Groups rides are back!

It feels great and at the same time weird

ever felt like someone was following you?

Today I organised and led the first group ride since the latest lockdown started all those weeks ago. We’ve been allowed to ride with one other person in that time but to be honest I’ve mostly ridden alone through the winter months. Motivation to get out into the cold is hard enough when you’ve arranged to meet up with someone else. When it’s just you the temptation to not bother and just sit on the sofa and eat crisps is strong! The end of this phase of lockdown (we are still in it it’s just eased a little) has coincided with the start of spring, extra daylight and temperatures in double figures, everything has come together.

Pie and Pint. Although some things have eased others haven’t and we are still without pubs and can’t sit inside anywhere, both things we would have definitely have included in a group ride. To somehow bypass this fact I suggested the ride should have a theme of “pie and pint”, riders bringing their own choice of pie and a beer with them from home. Whether it was a sweet, savory (or both) pie was discretionary as was the beer type. If you were prepared to carry it, bring it!

The Route I planned took into account the easing of lockdown too. We are now allowed to meet other people outside and the local popular beauty spots have been busy as the season has changed, the fact that the Easter holiday weekend has started too was only going to make that worse. Back roads, grass up the middle lanes, bridleways and gated roads were the order of the day, one small section of “A” road was the busiest part. Luckily the recent dry weather and windy conditions made all the off road parts very dry and 100% rideable, a contrast to winter! In fact if anything it was too dry and the bumps and hoof-holes left in the bone hard soil by horses was jarring and quite frankly it frothed my beer up!

A mid ride stop to pay homage to Mr Bonham and admire the view from Rushock Church yard got us to just over the half way mark, stomach’s were rumbling at this point and some disappointed faces were seen as they realised the pies would need to stay packed away for a few miles yet. I didn’t like to mention the two big climbs we’d need to get over to get to the lunch stop.

those tough climbs defeated and a sweet section of bridleway brought us to Belbroughton Park, were we sat, socially distanced of course and tucked in to our selection of goodies and beer. The fact the Belbroughton Deli was visible from the park was part of my plan and at least 5 pieces of cheesecake was purchased and scoffed as the sun finally came out.

full of pie, sugar and beer we decided to take the slightly less hilly route home via bridleway and woods before people began splitting off and heading home.

Back to normal, but what is normal now? It was great to finally see these guys in person instead of just via social media, but the fact that we were all still keeping our distance from each other, sitting at either end of the benches for example meant that although it was good, it wasn’t exactly back to normal, no one could share food or beer and listening to a description of what Dan called “the most amazing cheese” just isn’t the same as tasting it! It was however great fun nonetheless. Sharing experience of technical sections and racing each other up climbs, having someone yelling “car” from behind you to warn you of traffic & riding along chatting about nonsense rather than current events was brilliant.

I hope there’ll be more group rides to come and that we get more and more of our former freedoms back, because I really really want to taste that cheese!

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