Myself and Phil drove out to the designated meeting point outside of the Cat & Lion pub in Stretton for the 9am start time. After the hello's all eight of us set off for a nice steady loop south and east of Stretton for the NCC's inaugural road ride. It wasn't long before we had another first of the day - the first puncture which happened somewhere between Antrobus and Budworth Heath. Once that was sorted we set off again on some easy roads heading towards our cafe stop at the Dunham Lavender Farm tea rooms near Altincham. Not knowing how many more miles we were to ride that day we both had some food, beans on toast - lovely stuff. Anthony the cheeky bugger obviously envious of our choice of warm food deviously schemed to separate us from our beans by telling us that somebody was shouting us from the gates in the vain hope we would go and investigate, but we were wise to his ruse and he failed in his dastardly plot to knick our beans...
Setting off from the tea rooms for the final leg the weather didn't look too healthy so I stuck my gillet on just in case - it was a wise decision (ish). Not long after setting off the heavens opened and it lashed down, my gillet kept my torso dry for a really long time - say all of 15 seconds before the cold insidious rain found it's way in. I didn't mind my torso getting wet - no I lie, I did mind but what I mind more is when you feel that cold watery trickle first of all getting into your shoes and then to make matters worse it slowly trickles its way down into your nether regions, you know it's going to happen, you feel the cold icy watery fingers slowly zooming in, but it's still a shock when it does...
Anyway despite the rain we all plugged on like brave little soldiers and after 10 minutes or so the rain eased off, hooray for small mercies. The rest of ride was pretty uneventfully, some of us started to feel the miles and in places we stringed out a little but a shout of 'tail' had us slowing down so we could all regroup, and that was that, we were home, back at Stretton, the inaugural ride of the North West section of the National Clarion was over.
The ride itself was mostly at a nice easy pace. In the early part of the ride my heart rate was at times around 120bpm and that is low for me but the ride did get a little faster as time went on and we did manage to find a couple of 'bumps' along the way. I enjoyed it, it made a change to ride with a group, great to chat with everyone on the way and hopefully a sign of good things to come.
Anyone looking for a friendly bunch to ride with will be well advised to join up with the NCC.
Distance 34.5miles - Time 2:16 - Avg Speed 15.2mph - Climbing 1138 ft