Gardener’s Question Time
Last ridden on 9th December 2012 [Ride Leader: Kieron McMahon] Organic and local produce is the idea behind the community-led Big Barn Farm Shop at Astwood Bank so the touring section headed over to check out the café and perhaps buy a few Christmas gifts in the shop. With icy roads in recent weeks, the touring secretary amended the route to utilise some main roads. His name was mud as tourers suddenly found themselves climbing Brook Holloway and Uffmoor Lane to get over Romsley. The terrain got a little easier as the ride skirted around Bromsgrove and past the prison at Hewell Lane. The peloton considered locking up the ride leader and wished they had done so when he led them up Weavers Hill at Hunt End. Barry Slater blew the sidewall of a tyre but Barry Wheeler came to the rescue by producing a spare folding tyre from his pannier. You can’t top an old school touring rider. The café was excellent and the views from the conservatory are spectacular; riders could see across to the county border and beyond.
Paul and Ann Chapman gave a big thumbs-up for the homemade scones whilst Neil and Kieron chomped their way through hearty helpings of scrambled egg and mushrooms on toast for just £4 that included a pot of tea. Not bad at all. The touring secretary felt guilty for torturing the section on the hills so bought some truffles for them to share before we headed off down the lanes. The roads were much wetter on the return journey and this was compounded by some showers of rain.
Appropriately enough, a rainbow appeared over Bromsgrove as if to acknowledge the recent world record by the section’s very own Wally Fowler. The world champion then punctured! Shelter was sought in the Dodford Inn, a cosy pub in the village where community market garden and farming ideas was put into practice by the Chartists in the 19th century. There are still plenty of plum and apple trees to be found in the grid pattern of the village. Despite getting his new bike all dirty, The Sickly Kid generously got the beers in for everyone. These were enjoyed whilst the black sky passed over before we all rode home in the sunshine.
Rowland Rat Run
Last ridden 2nd December 2012 [Ride Leader: Kieron McMahon] The temperature plummeted in the week, making this the coldest ride of the winter season. It was a case of quoting Captain Oates by telling your
partner: “I’m going on a club run and I might be some time.” John Bennett had to be chipped off the railings outside the Old Library. We thought he was wearing blue but it turned out it was him that was blue. Only five brave souls turned up for the ride which, on the eve of Rowland Hill’s birthday, celebrated the man who invented the modern postal system by undertaking a route that rolled past several interesting postal buildings, former post offices and, of course, the statue of the man at Kidderminster. Roger Allen dubbed this a run for ‘Stamping on the Pedals.’ The ride started off by looking at the red brick former post office that once fronted the Alhambra Theatre, one of the Stourbridge’s long-lost entertainment hotspots back in the day.
Riders were surprised at the relatively remote location of the former post office at Lower Clent but it was once central to Holy Cross, Broome and Clent besides fronting the old turnpike road. The tour then went up Adams Hill to take a look at a lesser-spotted Edwardian wall box that serves to remind how Clent was a popular tourist destination with Black Country folk at the fag end of the industrial revolution.
The narrow lanes around Walton Pool were trouble-free compared to the climb up from St. Leonard’s towards Romsley. Water run-off from the fields had created ice patches on the road surface and quite how we all managed to get up in one piece was a marvel. Pam showed off her off-road skills by keeping her bike upright despite losing the front wheel. Neil wobbled off piste for a while and the touring secretary, despite staying in the saddle, spent a lot of time spinning his back wheel whilst fruitlessly searching for some traction. The icy conditions made the downhill ride from Romsley Hill a little scary but we made it to the former Bell Heath Post Office intact. Built in 1919 and lasting until the 1960’s, this is an unusual site for a post office. During a reconnaissance ride, the occupier, a Brummie exile named Geraldine, told the touring secretary that her mother-in-law once dated Olympic track cyclist Tommy Godwin. In addition, her grandfather had also won a penny farthing race at the age of 65. The touring section headed down to Belbroughton to look at the old post office once run by the Bate family for generations. The current post office has opened a coffee shop which may be of interest to SCC members who use the pick-up at the Talbot Hotel. In Chaddesley Corbett riders took a look at two buildings that once housed the post office before enjoying a late breakfast adjoining the current building. Still called Jukes, the post office had indeed also been located here in days of old where Samuel Jukes worked as both sub-postmaster and baker. A nice touch is the red post boxes that double as pepperpots.
