As has become the norm, attendees at the Square formed into groups of six more or less evenly matched abilities for the morning’s ride.

The Vice Captain joined the Sports Ride for the first time in a few years. The initial pace was ferocious, as they flew up Stroud Road, with Strava handing out PBs faster than self-graded GCSEs.  Despite that he managed to stay with them, but needed the re-group stop at the top of Cowcombe Hill on the way to Cirencester. The return was up The White Way, which is always hard, with its deceptive gradient.  With today’s headwind making it harder, he tried to shelter in the group, but as each rider in front peeled off, his turn inevitably arrived. As the ride continued and everyone grew more tired, each turn got shorter, and so came round more often.  At times like this you really hate the “rule of 6”!  All were glad to reach the shelter of Withington Woods. Return was without incident, making a great morning out. He hopes his legs will recover and is taking a few days off to make sure of it.

The President led his sextet out via Over Old Road, Ashleworth and Chaceley. Everyone seemed to be going well and he judged them ready for British Camp. The three-mile-long climb, with its gradient peaking at 15%, challenged everyone, though to differing degrees. New recruit Joe and longtime member Gordon danced on their pedals, leaving the more senior members to follow them up. One of those, a recent recruit whose decision to exchange cigarettes for cycling has saved him over three thousand pounds, was especially pleased to reach the top, thereby showing that it’s never too late to start the cycling habit. Leaving the crowded summit behind, they plunged down Evendine Lane to The Pavilion Cafe whose sunny garden location provided pleasant respite from the North wind. A flatter return was planned but to drop a rider off at Birtsmorton’s Farmers Arms, all had the “pleasure” of Hollybush before getting to enjoy the tailwind, taken on classified roads to be home to watch the men’s world championship road race.

The Captain’s A riders, a perfect six, set out after the other groups.  No need for Garmin or Strava, with Toby leading on local roads. Maisemore, Hartpury and Hethlepit Cross were soon behind them and the Malverns were looming ever larger. Along to Eggs Tump and the water crossing at Clencher’s Mill leading to Eastnor. A gentle climb on a rather rough surface saw them tackle the final climb – to almost bump into Adrian’s B riders, resting at the top. They scurried away to Colwall and coffee whilst the Captain took a slightly longer route, making good use of the northern road through Old Colwall to pop out next to the selected venue: The Pavilion. Secure and safe bike parking in the garden provided accommodation for 18 bikes. Two sets of six riders remained outside in the sun, the others inside.

The return leg took the day group up to the top of Wytch Cutting. The descent around West Malvern provided some quite breath-taking views to the north-west and seemed to go on forever, and even further down to Barnards Green. A right turn and at last we had a tailwind to enjoy. Past the Malvern showground (Truck-Fest was in full swing) and to the edge of Upton. Some wiggles followed to Hill End and The Farmers Arms for lunch. New Covid requirements (table service) gave the staff exercise, delivering food and drinks to the hungry / thirsty punters. Once replenished with fuel and the bill settled, the return leg was wind-assisted to Pendock, Tirley and Wainlodes – the closed road providing a pleasant traffic-free section. Even the hill was (relatively) easy. Maybe. The A38 was certainly swift into Gloucester and home.