Saturday 12 February 2022

Lessons learned!

No matter how long you have been doing something, there is always something else to learn!  Stay tuned to the end of this post for today's lessons.

Using the 'BookWhen' booking system allows myself and the leaders to know who is coming, plan groups and try to ensure people are with people they want to ride with and at the level (pace) they choose.  Today we had twelve riders (including leaders), so enough for two groups of six which is nice.

I was also able to let the cafe know how many were coming, so they were prepared.  Important when visiting some of our smaller venues.

Another bonus of booking in advance is that it limits mixing around at the start and you can focus on coffee and chat.

After our mandatory photo, my group set off first followed by our second 'slower' group.  We all went along the Greenway to start with as apparently the forecast was to be very wet and windy (although Sue pointed out this should be after 1pm).  We passed lots of people going each way, but two chaps decided to shout quite rudely to us (and even more aggressively to our second group) along the vein of 'get out of our way'.  The rest of their group (I heard the lady say 'we need to catch up to the other two) were OK, but it was one of our second group that called to them about how rude the first two were.  No club top I'm afraid so can't pin it to any cycling club in particular, as I would certainly be in touch with their club secretary.

My group turned off the Greenway where it was closed, just after the Dragon bridge over the A494, and headed toward the Blue Bridge at Shotton.  There is an interesting and useful (if not particularly pretty) network of bridges to cross the main road at the roundabout by Asda in Queensferry, which is great to avoid the roads and traffic.  This brought us to the bottom of the road up to Hawarden, and we made our way up, turning off left to skip around Mancot, avoiding the dead straight and slightly busier main road.

I will admit to a small mistake, where we turned right by the cemetery and not left - this I think may be a slightly steeper hill to bring us to the centre of the village (but probably not by much).

On arrival, as directed, we went around to the back of the cafe and parked up.  However, the first ones that went in came back out saying there was no room, and only one table of six.  The manager came out to welcome us, and invited us to the one table, reassuring us that a few were leaving and there will be another table soon.

Photo thanks to Collette, who took more pictures than me today!

As we settled I kept an eye our for group 2, who called me to say the cafe was full (the other manager had said there was no space) - I went out and directed them to the back and gave further reassurance that there was space - anyway, we all got seated in the end and the owners were very pleasant, accommodating and quick with the food, which was very tasty.  Who knew Breakfast Pizza was a thing!!!

All fed and watered, my group set off first - by now it is raining, windy and unpleasant.  I told the group the first part of the return journey (as there is a sneaky left turn, easy to miss) and we set off (having to send a volunteer to press the crossing button, so many cars coming through!).

Lovely descent past Tinkersdale car park, although you could feel the wind, and as we started to climb thorugh Tinkersdale (wonderful bendy road which slowly climbs to the roundabout with the A55) one rider passed me - I called out to watch for the left turn, but it was windy, and my voice may have been lost.

We all dutifully turned, and as I could not see our rider on the lane, I called her and left a message.  Further up I asked a walker if they had seen a cyclist, which they hadn't.  We continued up to the top, I called again and (long story short) we kept missing each other.  (said rider did get home safe, but her phone battery had been low)

My group dropped down the Warren, plans of a slightly longer route ditched as the weather was really not very nice, and we actually picked up the A5104 Saltney Straight - which now has a very nice cycle path all the way in, and it felt quite safe to plough home that way.  We started to drop people as we headed to the river; and caught the slower group as we left the canal at Hoole Lane.

And the lessons?

1) make sure phone batteries are charged - but also put a reminder on the booking form for people to have a charged phone before riding (or bring a charger)

2) to put a note on the booking for bookees to watch for a confirmation email, and let me know if not received

3) make sure everyone has heard the instructions given (about route to come, or potential risks!)

Anyway, all home safe, and not too wet, 21 miles.