It is not certain whether it was the cold outside or the lengthy anecdotes by the verbose touring secretary, but riders stayed in the warmth of the restaurant for over an hour before heading to Kidderminster. Although not in use, there is a very old hexagonal post box at the Severn Valley Railway Station where the history of the pillar box was told by the touring secretary before riders went to look at the larger than life size statue of Rowland Hill. In what was classic Victorian bureaucracy, the committee in charge of erecting the memorial met 124 times before the statue was erected by which time Sir Rowland Hill had gone to the post box in the sky. On the return journey to Stourbridge, riders visited the former post offices at Broadwaters, Churchill and Blakedown. The peloton arrived back in Norton just in time to watch local brewer and publican Dave Craddock hitch up his pony to his dray and trot off to the Duke William in Coventry Street. Filled to capacity with postal trivia, riders found a nice corner by the toasting fire in the Plough and Harrow and sunk a couple of beers to toast the man who brought us the Penny Black.
Flying Boots and Cycling Shoes
Last ridden 25th November 2012 [Ride Leader: Kieron McMahon] After almost a week of horrific wet conditions, the sun broke through to provide a rare window for this club run. The ride was devised as a fall-back from the original route in order to steer clear of mucky lanes. This was almost achieved but, inevitably, touring riders had to negotiate some flooded lanes. The fields had been unable to cope with the storms and the water simply ran off the saturated ground and across the tarmac. The whizz down Six Ashes was a scary mix of aquaplaning and steering clear of fallen debris. Keen to maintain the fitness of the section, the touring secretary threw a little hill climbing into the mix and his name was the equal of any muddy lane in the soggy South Staffordshire region. Heading out via Cookley, riders were made to climb Church Hill at Kinver just for a warm-up. The ride down The Compa was excitingly hairy and a nice big pool of water awaited the peloton at the bottom. The rollercoaster ride through Kinver, Cox Green and Tuckhill got the legs in a tingly state before the disquieting descent into Bobbington where Six Ashes Lane doubled as the village’s new swimming facility. Wally Fowler, recent winner of the rainbow jersey at the UCI Track Cycling Masters World Championships, brought his gold medal for the touring section to ogle over breakfast in the old control tower of Halfpenny Green Airfield.
It was highly entertaining to hear him recount how he was given much help from the likes of Jim Varnish in order to shave vital microseconds off his time to land the world record. Wheels, gears, special light tyres and aero lid was generously supplied to our track champion who even got to wear Jess Varnish’s skin suit for his triumphant run. Back on the soggy trail to Swindon, the touring section romped through Trysull and over The Bratch before starting the climb up to Sedgley. Wodehouse Lane to Gospel End was closed to traffic so riders had the road to themselves in this warm-up for the final leg-crunching ascent of Moden Hill. The reward for their efforts was some homebrewed ale by the Fownes Brewing Company at the Jolly Crispin in Upper Gornal. The ride distance was a mere 27.79 miles to the former farmhouse and, more recently, award-winning public house but the lumps and bumps resulted in tired legs at the end. In the Jolly Crispin Barry Wheeler shared some tales of his European adventures which, coupled with Wally Fowler’s anecdotes, made everyone realise what great camaraderie there is within the touring section.
