Sunday ride to Matching Tye 16 October 2016

The early morning rain prompted my wife to ask me what I would do if I got to the start for this ride which I was down to lead and found nobody there. I said I would probably come home, thinking it would probably be still raining. Her question proved prophetic and I was on my own at the start but as I really wanted the exercise and the rain was easing I decided to follow the route I had planned anyway.

With elevenses at Blackmore it’s a bit tricky to make the first leg long enough, but by looping around a bit I arrived there with 18 miles on the clock. I’m glad I carried on because Mel arrived there at the same time to join the ride, asking where the rest of the group was which I couldn’t explain. Particularly so as the forecast proved correct and the weather was now dry and bright.

Mel and I then had a very enjoyable ride to the Fox Inn at Matching Tye with some welcome wind assistance. This hostelry is really excellent for a cyclist lunch stop with good beer and no fuss about not having a Sunday roast.

Heading for The Snug at High Easter for threeses we took in the attractive link past Matching Church then via Matching Green to White Roding in bright sunshine.

We managed to dodge a nasty black cloud which passed us to the west as we made our way back to Chelmsford in dry conditions. I had 55 miles on the clock on arriving home at 4pm after a good ride with good company. Thanks Mel – without you I might well have gone home from Blackmore.

Here is a link to my Strava record, although it was switched off from Blackmore to Stondon Massey!


July rides that escaped publishing

July 17th, 2016

Leaving Chelmsford today we had 7 up. Adrian led us out to Danbury to give Dave S plenty of exercise on his Claud Butler fixie. Along The Ridge we encountered a team laying tar and chippings. Because the freshly laid chippings made riding difficult we resorted to using the pathway as far as we could. Loose chippings continued down Spring Elms Lane so we turned off at the first opportunity. Some who had got ahead of the leader then went missing!

In Maldon there was some discussion where we were having our dorkey (see note at end) as there was a discrepancy between the Spotlight entry and that on the web site. We know one member didn’t have the internet so it had to be the Wilkin tearoom called The Lock at Heybridge Basin. Here we met three more members and finally the three we lost earlier.

With Heybridge Basin and Goldhanger being almost within spitting distance Adrian took us on a northerly loop arriving at the Chequers about 12:40. It was surprisingly empty giving us a choice of inside or outside seating. By this time there were eight of us, which was just the right number for a garden table. John Davis started working out how many more Tri Vets he can get in before he is 100! He has done 12 and revealed he did his first one aged 48. This was in an interim period when they were gradually increasing the minimum entry age for both men and women to 50.

The intended tea stop was Bunsay Downs but the road chip problem ruled that. There was then the suggestion of White Elm at Bicnacre, which would have been good for my return to Wickford, but then it swung to Perrywood near Tiptree in favour of John D!

Not wishing to go too far north I peeled off before Little Totham and headed for Maldon. Straight up Market Hill, across Stow Maries Aerodrome and onto Rettendon Turnpike. I so missed the latter on the revised Peggy Thorndike route! 64 miles for me.

Dorkey= elevenses; mid-morning snack

From a book on Suffolk dialect called “Sloightly on th’ huh”

Chelmsford Group at Heybridge Basin 170716.jpg



July 24th, 2016 Essex CTC Summer Meet

I left Wickford with SEG but within two miles I made my own way to Blackmore to meet the Chelmsford Group for elevenses.

John B led six of us to Galleywood where Norman departed back to his car in Chelmsford. After skirting round Gt Baddow we went up Woodhill Road to find it with heavy traffic and much of it in a hurry. We later found out this was caused by hold-ups on the A414.

We arrived at the Hurdlemakers at 12:40 but had been beaten by the Taylors and Betty. I then started to suffer from watering eyes, which was certainly not caused by the barbeque as there wasn’t one. We were told someone called Brian Penny phoned to cancel it. This was all rather odd and we think this was a cover for the fact there was no one available to man the BBQ.

All four Essex Groups were well represented. It was sunny, everybody was happy and we all got fed eventually! A group photo was taken and then some started to depart. About 15:10 I rode homewards with SEG.

