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THE LUNCH HOUR ESCAPE

The Lunch Escape “The lunch club started life as an idea to escape the office of a past employer. The immense boredom of the lunch hour stranded on a dull business park had reduced many an employee to the brink, resulting in gorging themselves in the one greasy spoon cafe that was in the area.

And that was not much of an escape, seeing as you were then faced with the very same people you’d been avoiding back at the office. The keenies were already making use of their free gym membership, so whilst doing something more active and beneficial on the other side of town, the fact of seeing the ‘others’ was too much to bare.

Someone had the bright idea of cycling at lunch time, just a short loop but to the edge of the countryside. It was obvious, but genius. The more balanced characters at work obviously rode bikes in anyway for the daily commute. This was looking like it had legs and group enthusiasm took over.

First things first, a bike would be required. A quick search of Ebay brought up a mint Orange Clockwork LX locally, a bike I had lusted after as a spotty teen, and could remember clearly seeing in the exact same base model on holiday in the lakes. It was to be mine.

The first ride out was a motley bunch to say the least. Old mountain bikes shod with slicks, helmets that were department store cast offs from a decade prior and very little in the way of proper cycling attire. Training pants, hooded tops and regular trainers were the order of the day, although all in black – a good number of years before the trend of dressing like a ninja became a uniform for the serious road cyclist.

Despite a flagrant disregard for preparation we all just road our bikes for the escapism of it, and with smiles all round we head away from the gloom of HQ and out into the countryside. We arrived back at the end of lunch bang on the dot, beaming. Uplifted sprits followed for the remainder of the day, and in-between sleepy meetings, the members of the newly formed cyclists group chatted about bikes, cycling and more bikes.

The lunch ride became a daily routine, that chance to escape was too precious to miss, and whilst talk turned to work issues occasionally – alliances were formed just as within smoking circles, problems aired and issues shared. Cycling at lunchtime was positive all round.

Over time, more of the mountain bikes arrived with slick tyres, then not just slick tyres but puncture repair kits and high pressure pumps too. We became faster, more organised and more performance aware. We were becoming more confident in the escape and pushing past the hour, often blurring the boundaries of time. It was great, and no one seemed to notice the troublesome ones not being around quite so much.

One day another employee joined the fray, unknown to the group – he had history. Cycling had been a passion in his formative years, and he still had ‘the gear’ and had been waiting in the wings to see how a lunch time riding group would actually function.

As we gathered outside the office ready to depart, sniggering and finger pointing followed the arrival of what was now a very multi coloured office worker in very tight fitting attire – he was wearing real lycra shorts! Shoes unsuitable for walking in that clopped around like the office girls heels, sunglasses – and would you believe it… a proper racing bike with skinny tyres! Italian and in racing red. What an absolute tart!

We were aghast, the ‘Tour de France’ had infiltrated the lunch time ride, things would never be the same again!”

until next time…

Simon