Working up a Steam
Last ridden 18th November 2012 [Ride Leader: Kieron McMahon] This is one of the touring section’s sojourns in which riders head north-east so it is a bit of a change of direction and affords a variety of lanes rarely used on SCC club runs. After some fairly horrible weather during the week, the clouds broke on Saturday afternoon resulting in a heavy frost. Consequently, great caution had to be taken during the early part of the ride. However, the lack of cloudbase resulted in glorious sunshine throughout the day. With heavy rain over the preceding days, the touring secretary undertook a reconnaissance mission on Saturday during which he determined that some of the lanes around Shenstone and Stonnall were simply too horrendous for cyclists. A bit of re-routing did however take the ride to a tadge under 60 miles. Our hardy touring riders were up to the task, though they did keep asking “how far is it to the café?” in a fashion that is reminiscent to “are we nearly there yet?” Returning in triumph from his recent track glory, it was great to have our World Champion, Wally Fowler, back in the touring section. Our rainbow jersey veteran was however brought back down to earth – or reality – with two punctures on the outward journey. Having trained purely for short sprinting for some months, Wally was brilliant on his return to distance pedalling. A new element of this ride is the attractive cycle path along Sandwell Valley, a route which is largely on tarmac. We stopped for a brief look at Bishop Asbury’s Cottage in Great Barr before heading out through Little Aston, Footherley, Stonnall, Hammerwich and Chasetown. We enjoyed a good lunch at the Chasewater Railway Station Café where our two waifs, Natalie and Rebecca, tucked into enormous plates of cottage pie. With chips! It was estimated that they’d doubled their weight for the journey home. We went to take a look at Chasewater itself and ended up replenishing the water levels whilst Pam fixed a rear puncture. Actually, it was Maurice who showed everyone how chivalrous he was – and good at replacing an inner tube in formula one time. The return journey was less arduous as the section took a green route through Little Wyrley, Essington, Featherstone, past Moseley Old Hall and passing through the old part of Tettenhall before heading to Trysull. The punctures made it a bit of a marathon but the route more than compensated for the delays.
Post-ride refreshments were enjoyed in the Robin Hood at Amblecote.
The Olympic Tour
Last ridden 11th November 2012 [Ride Leader: Kieron McMahon] What fantastic weather we enjoyed on this trip. Arguably, the best conditions possible for a mid-November ride. The Olympic Tour was attempted in the summer of 2012 but suffered from horrific weather conditions [sideways rain etc.] so this trip was rescheduled to squeeze it into 2012. As part of this year’s celebration of the London Olympics, the Touring Section visited the beautiful medieval town of Much Wenlock, the town in which Dr William Penny Brookes was born. He was the inspiration for the modern Olympic Movement and founder of the Wenlock Olympian Society. Consequently, the touring secretary required an Olympic effort from the section as they toiled up the Shropshire hills. The shouts of “car down” or “hole” were augmented with a cheery “hill” as the next incline loomed large. Riders dug deep into their reserves and all earned a podium place as the peloton arrived at Much Wenlock in good time. The Old Smoothie Café is run by a former Cat 1 bike racer who lords it over those arriving on two wheels. This excellent café has what the marketing moguls call a great USP. We talk, of course, of the magnificent sausage rolls that are filled with an exciting range of exotic fillings. We were all bamboozled with the choice when Mark asked for a run-down on the flavours. A few riders stuck with the more traditional bacon sandwich but then had to endure the orgasmic sighs from those who had dived into these extraordinary anti-bonk banquets. Some folks even had two! Post-coital sausage roll encounters were followed with a wander around the charming museum that includes much information and memorabilia from the days of Dr.
Brookes. The Sickly Kid was taken right back to his childhood when he found an old grocery bike on which he spent many an hour riding along to the Hovis tune. Barry Wheeler took us through team tactics for riding a penny-farthing in the SCC time trial. With the lure of a beer the peloton charged along at a pace towards Claverley, some electing to follow John Bennett on a mystery tour of Shropshire rather than follow the touring secretary and Barry Wheeler, two wise owls who had sunk a pint long before those donning the lantern rouge rolled into the car park! Those with good taste sat in front of the log fire and enjoyed the locally-brewed Brough’s Pale Ale, a very nice beer indeed.
Pam then gained the “Rider of the Day” award when she produced more of the aforementioned sausage rolls from her cycling jersey – in bacofoil of course! Once again, the section enjoyed an excellent foray into Shropshire.
Last ridden 4th November 2012 [Ride Leader: Kieron McMahon] A newspaper article detailing this event brought out a few new faces for a ride in which the touring secretary plotted a route to commemorate the events during the Jesuit Treason of 1605. To enter into the spirit of things riders were to pretend that it actually was the year in which Guy Fawkes was caught amid his explosives. Riders assumed the role of gunpowder plotters on the run from the Sheriff of Worcester.
This forced us to seek a meandering route to avoid capture so SCC riders travelled through some of the lesser-known and rarely used lanes of North Worcestershire. Riders visited several key locations that were related to the plot led by Robert Catesby. Luck was on our side and, although rain threatened to dampen the powder for our muskets, we enjoyed a little sunshine on the return journey from Stourport. The Windlass Café proved to be a good stop for conspirator’s victuals. We cycled past the Plough Inn at Shenstone, a former HQ for SCC during races in days of old. We then visited Harvington Hall which played a key role in the post-plot era. Tales of capture and death were recounted at the Lyttelton Arms before we snuck back into The Crown at Oldswinford where we toasted our successful escape from the clutches of the forces of King James. Click here for a map with profile and elevation.
