A beautiful morning saw two B rides to Cinderford, two A rides to Ross as well as the sports ride. In a classic case of tortoise and hare, the fastest ride set off first and stopped for a puncture before reaching Northgate street. We enjoyed the autumn colours, though not the leaves on the road. The hare caught the tortoise on the long climb to Upton Bishop, then both reached coffee at Woodlands cafe without incident. The descent to Soudley was cold but the tail wind and scenic Flaxley valley were a bonus.

The two rides to Ross ventured out, passing the hapless fast group at the Northgate St junction. A swift run to Maisemore and up Woolridge hill for splendid views NW to the Malverns. The usual lanes were taken to cross the Leadon, where the groups parted company. Captain’s group took a left, right and left to eventually enter Newent from the south. A scenic diversion was taken to admire the Arboretum on the west of the town.

We crossed the Hereford and Gloucester Canal canal bed and climbed to Oxenhall church, swinging left towards Dymock. Another left just before the motorway bridge took in a section through wonderfully coloured woods then a fast descent and slower climb led us to the Roadmakers Arms on the Gorsley road. Now in Herefordshire, the dark clouds over Wales looked threatening. Linton and Bollitree Castle were gained (keep an eye out for the castle, it really should not be missed). Down and down to Ross with a little A40 to finish. Coffee, cake, and breakfasts were much enjoyed at The Engine Shed in the little garden centre – a gem.

Suitably refreshed, the two groups set off and soon separated: the Captain’s four made use of the Town Centre trail along the disused railway line to avoid town centre traffic and continued to the Walford valley, bedecked in autumnal colours. Through Mitcheldean and a great descent to Flaxley Abbey valley, interrupted by a slow-moving vehicle and a deflation. The best efforts to apply the latest inflation technology proved useless, so the Captain’s big pump (old technology, but tried, tested and functional!) came into play. Remountnig, they continued to the Red Hart, Blaisdon. Those that stopped missed the heavy rain – timing is essential – and had a dry run home via the lanes to Taynton.