I don't lead rides very often because I get enormously nervous about being at the front, especially the possibility of getting lost. This is absurd, because I've been on plenty of rides where lostness occurs and nobody ever minds. Nonetheless, I tend to wonder why on earth I do this to myself.
I wondered it at five o'clock on Sunday morning when I awoke from a bad dream about the ride going horribly wrong, and I wondered it again when I set off from the petrol station at Pratts Bottom with eleven people on nine scooters in tow.
It was a glorious, springlike day. The sky was blue, the sun sparkled on metallic paintwork and iridium indicator lenses, and even the few car drivers we encountered on the back roads were considerate towards our slow-moving, jolly-looking convoy.
I was leading on my 125cc Vespa ET4, which maxes out at about 65mph downhill with a following wind. In the rest of the group we had two 125s on L plates as well as 200, 250 and 300cc scooters. My friend Jim kindly volunteered to tail-end on his 839cc Gilera GP800 (identical to my other bike, which got the day off).
The route took us along some of the nicer B and unclassified roads of Kent and East Sussex, down Ide Hill with its splendid curves and views, past Bough Beech Reservoir and through Ashdown Forest.
We made a fag stop at one of the car parks in the Forest, where I discovered that everyone was very cold and in desperate need of loos. Guiltily, I led my pack onwards into the lanes around Lewes, following the sun south.
Lunch and a pint restored warmth and good humour. After lunch, some of the troops dispersed while others followed me to Middle Farm to stock up on cider and perry, travelling past Glyndebourne and the llama panorama.
Watching everyone dissect the ride over lunch, and logging on to the forum last night to read all the messages of gratitude for a lovely day out, I remembered why it is I do this to myself. But I'll forget again for next time.
Filmed by one of the Big 7 Scooter Clubbers. I'm not in it due to being up at the front, but you get the idea.