Club Run to Honingham on 14/5/2022.

One regular went down with a last minute lurgy, leaving seven to ride the club run down to the Goat Shed south of Honingham. The first hour was a direct ride south through Reepham, over Whitwell Common and the Wensum crossing at Lyng watermill. It was then the stiff climb of Cadder’s Hill and into the lanes leading to Mattishall, Welborne and Runhall, down the upper reaches of the Yare, round by the Barnham Broom Country Club, up the short, but brutal Bickerston bank, left at Colton church and past the Norfolk Lurcher to the cafe, where the bunch sat out front absorbing the aroma of goat. The homeward leg looped the long way round the lanes to East Tuddenham, skirted the southern fringes of Mattishall, crossed the A47 at North Tuddenham, Elsing Hall, to cross the Wensum at Mill Street, ascend the long drag to Bawdeswell, through the hole in the fence at Foxley and the fairly familiar lanes via Foxley Wood, Themelthorpe, Guestwick (from where Neil Mc turned for home), Craymere ford, Briston, Baconsthorpe and West Beckham.

Bunch: Chris S; Graham A; Graham J; Harvey; Mark; Neil Mc; Neil S.

Three punctures (one rear Gatorskin and two legs) – fortunately concerted group action managed to repair all three of these unauthorised deflations sufficiently to get back to base.

Distances: 65 miles to 79 miles.

Club Run to Little Walsingham on 7/5/2022.

Luckily the much-needed rain fell during the night, although there was a chilly fog when six Wheelers departed from Pretty Corner for the weekend club run to the Norton Centre cafe. This soon gave way however to a gloriously fresh May day with lots of warm sunshine. The bunch headed out over the heaths to Cley Green, up the valley to Glandford, over the steep ridge to Letheringsett and Thornage, taking the long drag up the B1110 to Norfolk’s second highest point, clipping through the edge of Swanton Novers, the back lane round by secretive Thursford church, two Snorings and three Barshams to finish off down the Stiffkey valley into a busy Walsingham, where Neil S devoured two large cakes. Someone suggested that Malcolm was a lazy so ‘n’ so for not riding up to meet the bunch again. Brian took his fellow Wheelers on a nostalgic trip back to the Sheffield folk club scene of the 1960s. Two riders claim to have seen Geoff approaching Walsingham, although he wasn’t seen again, so this might have been a phantom Geoff** in search of the fabled Great Walsingham pies.

It was welcome warm sunshine for much of the way back on a route that went by way of Hindringham*, Thursford, Barney, Stibbard, Wood Norton, Wade’s Farm (two large roe deer ran in front of the bunch), Foulsham, Guestwick, Wood Dalling, Saxthorpe full mill, Ramsgate Street and the direct way back to Red Barn Lane over Bodham Hill.

Group: Andrew; Brian; Graham A; Harvey; Mark; Neil S.

Distances: 58 miles to 76 miles. – *(Hindringham) – reminding the leader that the advertised route was meant to be a slightly longer way to Hindringham, so about a mile to deduct here.

**PS – Phantom materialises: – apparently Geoff was indeed in the Walsinghams, but things didn’t go to plan. His Garmin packed up first and then his ‘phone, preventing the customary (since Maureen’s illness) mid-ride call home. So, it was a quick coffee, no pies and straight back to base.

Club Run to Coltishall on 30/4/2022.

With two club run Wheelers sailing today and one probably still in Spain, a small field was anticipated for today’s sixty mile loop via No.77 Cafe in the Red Lion at Coltishall. However, Ben was back after recovering from an infection, we were joined by Matt from Malvern Cycle Sport (Worcs) and Chris S had returned from his motorcycle trip to prove finally and conclusively that the rain in Spain does not fall mainly on the plain, but on the Picos de Europa.

