The HUGE crowd of enthusiastic riders at Woodhatch Park bestowed around a third of its riders to the G2 ride on Saturday for a trip out to accommodating new teastop, Chartwell Barns at Four Elms. Luckily we were blessed with plenty of experienced ride leaders to keep the 16 venturers in check including Marmite Pete, Marky Mark Vincent, Ian Taylor... not to mention the inestimable talents of Howard 'Grid Reference' Dyson and Mike Conway who joined us for the first third before peeling off...
As luck would have it, my intention to be back well before 1pm were scuppered early by a puncture at Smallfield (with the state of the roads between the M23 and Smallfield, one is lucky not to lose whole riders down some of the potholes)... and then a split du peloton just before Edenbridge as Steph and Maria deep in conversation followed a ghostly rider north of the town. We all imagined that Howard - whose bars look like the bridge of the Startship Enterprise - would be looking after Steph but no... he did however do the gallant thing when disovering she was of course by calling and offering a grid reference to Chartwell Barns.
It was one of those mornings when early mist burns off leaving glorious views of shimmering wide open fields around Kent and the North Downs sloping down verdantly. In other words, it got hot with a capital H.
My title comes from the Hansel and Gretel tale because as the ride turned towards home and the sun started to bake the tarmac (leading to that sticky sounds as rubber began to melt), riders started to drop like breadcrumbs on shortcuts home. Maira at Oxted, then a split between a fast and slow return at Lingfield, then a little more fragmentation at the Bones Lane turn off. Finally, Howards and Steph - with a hot date at Henley looming - zoomed off. At one point, Ian turned to me and said "Adrian, you started with 16, there's only four of us now...."
There are so many great riders to mention, I won't fit all of you in... but thanks to Alan for sticking with the group throughout, to Chris and Steve for joining us and riding strongly, to Andrew Murray for sticking with the pre-tea breakaway, to Simon and Ian for the banter and shortcuts, to Kaaren for fantastic peloton care as ever... but most of all to Sally Ann Vincent who is finding new endurance strengths and opted for more miles, keeping up with a quick and strong group throughout. Great riding Sally Ann and a joy to have you along.
42miles and I had 15.5mph average on the clock but that might have been the sprint to Chartwell Barns with Pete who pipped me Cav-esque in the last few yards.