Another fine Thursday morning saw Maurice’s gang – Jeremy, Ken, Rod, Chris, Brian and Charles – setting off from The Plough at Rede, followed some ten minutes later by Andrew’s gang – Alan, Deborah, Graham, Howard, Mike, Roger and Simon.
As ever, Charles was on top form, barking random greetings at startled passers by: “Top of the morning to you”, “Hello dear,” and “Nice dog!”
Maurice had planned our refreshment stop at the Guildhall tearoom in Lavenham, but Andrew’s peloton had other ideas. A chance discovery led them to Cafe Como in Brent Eleigh where they reported on the excellence of both coffee and cake. We must all return there some day soon.
At 37 miles, this outing was a little longer than usual – and a hilly one too – so it was with relief that we arrived back in Rede, tumbling into The Plough for a very welcome beer and a slap up lunch.
Our thanks go to Maurice and Andrew for organising things – also Graham, Charles, Simon and Brian for the photographs; you can find more here in the club photo album.
Thursday morning saw a goodly turnout of sixteen Windmillers set off from The Chestnut Tree, West Wratting, for a 30-odd mile tour of West Suffolk. Deceived by the forecast of a dry day, some were regretting leaving their waterproofs at home as they headed out into the persistent drizzle.
And it stayed wet almost as far as our mid-way coffee stop at the Fox & Hounds in Steeple Bumpstead; Landlady Kate once again kindly opening up early just for us.
Happily, this was an outing where nobody got stung or otherwise discombobulated – and Andrew managed to hang on to his wallet for the duration. It was good to see Mike back in the saddle looking fit as a fiddle. And we were particularly pleased to see Lawrence join us for lunch following his unscheduled sleepover in London.
For the record our intrepid sixteen were: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Deborah, Geoff, Hazel, Howard, Maurice, Mike, Ric, Rod, Roger, Simon, Tom and Victor
Thanks are due, as ever, to Maurice and Andrew for getting us all organised and Charles for the photographs. Rachel and Peter too for taking such good care of us at The Chestnut Tree.
Fourteen Windmillers – Alan, Andrew, Brian, Geoff, Graham, Howard, Jenni, Jeremy, Ken, Maurice, Rod, Simon, Suzanne and Tom – set off from The Chestnut Tree, West Wratting, for a thirty-odd mile tour of west Suffolk.
It all went tickety boo; no punctures, no involuntary dismounts, and nobody choked on their lunch, despite Simon doing a funny dance routine.
Mid-way, Maurice had arranged a coffee stop at The Fox & Hounds, Steeple Bumpstead.
Safely back at West Wratting, we enjoyed a super lunch in the garden, courtesy of landlords Rachel and Peter, and we raised a glass to Lawrence wishing him a speedy recovery from his illness.
Thanks, as ever, to Maurice and Andrew for planning it all and organising things.
Last Train to Clarksville . . . Midnight Train to Georgia . . . Chattanooga Choo-Choo . . . but alas, nobody sings about Elsenham and waiting for the barriers to open, even though there’s time aplenty, 15 minutes in our case, to draft a ditty.
So there we were exchanging banter with the crossing keeper, our party of ten Windmillers having just set out from The Cock at Henham, and barely 2 miles into a 30 mile tour of North Essex / North Herts. We had come close to being just nine Windmillers, Rod having forgotten his helmet and about to head home, when Landlady Mel, bless her, appeared with a spare one she keeps on the premises. Now that’s what we call a cycling friendly pub.
Some three trains later, the keeper opened the crossing and we were underway once more, heading for Ugley Green and all points west.
Maurice had promised us a flat ride but, e-bike convert that he is, maybe he no longer notices the hills. We certainly did and, as the morning wore on and the mercury headed upwards of 25C, our once-tight peloton became strung out over a mile or more. While some of us like it hot, others, most notably Simon, aren’t so keen and, by the time we pulled in for refreshment at Braughing, he was looking distinctly pink.
It was in Braughing that Maurice had arranged an out-of-hours visit to The Golden Fleece. Mid-way round and run by our good pals, Pete and Jess, where better to stop off and take on some much needed water, coffee and biscuits.
