December 2000

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL

Well, thatís it, another year done and dusted. 2000 was never going to live up to the hype that was built around it and as far as I can remember the Summer just failed to materialise, a few balmy weeks in May and it seems to have been raining since September.

But all our runs went ahead as planned and, again, we have remained remarkably dry considering. Though those of us who "swam" through Brittany at Easter must have earned enough credits to last until at least 2005.

Unfortunately, it has been something of an "Annus Horrablis" for a few amongst us but Iím sure we shall see them "Back in the Saddle" very soon. I mean, youíve got all that lovely Summer weather to look forward to!!

A big thank you to all those who organised a run and to everyone who supported them. We appear to be one of the most active regions of the tandem club, particularly as we are one of the least populated.

The run sheet came back from the Christmas Dinner with only two unclaimed dates, since claimed by Les, so it would seem that everybody is as keen as us to make 2001 another successful year.

Your new run sheet should be with this newsletter. But it is not the full story as we may join some North West runs particularly their planned Century ride in June. Also, some of us have been talking about a four day trip to ride the Coast to Coast and Rievers Route.

Donít forget that all and sundry are welcome to our New Years Eve bash. Weíve no plans for New Years day as yet but I suppose some one will want to go for a ride. For the really keen Iím going to ride up to the Dinorwig surge pond , which is the highest tarmac in Wales, after dark and have a wee dram before the demon downhill all the way home.

Richard and Winsome are leading the first run of the year from the Duke of Wellington in Acrefair on the 7th January.

At the end of January I was supposed to be leading a Hostel Weekend to Buxton but, due to factors beyond my control, we are now going to Bridges YH in Shropshire. Hopefully, we will be able to visit the Carding Mill valley as well as theStrettons, all, of course, beneath beautiful winter sunshine.

To book your bunk you need to phone the YH on 01588 650656 and tell them you are part of the Tandem Club Party who are staying the nights of 26th & 27th January.

By the end of January we should be more or less certain of the details of the Whit trip to Normandy. But for the moment here are the bare bones of an idea.

Take a Saturday night (26th May) ferry to St Malo to arrive early Sunday morning. Ride to Evron (approx. 80 miles) though some may wish to break the journey into two days and spend a night in Fougeres.

Stay in bungalows at Evron until the following Saturday when we will ride to Caen to take the nighttime sailing back to Portsmouth.

Runs Report

Les and Hazels Bonfire Run was amazingly well attended considering the weather of the previous week. Ruthin had been flooded the day before. Even the rowdy pensioners managed to make it without a hangover, for a change.

Our, not so, little group sallied forth toward Ruthin where we managed to find the one cafe that was open and not converted to a swimming pool. Sadly Ruthin was like a disaster area, sandbags and rubbish skips full of dead carpets everywhere, even sadder to think they suffered the same flood levels 24 hours later.

As usual Les had organised a superb lunch venue, this time at the Red Lion in Cyffilliog, and we enjoyed delicious food.

We managed to extricate ourselves from this cosy sanctuary and don waterproofs for the ride back to Maerdy, via Betws G G where we said farewell to Graham and Rhiannon.

I donít know if youíre reading this Graham but you missed out on a spiffing spread at chez Wyle with quiche, cake, and wine. This sumptuous feast consumed whilst maneuvering for position next to the new Raeburn.

Funny how I always remember what Iíve eaten rather than where Iíve eaten it!!

Food was a major consideration at last weekends Xmas Dinner but not as major as the anxiety that accompanied the prize giving.

Thirty six individuals sat down to a lovely meal like condemned men and women. Knowing that as soon as they started the coffee and mince pies their worst fears would be manifest.

As usual, some had made themselves worthy of more than one award whilst some had wisely kept a low profile. However a disturbing effect is beginning to reveal itself. One regular award winner is now so scared of losing his title that no sooner had he taken this years award than he saw fit to start into next years ratings!! We may have to start some form of invigilation in order to detect bogus points claims though it has to be said this particular champion regularly presents photographic evidence.

So, the question is will it be your turn in 2001.

DO YA FEEL LUCKY?

FIVE GET WET DISCOVERING SLOPSHIRE (with apologies to a certain E. Blyton)

Badger (no, not the one from Wind in the Willows) was not a happy bunny (an oxymoron surely!!), it had been raining for what seemed like a lifetime and now they were lost in a very dark and uninviting English night. Tubby continued to drive as if he knew where he was with the niggling thought that things werenít quite so spiffing considering they hadnít even started the Audax yet.

They eventually found Clun Youth Hostel and managed to make out the faces of their chums through the fug of steaming tea, socks and overshoes in the common room.

