Whether inspired by a New Year’s desire to get fit, or to lose weight, or by the wonderful weather forecast, there was a large crowd in King’s Square for this morning’s rides.  The weather forecast proved as truthful as a Donald Trump Tweet, with spells of quite unpleasant mizzle.

The ride was advertised as particularly hilly, and the organiser probably could have guessed which riders would opt for it.  However, it was a great, well matched group, that  went in search of steep pitches. As the bottom of Leckhamptom Hill, they suffered the ignominy of being overtaken by a runner!  Hartley Lane, and Bubbs Hill, with its sting at the top were followed by the very steep Edgeworth climb.  Luckily all the riders were out of breath and unable to speak, otherwise, the Vice Captain may have learned some new words.

The Upper Lock Cafe did a wonderful job of hosting everyone with great coffee and a huge slab of Carrot cake (so much for losing weight). After coffee, going up the Slad valley, a car coming down and trying to squeeze past with the parked cars, wound his window down to tell me off for going too fast, so perhaps I am getting fit.

Three riders, pictured, towards the end of their ride, thought Stroud was close enought to home that roads wouldn’t be necessary, and set off on a gravel bike, a cyclocross bike, and a mountain bike. The President took advantage of this to take an unusual route out of town, following Sud Brook to Upton St Leonards for the challenge of Watery Lane. Despite the range of machines used, and the undenaible skill and technique of their riders, none proved capable of a clean ascent. A brief tarmac respite to get to the Beacon’s Golf course was welcome, before hitting singletrack through the woods. The steep drop to Holcombe Farm let us pick up speed, and water running off the fields meant that some, at least, mud got washed off. It was, I think, more welcome for the riders enjoying the protection of mudguards! Up, then, to and along Sevenleaze Lane then after Podgewell Cottage another bit of singletrack took us to Edge Common then through Stockend and Standish woods. Here the ‘cross rider was bold enough to try the National Trust’s signed singletrack route, to the confusion of those who had stayed on the bridle path that becomes Robbers Road. Another fast descent took us all the way down to the canal, crossed using the bridge by St. Cyr’s church, and then followed to Wallbridge where we were pleased to enter the cafe ahead of the bigger B ride group. The advantage was one of mere seconds but it was enough to get us served first!

The Tyndale section struck out along the valley road for the Beacon Inn, but the gluttons for off road punishment turned right (and up) in Ebley to gain 150 m elevation in no time (well, more honestly, no distance) and cross Robbers Road on the way to Haresfield Beacon and the Lane down, dropping 200m to reach the welcoming Beacon Inn.