Since we introduced the new way of categorising rides a couple of years ago, I’d thought that there was no reason why, during the summer months, we shouldn’t have some longer C rides. There are many destinations within Shropshire that just can’t be reached on a less than 50ml ride, especially with the lengths you have to go to to avoid riding on main roads. So, to this end, at the last ride-fixing meeting (at the Prince of Wales, as usual – and, no, I didn’t have any alcohol!) I decided to volunteer to lead some longer rides. One of these was to Bishops Castle on 9th May.
Those of you who remember the weather on that day will probably agree that it wasn’t conducive to a trek over Stiperstones (wouldn’t see much, anyway), so Dave, Jean and I just did a loop south of Shrewsbury (Upton Magna, Atcham, Crosshouses, Condover, Annscroft), followed by an early lunch back home. We stopped on the way for coffee at Upton Magna, and were very reluctant to leave, given the rain bouncing off the tarmac outside.
Anyway, the following day, I looked at the forecast for the following Thursday, and it seemed OK. Since there was only a destination ride on the calendar, I decided to try for Bishops Castle again, and duly added it to the rides calendar on the website. I also posted a news item and a message in the forum, and just hoped that enough members would get the message. I needn’t have worried – the three of us from last week were joined by four others, with only one being surprised that we weren’t going to Sleap Airfield instead!
We took the usual route to Minsterley, then turned off at Plox Green where the real climbing began. Instead of the usual ‘banana stop’ at the side of the road, we had the pleasure of coffee and cake (look, I’d just ridden up a big hill so I’m sure my diet will stand it!) at the Bog Centre. Ignoring the turn left up to the Stiperstones, we headed South down a road that I’d never ridden before (another ride leader aim I’d accomplished) and it proved a spectacular descent through a beautiful, wooded valley to Linley. A few miles on relatively flat roads led to Bishops Castle and lunch at Poppys Cafe, where we were lucky enough to nab a table out back in the sunshine.
The huge sandwiches we were served did not help with the next part of the route. We headed SE and Dave was disappointed to find we were not going through Lydbury North. Instead, we had a steady uphill grind on Stank Lane, only to be rewarded with some spectacular views from the top. The majority of us turned left down a tiny lane just after the top, but, due to a misunderstanding, two riders (no names, no pack drill) actually got to visit Lydbury North! We re-grouped at Horderley for a bit of B road before turning off for a lovely ride through Hamperley and Minton. After that it was pretty well all downhill through Church Stretton along the usual Roman road route. We’d all dispersed to our various destinations by the time we got to Condover, so I decided to risk the A49 for the last few miles – and found myself passing a lorry just before the by-pass that had earlier passed me! Smug was I!!
Anyway, after a hot shower and a mug of tea, I sat down to reflect on an enjoyable ride, and was rewarded with compliments from the others for an excellent route. I’ve decided to do a repeat in August, so look out for it on the Calendar.