Last ridden 28th October 2012 [Ride Leader: Kieron McMahon] Who said it would only be showers today? We got soaked on the way home.
However, this did not dampen our spirits – after all, we’re tough us cyclists? The main destination on this ride was the rather splendid Bell at Pensax so the touring secretary made everyone work up a thirst by taking them on a rollercoaster of a ride around the Wyre Forest and Clows Top area. Everyone was given a free rein on the long climb out of Bewdley up to the Wyre Forest Visitor Centre. The touring secretary shouted “last one there gets the breakfasts in” and this proved to be a great motivational tool to get everyone spinning. Barry Slater showed that he’s still got good legs. Either that or he was desperate not to get stung for the tariff. Nicely warmed up, we settled down for a nice breakfast in the recently-refurbished café. They now have more cakes than Firkins. The road to Far Forest leaves a lot to be desired.
They must have rounded up a load of people doing community service to do the tarmac infill. Some elderly members of the local W.I. could have been done a better job. The lanes were a bit mucky around the Mamble area and plenty of leaves to keep riders on the ball. Shouts of “Steady” could be heard on the steep descents. The first serious workout came on the climb from Dumbleton Brook near Eardiston up to Menithwood. This has three ramps, the first being a heart attack, the second being a double by-pass, and the third a triple bogey. For some odd reason, riders suddenly seemed to want to kill the touring secretary. But he had more in store on the way to the pub with a nice climb out of Chinth Mill and a lovely leg cruncher through Ridding Coppice. Riders now wanted to bin the idea of killing the touring secretary and simply wished to throw themselves in a ditch to await burial later on by some kind passer by who would take pity on them.
Club members staggered into the Bell for a rest and, oh they sell beer too! May as well get stuck in then. Free food on the counter too!
What’s not to like? A vast array of ales to choose from but really there was only one choice after this ride so most got stuck into “Worcestershire Way” which is brewed at Bewdley. Rather splendid it was too. Barry left his purse on the counter and it was found to contain Roman coins. T'other Barry was keen to show off his first bike saddle now being used as a bar stool. With the clouds deciding to drop their payload, the touring secretary took pity on the riders and allowed them to take an easier way back to Stourport. Pam Saunders and Barry Wheeler punctured near Churchill and, by the time we were rolling again the rain was coming down in carrier bags. We were soaked by the time we got to Stourbridge so the idea of another beer went out of the window in favour of going home for a nice hot cup of tea and perhaps some pampering from our nearest-and-dearests’. As previously noted, we’re tough us cyclists.
Last ridden 21st October 2012 [Ride Leader: Ann Chapman] With a cold soggy overnight fog descending on the Midlands, there was a low turnout for this enjoyable ride to the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Ann led riders through a pleasant route through Trysull, Pattingham, Beckbury and Brockton before the steep descent into Coalport, We arrived at the Brewery Inn at 11.10am and, although a board outside states breakfasts are served until 11.30am, we were refused food. But every cloud has a silver lining and we found a much more hospitable venue in Ironbridge. Commanding a fabulous view of the cast iron structure erected by Abraham Darby III in 1799, the Bridge View Café was excellent. As we were locking up our bikes, a young man came out and opened the gate to the passageway in order for us to park them safely. Customer service was outstanding. A tadge more expensive perhaps but the breakfasts were superb. At Jackfield we couldn’t resist a photograph outside Lloyd Cottage which leans with the most severe of pit-pulls. Other photographs were taken on the hill out of Coalport and at the pond in Badger. We rode back through Halfpenny Green and Kinver amid glorious autumn sunshine.
Last ridden 13th-14th October 2012 [Ride Leader: Kieron McMahon] 140-mile round-trip for a curry! Madness! But that's cycling for you!