Back on the bikes Maurice took the return leg at quite a lick, having promised Mel he would get us back in good time for lunch, so we were grateful when Henham and the The Cock finally hove into view. Sitting in the garden, we enjoyed a restorative pint while Mel’s team served up an excellent lunch.
For the record, our peloton comprised Alan, Andrew, Brian, Chris, Geoff, Graham, Maurice, Rod, Simon and Victor.
Thanks go to Maurice and Andrew for organising things, Jess and Peter for opening up The Fleece, and Mel for her hospitality (and helmet) at The Cock.
And finally, we wish our pal Lawrence, currently laid up in St George’s Hospital, a speedy recovery from his illness. We hope to see him back in the saddle soon.
At 390 feet above sea level, West Wratting can claim to be the second highest village in Cambridgeshire, beaten to the top spot only by Great Chishill, where Charles, sitting in his garden at a lofty 479 feet, can look down on everyone else in the county.
West Wratting’s other claim to fame is as the haunt of the mythical Shug Monkey. Cambridgeshire folklore has it that the creature – half dog, half monkey – haunts the road to Balsham. Nobody saw it, not even Hazel who, having enjoyed a pint of strong and possibly hallucinogenic rhubarb cider with her lunch, was the most likely of us to experience a vision.
At Graham’s recommendation, we were lunching at The Chestnut Tree in West Wratting, a wonderful village pub, blessed with a particularly fine garden. Our hosts, Peter and Rachel, had welcomed us earlier that morning with coffee and we were now enjoying a fine lunch and some excellent beers.
It had been an eventful outing. Early on, Roger’s and Alan’s bikes somehow got entangled and they took a tumble in the road. Mercifully, they emerged relatively unscathed apart from the odd patch of road rash and bruising. Nothing as bad as the spectacular pile up on the opening day of the Tour de France.
We’d had a few mechanicals as well; a puncture for Victor and – more significantly – a seized bottom bracket for Howard. Victor effected his puncture repair quickly enough but Howard, unable to turn his pedals for the final mile, had to be pushed back to base by Ric.
We always make the time to pull over and admire the natural world. This time it was a silk tent in a hedgerow, the work of a small eggar moth caterpillar colony. Following emergence from their eggs, the caterpillars construct a tent consisting of layers of silk fibres.
We pulled in for coffee at Café 33 near Stradishall. The place doesn’t look much – but the ladies make exceedingly good cakes; well worth stopping for when you next visit your relatives over the road at Highpoint Prison.
For the record, our riders were: Alan, Brian, Charles, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Hazel, Howard, Maurice, Mike, Ric, Roger, Suzanne, Tom and Victor.
Thanks, Maurice, for guiding us around another lovely route. Also Graham, Charles, Deborah and Hazel for the photographs. And Peter & Rachel for their hospitality at the Chestnut Tree; we shall return.
Whenever we passed The Cock Inn at Henham, John Bagrie would go missing, which was a pretty sure sign that the landlord kept a good cellar. So it was high time we tried the place for lunch – and it didn’t disappoint. The food was good, and the beer, generously bought by Birthday Boy Geoff, was good too.
Ten Windmillers – Andrew, Brian, Charles, Geoff, Graham, Maurice, Ric, Roger, Simon and Victor – had set out some three hours earlier from Henham bound for Broxted and all points east. Returning to the pub after an excellent ride, we were hungry, thirsty and – despite the dire weather forecast – thankfully dry.
Stopping midway at Finchingfield, we had enjoyed coffee and cake overlooking the green before returning via Thaxted, where we were delighted to see Ken and Suzanne waiting to join us for the final leg.
As ever, Maurice had devised a lovely route; the Essex lanes were traffic free and the roadsides seemingly ablaze with poppies.
And the poo? Well there was a pile of manure on the roadside in Stanbrook and Simon couldn’t resist the temptation to squat and pose for a photograph.
Thanks go to Maurice for the route, Andrew for logistics, Charles, Simon and Graham for photographs – and Geoff for the beer.
