A Record turnout!

Twenty six riders turned up this morning at the clock tower

- a record number for any week for the Clock Tower group with some new faces and some people we hadnt seen for years.  And five ladies, which I was really pleased to see.


We had already decided to split up using the WhatsApp group, with one group heading out to do a ride averaging around 17/18mph and another around 15 mph, and Malcolms group going a little bit slower again.  

So, the fast group headed off towards the Chilterns, with 7 in the group - Hewan, Deane, Simon, Rob, Tom, Steve, Chris and John. 

This is what happened, written by Rob:

Arriving at Clocktower there was a record showing of riders which allowed us to divide into groups matching ability. I'd offered to lead out a faster group towards Christmas Common and so 7 of us assembled to discuss a route, the general plan was to head for the hills! So off set the lucky 7 towards Marlow via winter hill (the first of many). We set about navigating the hoards of shoppers in Marlow and hooked a right up Frieth road for the long climb out of town. Once up on top we headed for the first "hill detour", a left at the egg farm with a short sharp stinging climb up to the top. We cruised the roads on top recovering and enjoying the views over Rockwell End which led us into a lovely descent into Hambleden.  We headed towards Skirmett followed not long after by another hill detour with a rather tough climb to Chiltern's Winery (there's a theme building here). If passing, make a point to stop for the lovely White and Rosé wines!  Alas, with no wine carrying capacity we kept going until the top of the climb where we took a breather to enjoy the sun and watch a procession of seemingly hundreds of Vintage Tractors pass by. Mechanical chariots adorned with all manners of folk dressed up as pirates or sporting bunting and British flags left over from the Royal Wedding.

I think these tractor folk enjoy life atop their weirdly attractive machines.  On we pressed to Christmas Common following the traditional Birds Hill route and a fast descent into Nettlebed. Here Deane showed his form and led a strong ride almost all the way. Alas I was so caught up chasing Deane I'd missed a turn for Russell's Water, so back up the hill we went (the group were very good about it) and once at Russell's Water we stopped at the Five Horsehoes for a refill of the water bottles, a quick water of the plants, and to take in the stunning views! 


We then followed the standard route back into Henley and then up to Warren Row for our last planned stop at Vèlo Life Café where we enjoyed a much needed coffee. It was a great day with good humour along the way. Thank you Deane, John, Simon, Hewan, Steve and Christopher for a cracking ride!


Malcolm and Les set off to catch up with Brian to head to Dinton Pastures.


and the majority of people decided to go with the medium-slow group...17 of us, me, Dave D, Dave B (first time out in ages - so nice to see him!), Taran, Rob I, Mark R,  Fiona, Mark S, Emmeline/Lawrence/Gary and Janette (4 new riders), Gurpal, Heather (again first time in ages - and really lovely to catch up), Andy, Mark W and Matt.

Dave D had prepared a route so he led us out in the glorious sunshine to Twyford and then Dinton.  Even though there was a big range in speeds in the group, we stayed together today and kept it sociable - plenty of chatting and banter, and only one spot where a few opened up their lungs, but waited for the rest of us at the junction.  After Dinton we wiggled through the lanes to Binfield, where we got caught up in the Binfield 10km...was rather nice to cycle past them on closed roads and be grateful for the saddle and not to be pounding the pavement!  It was probably a bit warm for running!  A few miles later and we made it to the cafe at Fernygrove farm at the 28 mile mark - and a lovely cake and coffee with a view - and time for Gurpal to have a go at Matt's dodgy tyre.

This was the point at which the group split again - some people heading straight back home to Maidenhead, and 10 of us went to Windsor to see how it was looking the day after the big wedding (still busy is the answer!), over Eton Bridge where we encountered a fair in the High St, slowly losing people as they headed back to Bracknell, Slough etc leaving just 4 to swing back to Maidenhead and negotiate the car boot traffic.

It was a very relaxed ride today - but what a lovely day to do it.  It was lovely to have so many new riders, and I hope you will come back again!  We will carry on splitting big groups up (maybe even further next time) so that everyone can be in a group that suits them.  Today I did 45 miles with an average speed of just under 15mph. 

Sarah Davies