Nine volunteers for the ‘A’ group – Wilksey, Haines, Bobbi, Beans and myself from the Birmingham, Mick Harborne & Ian Robson (Warwicks), Hughie McGuire (Beacon) and Gary from BCC 2000. Excuses had been received from Andy Heaney (away) and Linda (new plate in his thumb). No sign of Sinar. We started off lane bashing with myself and Bobbi on the front, round Tanworth to Umberslade and down into Danzey Green. Looking over the shoulder of the Great One, his speedo was reading a steady 22 mph on the flat. The ‘B’ group just happened to go past the Danzey Green junction as we got to it so there were a few overtaking manouvers on the road towards Ullenhall. Out of Ullenhall and Wilkes hits the front for the first time (there was a common thread to the ride – the pace goes up by 2mph when Mark hits the front).
The back lanes through Morton Bagot are a bit lumpy and the Duracell Bunny on the front had everyone hanging on and the first gaps appeared (not me I’m glad to say). Change of drivers at the Huff Cap, through Alcester and the old road to Bidford. Into Bidford and I even got to the front again – a 100% increase on front sessions from last week already. More lanes through Pebworth to Long Marston and we turned north. It was hard on the front but the bunny kept coming back for more. The steep hill before Welford saw Beans and the Bobbi drop a few lengths (not me though!) then it was all back togther for the long climb through the Graftons. Gary sat on the front beside Mark and was heard at the top to mention that it hurt a tad. On the zoom down to Cantlow and all hell breaks loose. Steve chucks in the big ring and on the flat its 26 mph into the wind and – sight of sights! – Bobbi starts sliding off Steve’s wheel. We’re all full of sympathy so the pace goes up again and we all attack up Bobi’s inside.
Cantlow (good grief I’m on the front again) up and over towards Wootton and Mark pulls over with a minor mechanical problem. Bobbi wished the official record to know that half a mile up the road he waited for Wilkes. We waited right beside a farm shop with a tea room – oh the cruelty and temptation of it all. Together on the climb to Preston Bagot (Beans hanging grimly on) and on the col de Claverdon El Roberto was seen sliding back quite a few yards (joy of joys, again I’m still with the leaders).
All credit to his Munificence as once we were through Claverdon he did come to the front again for the session to Shrewley. Into the wind towards Fen End and Beans and I can’t live with Duracell on the front.
The long climb from Temple Balsall must have taken it’s toll on Bobbi as he turned off in Dorridge with some poor excuse about getting an MOT for his car (a nine month old BT company car??).
Phew, on to Boxtrees Farm, to Earlswood and on to Wythall with people peeling off home at almost every junction and the Bunny on the front. It must have been tough because Haines just sat in on Mark’s wheel.
At last, Wythall. 65 miles, just over three and a quarter hours. I’m knackered but feeling elated – I didn’t get dropped, El Roberto was definitely suffering and I put in a much bigger contribution! Linda would have loved it.
Next weeks ‘A’ run should be a marvellous affair – Wilkes has his next session as the human guinea pig at B’ham University early the following week, so he is looking to do a quiet ride sitting on the back of the second group.