Thirteen Windmillers, a veritable baker’s dozen, followed Maurice out of Braughing towards Puckeridge. Born and bred in these ‘ere parts, Maurice needs no map, knowing as he does every nook, cranny, lane and hedgerow, not to mention public house, within a 30 mile radius.
We were off on a 33 mile tour of North East Herts. Twas a lovely morning, and a goodly turnout to boot; following Maurice were: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Deborah, Graham, Hazel, Howard, Nigel, Roger, Simon and Victor.
The highlight of this particular route is the delightful five mile section along the riverside, running from Hertford, through Ware and on to Stanstead Abbotts. And where better to pull in for refreshment than Ware Café, where we enjoyed coffee and cake in the garden.
Setting off on the return leg, we headed for Hunsdon, Perry Green and thence Braughing where, pulling into the Golden Fleece, we were delighted to be joined by Suzanne who had pedalled all the way from Abington.
Our thanks as ever go to Maurice and Andrew for organising things; Simon who got stiffed with the rather large bill for refreshments at Ware; plus Charles, Graham and Hazel for the many photographs which you can find here in the club album.
Grantchester, according to the eponymous TV series, is the murder capital of East Anglia. Week in, week out, some poor sod gets bumped off, whereupon the evil doer is tracked down and unmasked by the local vicar-cum-sleuth. It’s Cluedo with clerics.
So it was on Thursday that we rounded up the usual suspects: gang leader Brian, followed by Alan, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Hazel, Howard, Jenni, Jeremy, Mike, Ric, Rod, Roger – and prime suspect Charles (aka Colonel Mustard, handy with a lead pipe, wrench, rope, revolver, dagger or candlestick).
Starting out from Trumpington, we headed for Cambridge and the fens. Guaranteed a hill-free ride, our regular e-bikers Rod, Charles and Geoff had opted to leave their e-machines at home and pedal the 32 miles unassisted.
Mid-way, we stopped for coffee and cake at the Willingham Auctions Café, and it was here that we quizzed Deborah on how she came to feature in yesterday’s national newspapers pictured alongside the dashing Sir Keir Starmer. The photograph was taken in the 80s when they shared a student house in Leeds.
Setting off once more, we headed for Over before turning south and winding our way homewards through Longstanton, Oakington and Girton. Finally, skirting Cambridge to the west, we pitched up at the Blue Ball Inn, Grantchester and tucked into a well earned lunch.
It was polling day and the Windmillers were exercising their democratic right to roam North East Hertfordshire. Our safe seats were Maurice, Andrew, Suzanne, Deborah, Tom, Roger, Brian, Graham, Simon, Howard, Charles, Alan, Victor, Rod and Lawrence.
Maurice set the pace, leading a slim majority out of Braughing towards Puckeridge, followed five minutes later by Andrew’s coalition of Scots, Irish and independent hopefuls.
The constituency of North East Hertfordshire has an electorate of some 76,000 – but thankfully only a small proportion of them were out driving; we enjoyed quiet roads, unhindered by traffic.
Stopping for refreshments at Church Farm, Ardeley, our two parties caught up and, resisting the urge to score cheap political points, we compared manifestos over coffee and cake.
Back on the bikes we headed for Haultwick (according to Roger it’s pronounced ‘Artic’) and Cromer, where we paused for the obligatory Windmillers-by-the-Windmill photograph. Then it was on to Sandon, Buntingford and Westmill before returning to Braughing.
Arriving in the garden of the Golden Fleece, Peter and Jess gave us shelter from the elements and served up an excellent lunch, made all the more special by Andrew buying the beers. Happy Birthday, Andrew, and lang may yer lum reek!
Our thanks go to the Whips’ Office – Maurice and Andrew. Also Charles and Simon for the photographs – and Peter & Jess for taking such good care of us at the Fleece.
Brian should know better than to just blindly follow Maurice’s GPX routes. He should know by now these provide general guidance as to direction rather than turn-by-turn instruction. Just because said route directs you off-road, through a wood, up a grassy bank, over several stiles and across a paddock full of frisky horses – doesn’t mean you should follow it unquestioningly. Alas, that is just what Brian did – as did all the other mugs who followed him.
