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A ride to Thorverton

Linda Bowden

A Lady Rider's Point of View

Being of the opinion that if you can't beat them, join them, I suggested that perhaps if I had a small 49cc bike I could join in on some of the runs; my husband Chris bought me a 1979 Puch Maxi S, a nice straight forward sit-on and wind-up the throttle model, which I have named the Silver Streak.  She's a lovely bike and I never realised what I had been missing all these years: great fun and better than making the teas!

Chris and I were arranging August's run and we had decided to find a run where everyone would have fun and on the flat for those of us who have cyclemotors and older bikes - not to mention older knees!  We thought an evening ride to Thorverton around the pretty Devon lanes and back to the local pub would make for a nice run of about 15 miles.

The route was carefully planned and we even had a few trial runs in the car to check for hills, etc.  We thought we'd add a bit of excitement and included a ford, which looked pretty tame, but more of that later.  The event was well attended by the loyal Devon section, with nine bikes arriving for the run.  Unfortunately, only eight actually left-when our newest lady member Linda Swallow's Garelli failed to start, due to petrol problems and Alistair Currie kindly volunteered as back up.

Off we set at a steady pace, everyone enjoying the late evening sun and the lack of breakdowns for once.  The run took us through Stoke Canon to some unknown lanes and brought us out in Thorverton where we paraded through the village and around the church and lastly after the ford, back to the pub for a well earned drink.  Well, so I thought.

The rest of the group had gone on ahead (not a gentlemen among them) and I was bringing up the rear with our good friend John Glanvil (one of life's true gents) and was one of the last ones to reach the ford.  Well I wasn't going to let a load of fellas show me up and with true grit - in I went - literally.  Never having ridden in the wet, on ice or through running water, I did not allow for the flow and I soon found myself sliding and in I went.  Having cold water pass in the waistband and out the trouser leg is not one of my favourite experiences.  But I am proud to say I held onto the bike and kept the engine running-until rescued by John who literally waded in to my aid.  I was more concerned that I had damaged the bike, but luckily no lasting damage was done, except I now have a war wound on the tank which I understand is par for the course.

Luckily none of the other riders saw my swim in the ford - only Alistair & Queenie, who were manning the back up vehicle; they said something about "Where's a camera when you need one" although I have heard a lot of suggestions about water wings for my next ride.

When everyone had stopped laughing they told me they had decided not to risk the ford and had all opted for the small footbridge-so much for Women's Lib.

I did ride back to the pub and went home for a nice hot shower but, despite my dip, I would still say to all those reluctant riders out there: give it a try, it's more fun than you think.  Saying you'll support your husband on NACC events is easy - even making the tea is fun - but no one said anything about just how much fun it would be to actually own and ride one of these bikes!

First published, December 2001

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