Bike woes have prevented me from going on many rides over the last few months, and it was a long time since I'd seen some of my fellow-members - a year, in some cases. It was a pleasure to see them all, and to remind myself what a good group ride in the sunshine can feel like.
I set off for South Mimms services on Friday morning to meet the rest of the London contingent, passing one of them on the M25 (we waved). Barry, our leader, was already at the services, and by the time I'd fuelled up and paid the rest were rolling in too.
I told Barry on Sunday that his sat-nav must have a soul, because it picked brilliant roads for us all weekend. Out into the back lanes from South Mimms, and scarcely a dual carriageway for the 130 miles to North Kyme. One diversion due to a closed road, and a tricky patch of mud, but it gave us something to talk about over hot dogs at the charmingly named Dog In A Doublet pub.
It was windy going through the flat fenland, with swans and ducks bobbing on the high waters to either side, but the sun stayed out until a downpour five minutes after our arrival at the Coach House Motel in North Kyme. Travellers from other directions were less lucky, arriving in rain gear, but we all made it safely and were soon enjoying a meal followed by a pint or two in the pub (conveniently located next door so nobody could get lost).
The weather stayed good all weekend, against all probability and certainly against the last month. On Saturday some of us split off to do our own thing while the main group, plus some local maxi riders, set off for Skegness the long way.
Skegness in the sunshine was proper seasidey, with fish n' chips, sticks of rock, rude lollipops, and a Harley meet on the seafront. We strolled for a couple of hours before reconvening and taking a different but equally lovely route back: single track roads, one superb hill like a roller coaster, a derelict Hunter jet by the perimeter of RAF Coningsby.
I hate the bit where we all say goodbye, and generally delay it by travelling part of the way home in company. I followed Barry and some of the other southerners for a morning of country roads followed by coffee and cakes in Oundle. After a pub lunch I parted from the others near Welwyn Garden City. When I stopped for petrol at South Mimms, the cashier said "Number 3, madam? Great motorbike!"
I had to agree.