This year a record 37 members registered for the Club Weekend based in the Lancaster University Conference facilities. However, Andy P was unable to attend so eventually there were 36 which still provided something of a logistical nightmare. We took the usual Minibus and Van but had to arrange for Andrew C, Bruce, Clare, David C, Graham, Martyn and Lynn to supplement the transport with their own vehicles. The vehicle pick ups went without problem and everyone met up at Lancaster Services at the arranged time.
Jim had had a panic phone call at 8am from the University to say that re-surfacing work was taking place on the main drive and we would have to use the rear entrance. We were supposed to drive in convoy to the University but along the way we lost two vehicles which were eventually re-united at the University parking.
Soon we were unloading people and bikes and ready to go on a somewhat grey morning. We had decided to split the Saturday ride into two groups following the same route and Andy P was supposed to be leading one group with Jim taking the other. This is when Jim pulled the next masterstroke in asking Bruce (as he had the Satnav route) if he would work with Alec at the front of the group with Gill taking the back. Martyn was to back Jim. Jim led off along a pleasant marked route through Lancaster and onto the canal. However when the Satnav took Bruce to the canal, it failed to tell him which way to go, something which was to happen a few times on this trip. The canal was surfaced within the City boundaries, one of the many initiatives available to a Cycling Town. The canal crossed high above the Lune and whilst the surface deteriorated once in the country, it was a very pleasant route to Hest Bank where we left it.
The signed route then took us back onto the pedestrian part of the Promenade back into Morecambe. Here we made a brief encounter with the Eric Morecambe statue before getting mixed up with a pop concert en route to Morrisons for Lunch. Unfortunately, because of the Festival and the “silver hairs”, Morrisons was overcrowded and slow in service so we all opted for the takeaway counters and stood outside under a canopy. This gave the opportunity for the groups to briefly re-unite and exchange stories. At this point the heavens opened and we were grateful for the canopy.
Soon we were underway again on the superb railway path back into Lancaster and over the Millenium Bridge before following the river out again onto another path to Conder Green. Here we made another brief stop at the Café de Lune where the groups again came together. Here, it was decided that Clare would have a lift back with Barbara to save her knee further problem. The remaining miles back to the University were rather hilly and the rain returned so that everyone was wet on arrival.
The University excelled themselves and the co-ordinator Ros had accepted several requests for changes. The accommodation was superb, far exceeding our “student” expectations. Rooms were provided where we could lock up the bikes overnight. The catering staff produced excellent food preceded by a complimentary drink and the dining room was laid out beautifully. Bruce entertained us with another of his ditties and everyone was happy. Afterwards the choice of bars meant that the X-factor officianados occupied one and those who wanted to avoid the X-factor occupied the other. We joined the other University guests the following morning for breakfast in the Refectory. Arrangements were made for those with dodgy knees for Clare to return home and Steve L to have a lift to the Elevenses stop to avoid the worst of the hills.
Two routes were planned for Sunday. Those who loved the hills and a harder ride were invited to join the ride up the Lune Valley with Bruce, Alec and Gill whilst Jim and Martyn took the flatter ride towards Cockerham Marshes.
There were less problems with the Satnavs up the Lune Valley as most of it was on road. An early climb set the scene before the long descent to Caton. Crossing the Lune steep climbs took the riders via Gressingham to Arkholme. Lunch was scheduled for Docker Farm but it had not been recced as it only opened the week before. However, we need not have worried as the service was excellent, even taking teapots off the sale shelf to serve the masses. The undulations continued through Capernwray and the Kelletts back to Halton where we rejoined the canal back through the City Centre and on to the signposted route back to the University. Grey skies were the order of the day with rain towards the end of the ride.
The other ride headed out down another signposted route into Galgate and the climbing started. The climbs were not as severe as the other route but the riders were glad to reach the Applestore café in the delightful Wyresdale Country Park for elevenses in the garden. Leaving the café downhill into Scorton we were soon on flatter roads across Cockerham Moss and Winmarleigh to lunch at Stakepool at Bell Farm. Seating was a little cosy but the food acceptable and we were again on our way. A great tail wind soon saw us doing 17 mph across the marshes and through the lanes to Cockerham. Here we again hit the hills but less severe than before and out onto the main road (and the rain) near Galgate. We returned back through the signposted route to the University where remarkably both groups arrived within 10 minutes of each other.
The bikes were soon re-loaded and we returned home tired but satisfied after another successful Club Weekend.
Photos from the Weekend are in the Members Gallery – where to next year ?