Well following my four week absence, whilst assisting, in the limited way that I can, by aiding Angelina Lawson's transition into this world (mother & baby both doing fine) it was with trepidation that the winter bike was brought from the stable, tires re-inflated & a cursory leg thrown over the steed.
As I rode to the mighty Harley hall, I was very impressed of the fit & quality of the new NBRC club kit (still plenty in stock I hear), I was even quite amused by the mobile phone pocket in the back of the bib shorts, I assume it was for a mobile phone as my tin of Navy shag just wouldn't fit.
Obviously I hadn't lost as much form as I'd have hoped (which was the total opposite to my TT of the previous week), as I was first on watch at the club house. I was soon joined by Chris (Selley), Russell & Hard Man of the North. With Chris, Russell & myself bedecked in club kit & HMN in the yellow jersey, it was somewhat reminiscent of the discovery team time trial with Messer Armstrong heading the bunch.
Anyway back to the plot, HMN threw in the promise of a new tea stop at Barton Le Clay. As this was only a short distance away a roundabout route via Aspley Guise - Woburn Golf Club - Woburn - Milton Bryant - Tingrith - Toddington - Harlington was ensued.
Upon reaching our destination, HMN lead us right past the 20 metre X 2 metre sign, bearing the words Garden Centre - Cafe Open & instead lead us half a mile down the road to an industrial estate. On the plus side if ever I'm in the need for thermal boring, I know where to come.
We re-traced our steps & made it to said garden centre, where four bikes were already chained to the railings. On closer inspection, a very nice (& expensive) Serotta bore the name Phil Ligget along with a matching Serotta with Tricia on the top tube. We didn't give it a second thought until we entered the Cafe & found the legend that is Phil Ligget sitting with his friends. Engaging in conversation as you do, he did remember meeting my wife at the bike show last year, then borrowed my phone to have a long conversation with her. Initially she did actually say Phil Who? much to the amusement of the ensemble, before the penny dropped. As with most cyclist's he was a very friendly guy & before leaving arranged to meet Nilufar & myself for a drink at the Bike Show next month.
After being fed & watered, with opted for a bit of cyclo-cross (to avoid the 200 yard gravel driveway) before heading towards Pulloxhill (17% at one point). We all stayed together (after we had caught up following the 17% hill) until the Steppingly cross roads, where HMN headed towards Woburn to go home, obviously via Oxford, as he is indeed 'Hard Man of the North'. With the rest of us taking the shorter route, which in my case was only another mile or so.
45 Miles on the clock at a 16mph average, which considering the hills, break etc put a smile on my face.
Of course not forgetting the great company & a chance for a chat with one of cycling's legends. Who knows next week we could meet Shaun Kelley & engage in a 50 minute conversation on toe clips & straps, did you know that Shaun was the .......................(sorry just nodded off).