A.K.A. The Easy Peasy Super Smoothly Super Slowly Santa Cruisey. Longboarding for little hearts.
Just right for the number of injuries a few of us were sporting to go along with our seasonal ensembles. Dodgy ankles and pulled back muscles, nothing was going to keep us from taking part in this satellite event to The Santa Cruise a regular fixture in the longboarding calendar.
It is without doubt that 20+ miles is a pretty hard slog for those on the regular Cruise heading to Windsor from London. Aware that this is outside of my comfort zone and taking into account the roads, traffic, pollution and speed needed to get to Windsor at a reasonable time (preferably before it gets dark!) it was a huge relief when Elizabeth (Silver Skater) came up with another less energetic route, which became an official spin-off to the proper Cruise.
The Super Slow Santa Cruise was a small but merry bunch of bandits, Elizabeth, David, Kaye, Paul, Natasha and myself, running late and a little frantic.
From Windsor & Eton Riverside Station, we pushed down to the river and across Windsor Bridge before hanging a left along Atherton Close and onto Meadow Lane. Up to this point there was just a little bit of negotiating with pedestrians and one or two cars but we soon left the road for a tarmac path, albeit a little rough in places, running through the playing field, below the viaduct.
Up onto Eton Wick Road, we pushed along the wide, smooth footpath until we once again cut off across South Field, another good path, and back towards the river at Boveney. As we pushed along, we marvelled at the many Red Kites gliding about the skies and a treeful of Parakeets chattering away. We doffed our helmets to horse riders and cyclists, giving a cheery 'Merry Christmas!' to them and the many dogs taking their owners for walkies.
The route got a little muddy here as we progressed along the lock path and past the Norman church of St Mary Magdalene. It was interesting to see who among us were able to stay mud-free. I'm sure many had sprayed themselves with superhydrophonics in preparation whilst I, on the other hand, had mud splattered all up my top-of-the-Tesco-range Santa T-Shirt.
We soon found ourselves in the 450-acre parkland owned by Eton College and rolled down to the absolutely super-smooth tarmac path which skirts Dorney Lake. This path was absolute bliss, regardless of the head wind. We were caught up by Dean and Scott who had waved off the main Cruise in London before joining the Super Slows.
We also caught up with the first of the land paddlers. Our merry number increased to nine, we continued round the lake stopping every so often for one or two silly shenanigans. Stopping for too long was a chilled affair and I don't mean in a cool way. The wind chill was quite something let alone the wind itself. Once round the far side of the lake we had the wind behind us, which helped. The bringing of sails next year was seriously mooted.
We met up with the main land paddle crew for a quick chat before heading back onto the lock path for the return journey. Here Natasha, Elizabeth and myself separated from the others as they hurried off ahead to meet the main Cruise en-route into Windsor. We, on the other hand, took our time in the preferred Super Slow tradition, settling down to a nice cup of tea and vegan cake at Olivia's Cafe.
No sooner had we had our first longed-for sip, when "Ho! Ho! Ho!" - we spied multiple Santas in the distance making fast pace towards us!
The fountains of the George V Memorial made an excellent backdrop for a group photograph, before the main Cruise continued onwards and upwards along Thames Street and the High Street, hanging a right down Peascod Street and finally in through the doors of The Windlesora, who had very kindly reserved us a large corner.
And then the blessed sigh of feet released from shoes, of dishevelled hair freed from helmets and butts gratefully sagging into chairs; with laughing gear closing around the amber nectar and bellies feeling replete with nosh, we settled down as the cool swag donated by the kindly folk at Mindless Longboards, Newton's Shred, Skate Hut and Santa Cruz was raffled off.
Laughter and banter prevailed until, in ones and twos, we slipped off homeward, spirits high having shared another awesome day of skate for a particularly awesome cause.
The Super Slow Santa Cruise was designed and hosted by Elizabeth Stuart (Silver Surfer). It is 8.96 miles long. It is best completed at leisure, in one's own time, in multiple hours or a combination of all three.