The upshot was that the eight poor devils following in Brian’s wake arrived back at the pub nearly an hour after Maurice and his seven wise men – causing some consternation as rumour had it Birthday Boy Rod would be buying the beers. We rolled up as Maurice’s group, having wisely stuck to the road, had finished their lunch and were contemplating a second pint.
Some seventeen Windmillers had set out several hours earlier from The Golden Fleece at Braughing for a thirty-odd mile circuit of East Herts and the Lee Valley. This being Maurice’s home turf, he had included some particularly lovely lanes and riverside paths, and highlights along the way included the view over the bird reserve at Amwell, the gazebos overlooking the River Lee at Ware, and a stopover in Ware itself for some excellent coffee and cake.
Viewed across the river in the bright April sunshine, the gazebos, some dating back to the 18th century, were built by innkeepers and other high street traders as havens of peace and quiet away from the noise and bustle of the town. In the 1830s there were some 25 along the riverside but, by 1980, only ten remained.
Back at The Fleece, we raised a glass to Rod and sang him a boisterous Happy Birthday.
For the record, the turnout was: Rod, Maurice, Andrew, Lawrence, Mike, Howard, Graham, Alan, Ken, Charles, Simon, Roger, Deborah, Martin, Suzanne, Tom and Brian.
Nigel had hoped to join us but pulled out at the last minute citing a problem with his boat. Whether it was shipwreck, mutiny or a Suez Canal mishap, we don’t know – but we wish him well and look forward to catching up with him again soon.
Thanks, as ever, to Maurice and Andrew for organising things – also to Pete and Jess at The Fleece who served up a splendid lunch.
Some Windmiller spouses have long questioned our sporting credentials, teasing us that we are more a dining club than a cycling club. But it has been six long months* since we last enjoyed a good lunch in licensed premises – time enough to rebut that outrageous slur and demonstrate our commitment to the cause of cycling.
While it has been an exceptionally long dry spell for the club – dry in the sense of teetotal – Thursday’s outing, while still dry, augured a brighter, more refreshing future. This was to be our last temperance ride before the mighty institution that is The British Public House opens for custom next week; or at least opens its garden. If the weather is good enough to cycle then it will be good enough to lunch!
So it was that some eighteen cheerful Windmillers set off, not just for their final abstemious outing, but also their final ride under rule-of-six restrictions. It was a repeat of last week’s 30 mile route, but an opportunity to reverse the direction of travel. Setting off from Bartlow were Andrew, Geoff, Lawrence, Deborah, Jenni, Brian, Chris, Charles, Martin, Suzanne and Tom; while setting off from Steeple Bumpstead were Maurice, Rod, Alan, Roger, Graham, Simon and Howard.
A number of Windmillers had cycled to the start including Suzanne, Graham, Mike, Tom and Brian; Mike clocking up an impressive 75 miles by the end of the day.
Along the way, there were a few compliance busting encounters as the various groups pulled over to chat and exchange news.
Cafés are few and far between in these parts, though several Windmillers did venture a few miles off circuit to visit the The Old Butchers Coffee Shop in Balsham; an excellent refreshment stop and well worth the diversion. And many found the coffee at the convenience store in Keddington more than acceptable, especially when Deborah was buying the cakes, individually wrapped madeleines, no less. Proust would have approved.
Poor old Tom suffered an unusual puncture caused by damaged rim tape, but being our star mechanic, this was fixed in no time.
Thanks as ever to Maurice and Andrew for organising things.
Charles certainly stamped his mark on this outing. We all know the man for his signature stripey hose – a look he has made all his own – but this Monday he was resplendent in a pair of fabulous new socks; all the colours of the rainbow on a tasteful black background. And the novelty didn’t stop there, back at the ranch Charles had crafted a new charity box, much bigger than the tatty old one, big enough indeed to kennel a large dog.
Was it just me, or was this circuit particularly hilly? Whatever, eleven Windmillers turned out and most, I hope, got back before the worst of the rain later that afternoon.
