Saturday 29th September 2018
Newcomer Trevor, whose vowels betrayed a west Essex upbringing, claimed he wouldn’t put us to shame with his speed. This was soon found out to be at least suspicious. He also follows the Wet Hamsters. Shame.
Roll call outside the Kenlis Arms revealed that a dozen had joined the ride. David Hodgson had been scheduled to lead but, feeling under the weather, he had passed on coordination duties to me and my, er, rested legs.
We set a brisk pace towards Inglewhite and Longridge. Simon, a regular C-rider now dipping his toes into B2 waters, demonstrated that he could hold his own as the first mountain points of the day were contested on the Côte de Berry Lane. That was no more than an appetiser for the subsequent haul up Jeffrey Hill. Here Trevor revealed his hand by apparently beating all comers to not the top (there being a right turn and several more metres of climbing past the car park before the summit.) I can only report this secondhand: like a good First World War general I was leading from the back.
We turned towards Clitheroe at the New Drop Inn, taking the undulating road along the flank of the fell, leading towards probably nobody’s favourite descent, Birdy Brow.
Trevor and Cervelo left us at the bottom of Birdy. The remainder of the group made its way towards Waddington via Twitter Lane. Ian Tunbridge then committed an enormous faux pas. To the shock of a local land owner, Ian took a wide line at Wetters Bridge in order to ensure an oncoming motorist had seen him and was aware that nine other cyclists were just behind. The motorist’s reaction suggested this was not how one should behave in the Ribble Valley. “That’s my bridge!” she yelled at Paula, in a tone of voice oddly-reminiscent of Babs Windsor at the Queen Vic. Steve Hopkinson was treated to further yells through the driver’s open car door. David may also have tales to tell. Who knew that the Queen drives a Vauxhall Nova, eh?
Waddington’s Country Kitchen had found a marvellously tasty pig to slice into bacon (still, sadly, no black pudding on offer). Unfortunately, it wasn’t laced with the same additives as Mr Contador’s famous steak. My legs gave up on leaving Waddington. It turns out that, when a chap spends several weeks barely even looking at his bike, the fitness packs its trunk and says goodbye to the circus. (Today’s metaphors are sponsored by Kenwood— mixers for the masses.)
Unfortunately for me there was still quite a lot of climbing to go. The scenery remained lovely. I found I was able to admire it all the more as it passed ever more slowly. Our return was largely uneventful. Thanks to Phil Durrigan for riding back from the end of the route to my car in order to pass on the thanks of today’s riders to me. I may have spent a good ten minutes in my car just trying to regain feeling in my legs. Fortunately, fitness returns with practice. I must do more of that.