Although lighter than of late, the cool northerly gave a good measure of wind assistance on a conventional direct route as far as Little Hautbois, before turning into the minor lanes over Mayton bridge to Langmere, Frettenham church, Crostwick, Granny Bard’s Lane and Heggatt Hall. Once again Malcolm rode up from St. Olave’s to meet the bunch. A rumour that he is now qualified to pilot the Reedham Ferry has been denied. So, nine riders set off from the cafe, heading round the back way to Belaugh Green and the Hoveton road, from where Malcolm turned south for his ferry crossing. The bunch continued by way of Ashmanaugh, Neatishead, Cat’s Common, Tunstead church, Worstead, directly west to skirt the edge of Aylsham (from where Neil Mc headed for home) to Drabblegate, Ingworth, Blickling watermill and Itteringham (where Graham A turned off for Cromer), before taking a less conventional route back to PC, climbing past Up Wood onto Bodham Hill.

Group: Neil S; Neil Mc; Mark; Harvey; Graham A; Chris S; Ben. Plus Matt (MCS) and Malcolm, who completed 52 miles on land and two ferry crossings.

Distances: 60 miles to 77 miles.

And one more thing, as an old pal of Geoff used to say. Over a number of years, various attempts have been made to keep a decent number of riders on the road for NNW club runs. By and large, the circulation of route files has enabled Wheelers of fairly wide-ranging age and fitness to follow the same route to the same cafe. It was assumed that natural on-the-road splits would occur from time to time. The main problem with this method seems to occur when some of the more senior riders start chasing after the natural breaks and consequently start to blow up at around two thirds total distance. The current runs organiser is completely bemused by this phenomenon, unable to comprehend why it isn’t normal to settle into a secondary steady miles group for the last hour or so. Unless someone can come up with an alternative model, it has got me beat. Perhaps it has something to do with pensioner pride.

PS. It is a convenient oversimplification to refer to ‘senior riders’ and ‘pensioners’.

Club Run to Wells on 23/4/2022.

With two motoring to Spain, one in Birmingham and another taking a day off, the numbers were down again, but a decent bunch of six turned out at Pretty Corner for the club run to Wells. It was a fast ride out with a surprisingly strong ENE tailwind, following a fairly direct route out over the heaths, up the Downs, across Cockthorpe Common, an unusually easy ride over the exposed drag to Crabbe Castle and past Blunt’s Corner to turn through the Triumphal Arch and down the long descent through the Holkham estate, finishing off into Wells by way of the rough road through the east gate, thereby avoiding the full headwind on the busy main road. Wells was busy and Nelson’s cafe was packed to the gunwales, so it was across the road for the inaugural visit to Flo and Joe, where the bunch sat out front at the picnic tables (the pies are good Geoff).

The longer return leg was sufficiently devious to take a lot of the sting out of the gusty wind, with lots of ducking and diving along high-hedged lanes via Warham, Copy’s Green, Hindringham, Thursford, Gunthorpe, Pigg’s Grave, Briningham, Burgh Parva, Hindolveston (from where Neil continued south to base), Burnthouse, Growle Abbey, skirting Briston to finish off with a bit of variety by dropping into Hempstead, past Selbrigg Decoy Pond, Lower Bodham and the final split at Red Barn Lane. On the homeward trip the bunch split 50/50 between a bairns interval training group and a septuagenarian LSD section (for the uninitiated, the S denotes steady rather than slow). These on-the-road splits, enabled by the route file for the day, seem to suit the majority of the weekend cohort at the moment, although it is never going to be perfect. It is pretty certain that about half of the current potential group (15-16) would benefit from RLSD: R as in regular (weekly); L=4-5 hours; S=steady.

Bunch: Andrew; Brian; Graham J; Harvey; Mark; Neil Mc.

Distances: 62 miles to 79 miles.

Club Run to Walcott on 16/4/2022.

