Having spent most of the festive season cooped up with Mick who was cancelling conviviality because of a lousy cough & cold, it was a treat to mount our bikes & coast down Dukes Mound & along the cycle track to the Palace Pier. Although it was an earlier than usual start for the annual Carats Café NYD ride due to fear of crowds & queues at the counter, Ian, Joyce & Leon were already at the pier & we made a swift start at 10.15. We noticed some festive broken glass on the bike track.
There was no stopping at the customary Maroccos Café pick-up point for Tessa or other Hovians, but Jenny had joined us before the West Pier ruins but after the beautiful, restored bandstand, as we headed into the south-westerly wind, hoping that the spray was from the sea, as the sky looked fair [sometimes]. There had been a few brief glimpses of sunshine & it wasn’t very cold. However, colds were definitely in the air. Sue had had it over Xmas & now Ian was in the thick of it, whereas Mick, heading out in front, seemed glad to be able to breathe again, after nearly 2 weeks of catarrh, nosebleeds & constant coughing.
Ian was feeling really weak and washed out as we wheeled westward & was pleased to see Sue glide by in the car which he vowed would carry him home, rather than the tail-wind . As soon as we reached the café car-park he was dismantling his bike & packing it in the boot. Earlier arrivals had found us a table & joined the queue. I could see sunshine outside & I was warm from the exercise so left the rest to try to take some photos through the glass. That didn’t work so I shot the beach & a solitary dog walker, until Jim arrived from the lock side, having taken the high road while we tak the low.
No food photos as Fred was absent, though with fellow clarionettes in London, I think. Plans for the April Bristol to Bath trip & the need to book were raised. Joyce & Ian, who was now looking more comfortable, discussed our forthcoming AGM, Jim & I discussed his more undulating route to the café & it’s proximity to the NCN 82 to Devils Dyke, where I’d had my accident in June. Leon told us how he’d lost a stone in 2 months & Jenny told him he needed to start back on the carbs now. Jenny was wearing her night rider cycling top & regaled us with tales of long trips in the dark, though Leon wasn’t convinced & referred to recent local cyclist’s smash with young drivers at night on the very quiet Underhill Lane, where the car must have been going too fast & the cyclist ended up with severe head injuries.
Looking out the windows we then saw that it was really raining but, we’re not made of sugar so won’t melt, as the Danes or Dutch say, & now there’s a tailwind home. John & Jo text us all Happy New Year as we left. I stopped to photo the dozen or so surfers who were enjoying the rough sea, but not managing to mount the waves. I was starting to envy their wet suits, as wasn’t prepared for weather. Now pelted along to try & catch up, but, oh no, Mick has a puncture by the lagoon & 3or 4 clarionettes cluster round & assist. Jenny had 2 spare inner tubes and a brilliant new pump so she helped Mick & we encouraged the others to go on homeward out of the rain. We three then decamped to a small sheltered garage porch to change Mick’s inner tube as pumping had no effect. Jenny mentioned that the worse thing is to take off your tyre, find inner tube doesn’t fit, then find that you can’t put it back on again as then you are unable to push the bike. That is what happened, as her Shroeder valve wouldn’t fit into his wheel rim. He phoned for a taxi which would take a bike, so the call centre said “It may be some time”. I raced home in top gears, in order to trek back with our car if taxi had still not appeared & Mick all soaked & suffering, but, he was back home first & trying to repair the bike in our garage, as he wanted to cycle to the Albion game on 2.1.12. [I love palindromes.]
It was not the customary sunny sit-outside by the seaside New Year’s Day celebration. Brunch numbers were depleted & colds had taken their toll, but there was still a warm atmosphere at Carat’s & much Clarion cheer. Some were looking even fitter than last year & had fun at Xmas & we all enjoyed being together & back on our bikes. Thanks very much to Ian for organising and leading when he really wasn’t fit to & hope he recovers quicker than Mick did [12 days so far].