Monday, 1 November 2010

A ride to Freedom....

I woke up on Saturday morning with a hangover - Damn! - I knew I should have been more careful on Friday night - it was the Pokey Hole ( and this month saw the visit of Wishbone Ash. Some of you will remember them - early 70's Prog Rock - Afghan Coats, flared loons, beads, patchouli oil - oh yes - I was there! - And I admit, it brought back memories - so much so that when we got home it was out with the old albums (Argos, Pilgrimage) along with a bottle of Southern Comfort. I don't need to go into any further detail do I? - In fact I can't, it all got.... kinda hazy man??
So, Saturday started badly for me. But having commited to todays ride with Mercia Cycling Club I had no option but grin and bear! We set off from Netherseal at about 10.20am riding at a fast pace into Burton on Trent. We met up with some of the club guys at the Abbey Arcade and set off heading towards Branston. The weather was idyllic - more like a warm spring morning than early autumn. The sun was strong, no headwind to worry about and the roads were dry and clean. We were traveling along at about 12.5mph - Gary and I both commented that we felt we could ride all day at this easy pace.
Soon we were out into open countryside and it was superb. The sun was low in the sky but emitting such heat that I was worried I had overdressed and that I would suffer from being too warm. We passed a cottage where the owners had been pruning and tidying their garden - there was a garden bonfire and the sight and smells were perfectly evocative of the time of year.
We gathered up some other riders along the way and passed through Hoar Cross on our way to Abbots Bromley. This is a village that has long been a favourite of mine - it hosts the annual 'Horn Dance' an ancient fertility ceremony that lasts all day long in early September and consists of a group of men dancing around the village with Stag antlers on their heads. No sign of them today though, we were headed for The Freedom Brewery, for a guided tour and to sample some of their wares.
The co-owner Ed greeted us and made us welcome and we quickly quaffed a half pint of their excellent Pilsner - then it was on to the brewery proper where Ed explained the various processes. After that we enjoyed a pleasant buffet lunch with further beer sampling!

We set off back for home at about 3.00pm - the air feeling chilly now and the first 5 miles proved to be a struggle - in fact the whole journey back was considerably harder than the outward stage - delayed reaction to the effects of the night before perhaps??? - We pedalled back through Barton under Needwood, up the considerable climb from Walton on Trent and then onwards to Coton in the Elms, Grangewood and finally Netherseal - A total ride of 50 miles - As I pointed out to Gary, that's half what we will need to be doing every day for 10 days when we tackle LeJog - He didn't really have a suitable answer!

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