This year a record 28 riders set out on “The Black Country Blast” starting from Swindon near Dudley for the Biking Vikings 23rd adventure. New riders this year included Leanne, Sophie, Caron and Brian with a number of riders also returning after a few missed events.

After the usual early start with tea and coffee at the Welby Arms and a breakfast at Tesco on the way we set off from Swindon at about 10am in the pouring rain. Initially riding on an old railway into Dudley we then picked up the canal network at the Black Country Museum and followed this through the very heart or Birmingham. It was interesting jinking over, under and around lots of bridges and buildings but a number of riders slid off in the slippery conditions, fortunately none into the canal!

Some sections were challenging to navigate coming out of Birmingham (and some impromptu detours were made by some members of the group!). We stopped for chips in Coleshill and then picked up the back roads to Nuneaton. By now it was dark and as Brian mended another puncture we picked up a bridle path and then the Ashby De-la-Zouch canal for a tricky ride under our lights into the hotel at Hinckley at the end of a long tough day.

We had a great group meal and overnight stop in Hinckley where Craig claims he won the inaugural Viking Bikings pool championships and as daylight arrived Sunday’s weather was much better. We rode through Hinckley to pick up a little used off road bridle path and bridge over the M69. This allowed us to ride through the centre of Leicester on the Great Central Way and after a quick blast around the BMX track we came through Abbey Park, past the Space Centre to come out for a tea stop at Watermead Country Park.

By now the wind was picking up behind us and we made good time from Leicester to arrive early at the pie stop in Asfordby. After climbing the hill to Ab Kettleby we picked up the Belvoir ridge road and dropped into Woolsthorpe for a well deserved pint at the Chequers – Where Brian mended another puncture breaking Andy “Inner tubes” long standing record!

After a final regroup at The Saltwell the riders all arrived home to a fantastic welcome in the village and the traditional Viking stew at the pub!!

Thank you to everyone for your support again this year – we raised £5331.00 for BBC Children in Need.

A big thank you from all the riders to those that supported and sponsored the ride, especially Heather, Kurt, Jay and Andy on back up, Foston Pete and Geoff Horsfall for their help with the maps, Vickie on pie duty, Will at the shop for helping with sponsorship and finally Matt, Ange and all at the Welby Arms for the support at the start and end of the ride.

We’d also like to thank and mention Brian “Seve” Steptoe for all of his support for the ride over the years – we’ll miss him.

Photos are available in an earlier post.

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