On Saturday 13th October a few of the touring section headed out for a 2-day excursion to Leicester. This incorporated a stimulating, engaging and scenic route, mainly on quiet roads and passing through picturesque villages of Warwickshire and Leicestershire, along with important historical towns such as Atherstone and Market Bosworth. The ride was gently undulating until Leicestershire and then almost flat for the time we were in the county. The Leicestershire villages were most picturesque and Leicester itself was highly enjoyable. We must point out how good the roads are in Leicestershire so a big nod of appreciation to the county council. Even the narrowest of lanes had ultra-smooth surfaces and no pot-holes. Leicester itself has one of the best cycle path networks we have seen. We were traffic-free and safe throughout our time in the city. The route passed through Coleshill, Maxstoke and Over Whitacre before a stop at the Church End Brewery Tap. Lunch was enjoyed in Atherstone before visiting Shenton Aqueduct and along the gated road to Market Bosworth. Riders stopped to watch the racing at Mallory Park before heading to Narborough to pick up the Great Central Way into Leicester City Centre. Our return journey meandered through Desford, Newbold Verdon and Barlestone before visiting the excellent Victoria Tea Rooms at Shackerstone Railway Station. Riders then took a scenic route via Appleby Magna and Austrey before visiting Polesworth. Refreshments were enjoyed near Tamworth Castle before returning via quiet lanes through Shenstone, Little Aston and Sandwell Valley.
Last Ridden on 7th October 2012 [Ride Leader: Paul Chapman]
Led by Paul Chapman, SCC's Club Run to Diglis Basin looks like becoming a popular staple on the touring programme. This ride was enjoyed tremendously. Fabulous weather for a decent turnout of riders.
Paul Chapman's route is enjoyable and allows people to stretch their legs a little. Consequently, everyone was happy to tootle along at 13.5mph with plenty of conversation along the way. Breakfasts and sandwiches were, as previously, superb. The doorstepper butties got to John Bennett who, with eyes bigger than his belly, ordered two and admitted defeat. Very few of the group were aware of the Mug House in Claines so the touring secretary, now notorious for converting the rides into a pub crawl, took everyone inside this 500 year-old inn and everyone fell in love with the place. Great beer and great fun inside as the touring secretary demonstrated a pub game that cost the aforementioned Mr. Bennett the price of half-a-pint. Wow, we know how to push the boat out - send us to Las Vegas for a game of doms. Laced with beer, the touring section got all va-va-voom on the way back - they were just a blur to the residents of Chaddesley Corbett."
Camping Expedition to Grimley
Last ridden 30th September2012 [Ride Leader: Kieron McMahon]Following a summer recovering from injury, the touring secretary made a return to the Sunday riding programme by taking the section through quiet leafy lanes to the Camp House at Grimley, a former mug house on the River Severn and a tavern that remains a Worcestershire treasure.
The Bike Show at the NEC resulted in a low turnout with eight riders enjoying a tour of Belbroughton’s Scarecrow Weekend which had 2012 as its theme. Mo Farah and Usain Bolt were in evidence, along with Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins. A brilliant scarecrow with bananas as a helmet on a cardboard bike that was lovingly made by the house’s occupants. Having won the ‘best’ scarecrow last year, they generously didn’t enter this year in order to allow somebody else to scoop top prize. The section made another stop at Rushock’s church as some riders had not previously seen or were not aware that Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham is buried here. Breakfast was enjoyed in Lord Morton’s at Cutnall Green before continuing over the River Severn at Holt Fleet with a stop at Holt Castle for another historical symposium. Riders enjoyed door-stopping baguettes at the Camp House washed down with excellent Thwaite’s Wainwright Bitter and Brain’s Reverend James, a spicy and aromatic dark beer. The pub’s peacocks put on quite a display with one bird even sitting on the roof of the entrance porch.
Fully fortified, the section then enjoyed quiet lanes back through Boreley, Lincomb, Hartlebury and Stone. The journey ended at the New Inn at Cherry Street where further refreshments were enjoyed. The ride was 48.16 miles ride [77.25km]. Click here for a map with profile and elevation.
Wyre Forest Wobble
Last Ridden on 6th May 2012 [Ride Leader: John Bennett] The Wyre Forest Visitor Centre was the destination for this popular ride by John Bennett. The distance was relatively short but followed a hilly route of great beauty. The ride crossed the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Whittington, the River Severn at Upper Arley where the route passed the Severn Valley Railway Station. Riders then meandered pleasantly through the Wyre Forest where a café stop was enjoyed at the visitor centre. The return journey crossed the River Severn at Bewdley and from Wolverley to Cookley followed a road alongside the canal. Quiet lanes were followed back to Stourbridge where riders enjoyed a social drink at the New Inn at Cherry Street. The ride was 32.9 miles ride [52.96km]. Click here for a map with profile and elevation.
