In 2016 a group of B&DCC riders took on the inaugral Tour of the Highlands, you can read about last years adventures over here. Following on from that we were all buzzing and keen to do another ride as a group, but were struggling to find something to live up to the Tour of the Highlands.
Andrew suggested we organise our own three day event, the same late May bank holiday and as he has family ties in Shropshire and knew the area a bit, suggested we head down that way.
It was surprisingly easy to organise our own event. Mainly because Andrew did it all. The advantage of this event was we were going to stay central, in Shrewsbury and do three rides from there. So there was only one hotel to find and and three routes to plan.
Oh and the routes to check on street view to make sure all the rides were ridable, to find the details of the key climbs and to find places to stop for all important Cake, Coffee and Bacon. Andrew did a cracking job of finding some great routes with good planned stops and some hopefully good riding.
We all met at the hotel at various times on the Friday. Neil got there first so was drunk by the time anyone else got there. It was also a beautiful sunny day so we settled down outside a local pub and drank Too Much Before A Big Ride.
Saturday we got up and out, and conditions were pretty nice. It had cooled a bit from the Friday and we had some clouds, which meant the temperature for cycling was pretty good and we cracked on round some lovely roads and over a couple of hills (including the Wrekin) to Iron Bridge before stopping for a cafe stop in a little village. Where I realised I had still been drunk when we set off and I was now quite badly hung over.
Lunch stop wasn't much later, and I was still dying. The group towed me round like stars, whilst also laughing at my suffering. I recovered before we hit the real climbing for the day. Up the Burway we went. Jean-Paul was finally so winded he stopped cracking jokes. After descending, the route circled round to climb back up to the same place, up Asterton Bank. This scores 11/10 in the climbs books. It shut everyone up. Only three of us completed the ascent without touching down. To be fair, Andrew was blocked by a car though. Brutal.
We then did the same descent again and went to the bog. It's a visitors centre. They did home made quiche and cake. It was VERY needed.
After that we cracked on a mostly flat/descending route back to Shrewsbury.
Day 2 was an early start, the aim to get back to Shrewsbury for the Shrewsbury GP racing. First stop was Andrew's in-laws who provided THE best cafe stop ever. From there, we rode into Wales, but after the first tough climb from Pontfadog we realised Martin was suffering. We cracked on and rode down then up the Horseshoe Pass which is a nice long steady climb to a huge tat-shop and biker cafe. Martin was really not doing well. From there on we worked as a group to support each other and ride back to Shrewsbury making sure Martin was able to manage the ride.
Day 3 was supposed to take us out to the brutal Hellfire Pass, but with the forecast for being really awful weather later in the day, Martin not being in best of health and us all remembering we had to actually drive home that evening, we plotted a shorter, less brutal route.
We set off, and after a while, Martin turned round not feeling fit for the ride. We cracked on and climbed the biggest collection of false flats in the united kingdom. It was a good long slog up that before dropping back down, and heading for the next shorter climb.
Sadly, the route was a bit last minute, and we'd accidentally routed it up a road that wasn't a road. A bit of falling off, pushing through mud (except John "the wolverine" Pattison who rode through everything despite being on his super new summer bike and having a recently broken collar bone) and cleaning bikes we decided not to mention the road any more and ride on.
A good ride that day, nice undulating roads, some steady climbs and some great roads. Back to the hotel for a shower, pack up and head off. Most people went for a special curry at Neil's favourite place.
Pretty awesome weekend with some brilliant riding exploring areas new to all of us, and a few bits Andrew already knew.
Just shows that with the internet to hand you can arrange yourself a tour anywhere you like and get some good roads and cafes in!
We're already looking ahead to where we'll go next year...