Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Chequers - Ticknall.....

Last weekend the weather turned for the worst, once again our riding plans were compromised, although we managed 50 or so miles before the heavens opened. Since then I've done a couple of 20's - generally though it's just not how June is supposed to be! - However, as another Wednesday night rolls around and with clear blue skies and even some sunshine, the beer ride offered a mid-week chance to get a few miles in.
I rode through to Newton Burgoland, meeting Gary and Paul from over the road at a convenient junction. We cycled into Ashby de la Zouch climbing up past Champney Springs before zooming through the town centre onto the quieter roller-coaster country road past Smisby and on to Ticknall. Sometimes things just don't feel right on the bike, there's no real explanation, it's just one of those things 'an off day' would be the colloquial term - today was such for me. My back ached, legs felt lifeless and heavy, every pedal turn seemed to require supreme effort - in short I was struggling to keep up. On the other hand,  Paul from over the road was flying - he pushed on to such an extent that he dissappeared from view on more than one ocassion. As we approached Ticknall we descended from a section of the Pistern Hills - this area is dotted with a series of short, energy sapping climbs - Gary and I spent some time practising for our ascent on the Ventoux over here, we had been down this one many times - but never up it. I made the ridiculous suggestion that we should climb it tonight, after our visit to the pub - unfortunately the offer was accepted.
We dropped down into Ticknall at speeds approaching 40mph - it gets scary on patchy uneven roads that twist and turn - but we were okay, just a couple more up and downs and we had arrived.

The Chequers - Ticknall

The Chequers is the oldest pub in the village; a sterotypical traditional country village pub. Thick stone wall exterior, small, quaint, multi-paned windows and a warm welcome. The pub dates back to the seventeenth century with obligatory exposed timberwork, twisted doorways and unevenly plastered walls. There are three small interconnecting rooms one of which is home to the bar. There are simple benches and free standing stools and tables and an open fireplace.
The beer selection is minimal - but no matter, what there is is good, well kept and crystal clear. We opted for Draught Bass - Doom Bar was the alternative. The pub was busy for a Wednesday, the landlord looks like a throwback to how landlords used to look, smartly turned out in a shirt and tie - when was the last time you saw that?  He was kept busy all evening and didn't stop pulling pints and attending to customers the whole time we were there. Always a sign of a good pub. No food here apart from bar snacks, crisps/nuts etc. No music, no games machines -  This is purely a drinkers pub, a place to meet and chat and while away an evening. The toilets are outside in a separate outbuilding - a real throwback - these are probably the original, from the seventeenth century - a real traditional toilet smell!
We set off for home at around 9.30 - all of us heading out of the village towards Ashby before most of the riders veered off to Hartshore - scared at the prospect of  climbing up the aforementioned hill - Gary, Paul from over the road and I stayed on course and edged our way upwards. The road was tunnel-like in places, the trees forming a dense canopy overhead as we toiled upwards, Gary shouting out the elevation in various percentages as we went - a few more turns, a steeper bit and suddenly it was over - and much to my surprise, easier than expected - I took it very steadily (slow) but I don't think it was as tough as the Pistern Hills Mark 1.
The road now was predominently flat and often downhill - the riding was fast and furious back towards Ashby - we were touching 30mph for some sections and before we knew it we were outside Nick's Fish Bar - Cycling makes you hungry - we were hungry - chips all round then - and they were excellent.
After fuelling up there was a further 'race' through Ashby and up to Willesley past the Golf course and across the motorway before we split up - another 10 miles or so and I'm home by 11pm - tired but feeling that this was the best beer ride so far this year for me.

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