Unfortunately a few old faces couldn't make it this year; Steve R had moved 2,500 miles away, Clark had undergone major surgery, Ian H had a serious facial hair infection and Eleanor had ruled it too dangerous for Maysty to ride with us.
The good news was that we had a few virgins with us. Quite appropriate given the season. Dave T, Duncan, Giant Paul and Paul B all joined us on the Christmas ride for the first time.
Melanie and her Mystery Machine took five riders, eight bikes and the tandem to Sizewell. JoJo, Duncan's wife, and her Juvenile Juggernaut (Duncan will be 12 years old this coming Friday) carried the remaining five riders. The plan was to ride back to Woodbridge off road. The weather was miserable and even the traditional Sloe Gin did little to raise our spirits. Thankfully the cafe was closed, so we headed off. The ground was waterlogged and we were soon soaked, but the byways, tracks and footpaths made for great riding, although one dog-walker took umbrage to our riding on the footpath (well done Steve W for winding him up even more).
Thorpeness and Aldeburgh passed quickly before we headed inland to Snape. We enjoyed the trails through Tunstall Forest and were deserving of a drink, so we dropped into the The Froize Inn, Chillesford, for a pint, some crisps and two massive portions of roast potatoes.
We headed off, away from home, with a slight beer-buzz, but were all soon beaten by the climb out of a bomb hole near Butley. (I still can't believe none of us managed it.) Alok was unlucky enough to be piloted by Dave H at the time. Neither Dave nor Alok give up easily, but had to when they both hit the sand. Dave then tried solo, came to a holt, attempted to track stand before a final effort, lost his balance and tumbled off down the slope. Fantastic effort.
We skirted Rendlesham Forest, then Hollesley, Alderton and Shottisham before heading back to Sutton Hoo on the road. We rode down the steps to Paul B's road, then the river wall to Dock Land before heading across town, via the Theatre Street steps, to the Cherry Tree. Exhausted. Just thirty miles, but it felt like fifty miles or more.
Well done Alok - seven pilots in one ride must be (another) club record? Well done also to Dave T and Giant Paul for their first efforts "up front". Special thanks to Melanie an JoJo. Roll on 2013. How about a trip to The Flying Nun Trail, Port Hills, Christchurch. Steve R, can you arrange bacon sandwiches en route?
Following the previous cup having been won 3 times in all by AM last year, this year a consensus view was that the criteria should be a bit wider than just celebrating broken bones. A late entry by virtual non-swimmer SG with his attempted launch into the Deben was a valiant last minute effort, and all year new boys PB ('Giant Paul') and PB (self-styled 'Biggo') have tried hard to keep us amused. However, the cup had already been decided upon when SG went off-piste, and a new trophy designed over a lengthy pub lunch. The new criteria for winning is for providing the most memorable moment of the year, and this years very worthy winner was DH, pictured with his 'sponsored by Peronni' award.
Holland not quite so Extreme
With a sedately departure from Woodbridge at 8pm we headed off to Gateway to the Continent to join the ship. Boarding was quick as we were soon testing the Dutch nectar before trying to eat half an animal. After a guided tour of the ship, with the Captain pointing at everything saying “this is bigger than on your ship, Jane” we devoured a few more beers and did our best to not bit judgmental about Mr Franks past. Early start and we headed for the beach, but the most extreme part was not looking likely with the temperature having trouble getting above 0 and the freezing mist removed any chance of any clothes coming off. Jane’s monthly sea swim would have to wait. Nice beach but let’s go and ski, same temperature but more clothes.
One hour later Ian had planks on his feet for the very first time. Could the Dr apply reasoning, logic and science to overcome his late start to skiing, well yes it appears he can. As we all played with jumps that were much too scary and just going as fast as we can, Ian was being shown how to apply his weight gently and control his speed, both of which he was un-expectantly quite good at. Although putting a restaurant at the bottom his slope did not seem so smart, as his occasional run-away looked like it may test the glass for impact. Along with sampling the Dutch culinary delights, most of the day was spent here and 6 ½ hours later, we completely missed cheese buying and headed towards the next adventure, which we had not realised would also turn into a ground breaking experiment. The Karting Challenge on a whopping 1.3km long track which was all inside. With contact allowed and a challenging circuit it was always going to be exhilarating and more importantly amusing. But in the name of science, being responsible adults and most importantly being WB surfers, it had been unofficially decided that alcohol and it’s affect on track times should be tested. So religiously and without a control subject, a measured amount of refreshment was enjoyed between each session and it’s affect duly logged by the stewards. The results, well they didn’t care but it did feel faster. With aching muscles we headed back to ship to finish off the steer that we started on the way out.
In life, to be famous you either have to win, crash or do something amusing – sorry no winners