For the record, the turnout was: Maurice, Andrew, Charles, Rod, Graham, Martin, Suzanne, Jeremy, Lawrence, Victor and Brian. And, for once, we captured everyone on camera. Here’s the photos, fresh back from the chemist . . .
Thanks are due, as ever, to Maurice for the route, Andrew for logistics and Martin, Jeremy, Charles and Victor for pictures.
We have English, Scots and Irish in the team but, to the best of my knowledge, no Welsh. More’s the pity, as this was a St. David’s Day outing.
And a chilly day it was too as a dozen Windmillers set off – some solo, some in pairs – for a 20 mile ride taking in Elmdon, Arkesden, Clavering, Brent Pelham, Langley Upper Green and Chrishall.
Being the Windmill Club, we are always on the lookout for a windmill photo opportunity. But have you noticed the shocking state of the mill at Brent Pelham? An oil painting it ain’t. Erected in 1826, it was adapted in the 20th century to house a water tank, was clad in corrugated iron and – as you will see below – is now in a very sorry state, indeed. Once Roger has finished restoring Furneux Pelham church maybe he can step in and restore Brent Pelham’s mill to its former glory.
For the record, Monday’s riders included Maurice, Andrew, Charles, Nick, Geoff, Rod, Jeremy, Alan, Suzanne, Graham, Deborah and Brian. Poor old Geoff had to repair a puncture but, apart from that, I believe everybody got around just fine.
Thanks, Maurice and Andrew, for organising things. Charles too for hosting the charity box.
If, like me, these twice weekly outings are the highlight of your lockdown, you will understand just how it lifts the spirit to see a fellow Windmiller pedalling your way. The hail-fellow-well-met is followed by the inevitable question, “What’s news?”, knowing full well your pal will have very little to report, and neither will you. Whereas a year ago we all had stories to swap and issues of the day to debate over a pub lunch, these days it’s just a brief bantered exchange on a country lane.
But there is some good news on the horizon. The end of lockdown is in sight and – come 29th March – it looks like we will be able to resume our Rule-of-Six rides. Welcome news, indeed, but an organisational nightmare for Andrew.
Then on 12 April, pub gardens open. Hallelujah! – 40 days and counting.
For the record, Thursday’s runners and riders were Maurice, Andrew, Laurence, Ken, Graham, Mike, Martin, Suzanne, Brian, Geoff, Deborah, Jenni, Howard, Roger, Alan, Rod and Charles. Phew! That’s 17 Windmillers, all socially distanced, not to mention stone cold sober.
As far as I know, nobody fell off or suffered a puncture. Some even managed to source a coffee at Elsenham or Stansted Mountfitchet, and we hear those two trenchermen, Graham and Mike, somehow managed two breakfasts; one at Flint Cross and another at Great Chishill.
Then there’s Suzanne who did some fifty miles from home, as did Brian from his, and Martin who clocked up a very respectable thirty eight. Deborah’s natty new hi-viz was widely admired – and visible from space. Oh, and Ken and Suzanne found a lovely final resting place; see below.
Much love and thanks, as ever, to Andrew and Maurice for all their efforts; and not forgetting Charles, Martin and Simon for the many excellent photographs.
Riding past Simon’s house on a chilly February morning, Jeremy and Brian spotted the man himself, togged out in gardening attire, trundling a wheel barrow across his estate.
“Not cycling today?” we cried.
“Weather’s not great . . . lots of pruning to do,” came the reply.
Grateful for a breather after the stiff hill climb up to Littlebury Green, we asked to see Simon’s famous ship’s bell. Found in a junk shop, he had lovingly restored it, built a frame to mount it, and given it to his missus for Christmas. It was indeed impressive; big and shiny. What else is there to say about a bell but could we hear it ring, please? Alas, it was a little early and Simon feared his neighbours would run for their air raid shelters.
Once again, Charles hosted the club charity box – this time without the camera trap. It was here that Jeremy and Brian caught up with Andrew. Admiring Jeremy’s new helmet, Andrew and he swapped some rather alarming head injury experiences. That explains a lot, thought Brian.
