It was a nippy morning, so I was part-delighted and part-horrified (we were going to be 4 short on the lunch booking - please, please if ride leaders asks you to confirm attendance to make bookings work, get in touch and confirm ASAP) to see 12 riders turn out.
Within a mile, though, we had lost one of the riders due to an unlikely conspiracy of perlican crossing, puncture, and nobody noticing. Abject apologies to Chris, and as ride secretary, I've already put a note out to the ride leaders so we can all learn from the incident, and hopefully never have a repeat.
Anyhow, it was a bit of a slog heading into the wind through the Vale and onto some new lanes for some through Sevenhampton and the outskirts of Swindon to get to Hannington. Top effort from Dave, sitting on the front and providing a diesel engine and wind-break to the peloton. After Hannington, it was a much more undulating ride in the southern Cotswolds (with one or two spots of rain thrown in, for atmosphere), and as we turned eastwards, the tailwind became most welcome.
Lunch at the Plough was superb, and they managed to squeeze us all in (elbow etiquette was critical!). Louis made us wait in the cold afterwards, as he fixed a puncture that appeared over lunch, and I made the group wait a little longer as I fixed my hung GPS computer...
The afternoon was a gentler affair, the tailwind still helping and Sunday roasts sitting heavy in the stomach. A few new lanes near Aston, where Andy also had and mended a puncture in lightning quick time, and we trod familiar paths back to Wantage, arriving as predicted at 3:30.
A lovely day of riding in chilled company and with mostly sunny (if cold and windy) weather.