Only three Wheelers could make it for the last run of the year. Brian, Mark and Harvey set out from PC on a mild midwinter morning to ride to the Lighthouse Inn via Metton, Northrepps and Southrepps Halls, Trunch, Knapton, the back way to Bacton, Ridlington Street and Walcott Hall. As befits the midwinter festival season it was an unhurried refreshment break. Soon after setting out for home, the trio had a surprise encounter with a racing pig. This particular porcine athlete, apparently a member of the rare Monaleigh breed, beat the Wheelers for speed on the lane between Barrington rare breeds farm and The Rookery Special Needs Centre, where it turned into the car park. It is supposed that this creature lies in wait for unwary and overconfident cyclists before showing them a clean pair of trotters. Following this exciting episode the thickening mist turned to light rain, but a nice brisk tailwind assisted the group back to base by way of Ebridge mill, Spa Common, Little London, Swafield, Bradfield, Tops Hill, Hanworth and Bessingham to a parting of the ways at Gresham church.
Distances: 51 miles to 65 miles.
Review of 2021: After a start delayed until 10th April, there was a total of 38 weekend runs.
Most runs completed by a single rider: 37 // Highest average distance per run: 72.2 miles.
Twenty different riders put in an appearance, including Alan from Wellesbourne Wheelers (Warks). Malcolm moved down to St. Olave’s in early summer, but managed a couple of forays from his wetlands retreat to rendezvous with the bunch at Waxham Great Barn. Similar meetings are anticipated in 2022 and perhaps Wymondham is a practical proposition.
Despite a number of serious challenges this year, Brian managed to hold on to Number One position in the WC Boggs Trophy. This was due largely to completing more rides than almost anyone else.
With some of the more mature club run stalwarts beginning to ease off to varying degrees, it was good to see the main group replenished by the arrival of Neil S, Jim H, Neil Mc and Dan K.
Seventeen different refreshment venues were visited. Although we are definitely fortunate to have so many options for refuelling, three or four of the old favourite venues have become problematic on Saturdays.
Looking forward optimistically to 2022, I remain convinced that there is clear potential for a pacey vanguard group to make good use of our downloadable route files. This group could then head off up the road a bit without having to worry about the generally more mature rearguard group. Everyone singing from the same hymn sheet, but with a different rhythm.
Rather less optimistically – our routes follow lots of little lanes, demanding numerous decelerations and accelerations that undoubtedly reduce average speed while requiring at least as much effort, so is it not possible for techno fans to forget for a day Strava’s average moving speed and rely more on perceived effort? Whilst realising that this is vital to 21st century cycling culture, it also seems evident that a substantial number of strong riders are keen to ride in a dynamic group of a similar (obviously not the same) level of fitness (and motivation). The hope is that this can secure the future of NNW club runs. What’s the evidence? Even in this short year, it has been obvious that the following group and possibly others are looking for a pacey base training ride with a social dimension: – Andrew B, Ben, Dan, Duncan O, Mark, Neil Mc, Scott, Stuart W. Obviously this doesn’t exclude several others who might want to jump off up the road, but are also happy to drift back to the steady bunch when needed. Could it be time for some of the ‘mature club run stalwarts’ to get back up to Pretty Corner or Itteringham and Erpingham occasional pickup points?
None of this is meant to be exclusive, but it could guarantee a healthy future for the longer club runs.