitors: 562 to date (472 in whole of 2018) from 19 countries.
No. of views: 1,333 to date (1,397 in whole of 2018). Total views since inception, 6,899.
No. of rides: 66 to date – possibly more due to some Monday rides not being blogged but several cancellations due to weather (77 same time 2018).
Total distance recorded to date: 1,792 miles (1,994 in 2018). Longest ride: 51 miles to Ely on 4/4/. Shortest ride: 14 miles on 1/7 (referred to also later).
Largest total mileage by members to date (those with Strava records): 1. Graham – 6,426. 2. Sandra – 4,337. 3. Brian – 2,800. 4. Andrew – 2,578. Ric had probably clocked up an appreciable distance too.
Martin then said what a great year it had been for rides and thanked Maurice for his impeccable planning and also those who Andrew had mentioned earlier, as well as Andrew himself who not only organised many rides, Mondays in particular, but also carried out the bulk of the admin in running the club. Martin also thanked Brian in particular for his help on the blog and his wonderful photographs, and also Sandra who happily contributes whenever needed.
Andrew’s reference earlier to being a bunch of bastards picked up on a description of The Windmill Club given by new member Charles Joint on his first outing earlier in the year, and which has since become part of our folklore. Martin had to agree totally with Charles when, after returning from a bout of illness on 1/7 and starting the ride after Maurice, Andrew and Keith had set off, he discovered they were holed up in Elmdon having a beer with Simon and Ollie. They invited him to join them but he was near Duddenhoe End by that time, calling them all in similar terms over the phone to those used by Charles, and so all met up eventually at The Bull in Lower Langley.
No. of pubs visited. 28 (22 in 2018). Most frequented were The Bull and The Tally Ho ( 9 apiece) but most popular for lunch were The Fleur de Lys in Widdington and The Golden Fleece (5 apiece).
Largest no. of riders: 16 on 31/10. The smallest was 2 on 18/11.
Birthdays celebrated: Martin, Brian, Maurice, Roger, Andrew, Graham, Rod, Ken, Geoff, Sandra, Deborah, Nigel, Keith, Vernon, Lawrence.
Accidents, illnesses and ailments: Luckily, no major accidents this year, just a few illnesses and ailments with complete recovery by all concerned. After last year’s hip replacement Maurice showed once again his ability to recover quickly from major surgery by meeting for lunch on 31/10 in Boxworth after a ride that Ken organised, just 2 weeks after his operation. An operation of particular note was Andrew’s DIY replacement of a tooth with Super Glue.
Involuntary Dismount Prize 2019.: There were several candidates including Chris, Victor, Brian, Charles, Graham (not on a Windmill ride) and Nick (likewise). Victor had 2 dismounts but sprang up quickly from both but Brian had a spectacular low speed splat in Ware, which won him the prize.
Best suntan: Roger, who was busy topping it up again skiing in Tignes, and Maurice jointly. Maurice always has a ruddy glow about him.
Top speed prize 2019: Andrew, for clocking up 34mph descending from Littlebury Green whilst dodging the badgers.
Storyteller prize 2019: For good stories ranging from how to grab a bargain in charity shops to getting rid of stoats in an attic to learning about the discovery of DNA and readings of Rupert Brooke’s poetry, this prize went to Simon T.
Puncture prize 2019: Candidates included Brian, Roger, Keith (2 apiece) and Graham (3) but for making members wait in the polluted entrance of the Blackwall Tunnel whilst he attempted to replace a punctured tube with some dreadful patched up tubes, Martin’s solitary puncture gained him the prize.
Dodgy bike prize 2019: Once again, several candidates including Maurice (jammed chain), Andrew (broken gear support, again) and Victor (front brake jammed on). But for pedalling effectively uphill across the Fens for 40 miles and getting thoroughly exhausted in the process, the prize went to Victor.
Ferry bad prize 2019: For leading a ride all the way from Newbourne to the River Deben at Felixstowe Ferry on 28/3 and finding that the ferry did not start operating for another 10 days, necessitating a U-turn, this prize was awarded to Maurice.
Going AWOL prize 2019: For steaming down a cycleway alongside the A12 on 8/8 whilst everyone else was turning left to Dunwich, this prize went to Deborah. Graham was given a special mention for chasing after her and returning her to the flock.
Doubting Thomas prize 2019: For not believing Martin on 6/9 when he said a ferry would arrive on a desolate shingle beach to take everyone back to Brightlingsea, only to discover that a snazzy rubber dinghy with a drop down loading ramp skippered by the harbourmaster did indeed arrive more or less on time, this prize was awarded jointly to Maurice, Andrew, Keith, Brian, Roger, Ric, Deborah, Charles and Graham. Lawrence had been included in the list but he claimed he always had utter faith and so his name was removed.
Hi-tech prize 2019: Excluding Strava users, there were 3 candidates – Geoff, Rod and Charles. Geoff has a fancy OS app on his phone, complete with extra power pack, which gives turn by turn instructions. Rod has a powerful e-bike which can send him a message if it gets nicked but the winner was Charles with his smart helmet which has Bluetooth, a microphone and a speaker which plays a regimental march at 6.30pm when it’s time to lock his chickens up, not to mention a flashing rear light. On top of this he has a smart watch with which he can pay bills in a pub. Say no more!
Mud prize 2019: By rights this prize should have gone to Andrew for leading a ride down a very rutted and muddy track between Widdington and Little Henham on 11/7 but for guaranteeing ‘a mud free ride or your money back’ on 28/11 the prize was awarded by a thin margin to Brian. For proof, see the photo of Deborah’s posterior.
At this point, just when heckling was about to take place due the time Martin had taken over his review, he handed the floor back to Andrew and Maurice for the most important part of the lunch – the awarding of the Windmill Club’s special awards for 2019 and the announcement of how much we had raised for charity and the recipients of the funds.
The first special award, the Golden Pedal, is awarded for regular attendance and general contribution to the Club’s activities. This year it was given to Graham for not only his contribution, including organising a ride on 5/12, but for clocking up an astonishing 6,426 miles as at 8/12 which is likely to be nearer to 7,000 by the end of the year if he keeps up the same average. That’s more than many people drive in a year. He has also climbed over 200 miles during this time! Well done, Graham!
The second award, the Senior Veteran Clubman of the Year, was presented to Vernon who, despite being in his 80th year, is a very regular attendee and continued cycling despite health issues. He is wonderful company socially and always popular on his birthday when he buys all the drinks! His first ride with the Windmill Club was in Feb 2013.
Maurice then announced that thanks to the Club having had another good year, £2,000 had been raised for charity, which was greeted with much applause. The recipients this year will be The EVE Appeal, the breast cancer charity (£250), The Cystic Fibrosis Trust (£250), Headway – the brain injury association (£1,000) and Macmillan Nurses (£500).
Finally, Maurice presented The Windmill Clubman of the Year Award to the person who works tirelessly for the club, handling the majority of the admin, organising rides, organising the Christmas lunch (with the help of his wife) and generally being the Super Glue of the club. And that person was Andrew – well applauded and well deserved!
And so another Christmas lunch drew to a close. We look forward to another good year in 2020 and wish all members and their families a very Happy Christmas.