I got to the pub, The Dog Inn, at around 8.15pm - there were a few bikes chained up in the garden, I added mine to the pile and headed indoors. Norman, Tim, Ken and Richard were all there, about halfway down a pint glass. "Don't mention the Tour" were the first words to greet me from Richard. Apparently Norman had recorded the days stage but hadn't watched it - he didn't want to find out that Bradley Wiggins had retained Yellow and was looking increasingly likely to make history later this month.
The main group from Burton arrived at about 8.30 - there were loud hushes as Gary started talking about Bradley's performance in the Tour. By now there were eight of us. There should have been nine but Graham - who looks like 'Suggs' from Madness, had suffered a broken spoke and went home to change bikes. Gary told us that on the way to the pub they had approached a group of young women on the canal bridge - a couple of them pulled down their trousers revealing their pants - and shouted out to Pete "Nice legs". This struck me as a bizarre incident. Women revealing their undergarments on canal bridges to passing cyclists must be quite rare. And Pete's legs are over 70 years old.
Suggs turned up in the end - he really does look like him - and he has a Madness tribute act to prove it. Upon arrival he spent an inordinate amount of time at the bar , it transpired he was ordering food - He came back to our table with a big smiley face "I'm having a proper chip butty" he said.
Chips have become a necessary factor on these bike rides - in fact they are almost essential to stoke up the boilers for a speedy return trip. Gary, Barry and I decided to join Suggs - we raced to the bar to place our order - £4.25 for a proper chip butty, a bit steep, but, we were assured, these were proper.
Alas, what arrived was far from proper. A big bundle of lettuce leaves filled the plate, artificially inflating the presence of the main event - the chip butty was a couple of pieces of sliced bread but no butter (how can a chip butty be so described without butter?) The chips were tasteless, scorchingly hot, no salt, no vinegar, no ketchup, but instead a vase-like recepticle of mayonaisse - it was all very dissapointing - by far the worst bike riding supper I've ever had. Nevertheless we wolfed it down.
The ride back started off cold - and dark. Gary and I headed to Fisherwick, up to Elford then Harlaston, Haunton, Clifton Campville and up the hill to Netherseal. The wind was behind us and we moved along at a reasonable pace. After leaving Gary I had a further 13 miles or so to go. By now it was proper dark - and I mean proper, unlike the chip butty.
I was home by about 11.30pm - 48 miles covered. Not bad for a Wednesday evening.