A brisk tail-wind allowed for fast progress on the familiar roads to Upton-on-Severn and Powick. The President, having been swept up near Chaceley, finally dropped off the back at the appropriately named Old Hills near Callow End, and rejoined the others at The Loft..After coffee, the much feared Ankerdine Hill was tackled. Signs urging the use of Crawler gears proved superfluous, as I was in my lowest gear all the way up.  However, most agreed that it wasn’t as bad as they were expecting.  Some great views across the Severn Valley from the top were some reward.

A great descent to cross the Teme at Ham Bridge took us to the long Clifton Hill, which few enjoyed.  More undulations, then another fun descent into Bromyard, where one rider punctured.  After a brief chat with the group who had started earlier and were seeking sustenance in the Queens Head, we continued down the Frome valley.  At this stage, every rider went through a strong spell where they “took the wind” and a less strong spell, where they were desperately remaining in wheelsucking territory. One of the group avoided Ankerdine Hill completely, taking bridleways through the woods on Old Storridge Common and tackling Crumpton Hill before the challenge of the Malvern Hills and lunch in Colwall,

The early starters managed to stay ahead of the nine o’clock riders until lunch, enjoying the same good coffee stop after a 30 miles direct ride out. Their valley road south from Bromyard was relatively easy: not that undulating and very well sheltered. Puncture for Colin in Ledbury – perhaps avoiding the steep climb up Cut Throat Lane? Then Eastnor, Clenchers Mill and home via the lanes, meeting the other group, who hd a puncture,  at Hethelpit Cross – you could not have organised that if you tried! Colin and Chris bagged an extra pint at the Royal Exchange. 85 miles all told.

In Ledbury, two groups formed, with one group opting to follow U72 (a.k.a. A417) back to Maisemore (perhaps not at Team Trial speed), while the other group chose the additional pain of the Hollybush.  One rider foolishly let “Wainlodes Hill” into his head, while more experienced heads know it is best not to even acknowledge that it exists, at least until you have passed the Red Lion.

A great day out in some pretty countryside that we do not normally frequent.