PhilJ led this ride and writes:
Quite a sad day for us this one as we were to be told on arriving at the White Lion in Radford Semele that it was closing for good at 11pm tonight. A quite revealing start to our refreshment stop. An extensive refurbishment had obviously not been able to change its fortunes. Futuristic clear dining globes had been installed in the beer garden of this historical 500-year-old pub suggesting a bright future lay ahead, but it was not to be. A new venue will have to be sought for this ride in future.
Half a dozen of us enjoyed the ride over on a changeable day with plenty of wind and fortunately a fair bit of sunshine too. A leisurely pace took us through Whilton Locks and over the gated roads to Welton. At Willoughby with plenty of time to spare before opening time at the White Lion, we enjoyed a quick cuppa in the open air at the Willoughby Café. Pete S kindly provided a round of teas and coffees for us whilst Darryl ventured over to the tropical fish shop on the other side of the road. Meanwhile Tim K, now at university, spotted some old school friends arriving for breakfast just as we were about to depart.
The route between Willoughby and Grandborough seemed like we were in a wind tunnel most of the time, but Tim K majestically sliced through it giving us all a bit less resistance to worry about. The lanes further on were perfectly smooth and invited fast speeds which the young pretenders duly did leaving three slightly ‘less young’ riders behind in their wake.
Long Itchington led to the long haul up Snowford Hill, complete with its own sign so you know it’s a proper hill. Once conquered just Offchurch stood between us and the White Lion.
The hospitality was excellent. Water was provided for us in the most elegant way. Coloured glass water bottles complete with six crystal glasses. The limited menu wasn’t ideal, but we all refuelled substantially enough and bid our farewells for the last time to the White Lion. Who knows if it will be rescued in the future?
A short sharp climb not far from the pub immediately got the hearts thumping and set the scene for the ride back which was to be tougher than the ride out. We headed towards Southam with the ever-present wind by our side and despite it, were able to cruise along on long stretches of smooth tarmac at decent speeds. It was difficult not to on such perfect roads.
The climb at Priors Marston lay ahead and we refuelled with snacks by the side of the road just a mile out. Darryl seemed to relish the challenge whilst others clearly didn’t. Pete B was struggling with cramp which must have made it incredibly difficult for him to climb to the top.
At the summit the cameras came out to capture the stunning vistas over Hill Farm. There isn’t a more perfect view of our countryside anywhere.
Towards Preston Capes the weak bridge road closure needed to be navigated before we remounted. Cameras came out again just to record the moment with much amusement as bikes and riders tried different options to overcome the barriers in the most efficient way!
A climb up to the transmitter site near Preston Capes was probably the last climb of the day. Through Litchborough a long easy downhill catapulted us along to Maidford then onwards to Bugbrooke and the final few miles home.
Superb riding from everyone today. Thanks for coming out.