7:30am on 8th December saw around 65 assemble at the Wonder Cafe in Hillingdon for the 200km Winter Boat Trip Audax, including 4 ACH members: Ivan Cornell, Michael Conway, Caroline Fenton and Dave Allison, the last three having only recently joined us and this was their first ride ‘in the club’.
We headed north along mud spattered lanes with mostly clear skies and a light SW wind pushing us onto the first control at Quainton, via Chequers with its CCTV cameras peering out of hedges and a very peaceful traverse of the byways of Waddesdon Manor. We then continued through more picturesque rolling countryside to The Boat Inn at Stoke Bruerne for a very enjoyable pub lunch in the snug back room overlooking the Grand Union Canal – Father Christmas even made an appearance, dispensing presents from his barge.
I then made a slow push into the headwinds, enjoying the fantastic sunset but making sure of getting to Tring before the Bluebell Cafe shut at 5pm. As it was, there were three of us left when they kicked us out, so Steven, Jacob & I formed a small group to tackle the night ride together. The wind had dropped with the sun, but even so we made slow progress along steep inclines and potholed descents before the welcome sight of a Wetherspoon’s pub for the Arrivé around 12 hours after we started. Just in time to wave Caroline & Dave off towards Tower Hamlets, whilst I opted for a meal and then the tube home.
All in all a pleasant winter ride helped by the mild conditions and hindered by the flint I had to dig out of my back tyre with a penknife.