We heard recently that two AUK members had managed to combine marriage with a late addition to the 2006 events calendar, So we sent our roving correspondent Tim Walnwrlght down to the New Forest to ﬁnd out more from John Ward (Permanents Secretary and event organiser) and Sheila Page (co-organiser of this year's New Forest 1,000km event). Tim: First of all congratulations, now tell me more. John: Well, ‘Plan A' for a long time had been for us to escape for a low key and just on our own wedding soon after Sheila's 60th birthday. Tim: But that plan obviously did not quite work out? John: No - I made the crucial ﬁrst mistake of saying to Sheila that we didn't need to take the car to get to the register office from home, but could use the tandem instead. It was then only a short step to noticing that there was nothing In the Wessex Tandem Club programme for Saturday 2nd September so we could invite a few other cyclists along for the ride. We had launched 'Plan B’ Tim: Sounds like a good Idea, did it go to Plan? John: Yes - but not that Plan. We did a trial run from our home In Lymington to the register office in Ringwood to check the timing with a puncture allowance and realised that as a circular round trip it would make a nice little 50km brevet Populaire through the New Forest. So 'Plan C’ was born and I went into organiser mode. A start time was ﬁxed; a pub room in Ringwood was booked and teas were ordered to refresh riders at the half way point (or pint); and a wedding cake, champagne and high tea were commissioned for the ﬁnish control at our bungalow. I have to confess that as the brevet card included Information Control questions such as, '’what colour shirt is the bride wearing? - answer this anywhere between 0 and 50 km), I did not try to get it past Peter Coulson’s scrupulous vetting procedure, but kept the event as a strictly nil points, with no official validation affair. Tim: Talking of shirts, what was the answer to that question? Sheila: As anyone who was at the last AGM and heard the shirt colour debate will know we faced a tricky choice here between purple, and yellow on white or red and blue on white. But I decided that the way forward for an AUK bride was deﬁnitely purple and yellow. Luckily we had recently been to Pam Pilbeam's bridal outﬁtters shop and had been kitted out in brand new attire. All I had to do in addition was buy yellow and purple ribbons and make a box full of garlands to be issued with brevet cards to riders on the day. Tim: And the day itself? John: For someone who has a really good track record of putting on ﬁne weather with my events I rather messed up here by choosing the only really wet weather forecast day of the summer on the south coast. But despite lots of early morning phone calls about contingency ‘Plan D', the true randonneur spirit came through and we only had two DNS couples who went by car instead. In the event, although windy and grey the rain cleared by the time of the 1pm start and they regretted not being out with the rest or us. Sheila: The uncertainty of the weather posed a ﬁnal quandary. Will my hair be more messed up in the wind or under a helmet? We fed this into the helmet wearing or not risk assessment equation and got a non-conclusive (and certainly not compulsory) result. In the end I opted for helmet with shower cap attachment. Tim: Any DNFs? Sheila: No - It all went remarkably to plan. The timing was spot on, with Annemarie Manley taking on the controller role at the register office and stamping all the brevet cards with the official Ringwood stamp. The registrar was brilliant and coped well with a tandem and bunch of cyclists. Although I did have one moment of doubt when she handed over the marriage certiﬁcate that I ha accidentally married the tandem instead of John. Tim: And afterwards? John: Some friends had kindly paid for us to have Sunday night away in Bradford on Avon. But In true married couple tradition we got up rather late on the Sunday morning, so I have to admit that we resorted to car assistance for the ﬁrst part of the journey. The rest on the bike was in brilliant sunshine, and as we still had the ribbons and just-married sign on the tandem we were treated to friendly hoots and waves all the way to Bath. Never having had such courtesy from car drivers before I’m tempted to leave the sign on the back of the rack bag! Tim: Thanks, and once again congratulations from AUK.
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AND TANDEM MAKES THREE....
The rainy weather was no problem when Wessex Regional Organiser Sheila Page and AUK organiser John Ward tied the knot in Ringwood on 2nd September.
Inviting their cycling friends from the Tandem Club and Audax UK to a ride from home in Lymington to the Registry Office at Ringwood set the tone for the day. Dress code for the wedding was "lycra". Given the appalling weather on the day, John and Sheila decided to go easy on the cyclists and a much shorter ride - from Burley to Ringwood - was miraculously undertaken in completely dry conditions. Nine tandems made the ride and met up with many more cycling friends at Ringwood.
The Registry office was aglow with cycling kit, which literally reflected in many of the wedding photos. The star of the show (apart from John and Sheila, that is) was their tandem, "Spike", who had pride of place in the room.
A further ride back to Burley was again blessed with an oasis of dry weather and the wedding reception was then held in Sheila and John's new conservatory. The magnificent cake had been decorated with the following legends:
John: I do the steering but go where l am told
Sheila: l am the navigator, mechanic and motive power but decide when cafe stops are required
These matched the same wording on their fine new apres-wedding T Shirts. Some present questioned whether Sheila was in fact the mechanic of the team but there was otherwise no doubt about the chain of command.
A thoroughly good time was had by all. John and Sheila were congratulated and thanked for their efforts on behalf of the Tandem Club and AUK as they disappeared (with Spike, of course) in the direction of Bath for a well-earned honeymoon break.