The annual club weekend away was a runaway success this year. Social coordinator Anne Dalton's impressive organisational skills were evident in every aspect of the trip, meaning the rest of us could sit back and enjoy the ride.

It was bright and dry in Dundrum when masses of Orwellians began assembling at Joe Daly's. Both old hands and club novices were there in force, and Aideen was kept busy labelling all and sundry with name tags so that nobody felt left out. Bags were helpfully taken from hands and vanished, reappearing later at the hotel.

Riders had a choice of two routes - an easy-going coastal spin, or a mountainous trek. A hardy bunch of 16 opted for the mountains, and they made the decision to regroup after every col, ensuring no rider was left behind. Squadron leader Brian Mc went above and beyond the call of duty when he turned back to retrieve two stragglers who weren't even going to Gorey!

Eddie's constant calls of 'steady!' as he suffered up the climbs meant the pace wasn't too torturous, though a small grupetto formed on Slieve Mann. Following a delicious lunch stop in Madeleine's in Tinahely, Gorey natives Peter and Charlotte led the way along their home roads, with everyone arriving together shortly after 4.30pm.

Meanwhile on the coast, riders were enjoying the scenery of Brittas Bay and what one rider called a "really pretty stretch of road", with views out over the Irish Sea. Aideen and Mags and their loyal teams sheparded the bunches capably, checking everyone was comfortable. For many, this was their longest cycle ever. Aideen was full of praise for the positive attitude of those undertaking what must have seemed an intimidating distance, and for those who helped out the newer riders along the way - too many to mention! And the lunch stop in the very pleasant Coffee Shop in Wicklow was sweetened by Anne's hard-won 20% discount for the club.

At the Ashdown Park Hotel, weary riders could chose to enjoy the pool or sauna, or nap in the wonderful beds, with soft pillows and snug linen waiting to receive tired bones. While most chose the latter, those in the pool were greeted by the sight of [Rider-14] bathing in his bib shorts, though we have been assured that there was a choice of swimwear in his bag.

Dinner was served at 8pm, with everyone refreshed and in sparkling form. The usual cliques were shaken up by the swinging style of table-choosing, with people seated at random. This gave everyone an opportunity to get to know some new names and faces, as we all know it can be tough to recognise riders with their clothes on. Several who couldn't make the early morning start had arrived, with club president Dave T making a short speech to mark the occasion. After some light persuasion from Anne, many of the club headed to downtown Gorey and whiled away the night in good company and good spirits.

After being thrown out leaving the pub, there was an impromptu medal presentation ceremony in the residents' bar. As recently exclusively reported on this site, Brian Mc turned in an impressive performance at the National Hill Climb Champs, but left empty-handed. Driven to drink by Brian's moaning and whining, [Rider-14] awarded him a medal for A3 Hill Climb Champ. No comment was passed on [Rider-14]'s stunning choice of frilly purple underwear headwear, but Brian was obviously delighted, and was spotted still sporting his medal on the ride home (what little of it was left after Dave Mc took a bite out of it!). Rumours that he has yet to take it off have not been proven.

A surprising amount of people appeared at breakfast the next morning, and soon were congregating outside for the return journey. Many left at 10am and looked after themselves on the way home. A core group waited for [Rider-14] and Stephen McNally, who finally emerged at 11am after their leisurely breakfast. The trip back to Dublin was one of survival, with tired bodies being pushed to the limit. After a coffee stop at Jacob's Well in Rathdrum for freshly baked scones, the group split into fast and slow so that people could suffer at their own pace.

Back at Joe Daly's, all the bags were waiting for collection - Anne's seamless organisation at play once more. It has been stated already several times, and it will be echoed again no doubt, but she deserves a massive amount of kudos and a huge thank you from everyone who attended the weekend. We'll never know how she organised such pleasant weather for an October weekend, but it can only be through hours of hard work and haggling that she put together such a superb trip. Well done Anne!

She in turn paid tribute to Kathryn and Barry and family for ferrying everyone's luggage back and forth, singling out their firefighter-like line for passing the bags to the van. The van belonged to Stephen Surdival, so many thanks to him also (Anne asks that you label the location of the handbrake in future). Peter and Charlotte assisted with setting the route and provided many useful tips on venues, and Dave T's endless patience should also be highlighted - a truer gent there never was.

It can safely be said that it was the biggest and best club weekend away in recent history, so take a bow Anne! We're already looking forward to the Christmas party!