I had entered this Audax last year but had woken up to snow and an email from the Organiser suggesting that it would be better not to ride. As Ali didn't think driving over was a good idea I went back to bed. Obviously I had to enter again this year even though it would make the weekend very very busy.
After ice earlier in the week it had warmed up and looked like it was going to be a nice, if wet day for the ride. Ali gave me a lift to the start and Mike was letting us start whenever so at about 8:55am I headed out. After riding on my own for a while I joined two lads who were chatting. Turns out one of them was one of the guys I had led back to the headquarters in the North-West Passage after coming across them lost in Rochdale. We were making good time when we were flagged down to be warned of ice. Making the decision that this must just be a freak road we headed round on the dual-carriageway and re-joined the route. Fortunately this was it for ice. It was here another guy joined us, unfortunately his friend had come off on the ice and smashed his helmet so was abandoning. We were making good time as a group and arrived at Old Ma's to not too long a queue, this was good as service wasn't exactly rushed. The wait was worth it though as the beans on toast was lovely.
Leaving here we were making good time and although I went backwards on the hills by this point I had been adopted as a human sat nav so the two stronger ones waited for me. We arrived in Market Drayton for the second cafe stop at the Morrisons and they laughed at me for being organised enough to have a lock! The fourth member of our little gang turned up just after us and we left together. having made good time meant that we rode the roughest road in the light which I think we were all glad about! The last stop was Mike and his wife and their horse box which had some very welcome mince pies.
Unfortunately about a mile from here we had our only real incident. A huge sunken drain got one of the riders in our group, he went down behind me and flew over the bars. Fortunately the car behind was able to stop. We got him out of the road and assessed the damage, lots of blood due to a split lip and a cut on his nose. We got him patched up, Chris went and got plasters, and then sorted out his bike. Amazingly the only problem with that was a punctured front tyre. We headed on our way again once he was feeling better. I made sure to report the hole this morning.
We rolled into the finish just after 7pm and Ali was waiting for me. It was perfect timing as 5minutes later it started to rain! I had a brilliant ride, thanks to the lads for letting me wheelsuck so much you were stronger than me! Now time to get entering some more Audax rides.
Moving Average 15.5mph
1600m of climbing
Total Time 10:10:55