Sean Lacey has to be industrious on an autumn day in the Midlands
There is a definite chill in the air, a sure sign winter is coming and the decision to add layers was an easy one — full longs, too. As the Stourbridge A-group riders arrive they have the same idea, bar one hardy soul. We have a good few miles to cover and the pace needs to be on the higher side, which will keep us warm at least. It will also make good use of late form, at least for those who have some, though not this writer.
As we head out of town the group is big enough to provide suitable cover and wheels to ride on, facilitating conversation and appreciation of the countryside we will visit, passing through the West Midlands, Staffordshire and Shropshire on our way to the cafe stop.
One member I catch up with — the hardy chap in shorts — was South African born Risdon Sharp, who came to the UK three years ago: “I moved to the UK to go to university and wanted to keep fit. I rode a little back home but not much. Joining the club was a great motivator and taught me the skills I needed to get involved with the faster club runs — and the muscle developed the hard way!” He isn’t cold either, despite hailing from warmer climes.
The trip through Staffordshire is brief, just a few miles wide at its southern point and we’re into the meat of the ride in Shropshire. Our route takes us through the village of Badger, popular with local clubs due to its pristine Olde English village charm and quiet roads. It’s relatively flat round here, too, though that won’t last though as the group rolls on towards the Ironbridge Gorge, the deep valley opening up no end of climbs (and descents) to choose from.
We drop down a fast and twisting road to the River Severn and tantalisingly ride straight past our destination at the