Having missed the change of venue notification, the Captain led a slower-paced B ride to the original cafe selection at Hopewell Colliery. Departing a noisy Kings Square a group of nine riders took the route to Highnam and Tibberton where an enforced rest was called for a repair to a deflated rear tyre. This put the Captain in joint lead for Bruce’s Bonus with Mark B, both on three punctures. A rapid fix was accomplished and we set off again, encountering much in the way of water – thankfully on the road as opposed to falling on us. The sunshine and clear views were greatly appreciated as we headed west towards the Welsh hills. Our route had seven categorised climbs, with two taking us to Clifford’s Mesne. Oaks Lane down to Aston Ingham is now in dire need of repair and caution was called for. Then the third climb to the Penny Farthing, a swoop down to Lea before a gentle climb up and over to Drybrook. A right in the village onto a newly tarmacked road up to Ruardean (did someone mention a bear?) reminded us how roads could be nice! We passed the ‘Yorkshire Motor Car Collection’ somewhere here – at least, there was a sign for it. Then a glorious but wet descent to Upper Lydbrook before the penultimate climb back out of the valley, over to Cannop / Pedal-a-bike away and the final ascent up Speech house Road to the cafe. A warm welcome as always, despite being rather late.
The route home was simple: down to Parkend, up and over to Blackpool Bridge, up and over to Soudley, up and over to Littledean, up and over to Flaxley. Spot the pattern? A puncture for Mark put him back in top spot for Bruce’s Bonus. Beverages were taken at The Red Lion, Huntley, before a gentle ride on the lanes back to Tibberton and home. A jolly pleasant 55 miles covered. And a few hills, too.