(February 2002) The Christmas Bike Ride

‘Twas a week before Christmas when all through the village a frantic pumping of tyres and mending of punctures was going on. At 7 o’clock a large group gathered at Lanes End Corner in festive mood, for this was our Christmas meal bike ride to the Stags Head at Swalcliffe. Several of the bikes sported Christmas Trees varying in height from 6 inches to about 2 feet, complete with lights! There was also a festive teddy hitching a ride on a carrier in a drunken fashion.There was some glittering headgear but antlers proved to be a poor choice (problems going down hill, wind resistance etc.)

Finally we set off. The fit group heading out towards Epwell White House and back to Swalcliffe via Shutford and the rest of us going to Shutford and Swalcliffe Lea. There were a few groans when people realised we weren’t taking the direct route. It was an excellent evening for the ride, still and not to cold. Many of us don’t do a lot of night cycling but we got the hang of it though it is not recommended to obscure your light with too much tinsel. We arrived at the Stags Head at just about 8 o’clock to be greeted by those who had not cycled (two ankles in plaster is a passable excuse.) We were just relaxing and people were asking where the group founder was when in he came to cheers (or jeers) but alas it was for a drink, quick chat and delivery of Christmas cards. Twenty seven sat down to a meal and as the food arrived a lull in the general babble occurred except for a few calls of ‘pass the potatoes’, “I wish I had vegetables instead of salad, they look so nice’ and ‘the lamb is delicious’. There was lots of discussion over puddings, sticky toffee or chocolate chilli cake or one of the many others. Puddings were consumed with much tasting of the chocolate chilli cake which was good. Gradually as half past ten came and went people started to disperse. The first to leave were greeted by shouts of have you paid yet. After counting the money and puzzling over it for several minutes as there was a £40 shortfall a voice piped up “I’m paying ours by plastic” — sighs of relief. Some cycled home and brought cars back to pick up other members and their bikes, some hitched lifts to bring vehicles to collect bikes and youngsters. (Apparently 4 people and 4 bikes do not go easily into one Land Rover but it is possible). Some of us just had a steady ride home. Thanks must go to Marianne, the mover and shaker on this. I think everyone thought it was a good evening. Thank you to the Stags Head for putting up with us and the broken glasses. “The lamb was delicious.” but so was everything else. P.S. To qualify to attend next years event you have to attend at least 4 Tuesday Bike Rides.

Joanna Gilkes