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Stiperstones Weekend Away

February 18-19th 2012

Rain, hail, snow, wind (and some sun!)

It was five wet Clarionistas who met at Cheadle, and by the time Dunc, Geoff, Ian, Justin and Ric were joined Tony in Handforth we were soaked though but still looking forward to a weekend away. That motivation took a bit of a battering by the mother and father of all hail storms that took the skin off our noses as we passed through Wilmslow.

Once out into Cheshire we started to feel the south-westerly breeze. Queue a well oiled 'slow-mo chain-gang' with el secretario calling out for a rotation every five minutes as we headed along familiar lanes towards Byley. It's uncanny how well tuned your ears get to the word 'change' once you've been in the wind for ten minutes. The wind and rain were easing off by Northwich but had already taken their toll and Dunc started routing about for some dry gloves in the hope of regaining feeling in his hands. We were making progress though and soon called into the Marina café at Church Minshull for tea, cake and to admire canal side fauna.

Things were looking brighter when we left the café so some capes came off and Justin, having goaded the wind sufficiently, lowered the rain cover tethered to his backpack. After passing through Nantwich we started dragging up, feeling the miles, the wind and our sodden feet and by the time we 'summitted' in Ash Magna we were fully ready for another stop. The sight of the truck stop a little further at Prees Heath with its extensive range of fried delicacies was a welcome sight.

On we rode through Wem and further south the roads got a little heavier. So much so that when we pulled over to regroup at the top of one rise Ric spotted a sign for a train station and made his excuses about a painful hip and issued his surrender. He was not to be swayed from his decision and we started our decent towards Shrewsbury without him. Once in the town 'phones started ringing and Ric announced a change of heart. He had clearly had an epiphany and realised that waiting for a bi-hourly train would be a long recounted folly. However sceptics might believe that a lowered saddle had lessened the pain.

The last leg out of Shrewsbury was sombre as sore legs lead to riders 'failing to hear' el secretario's call to come to the front until, on the approach to the final climb only Dunc and Tony were foolish enough to take their turns. By the time we'd climbed 125 m up to the Stiperstones Inn we had covered 85 miles at 16.2 mph average and were looking forward to beers and showers.

Stiperstones Feb 2012

Dunc felt sad about there being no pictures so sent this one in...of an empty garage, a wheelie bin, some gas canisters and some tarmac. Presumably, it's the Stiperstones night life as viewed during the day.

Overnight there was a sprinkling of snow and a large dose of mucky conversation, beer and hearty food, all of which was confirmed by Dunc as he contentedly retired for the night oblivious to both his indiscernible babbling and the route to the en-suite.

The snow rapidly melted as we ate Sunday's breakfast leaving us to chase a much recovered Ric down the hill towards Shrewsbury on a chilly but bright and sunny day. However normal chain gang service returned as the wind had veered north-west overnight to give us variations on a cross-head wind the whole way home.

Sunny weather and a homeward direction meant we pushed through the sore legs getting us to our first stop in Prees where a cup of tea sufficed for most on top of the fried breakfasts eaten a couple of hours previously. Justin however took the opportunity to start on a Coke binge, supping nearly two litres that day. Onwards to the next stop back in Church Minshull where we hung around longer to enjoy lunch and the scenery.

The last leg home saw us get the bit between our teeth and knock out the final few miles single file. We kept up a decent pace to bring us home at a 17.5 mph average for the day, although the Abbotsford Park RC did catch up with us in Lower Peover, their valour in slowly pulling us in reduced once they were close enough to see our panniers!

Altogether a hard but rewarding weekend away, although, alas Oliver's advice from last year about taking more photos fell on deaf ears as we returned without a single picture!

Report by Ian Shapiro