There were seven Wheelers at Pretty Corner for the club run to the Lighthouse Inn, which is always a good venue on busy holiday weekends. Once again the food and the service were first class. The route was an anti-clockwise loop as far south as Tunstead on a lot of dry lanes, consigning the February wet weather and sugar beet frenzy to distant memory. Malcolm turned up at the pub, making it eight riders sat out in the warm sun and stiff, cool ESE wind. Disaster was averted soon after the restart, detouring round the bottom of Ostend, when Brian managed skilfully to extricate himself and machine from a telescopic dog lead, which became entangled in his drive train when a poorly controlled dog ran across the road. This was reminiscent of a his similar last gasp extrication from jeopardy when riding passenger in a motorcycle sidecar race, managing to release the lace of his baseball boot from the petrol tank cap just before negotiating a tight left hand bend. Today’s incident summoned up bad memories for Malcolm, who suffered a serious chute when brought down on a club run by an uncontrolled dog. In the last few miles, Chris S went off course unobserved when he shot straight over the top of the hill at Cottage Wood, ending up in Cromer, from where he found it expedient to just head home along the coast road to Sheringham.

Bunch: Neil S; Neil Mc; Mark; Harvey; Graham J; Chris S; Brian + Malcolm at the refuelling stop, who rode with the bunch for the first few miles back, ending up with 68 miles.

Distances: 58 miles to 81 miles.

Club Run to East Rudham on 9/4/2022.

Seven turned out at Pretty Corner, although one was out only for a short morning. Progress was interrupted after only a few miles when Chris S punctured at the top of Bridgefoot Lane. Three continued on the route, while three hung back to sort the unauthorised deflation and one headed for home. The outward trip was a bit of a slog at times with long stretches into a stiff, cold north westerly, but relieved from time to time on southbound sections. The route was over the heaths and up the Downs, then back ways to Binham, Walsingham, up the Stiffkey, climbing over to the upper Wensum watermills* and Broomsthorpe for some welcome refreshments at Jane’s Coffee Corner overlooking East Rudham village green. Brian took the opportunity here to true his back wheel after suffering a drive side broken spoke. The first half home was assisted by an even brisker tailwind than anticipated, followed by a mixture of cross wind, short sections of headwind and some more tailwind. It was a glorious afternoon through the Raynhams, Colkirk, Ryburgh, Wood Norton, Guestwick (where early bird Neil Mc headed for home), Thurning, Briston and directly back to Red Barn Lane for the main split.

*Crossing the bridge over the tailrace of the former Sculthorpe watermill, now an upmarket pub/restaurant, one well-known veteran Wheeler suggested that this would make a good NNW club run venue. In February 2022 the Sculthorpe Mill won a Michelin Bib Gourmand award and in 2021 was voted Sunday Times Best Hotel in the East of England! The bunch pushed on to Jane’s Coffee Corner.

Bunch: Brian; Chris S; Graham A; Harvey; Mark; Neil Mc and Neil S (out for a morning lung opener).

One puncture: rear Schwalbe Durano Plus (more commercial claims of invincibility shattered on Norfolk roads). One broken spoke.

Distances: 64 miles to 82 miles.

Club Run to Hoe on 2/4/2022.

After half of last week’s bunch upset the weather gods by assuming it was milk bottle leg day, this week’s cold snap came as no surprise. However, the wintry showers had cleared by 9.30 and the day was marked by a lot of sun, benign clouds and fabulous light. Definitely a cold northerly wind though. Last week’s numbers were halved as only Neil Mc, Mark, Brian and Harvey left Pretty Corner for a thirty odd mile leg down to the Fork in Hoe cafe via Bessingham, Matlaske, Corpusty, Foulsham, Bintree watermill, Great Heath, Brisley, East Bilney, Gressenhall and Norfolk Herbs. The cafe was busy, but the Wheelers managed to squeeze in for some decent quality refreshments. The horizontal flag at the front of Corner’s Garden Centre signalled that the northerly had stiffened somewhat to increase the workload on a return leg that went by way of the valley of the Blackwater, the high road above the former Wensum gravel pits, Billingford, Foxley, Themelthorpe (from where Neil turned for home), Odessa, Red Pits, Corpusty and a direct final seven miles to a three-way split at Red Barn Lane.