This day and age, it is hard to believe there is anyone left on the planet who hasn’t taken a selfie. Step up, Deborah Goodman. Her first ever effort, taken while stuffing a fiver into the charity box, shows she needs a bit more practice.
She reported the highlight of her ride was the slice of scrumptious Victoria sponge handed over the hedge by her friend in Langley Upper Green.
For the record, Monday’s team roster was: Alan, Andrew, Brian, Charles, Deborah, Geoff, Graham, Jeremy, Julia, Lawrence, Martin, Maurice, Nick and Suzanne – all spread out over a 19 mile circuit. Let me know if I’ve missed anyone.
Thanks as ever, Andrew and Maurice, for planning and organising everything. Thanks too, Charles, for hosting the charity box.
A goodly number – I reckon it was twelve Windmillers – turned out on the first Monday of 2021 to burn off their Christmas pudding. Riding either solo or in pairs, the roster included: Maurice, Andrew, Deborah, Jenni, Martin, Alan, Charles, Nick, Graham, Lawrence, Suzanne and Brian. Apologies if I have overlooked anyone; do let me know.
Maurice had devised a 23 mile circuit – with the charity box and a basket of beers tucked away on his driveway at Heath Farm – an ideal spot for our resident photographer to snap passing Windmillers.
Alas, it was much too cold for our photographer to linger longer in the hope of snapping further Windmillers and, saddling up, he was last seen heading up the hill to Barkway.
There was an element of competition in the outing: who could turn in the fastest time on the 7 mile section near Heath Farm? Multiple claims, counter claims and allegations – not to mention dodgy historical data (thanks, Sandra) – appeared on the club’s WhatsApp message board – and I, for one, can’t make head or tail of it. It will all be forwarded to the relevant authorities – British Cycling, WADA, Guinness Book of Records, etc – for validation.
Thanks as ever to Maurice for devising the route and providing the refreshments – and to Andrew for rousing us all off our sofas.
PS Lawrence, poor chap, lost his wallet somewhere between Barkway and Barley so, if anyone comes across it, please shout.
Thursday morning saw sixteen Windmillers turn out for a tour of north west Essex, joining the circuit at whichever point was closest to home – some solo, some in pairs – some going clockwise, others anticlockwise – on a route taking in Saffron Walden, Widdington, Rickling, Stocking Pelham, Langley Upper Green – and Littlebury Green, where Simon hosted refreshments and the charity box.
Undaunted by Martin’s warning that much of the county was under water – we did indeed have to negotiate the odd flooded road – somehow we all got through without dismounting and wading.
Howard in particular had a memorable outing, pausing as he did to assist a stranded motorist. Not only had she a flat tyre, but hers was a vehicle equipped with a can of tyre repair sealant instead of a spare wheel. Howard did his best but only succeeded in getting the tyre semi-inflated. Thanking him profusely the lady drove off, only for Howard to encounter her – again with a flat tyre – a short distance down the road. It was time for her to call her family.
Meanwhile, the day was turning out colder than forecast and we were looking forward to stopping off at Poppy’s Barn for coffee, sustenance and warmth. Alas, we had to sit outside and freeze as Geoff, Ken and Deborah had beaten us to it, arriving early and commandeering three separate tables (remember the rules; no household mixing!) Whereupon the proprietor, deciding she could not accommodate any more cyclists inside, asked the rest of us to sit outside. Humph! Neither did it help when Deborah gave us a jolly wave through the window as she tucked into her full English breakfast.
Suffering mild exposure, those of us finishing up at Simon’s were too chilled to consume cold beer and opted instead to stuff our fivers in the charity box and head for home. Poor old Victor and Brian, however, sustained punctures on the way home. Victor, making several stops to pump up his tyre, managed to get home without mending the puncture. No such luck for Brian, who found himself marooned on top of Coploe Hill with a totally flat tyre. Fortunately for him, Martin drove by on his way home, scooped him up and returned him to Great Shelford. Many thanks, Martin.
