Our summer family fun day in Comer Woods is Saturday, 11th May 2019. Taking part is free, so why not come along, and make it a great day out for you, your family and friends. Bring your bikes and helmets and head for the car park between 10am and 12 noon. We look forward to seeing you and making it a fun day for all.
Words and pictures: Sarah Alexander
Mother’s Day. So mothers (and I am one) should be doing all the things they really want to on this special occasion – such as having facials, shopping, eating one’s bodyweight in Lindt and trying out yet another obscure pink gin.
Well, there may be time for all that still, but let it be known that this mother did exactly what she wanted to do, on this auspicious day: and that is lose an hour of precious sleep, have a wardrobe conundrum (what would be my prime enemy today – rain or cold, hmmm – and would it match with my nails-slash-bike-slash-helmet-slash-shoes?) and then meet her just-as-crazy friends at the Bridgnorth Football Club and set off on a magical mystery tour.
This time the objective was to train all us foolhardy Birmingham Velo newbies to prepare ourselves for the task ahead. And that meant a longer ride selected by our own beloved Chairman Andrew and the shrewd Graeme Tait. What could be more straightforward? Get us ready for the Velo? Piece of cake.
We set off down some canny backroads straight outta Bridgo (Jeez, I am down wiv da kidz) and then found ourselves in familiar territory on the Craven Arms road. And that’s where we said goodbye to the familiar and embraced the bloody surprising and often downright bloody tough. There was a hill that suddenly came upon us with the ferocity and unpredictability of a rabid dog on a Spanish summer’s day. And when it latched onto your ankles and had you in its grip, boy did you have to fight hard to keep ahead of it and stay upright. It was a battle of wills. If that hill were a dog, it would be a farmworker’s Jack Russell – short, tough as nails and with ideas beyond its station.
Then we had to battle the winds along Longville in the Dale, all the way to Craven Arms. At that point, when heading towards Craven Arms, the winds were working with us. We stopped for welcome refreshments at the Secret Hills Discovery Centre and wisely opted to stay indoors. You know you’ve worked hard when not only do you buy honey cake to go with your pot of tea but you also fantasise about eating cheesy chips or a Brie and tomato quiche – or hey, why not both? You’ve worked HARD. 🤔
There was another mega-hill but this one was longer but announced itself more courteously and as a pack of riders, we spread ourselves out along its spiny back and hammered away at it, each at our own pace, in our own little bubble of pain. I actually quite liked that one and will revisit it sometime.
Following the wonderful cafe stop, we were given the green light to go at our own pace and head back to the Club House. So I found myself in a little group with two of my favourite dudes, John and Jack Robinson. We churned it up on some charming little lanes outside Stanton Lacy and headed back in the vague direction of Bridgnorth. Just when we got up a great pace, a car would come down the single track road and we’d have to stop completely as the road was too narrow, quashing our Strava hopes but at least keeping us alive and in one piece. When we emerged from those unfamiliar serpentine gravelly lanes, our relief on finding a road we knew was short-lived. Sheesh! The wind was a kick in the face! It was brutal! All the way back from Shipton to Morville, I was buffeted around like a sheet on a washing line. Jack, John and I huddled together in a sorrowful mini-peloton and I battled to stay upright and in a straight line on my Cross bike with its smart-but-in-today’s-case-very-silly-50mm-rims. I was like a two-bit puppet on a string, a flapping jib on an unmanned mast.
Just before Morville, my ears became aware of a jetplane approaching – the jetplane that was a posse of riders from the CCB as they whirred past. I clung on and joined them for as long as I could on the road back to Tasley but it was a futile endeavour as the winds regained their strength on the last surge up to the Livestock Market.
Eventually John, Jack and I made it back up to the Club House. We felt invigorated but also spent. We had managed to hold our own in those horrendous cross winds. We had done battle and won against two daunting Shropshire hills and made it back to our sanctuary in the face of formidable crosswinds and anything but ideal conditions. We were grateful to the road planning of our friends Graeme and Andrew and knew that although the route was gruesome in places and the conditions testing, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
Errrrrm, right. Whatever you say. 😉 Ride On.
