Forecast maximum temperature was 29C. I had no way of confirming that but Breeds Road was semi-liquid!
It was also Father’s Day and I didn’t get a ride in a two-seat Spitfire or a new carbon bike so I had to get my pleasures from leading the Chelmsford Group.
Five riders left Chelmsford on a route as different as I could make it to our last trip to Finchingfield. In Stisted there were crowds of people lining the route who cheered us on. I discovered they were actually waiting for classic cars to pass through. We arrived at Roundwood Café at almost bang on 11 o’clock to find four members already there.
After mainly tea and tea cakes four left for Finchingfield on a 16 mile loop. At one point the clip on my map board covered a vital junction so adjustments had to be made. For all I knew there could have been icebergs hiding on that piece of chart! For some parts of the ride I led from the back as it was more convenient and it saved wearing out my mirror. In Finchingfield I had my packed lunch in the shade in the churchyard. There I applied sun screen to some toes. I wasn’t going mad, I just had two toes chafing and sun screen was a substitute for Sudocrem. I then re-joined the other three at Bosworths. Of the three one forgot to pay and hopefully that has now been sorted so we can go there again.
The next stage was a tea stop at Rayne Booking Hall. Ravi, who lives in Braintree, headed for home leaving three of us to chat in the shade. John D then left for home leaving just Diana and me to head for Chelmsford.
It was also the day of the London to Brighton Ride but my ride of 62 miles was marginally longer. Although we did a few hills there was nothing like Ditchling Beacon.
Only five of us gathered at City Hall for this ride with numbers reduced by various other events and holidays. The weather was bright and breezy and we were pleased to welcome a new rider Ravi for his first outing with our group.
Marks Tey was our destination for elevenses which we reached via Terling Whitam Kelevedon and Messing making a first leg of 26 miles. With a bit of wind assistance we managed to get there just after 11am.
At elevenses there were a dozen members, which was very nice but a bit of a shame that more of us had not ridden there together. Six of us set off for Nayland but John B had to peel off en route to get home. At the Anchor Inn we were well served, if a bit slowly due to the number of customers there.
Preparing to leave The Anchor Inn at Nayland
The return to Chelmsford was hard going due to an increasing SW wind. We had a pleasant tea stop at Paycocks NT in Coggeshall and I arrived home with 72 miles on the clock.
Here is a link to my Strava record: https://www.strava.com/activities/1031945342
The day’s leader, John B, announced he was ill and unable to ride so Adrian took up the challenge. There had been some pre-ride email conversation about the distance between venues. It was decided the distance between elevenses and lunch was too great. The elevenses stop of Greenstead Green was retained but lunch was changed to Finchingfield.
Adrian, Martin, Ioan and me left Chelmsford in sunny but fresh conditions. On a blind bend on the road from Fuller Street to Ranks Green a car came hurtling round locking up its wheels. The driver was in complete denial he did anything wrong commenting we were in the middle of the road. It was lucky we weren’t because the car was nearly the same width as the road.
At Greenstead Green we met up with Dave, Ken, John D, Heather and Eric. From these only John joined us for the ride to lunch. There were a few stops for him to have a puff on his inhaler and to retrieve his hat!
The Red Lion is now called the Finchingfield Lion. There were no sandwiches available so three of us made our way to the Picture Pot Tearoom. Adrian and John were happy with what the pub could provide. I re-joined them later for a beer. Martin and Ioan then made off leaving the three of us to have a swift visit to the Guildhall opposite. At the turning for Bardfield Saling John continued straight on leaving Adrian and me to continue to Chelmsford with no tea stop.
When I volunteered to lead a ride I decided to take them in a slightly different direction to our usual rides. I got six riders on a bright but fresh Sunday morning. With a group that size you would think it would be difficult to lose anyone but there’s always one! Dave S went ahead of me before Ingatestone and got out of hearing range when we made a turn. After doing a tour of the ‘burbs of Brentwood we found him at our destination, the Café in the Park. He was already talking to an ex- member of the extinct Brentwood Group.
Suitably refreshed we made our way across the south of Brentwood and into the countryside to the west. The terrain gets lumpy out there but the result is some pleasant views and after the recent rain everything looked fresh.
The Two Brewers at Ongar was surprisingly empty so we were served quickly and had a leisurely lunch. It was good to find a pub still doing baguettes on a Sunday although a full Sunday roast was on offer.
There was some reluctance to use the farm track to Kings Street so we had a short stretch of A414 to ride. It was remarkably quiet. Meanwhile Dave R had used the track and declared it OK.
Finding a tea stop is often a problem i.e. too close, too far but seldom closed at about 3 o’clock. This is what we found at Francesca’s Coffee Shop in Mountnessing despite their web site giving a 4 o’clock closing time. Of the five remaining riders there were no takers for an alternative tea stop so I continued on my way back to Chelmsford. After White’s Bridge near Margaretting I was on my own and completed the ride after 56 miles.
First the cast of riders- Adrian, Dave R, Diana, Mark B, Ken R, Brian S, Brian T, Janette, Joe and Margaret D.
I joined them at The Cedars Hotel, Stowmarket on the Friday. Some had already done a short ride on the Thursday after they had travelled up.
