Bike week starts off with a bang. 14 on Green Bridge on Sunday to challenge themselves against the road, against the elements, against their own bikes, and against the fearsome mud and water. The Wheelers go eXtreme.
Oh, it starts out gentle enough, a leisurely ride up the Lea Valley to a tea stop at Springfield Marina. The first major test comes in the form of a four foot clearance under a bridge, which, ok, doesn't harm anybody and I guess isn't that eXtreme. But four feet, that's tiny, really.
And next, miles off road over some eXtremely long grass, bumpy ground and long and, ok, nobody fell off there and it would have been a rather soft gentle fall, but still. There is plenty of nettle, that's totally eXtreme.
Then it starts, the first big test, through Epping Forest. The Tutors used to hunt there, that's totally hard core. You can just hear the screams as everybody rolls over the hills and dirt and get their bikes all mucky. And everybody is getting rather hungry. We head to the heights of High Beach and start ordering roast dinners left and right and then we are ready.
Epping Forest, here we come, we are going to circle around a few times until it takes a toll. The mud reaches out and sucks one into its depths. Well, ok, a few tissues cleans the mud off fairly well. But then the hill claims a rear derailure and wraps it around a spoke. Only Owen's valiant effort disassembling it and reassembling brings it back to life, although with only half the gears available.
We emerge from the forest in Chingford and the pub is totally busy. It takes ages to get drinks and a waitress chucks a half empty plate onto the floor and it crashes and makes a real mess.
After a day like this, we really have to limp back to East London and sit outside the Palm Tree and have a few soothing beers. And mine tips all over the ground and spills, curses, now that's totally fearsome and horrific.
But a pleasant day out, nice weather, and a friendly group. Most did about 42 miles, a good distance for a number of first timers. Hope to see more of you on other rides.