Sunday 10 February saw 62 riders take part in our annual reliability ride, this year in support of the Bridgnorth Hospital League of Friends.
The weather as expected played it’s part, cold to start with, barely warming up and then rain, February in Shropshire, what’s not to like !
Our new ride headquarters worked really well Bridgnorth Football Club gave us more space, plenty of seating, bacon butties and for some a beer on their return. With free parking (yes I did say free parking. What in Bridgnorth and at a weekend) just down the road it all worked seamlessly.
Thanks to all the riders who took part, everyone at the football club and club members for making the event possible.
‘It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.’ Ernest Hemingway.
Well, I can’t think of a more exhilarating and fun way to end 2018 -certainly nothing else that is printable at this moment!
When we arrived at Clee Cycles this morning, there were at least 20 cyclists waiting for the off, including two other female riders. What a glorious sight to see so many of us! For once, I had downloaded the route onto my Wahoo and could enjoy turn-by-turn navigation to reach our destination in Albrighton. So Andrew Davies charged Andy Mowbray and me with the onerous task of leading a small group to the 1232 cafe on Albrighton High Street. What could be simpler? All we had to do was to keep the group together and follow the arrows on my screen. Unfortunately some of us can’t follow instructions. When we reached the Rabbit Run near Stableford, Wahoo said right but my co-riders chirped up: ‘It can’t be right, we always go LEFT and THEN immediately right.’ Result: a small breakaway group consisting of Andy Mowbray, Andy Seymour and myself. We headed on in the right general direction and saw loads of other cyclists out on this warm and fine day but no one else from the BCC. We were definitely out on a limb. Eventually we caught up with the A group and they let us tag along with them till we reached the cafe. The sound of our bikes cutting through the air and our tyres whirring on the tarmac was thrilling – I felt like one bee in a swarm, all united in a common purpose and a common pleasure.
We arrived at the cafe and before long, the cafe was full of BCC riders, all enjoying a well earned bevvie and a slice of cake. We chatted and joked and then set on our way, heading back via Patshull Park, Worfield and The Hobbins. Here, I was indebted to some of the A team riders Neil Chatter, Neil Thomas and Andy Seymour who, knowing that I had ‘unfinished business’ with a certain Strava segment, helped push me along by setting a great pace. Without sounding like a Strava bore (!) I took 10 seconds off my previous time and moved up to number 2 all-time women – cue that mini fist-pump feeling 😉.
Eventually we arrived back at Clee Cycles. The busy and virtuous amongst us said goodbye and headed home and the rest of us undid all our good work by having a pint or two at the SVR. Sitting down with my new cycling buddies, I felt an overwhelming sense of contentment and achievement. Modern life can seem complicated, challenging and often downright unjust and 2018 has had its fair share of trials and hardship but when I’m riding with my BCC friends, all is well with the world and I’m in my happy place. Wishing each and every one of you a happy, successful and rewarding 2019. Here’s to loads more fun rides together.
Thanks Sarah Alexander for words and pictures
Thanks to everyone who came along to the Family Fun day at Comer Woods, Dudmaston.
The weather was really kind to us, a little chilly, but everyone soon warmed up. We all had a great time leading riders of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities around the family trails and the full MTB race circuit. It was great to see so many people taking up the challenge and we hope that the introduction will continue to encourage people to explore and enjoy this fantastic National Trust facility right here on Bridgnorth’s doorstep.
The Association was set up in 2017 to support the upkeep of rights of way in and around Bridgnorth. One of the great things about cycling both on and off road is getting out and enjoying the wonderful Shropshire countryside. By supporting the working parties orgainsed by the Association you can help maintain access.
Keep an eye on their website for details of working parties and perhaps spare a few hours to support. http://bridgnorthrightsofway.weebly.com/