There had been a steady ping coming from my bike’s cake radar for some while which showed a charity cake and coffee event a few miles to the north west of Redditch. As it was the best day of the Easter bank holiday there was nothing else for it but to gather 13 of the fiercest cake eaters Triathlon Redditch had, with complete disregard for their cycling ability, bike it to the meeting and hopefully with good results bring home some silverware for the club. Did I mention there would be cake?
The rendezvous at the Bramley Cottage went fine although Rhona Ulyett and apprentice club member Mike Fidler parked at nearby Morton Stanley Park and biked it along the paths to the pub car park a good idea which may be used in future as it wasn’t known if the Bramley were happy with cyclist’s cars parked for a few hours whose owners would be eating cake elsewhere rather than buying alcohol from them. Last to arrive was the least experienced on a bike – club coach Louise Morey who could be seen forlornly pushing her bike into the Pub car park. Apparently she and the other half of team Morey (Russ) had gone to the ‘dark side’ and had just finished a ride with the second best cycle club in Redditch Whose-Name-Must-Not-Be-Mentioned, she was too tired to clip in and out again.
After a quick brief our hungry team swarmed locust like around and out the car park and flew up Callow Hill and down Sillins two abreast through the narrowing lanes with no trouble from passing cars Spring sunshine and warmish weather carried us up past the Brook Inn, then a right turn to Bentley Lane was complicated by two horse riders at the junction which forced Louy Bea through a pile of something freshly deposited by said horse but her and her bike needed a clean anyhow. Ascending Bentley brought us along the smoothed well surfaced tarmac Manor Road and it’s pleasant views led to the four ways flowing chicane bend with fenced white painted railings familiar to a horse racing course, a snatched glance behind showed the going was firm and all 13 riders and their mounts had cleared the Canal Turn. Copyholt Lane gave way to a slight climb into Hollyoaks and it was encouraging to hear potholes, clear junctions and cars being called out from our group. A snap roadside halt just before the Tardibigge was needed as the group had strung out a little but then it was on towards Burcot via Hewell Ln we were closing in on the venue and my cake radar was almost having a heart attack. Steady climbing was rewarded by a prolonged downhill stretch the mini island at the bottom was safely navigated finally a left turn into Burcot Village Hall and we’d arrived.
Part of Newbie Mike Fidler’s duties included always having a camera to hand and a quick photo was taken, apparently there was a lockable shed available to secure the bikes, I needed to get the key and left instructions for the team to prep their transition and warm up for the start. Inside the Hall it seemed legend and folklore was true, first told by prophet Beccy Lees who’d preached of a land of milk and honey and buttercream of biblical proportions, and sadly like Moses she was not allowed in the Promised Land due to an unforeseen family break in Anglesey. It appeared Mary Berry had been cloned and the resulting army of bakers had been up all night on gas mark 5 churning out cakes, the venue was already full with most of the Redditch running community.
Surprisingly our team were now in the entrance desperate for cake they’d abandoned several million pounds worth of carbon and 105 gear sets and had followed like ants towards the sugar. £5 entry fees paid the saloon doors swung open, piano music abruptly stopped and the click clacking of cleated cycle shoes on wooden flooring announced The Magnificent Thirteen of Tri Redditch had arrived, other contestants nervously fingered their napkins in the silence which was only broken by our grumbling stomachs. Michelle Bayliss made the first move, she’d been training hard over winter for this moment with a strict regime of Saturday morning rides with cake stops and had now tapered just in time. She was our strong hopeful in the gluten free flapjack sprint event. We all thought Lorraine Dumont’s strongest discipline was the swim but she performed well at the triangular sandwich bar but dropped a few places for not eating her crusts, I guess she’ll never get curly hair.
Club membership secretary Sue Turner who had rather embarrassingly only dusted her bike off for the ride in order to sniff out anyone with unpaid subs was now in a dream like trance wandering slowly around the cake loaded tables her mind clearly unhinged by the display muttering quietly to herself that she would prefer to be paid via pay pal. It was an all you can eat cake and sandwich buffet, accompanied by waitresses circuiting the tables with tea and coffee pots pouring free refills. A Triathlete’s dream mixed with a wish sprinkled with icing sugar and served up on a teaplate. But the news wasn’t all good they were selling raffle tickets! Local runners Pauline Mogg and Carina Maunder had managed to get charity London marathon places and were raising funds for Kids with Cancer UK and Revitalise an adult learning charity by holding this caketastic event.
Rhona Ulyett Club Secretary was found doodling with strawberry jam on a serviette designing a new club logo which stated ‘swim bike run cake’ not the sort of behaviour expected from such a senior member. Natalia Tchibrikina had been DQ’d in the middle distance biscuit dunking event for switching from tea to coffee in the same heat, and was arguing that this was allowed under Russian rules. Things were beginning to break down the 15 min window I’d allocated for the feeding frenzy had long gone, the term ‘herding cats and knitting fog’ sprang to mind as I struggled to get the club back on the road. Russell Morey was the worst and had set up a camp bed hoping to stay the night wrapped around a large enamel teapot to keep warm the glazed look in his eyes matched the iced buns next to him, I wafted a sponge finger under his nose and threw it in the direction of the bikes, his ears pricked up and he panted after it. An elderly cigar smoking Churchillian gent complete with Homburg hat bid us farewell out of the carpark with a V for victory sign and stated with gravelly voice that ‘Never in the field of cake consumption has so much been eaten by so few in front of so many’.
The mini island was safely rounded again and the riders were in high spirits turning right into Pikes Pool Ln squeezing through the narrow lane then a faster drop with railway embankment flashing past on the left with the pool slipping past on the right, warnings were heeded about the sharp hairpin under the bridge then suddenly a left at the bottom started the heavy climb up to Finstall. Louy Bea and Lily Dewhurst now pushed to the front and led for a while there was trouble trying to rein them in as their Mary Berry cakefuelled silhouettes disappeared in the distance without a soggy bottom in sight. The ride gathered again after a halt just inside High House Ln which was about the time jealousy manifested itself inside Melissa Skip after suddenly realising she’d wasted her life becoming a spin instructor learning to torture people barking out commands in a dark sweaty prison with deafening beats when she could be out in the sunny fresh air leading a ride. She fired off several potshots about risk assessments sniping from behind me. Well young lady what control measures were in place when you ate that whole Victoria sponge? Yes I saw you and several folks commented.
Warnings of sharp turns with gravel saw us through Sheltwood and I called a halt before the crossroads at the end of Woodgate Rd. We were overdue and it was time to either turn left the quickest route home or continue straight on to Bradley Green, Russ hoped for a right towards Jenny Ring and more cake but the riders decided to carry on as planned so Flying Horse Ln sped us to the Saltway and Feckenham. At Swansbrook junction Julie Brown pointed her front wheel towards her home and said farewells I’d thought we could have escorted her home but no one else in the group was posh enough to be allowed in Astwood Bank. Jeff Mosforth now led the long uphill slog out of Feckenham to Callow Hill his rebuilt bike with undersize wheels soon powered him out of sight, little did we know he’d just had a text saying he’d won a prize in the raffle and was just eager to collect it!(true story). At the crossroads with Sillins we said goodbye to Lorraine and Louy Bea and the horsey smell also left, from there Rhona headed to Morton Stanley with Probationary Mike under her wing looking bewildered after his cake themed initiation. A short ride returned us to the Bramley. A good weather ride of 21 miles in sunshine with great company which averaged 12-14 mph the highlight of the wheelabout of course was the Burcot cakes, thanks to Pauline and Carina for their efforts in putting it on and good luck to both of them at London.