Sunday, 30 September 2012

Air ambulance.....

Despite a gloomy forecast the morning started dry and calm. I was up early and, somewhat worryingly, decided to eat some left over pasta from the previous evening's supper. My rationale was sound; riders at the big events on the continent always eat lots of pasta.... simple as that really. I topped up my bottle with a couple of tabs of electrolyte replenishment and I was away.

It was a wise choice to opt for long-pants. Even though the thermometer suggested otherwise it was most certainly cold. Moving through the air at around 15mph exaggerated the problem. My legs though remained warm - the rest of me was another matter. Why hadn't I chosen some proper gloves?? - Why didn't I put on thicker socks?? - these were the questions that preoccupied me for the 6 or so miles up to Thornton Reservoir. They remained unresolved as i pulled into the car park of the 'Steam Trumpet' pub.  Already there was a collection of bikes of all shapes and sizes and likewise their owners. I signed on and collected my route map, a T-shirt and a banana. I found a seat at one of the outside tables and waited for the group of work colleagues who had arranged to be here. We were joining a sponsored ride, raising money for Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance. We were riding approximately 45 miles and visiting 7 pubs. For me, with the ride from and too home it would be around 57 miles.

I was surprised how many people were turning up for this event - the car park was full of cars, their owners unloading bikes, some could be seen through vague, foggy windscreens wrestling with lycra and thermal vests. And as we neared 9.00am, the designated 'official' start time there was no space at the Inn. Cars were strewn along the roadside as even more riders arrived. The banana skins were becoming a problem and I was relieved when my friends arrived and we were able to get underway.

The route was complicated. The organisers thought it would be a good idea to Google the various pub addresses and offer a route between each. The result was the entire decimation of a forest somewhere and we were all issued with 400 sheets of paper. Luckily Dave had his trusty iPhone and a most excellent app that gave him a detailed turn-by-turn route - soon we were off, heading on a lumpy up and over route to Loughborough. We got a little bit lost in the town centre but not for long,  we arrived at The Paget Arms just in time to enjoy a bacon sandwich, courtesy of the organisers - and another banana. Then we were off again, heading now for The Horse and Trumpet. After narrowly avoiding more discarded banana skins, and topping up energy levels with orange squash and a snickers bar we set off again. Our next target being the Dog and Gun. From there it was a short run to the Cow and Plough - here the organisers had laid on lunch, a choice of crusty cheese and pickle or roast chicken cobs. Oh and plenty of bananas to wash it down. After a break of about 20 minutes we set off again, on the homeward stretch now, heading into the city of Leicester and The Time Bar. After that, another city pub - The Western, this one was interesting, particularly because it had the biggest box of bananas we had yet seen. The sky was darkening now, rain was on the way. We set off, upping the pace just a little as we made our way via cycle tracks to Thornton, pushing up the final steep hill and arriving back at the Steam Trumpet just in time to see the landlord load up the barbeque with banana splits. We enjoyed a free pint of Billy Bitter and a burger - and the banana splits were good too.

We helped raise over £2000 for the ambulance appeal - the organisation at each pub was really good - the pubs were all interesting and, we thought, worthy of another visit. I just wonder what will happen to all those bananas?

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