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  Southern Section diary

 
Is it a bird?
Is it a plane?
No, it’s a Garmin V that’s been thrown out of a window in frustration.
That sets the scene for the opening section of the run for the Great Malvern Hotel Weekend. The meticulously planned, Basecamp route, although a little circuitous, would have seen us to our first rendezvous at Lechlade, painlessly. With Bob leading however, we over-shot a deceptively minor left-hand turn that could have been corrected with a simple diversion. Dr. Garmin however, had
other ideas, completely re-writing the route and returning us the way we had just come. Other Garmins followed the plan, as did Tom Tom. But not our Dr.G.

With understandable mistrust of Dr.G, Mike kindly took the lead from there onward. The route was perhaps, best described as ‘convoluted’, and having nearly given in to the lure of a quick run along the M4, it finally took us beyond the motorway to some great biking roads. We wove our way across the Berkshire Downs, through The Vale of The White Horse, before arriving in Lechlade a mere hour later than planned.
Hindhead: Roger, Andrian, Mike, Mike, Lesley and Bob in the sunshine
Refreshed, and with Jon and Jackie now joining us, we meandered our way through the Cotswolds with its indigenous, beautiful, honey coloured stone buildings, on through the Vale of Evesham, before finally arriving at The Foley Arms, Great Malvern, around 4.30. With special permission to park on their limited forecourt, what looked like a nice flat, piece of pavement in the pictures, was rather more challenging. Little more than a bike’s length in depth, the area had a gradient of about 20%, challenging riders, side stands, and hill-start skills in equal measure. Fortunately, there were no untidy scenes of vertically opposed BMW engines to deal with.
We, in The BMW Club, are not snobs. But Mrs M and I were not alone in having concerns about staying at a ‘Wetherspoons’ hotel. Fortunately, we couldn’t have been more wrong. The Foley Arms is a Victorian Pub that has been refurbished recently to a high standard and offers the most spectacular views across the countryside from the roof terrace, to the rear of the bar. Coupling the vistas with scorching hot weather gave our stay an added bonus, breakfasting in the warm morning sunshine.

Our Saturday evening dinner saw all of the team together for the first time, enjoying a superb dining experience, before settling into the Foley Arms bar for a ‘brief’ nightcap.
Lechlade to Malvern - riding, scenery, and architecture
The Foley Arms and the foreourt challenge (note the angle of the wall capping)
The warm weather continued for Sunday, offering another delightful ride, this time around the roads of Worcestershire and Herefordshire. Our progress was only punctuated by a couple of interventions by Dr. G that lead us up unscheduled, grass centred lanes, before re-negotiating our way back onto the more appropriate routes. We finally arrived at Bridgnorth Station in time for a lunch break before heading down the Servern Valley Heritage Railway to Kiddermister and back. Like all good railway journeys, this one suffered with delays and infrastructure issues that delayed our progress, but the experience remained delightful.

On our return to the terminus, with other party members having peeled off for other events, we now had the challenge of being back in time for tea. With just four bikes remaining, this was almost an invitation for a little fun and spirited riding, following the smooth, flowing roads, that returned us to Great Malvern, we arrived back with faces wreathed in grins like Worcestershire Cats. 
Breakfast bonus
Monday morning, all packed for our onward journeys, saw us head-off in the right direction for the nearby Morgan Motors Factory Tour, just 1 ½ miles and 2 u-turns distant (post code error this time). Covering everything from a Century of production, through traditional craft skills, to hand-built, aircraft technology, the 2 hour presentation and tour flew past. Whilst tempting, everybody diligently kept their hands away from their credit cards avoiding the risk of ordering one Malvern’s finest beauties (…and £40,000 upward price tickets may have slowed them too). The event culminated in a light lunch before heading onwards or homewards, as planned.
Bradley Hall - driver collects the token for right of way
On a personal note, with the weather as it was, and everything covered at home, together with Mike and Lesley, we headed West for a great ride to Abergavenny, for more miles of enjoyable riding before returning home on the Tuesday.

Thanks go to everyone who participated, making this a truly memorable trip. Special thanks go to Trish and Richard who joined us on an unscheduled outing on their bikes (instead of the car!) and Roger and Adrian for being good sports and an additional source of banter and hilarity.

The open roads of Herefordshire
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