After enjoying my first Sky Ride Local so much a couple of weekends back, I signed up for one of the women only Breeze rides. Breeze, which is also part of British Cycling, is all about encouraging women to take to their bikes and enjoy social cycling. I thought it would be an excellent way to begin September.
I chose the Breeze Sunday Brunch ride that started in the centre of Lincoln at 9am last Sunday morning. The route went past my house but I decided to go and start at the beginning rather than meeting the ride a few miles in; there was a chill in the air but I knew I would warm up en route so I donned my shorts and tee and headed into town. I’d been warned that our route would take up Waddington hill, which I’ve attempted a couple of times and failed to master, so I wanted to make sure I was warmed up and ready for it.
We met Lou, our Breeze champion and ride leader (follow her on twitter @Breeze_Lou), outside the Angel Coffee House in Lincoln (where you can see a couple of my photographs on display until the end of the month!) and she briefed us before we headed out of town back towards my house. There were seven of us on the ride – Melanie (also a Breeze Champion), Wendy, Lou, Aggie, Judith, Martina and myself – all different, riding different kinds of bikes and wearing different kinds of gear. It turned out it was the first long Breeze ride Lou had organised for the Lincoln area; she had an obvious passion for cycling and was a very chatty and friendly ride leader.
Waddington hill is just over a mile of gradually increasing gradient; not exactly the hardest hill in the world but a challenge for me and my fellow Breeze Sunday Brunchers. For the record, I conquered it! I may well have needed the easiest gear on my bike but hey. I did it and was rather chuffed with myself! Once at the top we headed out into the countryside on the old Roman Ermine Road, a dead straight and unmade road that took us along fields, passed farms and even alongside an archaeological dig. I was very pleased for my front suspension as the road was uneven (a mix of tarmac, rubble, grass and gravel), but loved every second riding along there; just the sort of riding I want to be doing on my mountain bike – I shall be heading out along that way again sometime.
Temple Bruer, which was our first main stop along the ride, was once one of the wealthiest Templar preceptories in England. The 12th century tower is one of a pair of towers that was once attached to the chancel of the circular-naved Templar church. It is one of the few Knights Templar sites still to have standing remains and its importance is recognised by the fact that it is a Scheduled monument and a Grade I listed building. And the door was open! So naturally we all went in and had a wander around – Lou had her camera and caught this shot of us all inside.
After spending some time there we headed back towards Navenby – not using the unmade road this time. It turned out we’d been very sheltered from the wind as the headwind was rather strong – in fact I am certain I was going backwards at some points! It was still very pretty though; I love Lincolnshire.
In Navenby we stopped at Macy’s Brasserie for brunch – a new-to-me cafe that I am so pleased we went to as my scambled egg on toast was totally scrummy and definitely needed (my Runkeeper app said 24 miles from home by this point). I enjoyed the social side of sitting down and eating together; these organised cycle rides are as much about meeting new people as the cycle route. If you’re in the area Macy’s is very well worth a visit – a lovely setting with lovely food and lovely staff.
Then it was time to head back home. We whizzed down the hill in Navenby and headed back towards Lincoln. Again we discovered the wind was incredibly strong and it was very hard going in places to keep moving. But hey – it burnt many calories and we had the Cathedral in our sights from five miles out which certainly motivated me! I made the decision to not go back into town (I’d already done that part of the route) and so peeled off from the group as it went past the end of my road. Thanks Lou and the rest of you for a lovely Sunday morning ride taking me 32 miles, teaching me something about Lincolnshire history and introducing me to a lovely Brasserie – I’ll be joining you again soon.
For more information about Breeze rides in the Lincoln area have a look at Go Sky Ride Lincoln or follow @BreezeLou or @BreezeRidesLinc on twitter. Unlike Sky Rides, Breeze rides are lead by volunteers (who are still trained British Cycling leaders) and so don’t need the same kind of funding which means organised social rides will continue through Autumn and into winter. If you have a route in mind speak to Lou!
Oh, and if anyone can tell me what the significance of this metal chair that was bolted to the floor inside Temple Bruer is, I’d love to hear from you!