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Today was my first club run for 43 years.. It hardly seemed like I had been away..

 
IT was a dry, cloudy morning, pretty much as forecast.  I arrived at the meeting point in Stony Stratford quite early, deliberately.  I like to have time to prepare in a relaxed mode if possible.   I took the bike out of the car and put the front wheel back in then set about preparing me and making sure I had a bit of food, phone and some money.  I saw another couple of guys in the car park getting ready as well.
 
I rode around to the High Street at the front of the shops that the car park was behind.  The meeting place was outside a Restaurant call the Passage To India.  There were already quite a few there despite the fact there was still about ten minutes before set off time.  Pretty soon the  A and B groups were called up, these were the faster groups,  their ride was going to be around 19mph average and a little further than the C group that I had decided was the one for me.  Their average speed is around 17mph.  There is also a D group which is a shorter distance.
 
The C group soon moved off with me placing myself somewhere in the middle of the bunch.  There must have been about 40 of us I am guessing.  It was a bit erratic to start off as we moved through Stony Stratford and out into the country and  everybody found their place in the lines.  After a few miles the first hill was encountered and there was a natural splitting of the bunch as I had been told to expect so I kept myself towards the front half.  We rode at a good speed and I was soon back into the ways of group riding.  Shouts from the front of ‘car down’ if a car was coming towards us and ‘car up’ if one was coming from behind.  The way to remember it I am told is that cars go DOWN your throat and UP your a**e !  Also pointing out where there are holes in the road and vehicles parked by the roadside for those behind who dont have a clear view ahead.  We did encounter a few horses out on the roads, one of which didn’t take kindly to seeing a whole bunch of brightly clad riders heading towards it and reared up and the rider had a bit of a job bringing it under control, but did so eventually and we had all stopped ahead of it to make life easier while he went through into a field and then we rode on.   It got progressively more hilly as went along but I managed to keep near the front all the time.  Every now and then a shout came from the back to slow down and let the group get together again as some were struggling on the hills and pretty soon we reached the cafe for a break.
 
It was a little courtyard cafe in a  very small village.  The village was Upper Stowe in Northamptonshire.  A welcome cup of tea or coffee and a good snack menu and a chance for a chat.  After a while the second half of our group began to arrive, but we were about ready to move off by then.
 
The return journey was by a different route but still quite up and down.  I was familiar with the last half of it as it was on roads I have ridden on my own routes.  Once we were within about 10 miles of the end of the ride it seemed to be everyone for themselves, no more calls to let the others catch up and the speed rose considerably to around 20 – 25mph at the front end.  I enjoyed that bit, especially as it was near the end so no need to save any energy for later !
 
We got back to Stony Stratford and had a bit of a chat for a while as we waited for the others to arrive but some had already turned off to make their own way home.  I then made my own farewells and a promise to be out again next week.  I really enjoyed my morning as I like to ride a bit hard and feel the pressure a bit and extend my limits.  We had averaged pretty near 17mph for the trip so the average speed estimate for the group was pretty accurate
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