I set from home into a fierce wind, so strong that I had to take decisive action on a number of occasions simply to stay upright and on the bike. It was blustery but fairly bright as I headed in a direct route to Netherseal to meet up with Gary. We wouldn't have time to cycle into Burton on Trent to meet up at the 'official' start point - instead we'd make our own way and meet the others at the pub - The Crown in Alrewsas (Yes, I know that's a different name to the one in the title above - but read on!).
Paul from across the road was 'on-call' but opted to join us for the ride outwards, but not stop at the pub. We set off on the gentle climb up Hunts Lane, the wind was bellowing now and as we turned the corner at the top of the first rise we were greeted with a horizontal stream of sandy dust blowing across the road from the adjoining fields - it was a scene from Lawrence of Arabia, a sandstorm, the effect was if someone was rubbing sandpaper across my face. Gary had some trouble with his contact lenses and I suffered the effects of 'something in my eye' for the rest of the evening.
The sky was dark now - black, violent clouds scudding across the horizon - in the distance we could see a brighter, sunny vista. We made speedy progress through Lullington and on to Edingale where Paul from across the road left us. Gary and I continued on the main road over the A38 and into Alrewas - we were meeting at the Crown Inn - we'd visited this pub last year in the summer months - we remembered it was busy and bustling with musicians giving impromptu performances in one of the many interconnecting rooms. But tonight was singularly different. The pub looked empty, cold, forgotten and deserted. The car park was empty, the benches looked tatty, no sign of life. I walked to the door, there was a sign - 'We are closed'. Gary tried calling our group leader - Pete - but no answer. We decided to ride to the next pub, The George and Dragon, on arrival we spotted a bike in the small outside seating area at the rear of the pub - we recognised it as Tim's so we knew we'd made the right decision.
|The George & Dragon|
We set off for home at about 9.30 - the wind still howling. On our way back through Lullington we were stopped abruptly by a fallen tree, entirely blocking the road. We managed to squeeze through the tangled branches - any cars would have to turn back. By the time we got back to Gary's it was 10.30 - I still had about 13 miles to go to get home, and with the weather conditions - decidedly dodgy - Gary kindly gave me a lift home. Nevertheless it was a 32 mile ride for me - a decent attempt for a Wednesday evening.