Last Ridden on 13th May 2012 [Ride Leader: Julian Jenkins] This ride, a pleasant meander through rural Worcestershire at Springtime, picked-up at the Talbot Hotel in Belbroughton. The downstream element of the ride went through Stourport before taking in the country lanes to the west of the river before crossing over the bridge at Holt Fleet with refreshments at Bramley's Tea Rooms. Julian then took riders through a pleasant meander through Elmbridge and through Chaddesley Corbett before heading back to Stourbridge. Click here for map of this ride.
Wally Fowler's Birthday Ride
Last Ridden on 22nd April 2012 [Ride Leader: Wally Fowler] Each year we roll along with Wally Fowler to celebrate his birthday.
For those who may not be aware of this annual ride, the much-celebrated track superstar leads club members on a most picturesque journey around Worcestershire calling at Knightwick [down the infamous Wall of Worcester] for breakfast and a lunch stop at Upton-on-Severn. The mileage corresponds with the number of years Wally has clocked up over his colourful life. You can read more about Wally in Maggie's interview on the achievers page. Ride Distance: 78 miles. Post-ride analysis: Wind, rain, hail, thunder, lightning. We had the lot. However, the elements could not spoil a great ride to celebrate Wally Fowler’s birthday tour to Knightwick and Upton-upon-Severn. In fact, the harsh weather on the way home helped to engender a degree of camaraderie that will help to etch this tour into our memory banks. Of course, we did have a good deal of sunshine for the first half of the day which saw 18 riders take to the road to accompany SCC’s track superstar on what has become a highlight of the touring calendar. The journey’s mileage corresponds with Wally’s age so each year we have to pedal a little further in order to clock up the correct number – it was 78 this year. The pace was far from sedentary with Senor Fowler showing the youngsters how he won the coveted rainbow jersey on the track. WAG Kup-holder Derek Hill suffered the only mechanico of the day in Kidderminster – the repairs turned into something of a comic farce – it was great fun to watch. The demanding rollercoaster ride to Knightwick is always a hoot and we descended upon the Talbot Inn at a rate of knots. The pub had been refurbished since last year’s ride and now has a large restaurant in place of the patio. Incredibly, the prices seemed to be lower than last year – the only known example of deflation on a Worcestershire bar tariff. On the road from Powick to Upton the hammer went down like the right arm of a vigorous auctioneer and the touring secretary was forced to spearhead a line of riders in order to get them back on the wheel of the unstoppable Wally Fowler.
Our ride leader most generously helped fill everyone’s tummy with much-needed fortification at the riverside. It was great to see another cycling superstar at the café as former SCC member June Pitchford was enjoying a light lunch as we rolled in. The former UK Best All Rounder and main adversary to the legendary Beryl Burton is still sporting orange and blue kit! Wally outmanoeuvred the Cumulonimbus for much of the day but our luck finally ran out close to home. The stinging hail finally forced the peloton to seek shelter under a tree during a fork-lightning storm – perhaps we’d have been better off on our rubber! But that’s SCC logic for you!! The sun broke through again as we pedalled the last few miles home of what was an excellent day out. Chapeau Wally Fowler.
Previously ridden on 15th April 2012 [Ride Leader: Paul Chapman] Diglis Basin was the destination for this rural ride to the City of Worcester. Paul and Ann Chapman guided the group through Chaddesley Woods and the old Roman Road to Droitwich. A cycle path and quiet lanes were taken to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal at Offerton Farm where riders enjoyed a towpath route to The Commandery in Worcester, before a whopping breakfast at the Anchor Inn at Diglis Basin. Following refreshments, the group cycled around the basin and crossed the River Severn on the new bridge close to Diglis Weir. Paul guided riders along the river and a very pleasant cycle route out of the city to Northwick and onto Claines. Doverdale and Sneads Green were visited as the group headed north to Elmley Lovett and back home via Chaddesley Corbett and Belbroughton.
