As the saying goes 'if you live long enough, you get to see everything', well this Sunday's club run was just that. How many times have we turned up at Harley Hall in a downpour & when suggestions for the tea stop are requested, Starbucks in Kingston is mentioned. Well today was just that day, but on this occasion we actually did it & before you all say, its only a mile down the road let me explain further.
Leaving my house with Young Gareth in tow, it looked quite promising, best bike out, overcast but no rain. I think I made it about a mile down the road, before taking my hands off the bars & donning my gillet. On route we were joined by the harder man from even further north (Rob Saunders), who had Louis in tow with him.
Harley Hall was reached in the rain & as usual the NBRC dictum applied 'blistering hot day we get 6 riders, in a downpour we get 11'. These namely being Big Dave, Martin Erasmus (who I mistakenly called Michael Rasmussen last week, but I kinda like this name better), Darren, Chris (Selley), Fast Eddie (welcome back & congratulations on the birth of your son Arthur), Richard & Tony (Brunton). The people conspicuous by their absence were the Hard Man Of The North (Time trial on the A1 beckoned), Swiss Tony & the bearded Osama Bin Selley (who's probably still on the run from this whole Ricardo Ricco thing).
Anyway to make a change, with the forthcoming Boltpoh Claydon TT on the horizon, we decided to go out to the Calydon's for a recce around the course, followed by tea at Winslow. Off we sped with the rain for company. By the time we reached Bletchley, the group stopped to don rain jackets & glasses became a borderline necessity as the rain continued.
Passing through Winslow, we were all together & things had picked up. We reached the circuit shortly after & the hammer was dropped by the chaps from the colonies (Martin & Rob) who were heading up the group, spurned on by Gareth 18mph, became 30mph in the space of 50 metres. Hanging back to pick up Tony & Louis, we regrouped at the cross roads, heading towards Whaddesdon. The pace was brisk, but thankfully not as brisk as it was. Eddie & Louis dropped off the back, followed (at the foot of Winslow hill) by myself, but we all stopped at Winslow, for a re-group. This was where our plan started to fall apart, all of the three tea shops at Winslow were closed, much to our disappointed & that of the three Bicester Millennium RC club members. Swambourne was then the given 2nd option, off we sped only to find this water hole closed. Much speculation descended upon the group over the next choice. After considering a few & rejecting Pink Punters as a group of lads in tight fitting lycra, might get the locals going, Starbucks Kingston was agreed upon. Unfortunately we were down to Big Dave, Martin, Darren, Chris & Gareth at this point. After a dash for the red routes, I climbed of the bike with 51 miles on the clock & settled down for a much earned break.
Service at Starbucks was exceptional & we all became corporate consumer whores as we settled into being brain washed, by the large mutli national branding monster. However in fairness the waitress did ask if we would like to try the banana smoothie, I don't think she expected to be relieved of the entire tray, but they were very welcoming. Discussions eschewed as to whether it was better to do the usual out & back ride with a tea stop in the middle, or a longer ride with a tea stop at the end, answers on a postcard please.
With Gareth for company, I made it back with 58 miles on the clock & had to do a double take of a 17mph average, which I thought was exceptional taking into account , the terrain, the weather etc, but I think it was kept artificially high with the hunt for the tea stop, amazing what an appetite will do isn't it?