2011 Bedfordshire

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Total distance: 118 miles (188.8 kilometres)

This ride is a one day route, starting and stopping in Little Brickhill, just outside Milton Keynes.

Main memories of the day include stopping for lunch at a pub with some newly installed decking in the beer garden. The good bit was that the decking had a roof, and it began to rain quite heavily during the meal. We stayed dry, as did our bikes - but only until it was time to move on after lunch.

The rain became heavier, and the route took us around the back of Luton airport on narrow sunken lanes with high hedgerows. These help shelter you from the wind, but the lanes act as water run-offs for the fields. We spent a memorable 20 minutes sheltering under a huge old oak tree in one of these lanes because the rain was so heavy we could not cycle in it. We were already sopping wet, but the amount of water coming down from the sky was unbelievable. Eventually it eased off a little, and we were able to continue, but very shortly after starting off again we came to a road junction that seemed to be more of a confluence of rivers. The water was over two inches deep, and flowing quite swiftly down the hill. taking large amounts of mud and banking with it.

There was also a section of off road grassy path, which on a good day would have been very pleasant to cycle on. Today though, it was sodden, slippery and very muddy. Nearly everybody fell off or had to put the odd foot down, and the mud got everywhere.

A little later, we came to a ford. I was bringing up the rear and could not understand why the others had stopped at it. To my mind I was already as wet as I could possibly be, there was no footbridge or path around it, so the only way was to go through. So I did.

It was only after I entered the water that I realised the others had stopped to check the depth in case the rain had made the ford too deep to cross. The other side suddenly seemed a very long way away, and there was no way I could turn around without falling off.

In the event the water came up over my bottom bracket, and up to the axles on my wheels, but as I was already in a very low gear I could keep going. And at least it washed the mud off so my bike was clean again.