Ride Distance: 50.66 miles [81.53km]
Although bright and sunny there was a nip in the air throughout the day. However, the forecast of dry weather ensured a good attendance for this ride to Worcester led by Paul Chapman with help from his partner Ann who looked after the rear – a much needed role with 20 riders on the road. Following his crash on the previous day’s training ride, the touring secretary was keen not to have clothing sticking to fresh wounds so ‘manned-up’ and rode in short sleeves and bib shorts.
Of course, with everyone else wearing winter warmers this proved to be the subject of much hilarity as the goose bumps grew larger in the windy conditions. Following the trusty Roman Road to Droitwich, riders enjoyed much conversation en-route before all the road tarts travelled by tarmac to Worcester whilst the hardier folk had the pleasure of the canal towpath all the way to The Commandery. Paul Chapman provided the touring group with a short history of the building before everyone headed to the Anchor Inn at Diglis Basin. With 20 riders descending on the place, the landlady quickly ushered us into the skittle alley where enormous breakfasts were consumed at a modest price. Service was surprisingly quick and the logistics of payment proved easy. Graham provided Tommy Cooper entertainment with a magic trick in which monetary investment followed a similar path to that of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Some riders scored the café with a 10/10 whilst John Bennett went one further by declaring it was an eleven. This may have had something to do with a barmaid falling onto his lap. Fully laden with fried fodder, the group tested the swing bridge at Diglis Basin before providing the local council with a free weight and motion test of the new footbridge across the River Severn. This allowed everyone to enjoy Diglis Weir from the best viewpoint and also afforded a lovely view of the cathedral. Utilising a mixture of small back streets and cycle paths, Paul guided riders along a particularly interesting route out of the city to Northwick before passing through Claines and Doverdale on the way home. A few club members rounded off the excellent ride with a few beers in the Windsor Castle at Lye.
Click here to view a photograph album of the ride at Facebook.
Easter Sunday Treasure Hunt
Last Ridden on 8th April 2012 [Cryptographer: Kieron McMahon]
For Easter Sunday the club staged a Cycle Treasure Hunt around Stourbridge and the local rural area. For security reasons, riders went out in pairs and were given some cryptic clues to find obscure details in specific locations. Although it was not a race as such, time penalties were awarded for failing to find answers and the team with the least number of errors won the Leonard H. Woodcock Touring Trophy along with luxury Easter eggs. The picturesque route could be cycled at 5.57mph so there was technically plenty of time allowed to find the clues but teams soon found themselves under pressure to make tactical decisions on the road on whether to complete the route on time and take penalty points for ‘lost’ answers or to spend more time solving the clues and running over the allotted time. Consequently, the event was weighted towards those who used their grey matter rather than being those with the ability to pedal fast. It was a very enjoyable event, though the touring secretary should have made it clear at the start line that he was rather cruel and evil with the clue trail. All teams competed in good spirits and did well to complete the route. Congratulations to the couples who maintained domestic harmony under pressured conditions. The trophy will be up for grabs in another competition to be held next Easter. The touring secretary has some spare clue sheets of the event for anyone wishing to have a go at their own leisure.
Click here to view a short video of this event.
South Staffordshire Point-to-Point
Last Ridden on 1st April 2012 [Ride Leader: Kieron McMahon]
This ride, a historical journey around Staffordshire pre-1974 boundary changes, followed an unusual route through the Black Country’s urban fringe plus a very pleasant rural journey calling at 13 of the old county's historic churches coupled with some oral history from the ride leader. Refreshments were enjoyed in the old control tower of Halfpenny Green airfield.
Ride Distance: 35.46 miles [57.07km]
Map: Click here for map and elevation profile at MapmyRide
Another fabulous turnout with 17 riders. Following a chilly start, the weather was great. Most people enjoyed something a little different and found the oral history interesting. A few lesser-used lanes were also explored which is always a refreshing change for riders. The cafe was excellent and they managed to serve us in good time. The visit to Bobbington Church afforded some riders a chance to see this picturesque spot at long last - we are normally, after all, nearly on death's door as we head up to Six Ashes on some monstrously fast ride and don't have a chance to glance at this historic building. The Compa is now a one-way road so the hill up from the Old Grammar School to Kinver's church was 'enjoyed' by riders. We then toddled off back to Stourbridge where the beer garden of the Plough and Harrow proved to be a most pleasant haven for an hour or so. The latter was a route change from the Royal Exchange in Enville Street.