After yesterdays’ restful rest day which I spent resting I was ready to get back on the bike this morning. When we arrived in Abilene a couple of days ago I felt the need to decompress. The riding, which I am still hugely enjoying, coupled with staying in a different hotel every night, following a diet which is more rather more fuel than gourmet and literally living out of a couple of holdalls, had reached a point where I just wanted to chill for a few hours. So it was a delight to be able to do so. Pete and Robin, one of the tour crew, went for a ride in the morning and Mary, another tour crew member and I took a gentle ride into downtown Abilene and found the most delightful café where we whiled away a couple of hours over coffee and a light lunch. I even managed to snag a fresh croissant which was just THE proper tonic to complete my decompression. Then when Pete and Robin joined us we did a spot of sightseeing.
So this morning the CV and I were ready to get at it. Little did I know before setting off what delights lay in store on the road ahead. Several years ago when I was working full-time, one of my mentors and a person who I had huge respect for told me that when I was writing or giving a talk I should always start with my conclusion. So here you are readers, I’m going to quote a few words from Lou Reed which exactly capture how I felt on the road today: “Oh, it’s just a perfect day.” Lou’s soaring vocals, the strings and the simple piano riff perfectly sum I what the CV and I were feeling. Here’s a link to the song; go on, have a listen. I’m sure it will make you feel good too! Sorry, if I’ve gone a bit sentimental here, but riding days like this are truly magical.
|Headteacher Paula and Tracy planning the 2019 tour|
At the route rap this morning Headteacher Paula had flagged up a special treat. Pies. And not just any pies but award-winning pies.The Somerset Hall Café by the crossroads in Dover has a national reputation having won several awards over many years. The café was the brainchild of Norma Grubb who is about 90, and at the last count a grandmother 28 times over (she also has 11 great-great grandchildren). The café occupies a large open space in a building that dates from 1868. A glass display cabinet hints at what is on offer. At the back are bags of flour are waiting, ready for the next pie making session. Old farming posters and artefacts line the walls. Formica tables are set out ready for customers. The place was popular, very popular, with a constant stream of local people, farm workers and their families I guess, dropping in for lunch. Service was swift and while we were waiting large glasses were filled with ice cold water to help cool us down. And what of the pies? Well, being a bit of a traditionalist I had a slice of apple pie and vanilla ice cream and it was excellent. But if the truth has to be told, Mary’s Pecan Pie was simply divine. I offered to swap half of my pie for half of hers but she wasn’t having any of that! I didn’t even get a photograph!
Riding in to Topeka after the after the pies was almost an anticlimax. As we neared our destination in yet another out of town area it struck me that maybe, just maybe there are some elves driving ahead of us to unpack and construct the rather anonymous and featureless, but totally functional and convenient townscapes that our hotels are located in. Then when we leave tomorrow morning the elves will magically appear, take everything down and rush it over to our next stage town. Only kidding!
Once I had checked in to the hotel and showered I had a swim in the hotel’s pool to loosen up before dinner. And the just perfect day ended with a great meal – a nice light and wholesome shrimp stir fry. Crispy veg, some soft succulent shrimp, with hints of chilli, garlic, honey and ginger on a bed of brown rice. I couldn’t have asked for better than that. Chatting to Pete over the meal he remarked that he could easily have kept going for another 20 miles, so much was he enjoying himself. Of course he does go for rides on rest days! And do you know what readers? There’s a rumour circulating that tomorrow’s going to be at least as good. I do hope it’s true!
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