11.02 am. Call from Madge to ascertain my whereabouts. Alright love..keep your helmet on..I'm on my way. Control issues to be examined later on the couch.
Im greeted on this glorious day by a frisky stable of riders and their steeds, including Madge, Kaff, Ronnie, Pat, Michael, and Jamie. All Aldi(d)up and chomping on the bit, we decide to do a Pole Hill loop while waiting for Tommy. Someone should tell him that Moscow is only a four hour flight away. The task of leading is then somehow thrust into my (in)capable hands. Pat's not interested and everyone else wants a chat. Given that Spontaneous is my middle name alongside Mary, I decide upon a voyage of exploration and discovery. Madge and Kaff's requests of "No Hills please" are selectively ignored.
After picking TT up, we set off up Butlers Hill and then hit the sludge on Warren Hill. There's another climb up to the Buckhurst hill cricket ground. After weaving our way along the nice little single track to Manor Road, we again climb up the single track to mount Maiden's bottom where Pat has a technical. I can't tell you what it is because its too technical.
Whilst we catch our breath, the ladies admire some amazonian male athletes going through their paces. Purely in the interests of science, we marvel at their tonned torsos and towering height. Deep breath and on we go...more single track to Earl's Path (road). Kaff has a little tumble for no apparent reason. We navigate a new path up to Sze's Bridge (I think). Instead of crossing it, we again navigate a newish steep forest track to Boudica's encampment. So far there have been no tetchy descents...infact no descents to speak of. Onwards and upwards as they say.
Over to Carl's for a nice cuppa and slice of Battenburg in the sunshine. Pat contemplates his Zero Karma rating; whether its because he's a social outcast or he's just plain boring. Meanwhile Tommy sends Simon a "wish you were here" text about tea and cake. News is then received that our brother and(sister) radsters in Surrey Hills are having a bit of mare. Where is Joules??
Off again and we make our way to the double logs. The ladies nail the logs. Over to the Wake Arms, and eventually to the Four Logs.
Do we stop for lunch? No way! Jamie and Madge are gnawing on cheesie things and custard creams. We ride to the fork Handles corner (I think) and descend (hurrah) to Theydon Bois. Up the long hill (boo hiss) to a road. New cross country route through the leaves and eventually to Jack's Hill. We veer off to the left and take the steep incline where Michael insists on doing his crazy stunts. New path forging and then TT has a technical. Don't ask me what it is because it's too techincal. He's able to ride so we climb up to Boudica's encampment (again).
Its 3.15 pm and the group have hit a blood sugar low. I try to reassure them that we're 5 minutes from Bradleys. Madge is having none of it and insists on taking the Epping New Road to Bradleys. Moody!
The rest of us, minus TT and Ronnie who decide to take the bridle paths for health and safety reasons, weave our way to Bradleys via the Ups and the Downs. We bump into Miles and Wendy who regale us with their exploits on St Paddy's Day. After lunch, the ten of us ride back to the car park where Ronnie finds that some real life FBC has blocked him in.
As we are also a social club, it would be amiss of me not to refer to some of the hot topics of debate and deconstruction on the ride:
1) God TV - by Madge
2) Jehovah's witnesses - by Madge again
3) Jellied Eels
4) Ananalie's dating issues - obviously by Madge
5) The art of constructive criticism
6) Crabs - both Madge and I confirmed we'd never had them. Silence from some quarters though.
7) Childhood antics - Ronnie used to eat dogfood.
The best story of the day came from Kaff - about the man who accidently cut off his wife's head with the hedge strimmer .....
Sir Issac Newton's law that what must go up must come down didn't seem to apply to the ride...I don't know where the downhills went. I blame it on climate change.
It wasn't the best of rides, nor the worst (Madge's 12 minuter is fixed in MBR's annals) but everyone seemed happy and smiley at the end. I would like to say a special thank you to Pat who was a consistent presence up my rear...in his own words giving me guidance and reassurance.
Leading is great fun but rather demanding. Big shouts of respect and whooping noises to Miles, Steve and Dawn who do it all year round.
By the way - did anyone see the Moon on Saturday night. It was gorgeous. For the nerds, it was the closest to the earth in 18 years! 220,000 miles.