"Having watched the weather forecasts all week, I sacrificed a goat and went to bed early. I awoke to see that the weather gods had approved my sacrifice, and rewarded me with a dry but overcast morning. My better half had said she would come along and provide moral support, so the R75 was pressed into action. After coaching it out of its slumbers in a warm dry garage, I parked it on the block paving outside the garage, whilst we got togged up. Having got all enthusiastic about the opportunity for a ride out, it then got over excited and proceeded to wet itself, depositing a large amount of Duckhams finest on the lovely light grey blocks . "Why did it do that?" asked Carol - "I don't know" I retorted rather more sharply than really necessary - we were going to have a good ride today!
We arrived safely at the carpark at Lake Meadows, where a number of excited members were already gathered eagerly examining each other's equipment. I counted 14 in total and a broad selection of machines including the Strauss brothers with their C12 and Greeves Roadster, keen to see if they could make it all the way to the end this time. Talking of which John Ruth was there with his ever present sidekick Steve Back, also eager to shrug off his reputation as the sections most unlucky rider. Unfortunately Alan Matthews succumbed before we even started as he was simply in too much pain to ride any distance. Apparently he is still unable to turn his head without suffering - he's a whizz in straight lines but junctions and u turns are proving a bit more of a challenge (get well soon Alan)
We set off like a "paddling" of ducks (look it up) following our leaders Dave and Pam to our coffee stop at the Parlour cafe - I thought I had timed it to perfection to be the first to arrive at the stop, but unfortunately I was one turn out, and we ended up having to wait while everyone sailed past leaving us to be the last arrivals. Dave had very kindly arranged a bit of off roading on the approach to the cafe, and all the clean and immaculately prepared machines and riders received a liberal coating of mud and dirty water😯
Coffee and cake out of the way, we mounted our trusty steeds for the return journey. Jeff and Ian, who had obviously received a better offer, bailed out on their brace of Nortons to leave an oil trail leading elsewhere. Steve Back was very excited as he said to me "it's all going very well so far" to which I responded with a knowing wink "the day is still young Steve".
On we rode passing the fields and hedges of Essex, in what had now become a nice sunny morning. The birds were singing and even the roadkill seemed pleased to see us. As we approached the turn into Woodham road there was a gaggle of riders waiting in line in the middle of the road. The road was clear with no traffic and yet they seemed to be taking an age to make the maneuver. When we finally caught up to them we found the reason for the delay - struggling across the road was none other than ............................... you guessed it ...................... Steve Back paddling away on a silent Triumph. A whole host of other riders were gathering excitedly, all offering solutions - it's the plugs - the battery - the carburettor - the rider. They appeared to have things totally under control, so we left the stricken Steve to his fat,e and set off in pursuit of Dave and Pam and the others who had gone on ahead. A couple more turns later, it was clear that only Ricky on his modern Honda was behind us, so I put on a spurt and caught and passed Dave and Pam. "Steves broken down," I said. Dave simply refused to believe it but we stopped anyway. After about five minutes it was agreed that Carol and I should retrace our steps, and find out what was occuring. We soon found the first marker (I think that it was Mike on his trusty Suzuki - I've never seen that break down - just saying) and signaled him to remain. We flew past the next marker (I think it was Andy on his B25) but I saw him just in time and did a u turn to go back and take the turn. I waved at him to stay there, and he gave me a cheery wave back and then set off to join Mike.
With a shrug of the shoulders we carried on back along the route only to be nearly poleaxed by a maniacal Steve riding like the devil possessed on the wrong side of the road. He was hotly pursued by the remaining riders so we executed another perfect U turn and caught them all at the next junction. Steve was again sitting stationary on a quiet Triumph kicking as though his life depended on it. Several kicks and backfires later he finally got it started again, but discretion proved the better part of valour, and he set off home with John Ruth in hot pursuit. It looks like Steve has already got that 2024 trophy clearly in his sights again!
After all the excitement we finally regrouped,and made our way to the final lunch stop. The Landlady, although very pleased to see us, still made us all park in the corner out of the way. She said it was to leave the parking spaces for her regulars, but I suspect it was just in case any of the neighbours saw us and it ruined her pub's street cred as a nice family place. We all trooped into the pub and she ushered us out the back to our own private suit (again away from the locals, just in case). We were delighted to see lovely Nicki Iszard (not Nickin as my spell check suggested) and Dave fresh from his major surgery. Dave was keen to show everyone his new scars, and regale us with the graphic details of his surgery to help build up our appetites.
So another successful ride concluded - well done and thanks to Dave and Pam for organising everything and to John Beckinsale who was our tail end charlie. Now we are off to the bike shop as SWMBO needs some new trousers as her jeans were not warm enough! "