Friday’s ride was led by Ken and all eleven of us rode out for elevenses at The Forge Café at Thornham Walks. We continued on towards our destination, Laxfield, and the signposts were doing strange things. One would say three and a half miles and the next one would be six miles! The strong headwind in fairly open countryside got the better of Margaret so she and Joe turned back. The intention was to sample the King’s Head or Low House for its old world charm but we were disappointed to find it closed until 5 pm. Lunch was taken at The Royal Oak instead. The ride back via Debenham was wind assisted. Afternoon tea was taken at Stonham Barns. Unfortunately this place is on the A1120, which at 4:30 pm is rather busy. Showing some consideration we formed two groups and pulled in to let a backlog of traffic by. On entering Stowmarket the ride went to pieces! No one had an up to date map of a new housing development and the electronic devices were giving contradictory information so we split in two and made it back to the hotel. Miles covered 56.
Saturday’s ride was led by Mark. Margaret had opted for a day of retail therapy. This ride was basically travelling west to Bury St Edmunds with an elevenses stop at Teacups Tearoom in Woolpit. We also had a culture visit to Woolpit church. The ride into Bury was on some excellent cycle paths but later we did have to negotiate two busy roundabouts to travel south to our destination the Maglia Rosso. This is a cycle café/ shop in a former pub at Hawstead. Our return trip took us to the Five Bells at Rattlesden. I couldn’t believe tea and coffee was 50p! I had two mugs of coffee from the pot I was given. Horse racing was on the TV and a little gambling went on with Ken the benefactor. On the way into Stowmarket we passed a free range chicken farm and I spotted my first egg vending machine! Miles covered 41.
For Sunday the group split up and only Adrian (leader), Mark, Diana and me rode east. The ride out to Woodbridge took us off-road twice, which was slow but not difficult. Our route was very undulating with some nasty little hills. At one junction Mark failed to unclip and had a lay down! Late elevenses were had at the Ferry Quay Café (also known as The Caravan) near Woodbridge railway station. The ride had a loose basic plan but was largely made up as we went along. We opted for Newbourne Fox for lunch after a brief stop at Waldringfield. It was busy but they were very accommodating and we sat outside in the sunshine for our soups. There was some retracing back into Woodbridge and then the Garmin directed us to ride on the A12. It was made to adjust to a quieter route. There was no direct way to our tea stop and we were zig-zagging across the countryside mostly into a headwind. Tea was taken at Helmingham Hall. A visit was made to the local church, which is rich in monuments to the Tollemache family. The return ride was fairly direct involving retracing some of the morning ride. 59 miles covered.
At this point I had to leave the group as I had to be home for the next day. A very pleasant three days in a wonderful county in good company. Also thanks to someone the others didn’t meet, my mate Bob who fed and provided me accommodation nine miles from The Cedars base camp.
An unbelievable summer’s day in early April drew the crowds and 10 started for this ride. With temperatures into the mid 20s riding was a pure joy, only tinged by an increasing southerly wind for the return journey.
At Andrewsfield Dave R, Peter T from Cambridge and John D on his recumbent trike joined us for elevenses. The numbers rather stretched the resources of the cafe resulting in a long slow-moving queue. Some debate took place over elevenses regarding the pace of the ride and there is an issue here we need to resolve in the group. I am probably in the middle of the range and can see both points of view as I trail sometimes on hills. The one bit of data from yesterday relevant to this issue is that my moving average speed was 12.5mph which is not far from the norm we used to work to.
For various reasons only 6 went on to lunch. It was a nice change to be doing a route which was not out and back but more of a circular ride. We started on the track from the airfield to Lubberhedges Lane which is a useful shortcut and quite navigable. By the turning to Monk Street John D had a puncture. It had not occurred to me before that in the case of the two front wheels you can change the tube without removing the wheel and John had it sorted in double quick time.
We headed through Monk Street to the Boxted Road then up to the tall and rather ugly radio mast near Hamperden End before taking the bye-way down to Widdington. Here the Fleur-de-Lys pub was awash with customers, many enjoying the sunshine in the garden. A 45 minute wait for food was forecast. Peter T however got his in 15 minutes due to someone else having over-ordered the same choice. However my soup could not be accelerated so I cancelled it as I was anxious not to miss the planned tea stop at High Easter.
Liquid refreshment at the Fleur-de-Lys in Widdington (photo from Mel – thanks!)
We said goodbye to Peter and headed for High Easter against a nagging Southerly wind but managed to get there by 3.30. We then headed back to Chelmsford where my computer showed 62.5 miles. This was not enough for John B however who went on an extra 20 mile loop at the end of the day!
Here is a link to my Strava record:
(totally frustrated being unable to remove the gap in this post. It’s fine in the edited version but won’t update correctly)
Seven riders left Chelmsford led by me.
Normally crossing the A130 to get into the Channels road is a mad dash but today it was more relaxed as the Chelmsford bound traffic was at a standstill.
After Domsey Lane I had a bit of a senior moment and had put up with jibes as I did a U turn!
The ride to elevenses was at a lively pace, which fitted in with the riders I had.
Colman’s Bridge over the A12 was a bit tricky as they have put in a width reduction after a truck went over the side.
We arrived at Perrywood GC at 10:58 to find all the bike racks occupied. Inside we found seven riders, three who later joined us to lunch.
I hacked off a bit of my original route to get to the Chequers before the 1 pm rush. Having being denied access to Tudwick Road the previous Tuesday I wanted to see what work had been carried out. It now has a lovely smooth surface dressing.
Getting to the pub early worked and the ten of us took over the billiard room.
As usual I lost riders as they decided their best way home and ended up with only Dave R for the tea stop at White Elm, Bicknacre. Afterwards we absorbed a bit of culture by visiting the remains of the priory.
It was then a solo ride back to Wickford for me and near BHN nursery I caught up with Jim C of the SEG doing the same thing. They had to forgo a tea stop because the food at Little Totham Swan had been slow coming out.
Back home after 66 miles.