I don’t know which member of the team was most apprehensive at 6am, Saturday 13th September 2014. Me, the Co-pilot or ShelaghT. For all of us it would be three wheels into the unknown as the steersman and hanger-outer would be one person and not two.
We rolled out of the start at Great Dunmow into a very misty but beautiful morning. The first control would be the legendary Red Lodge truckers cafe. Trundling along sans our usual aid de camp, the Bike Butler (as he was doing a spot of faffing at the start) a peloton of two wheels grew around our three, including fellow trike on two wheels, Steve Poulton. With some very pleasant bunch banter the kms sped past. At the control we were greeted and stamped by that fearsome Brommie wheeler, Wilkyboy. An ample slice of carrot caik washed down with tea and we were on our way again. The Bike Butler arrived as we were almost about to depart, so we left him sampling the delights of Red Lodge.
Yet more unexpected but wonderful company joined us at we headed for Whittlesey. First Mike Wiggley then the Bike Butler and AndyC. Whittlesey proved to be a rather fine oasis, with a selection of eateries, none of which was a service station. Rather then the standard UK randonneurs faire of baked beans on toast the Bike Butler indulged in a Tai green curry!
Our next destination was Boston, less the tea party via the delights of Spalding. Here we partook of our first ‘Spoons’. We left AndyC doing a little light liquid carbo loading as Kirton-in-Lindsey beckoned. For this leg we were again joined by Mike W and Steve P, who were going to share the rest of our journey at intervals for the next 400km.
Leaving the local corner shop at Kirton-in-Lindsey, stripped almost bare by hungry randonneurs, we headed into the dark to the bright lights of Goole. The roads were very familiar from the many Arrows with the Cardiff Byways but were now given a new dimension with the extra wheel. The skull cinema provided replays of lots of kms shared with the legendary Dave Lewis as we rolled along. As we neared Swinefleat, we were greeted by a swift procession of headlights and cheery hellos from our fellow riders who were now heading to the arrivee. Soon we were threading our way through Goole to the 24 hour garage and 377km under our wheels.
Next on the menu was a little off route excursion to sunny Scunny for some well earned sleep at the Travelodge. In our search for the Travelodge we had our first sighting of the fleet of Eliptigos, headed up by Stuart Boemfield. Why they were in Scunthorpe which wasn’t on the route in either direction is still a mystery yet to be answered. Reception at the Travelodge was fantastic, ensuring the ShelaghT had a warm cosy spot to sleep until morning.
Five fifteen am and we were back on the road. This time for another arrow control town, Gainsborough. As we arrived at the control we made our second sighting of the Eliptigos who had been getting full value by riding all night.
As time is kilometers, we remounted with about half an hour of control closing time. Our last sighting of the fleet of Eliptigos , esconsed on Stuarts back wheel was made as we passed them on route for Lincoln. Sleaford would be our next destination.
A swift second ‘breakfast’ was purchased at Greggs in Sleaford. We then pedalled into glorious sunshine towards the next control; another legendary cyclists cafe, The Green Welly at Chatteris. The route took us through splendid Fen lanes with some fascinating surfaces if your were three wheeling.
We caught up with Mike Wiggley who after waxing lyrical about his bivy spot zipped off into the distance. Passing the ‘Spoons’ in Spalding was just too much to resist, so we stepped inside for a swift pint of orange and lemonade. We weren’t the only weak ones, as Steve Poulton couldn’t resist stopping for a cup of coffee. We left as a group of three which was going to set the pattern for the final kilometers of the ride.
Arrival at the Green Welly was magnificent as we caught up with many friends. Veloman, from the French 1000km adventure was there plus a small peloton of the Big Green Audax Machine from Ireland. The Tomsk the Tank-Engine peloton was sat at a family table with their head honcho and ride director, Tomsk stamping and signing our cards.
Leaving Chattris, there was now only 80km of this rather fine weekend of three wheeling left. Our mini peloton of me, the Bike Butler, Steve and Mike stayed together until the arrivee. Some guest riders flitted in and out of the group, including an exiled Kiwi YACF forumite Alotronic and a chap from Jersey doing his first 600km brevet.
As we free wheeled into the arrivee, except for the Bike Butler who couldn’t ’cause he was fixed, not only had we bagged a rather lovely 600km BRM brevet but we had beaten final food orders at the Angel and Harp pub, which was our controls. Dinner, a spot of brevet card admin and it was all to soon to leave the fantastic company of our fellow randonneurs for home.
If you haven’t ridden this brevet, it’s definitely one to put down on your to do list. Although of the X-rated brand for AUK ride, the ride is brilliantly thought and laid out. The route is rider friendly with minimum climbing with the charming towns and big view of the Fens, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.