For the record, this week’s hardy bunch comprised Maurice, Andrew, Alan, Martin, Ken, Deborah, Geoff, Howard, Charles, Lawrence, Graham, Mike, Simon, Roger, Victor and Brian.
Simon reports the charity box yielded £120; well done, team! And thanks, as ever, Maurice and Andrew for organising it all.
Finally, we must just give a special mention to our two pals – Keith and Nigel – who, for various health related reasons, have been unable to join us for the past several months. We miss their company and look forward to them joining us again once things get back to normal in 2021.
According to Wikipedia, the village of Chrishall marks the highest point in Essex, at some 147 metres above sea level. Atop these lofty heights lives our Windmill chum, Charles, who on Thursday was hosting the Club charity box.
Victor and Brian, having cycled from home, had already clocked up 40 miles and stopped to help a stranded cyclist, so we arrived at Charles’ somewhat later than expected. Just as the Union Jack flies over the Palace to signify the queen is in residence, we were hoping the Cross of St George flying over Chalky Lane meant that somebody was home. Letting ourselves in through the side gate, we found the place strangely deserted. Charles was probably walking his many dogs or otherwise airing his cavalry twills. No matter, stuffing our contributions in the charity box, we mounted up and headed back down the hill towards Great Shelford some ten miles distant.
We had enjoyed a delightful outing; perfect autumn weather, beautiful countryside, quiet roads and, every so often, a cheery wave – or a few brief words – exchanged with a Windmiller going the other way.
Our notable moments had included:
Graham passing us on the circuit not once, not twice but three times. The man is a machine!
Judging by the many photographs posted, the big log on the roadside between Little Hormead and Furneux Pelham proved a popular spot to pause for refreshments; we trust everyone sanitised the log before moving on.
Pulling up for a breather in Nuthampstead, we found ourselves outside Bridget Tarrington’s house – and there was the lady herself tending the garden. We had a lovely chat – hopefully overlooked by the lockdown police – separated as we were by Bridget’s garden gate. She sends her love to all and hopes to join us on a Monday ride in the spring.
The aforementioned stranded cyclist was Suz, who we found mending a puncture by the roadside in Great Chishill. Helping out, we realised we had a mutual acquaintance; Suz lives in Wendens Ambo and is a near neighbour of Andrew’s. She was interested to know more about the Windmill Club and, who knows, we may even see her join us on future outings.
Finally, we must thank Maurice for the fine route, Andrew for logistics, and Graham, Simon, Martin and Deb for the many fine photographs.
When cycling with Martin we recommend you bring a good book, or maybe the Times crossword, or even Travel Scrabble – anything to while away the hour it can take to mend one of his punctures. Being such a nice chap, everybody wants to help and for each additional helper you can add another 10 minutes. So Martin plus five helpers equals a one hour puncture repair.
Then there’s the collateral damage; this week’s included three new inner tubes (two exploded), one bicycle pump (also exploded), two CO2 cylinders (fully discharged), not to mention minor injuries (Roger’s finger, bent but not quite broken).
That aside, we enjoyed a delightful ride, Martin leading Geoff, Roger, Charles, Victor and Brian around a 30-odd mile loop from the Packhorse, Moulton to Maglia Rosso and back. Lunch – a little later than usual – was excellent and over a beer or two we swapped stories of Martin’s memorable mendings; the most notable of which include the one outside the Blackwall Tunnel and the one at the vicarage in Comberton. Check them out.
Of Graham’s group, Simon reports . . .
Bike rides are a bit like life. First comes the easy bit when you glide along thinking it’s all going well. What you haven’t noticed of course is that the wind has been behind you.
Out we went through Upper Green and Little Saxham to the bike shop and café at Hawstead Green – Simon, Mike, Deborah and Jenni – ably shepherded by Graham. The weather, in particular the westerly tail wind, was kind to us, apart from a brief hailstorm that forced us to shelter for a few minutes under a tree.
Funny how you don’t notice the wind until you turn and it is blowing in your face. Just like that stage of life when you are building a career and raising a family, you have to keep going. We pedalled on, legs aching, struggling to make headway, the scenery all a bit of a blur; though I do remember there were some busy roads and intimidating drivers to keep us on our toes.