Fred, who is a very chipper chap, had gamely ridden to Clun that day arriving well before the softie motorists.

Flatty and Aunty, who had also driven, empathised with Tubby and Badgers navigational experiences. Aunty claiming that Flatty had driven with more conviction than confidence.

In view of the expected conditions for the following days 100km it was considered prudent to retire early and thus were the best laid plans of Tubby and Flattys pub visit laid to rest.

Tubby didnít sleep well, possibly because of the anticipation of a highly tuned athlete preparing to face the combined forces of nature, but more probably due to the sonorous orchestra of combined snoring.

The next day dawned cold, sodden and submerged, what the more masochistic call character building. However, on a brighter note, the weathermanís promised gales had failed to materialise. So that was all right then.

Over breakfast it emerged that some hardy souls had traveled from as far as Kent to go on this ride / swim. Full marks for resolve but suggest you seek medical advice concerning your sanity.

The 9am departure time came about six months too early as 100ish committed fools set off to discover Slopshire.

It took approximately 20km for everyone to become lost, the route sheet promised a sign for Presteigne and there appeared to be a sign for every where but.

Tubby struggled with a map whilst various others hovered and allowed Tubby to take them, rather convincingly , in the wrong direction. The mistake was soon discovered with Tubby exclaiming "Golly Gosh what a mess" or words to that effect!!

Once back on course and by now completely soaked the only thing that mattered was getting to the control at the Bull Inn in Presteigne. Tubby could not stop dreaming of warmth, tea and, of course, ginger beer, the next ten kilometers flew by in a blur.

The Bull Inn was heaven. Tubby removed his glove and drained his sleeve onto the carpet where the gallon of water from his helmet had already landed.

The five chums tucked into the scrummy spread, Tubby particularly enjoying the scrambled eggs but alas no ginger beer.

All good things come to an end and our young friends braced themselves for the ordeal to come.

An ordeal indeed for a small bang announced the death of Flatty and Auntysí rear tyre and tube on the most exposed and rain swept stretch of road possible .

Ooops said Tubby (or words to that effect)

Good Grief said Aunty (or words to even greater effect).

Flatty just said nothing, speechless with disbelief.

Fred considered the wisdom of sticking with these troublesome tandems whilst assisting Flatty with repairs.

Badger assisted with words of encouragement which were fortunately drowned by the wind otherwise Flatty and Fred may have had strong words for her !

Fred disappeared somewhere on the way to Ludlow leaving the four battling rain, wind, and a soft back tyre on Tubby and Badgersí tandem.

Fortunately, the soft tyre held on until the next control and so could be attended to undercover. Tubby changed the tube and extracted two thorns from the tyre before partaking of excellent soup and hot choccy but no ginger beer.

The rain was bouncing as the four ventured forth on the lanes to Acton Scott control and things began to get really interesting. There were floods at every low spot and no way through but to take the centre line and "what ever you do donít stop pedaling". Somewhere along this stage the rain stopped and the sun attempted to show but again Tubbysí thoughts were on food and drink.

The floor of the cafe at Acton Scott farm museum was awash, not with ginger beer, and the flapjack was fit for heavy construction but it was the penultimate control and the sun was out HIP HIP HOORAY.

Return to crossroads and L, shortly after which the foursí collective aural senses were assaulted by an air horn POOP POOPing worthy of Toad (but thatís another plot line which we shall not squander here).

The owner of aforementioned horn caught Tubby and Badger then shouted something about the route sheet being incorrect . Badger pointed out his error in not observing the route sheet by entering the control via the wrong entrance and anyway where was his route sheet, it was certainly not on view. Once it was made obvious that the fault was his and not the route sheets he stormed off in a huff.

"Golly what a jolly rude chap" (or words to that effect) uttered Tubby. Badger said she thought he was probably a spy of an enemy power looking for submarine pods in the floods. The Ďspyí was last seen descending a steep hill using his foot as a brake!!

The four reached Aston on Clun just as Slopshire was plunged into darkness by a huge storm cloud.

Tubby was tired and hungry and decided that the time was right for a last symbolic effort . The End canít be far now. Half an hour later they spotted lights ahead, and Tubby upped the pace another notch.

Ah but friends how easily deceived the desperate are for our little groups elation was soon replaced by a dark mood upon the realisation they were in Clunton and not Clun. What a difference an innocent syllable can make.

It was all too much for Tubby who uttered dark oaths concerning some impolite discomfort and hammered legs.

At last it was all over and there was tea and cakes. Tubbysí good nature returned and he actually began to start enjoying himself . What a pity you couldnít have the tea and cakes without having to do the 100km swim and whereís the chuffing ginger beer ?

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