Distances: 58 miles to 74 miles.

Club Run to Honingham on 26/3/2022.

Eight congregated at Pretty Corner for the run down to the Honingham Goat Shed. The bunch included Dan K, on his first club run since November. The northerly wind assisted a fast ride out, which headed south to cross the Wensum at Attlebridge before meandering about a bit via Greensgate, Hockering Woods, over the A47 at Hawthorn Lodge, Whitford Bridge (over the Tud) and East Tuddenham Common. The Goat Shed ‘Kitchen’ was busy, but the service is good. The longer loop home cut through to Colton church, passing Barnham Broom Country Club, crossing and recrossing the Yare, climbing up to Mattishall, back over the A47 at North Tuddenham, back over the Wensum at Mill Street, up the clamber to Sparham, passing Neil Mc’s house at Kerdiston (where he bid adieu), Guestwick, Briston and the conventional ways back to Bodham Hill, West Beckham and Red Barn Lane for the main split.

Bunch: Brian; Chris S; Dan K; Graham A; Harvey; Mark; Neil Mc; Neil S.

Distances: 62 miles to 87 miles.

One chute: Dan hit the tarmac at Hockering Woods, but thankfully avoided injury.

One lost circlip from friction gear lever.

One broken hub flange (large flange Campagnolo Record). Perhaps Chris B has a spare or similar in his copious bike shed.

Club Run to Waxham on 19/3/2022.

Eight riders, including new man Chris S (ex-Wymondham), left Pretty Corner for the club run to the Dunes Cafe at Waxham Great Barn, where they were joined by Malcolm on his sortie up from south Norfolk via Yarmouth. The group pushed a strong east south east wind much of the way out, via Erpingham, Banningham, Tuttington, Swanton Abbott, Worstead, Honing, Brumstead Common, Ingworth (where they coincided with a Yarmouth-Cromer-Yarmouth sportif), Calthorpe Fen and Sea Palling to the always busy, but very efficient Dunes Cafe. During the refuelling break, one rider had a glove pinched by a large wet dog. The back home leg was notable for long stretches of strong tailwind, retracing to Calthorpe Fen, then Hickling Heath, Sutton windmill, Lessingham, Happisburgh Hall, Ridlington, Bacton Wood, Dead Man’s Grave, Knapton, Trunch and Bradfield, to connect to the familiar route back from the east coast over Tops Hill to Hanworth and Bessingham.

Bunch: Neil S; Neil Mc; Mark; Jim; Harvey; Graham A; Chris S; Brian. Malcolm at the cafe.

Distances: 65 miles to 81 miles.

Club Run to Themelthorpe on 12/3/2022.

Six Wheelers assembled at Pretty Corner for the club run to Junction 21 cafe, situated at the head of the Themelthorpe Loop on Marriott’s Way. The group included Graham J on his first visit of the year, although he was limited to a morning ride this time round. The remaining bunch of five was supplemented at the cafe by Geoff, who was on his lone weekend ride. In typically bright and windy March conditions the riders went by way of Baconsthorpe, Briston, Stody, Brinton, the high road to Gunthorpe, a loop round the back of Thursford church, Barney, Fulmodeston, Stibbard, Wood Norton and Foulsham. Unsurprisingly, the refreshment break conversation was dominated by the history of local railways. A rather longer return route, assisted eventually by a lot of good tailwind, headed off initially into the wind, descending to cross the Wensum at Mill Street, running down the valley to cross back over at Attlebridge, climbing over to Swannington, on to the Ratcatcher’s (from where Neil headed for home), Itteringham (from where Graham A headed for home) and a conventional run in to Red Barn Lane for the final split. Today’s route incorporated two hole-in-the-hedge shortcuts (viz. Thursford-Barney and Bawdeswell).

Bunch: Brian; Graham A; Graham J; Harvey; Mark; Neil Mc.

Distances: 60 miles to 72 miles.