Then came our mid-life crisis where everyone had to rally round with the sole objective of getting back to the pub on-time. On this occasion Deborah had a puncture after we had ridden past some seasonal hedge cutting.
The group came together nicely. We had all the necessary kit but not always the clearest of ideas of how to use it. Still we muddled through and were soon on our way. The descent into Moulton came as a relief and, arriving back at the Pack Horse, we enjoyed a well earned beer.
By next Thursday we may even have the energy to do it all again, with the prospect of more stories, more laughs and finishing with another good lunch and a beer. So here’s to next Thursday. The weather can’t be that bad, can it?
Maurice’s Group . . .
. . . comprising Maurice himself, plus Howard, Ken, Rod, and Alan, had a memorable start, Maurice arriving as he did with a flat car tyre. Rumour has it he has never changed a wheel; “I have people who do that,” he explained. In no time, the Windmillers had his car jacked and the wheel changed in a marginally sub-Formula 1 time. We only hope Martin was watching and learning.
Needless to say, we had all enjoyed a great day out and owe a special thanks to Maurice – for selecting a fine route, Andrew – for getting us organised, and of course, Martin, Graham and Maurice (again) for leading us all safely around the circuit. Thanks, guys.
They call me the wanderer, Yeah, the wanderer, I roam around, around, around . . .
Lyrics sung by Dion in 1961
Thursday morning saw Ken and Martin ready and waiting to greet Windmillers arriving at The White Swan, Conington. Ken had prepared the route and – with Andrew laid up sick – Martin had taken on the logistics. Seventeen Windmillers were expected and, keeping us Covid safe, Martin had planned for us to gather, ride and take lunch in three groups, separated in time and space. What could possibly go wrong?
A flurry of Whatsapp messages and phone calls later, however, and Martin’s plans lay in tatters. Several Windmillers were stuck in traffic on the M11 and Deborah, distraught on the telephone, was lost in the wilds of Cambridgeshire. With cyclists now arriving in dribs and drabs, Martin, thinking fast to avoid chaos, assembled and dispatched groups of six on a first come, first served basis.
Meanwhile Deborah, still orbiting the outer reaches of the county, with Martin’s help was guided in to rendezvous at our refreshment stop – The Wheatsheaf, West Perry – where her spirits were revived with generous helpings of coffee and cake. No group outing for her, though she did at least manage a pleasant ride around Grafham Water, which the rest of us could only glimpse over a hedge.
Near Buckden, those of us following Simon were mortified to see him take a wrong turning on to the busy A1. Yikes! Attempting to call him back, we yelled for all we were worth, but to no avail; there he was pedalling alongside the traffic, seemingly bound for Scotch Corner and all points north.
That was the last we saw of Simon for some time as he embarked on an impromptu 17 mile tour of Brampton, Huntingdon, Godmanchester, the Hemingfords and Fenstanton before finally rejoining us at the White Swan in Conington. Mightily relieved to see him back safe, his arrival was applauded by Windmillers and locals alike. Somewhat pink in the face but otherwise unharmed, he enjoyed a restorative pint though was sadly too late for lunch.
Simon, poor chap, suffered a final indignity when his car stubbornly refused to start. Martin, Ken and Lawrence tried pushing it around the car park before enquiring in the pub as to whether anyone might have jump leads. A very helpful Sandra-type lady came to the rescue, positioning her Audi alongside Simon’s Honda and, connecting up the cables, he was soon firing on all four again.
It had been an enjoyable, if eventful, outing – the majority of riders clocking up 35 miles. This week’s high mileage awards went naturally to Simon (42 miles), but also Ric (70 miles) and Graham (88 miles).
Thanks are due to Ken for planning the route and Martin for improvising his very own Operation Stack, avoiding chaos on the approaches to Conington, much like the Kent police do for Dover.
Finally, we must pay tribute to our dear friend, Vernon, who sadly passed away this week after a long illness, bravely fought. Our thoughts are with Moira and his family. We will be organising a memorial ride in the next few weeks.