Exmouth Exodus 2016

I’ve done this overnight ride half a dozen times but was very undecided about whether to participate in this one because of the dire weather forecast. Wonderful summer weather was due to be interrupted by an unseasonably deep depression coming in from the Atlantic bringing with it strong winds and rain particularly to western areas. I knew that 107 miles including significant hills would be a challenge for a 72 year-old even in benign conditions, but finally decided to give it a go.
I had planned to use my faster Focus road bike but given the forecast opted for the heavier Thorn and took additional clothing in a pannier. I ended up with more than I needed to carry but annoyingly failed to pack my cycling shoes! This meant doing the ride in trainers which didn’t help my progress.
My wife dropped me off at Salisbury en route to our destination for a three night break in Sidmouth and I took the train to Bath for the start on Saturday evening. By the time I arrived there the rain was teeming down and the wind picking up so I decided to make a slightly early start at about 9pm.
The cycle path to Wellow is a very enjoyable ride including two long former railway tunnels which have been adapted really well. This year they also provided a welcome mile or two in the dry! After Wellow some lumpy sections lead to a long slow climb to the top of the Mendip Hills above Cheddar Gorge. I found this quite hard not just due to the rain but the stiff wind was a south-westerly, ie a persistent headwind. The wind conditions in the Gorge itself were very tricky, gusting from all directions as it funnelled up this famous topographical feature.
The brilliant Cheddar Scouts fed and watered us in their hut before we headed out across the Somerset levels (which aren’t really level at all). Here there was little shelter from the wind and it was quite a grind to the next stop at Fivehead village hall. Here volunteers had prepared hot food for us and I am very appreciative of the commitment of the helpers who had given up a night’s sleep for us.
I spoke to my wife from here and said I was feeling very tired and doubted whether I would finish the ride. However I was very reluctant to give up and carried on, heading for the big climb up Blagdon Hill on to the Blackdowns. Day had broken by then and the rain had virtually stopped. The headwind was still there however and was especially hard-going across the open terrain at Smeatharpe aerodrome.
A short tea stop at Luppitt Common was followed by the steep descent to Broadhembury and onwards through Ottery St Mary to Otterton where my wife met me before the final climb through Yettington. With support available I jettisoned much of the raingear, tools and spares to help me on this climb.
I was greatly relieved to arrive in Exmouth after my slowest Exodus yet. I had met some great people over the 107 miles and (in hindsight!) really enjoyed the event. The weather was a challenge to say the least but they are guaranteeing good weather next year, so I just might be back for one more. I slept for most of the rest of Sunday.
I gather well over 200 people registered in advance for the event but only 120 did it. I guess the weather put a lot of people off turning out. Quite sensible, but it is sometimes nice to feel you’ve done something despite the conditions.
Here is a link to my Strava record:


21st August 2016- A Sunday ride into Suffolk

The six of us led by Adrian were blown north to Marks Tey. Norman, Heather and Eric decided the Bungalow Diner would be their elevenses stop. We were tempted to do the same but decided to carry on to the designated stop of Aldham Mill Race in case someone had gone there to meet us. It was just as well as Phil was waiting in the tearoom. His lad was gliding up at Wormingford, which gave him the perfect excuse to ride with us.

I don’t think anyone else noticed but as we crossed Wormingford Bridge into Suffolk a heron was keeping pace with us before giving up! This part of the route up to Assington was identical to Colchester 40 mile event. At the Shoulder of Mutton we were met with the curse of “We only do Sunday roasts”. It was a good job we had a plan B, which in this case B stood for Bures. The Eight Bells was full of life and provided excellent sandwiches.

Afternoon tea was taken at Paycockes in Coggeshall, a very relaxing location. We left Phil as he had to return to Wormingford Airfield. There was still a good breeze, mainly against us, and nobody fancied riding across Silver End Airfield so Adrian, Dave S and I set off for Kelvedon. Our return retraced much of our outward route but with the head wind we went for the shortest way back into Chelmsford. There were many signs in the city that the V Festival was taking place but mainly from the volume of the music.

5 June 2016 Sunday Ride to Bures

On a beautiful summer’s day I was disappointed to find only five riders at the start for our ride to Bures but by elevenses our numbers had swollen to eleven.

From Chelmsford we headed to Channels and Terling, before taking part of the NCR 16 route through Witham to reach Rivenhall.  We followed the back road along the bottom of Braxted Park to Tiptree for elevenses at Perrywoods.  My walnut and stilton scone was fresh from the kitchen and absolutely delicious, even by their usual high standards.

All eleven of us set off towards Bures with a brief stop for a photo at Aldham Church when Ken and Derek left us heading for home.


After a short ‘puncture stop’ we arrived at The Eight Bells in Bures just after 1pm but were warned of a longish wait for food as they were very busy.  We secured a large table in the corner of the beer garden and had plenty of time to put the world to rights and discuss the EU referendum.  We were joined by Alan and Clive from the Colchester group and later a group from Suffolk CTC arrived.

In my last post I was extolling the virtues of the pub in Lamarsh so I was sorry to hear that the Suffolk group had been scheduled to go there but found it had closed.  It’s such a shame to see excellent pubs like that one closed.

On our way home we again stopped for tea at the delightful National Trust property Paycocks in Coggeshall  where they managed well coping with nine cyclist descending on the small café.


I had 67 miles on my cycle computer on returning back in Chelmsford.

Here is a link to my strava record:









Sunday Ride to Lamarsh 1 May 2016

A frosty start to the day, but by 9am the brilliant sunshine had warmed things up nicely and six of us set off from the City Hall heading for elevenses at Greenstead Green farm shop.  We kept up a reasonable pace and arrived there just after 11am.

Sadly the service there left something to be desired with the orders arriving incomplete and cutlery only provided as an afterthought (and with some prompting).  My toasted teacake was the worst I have ever had – dry and leathery.  You could say ‘stale’!  I registered my opinion with the girl at the till who said she would inform the chef.  Personally I can’t imagine any chef having played any part in creating such a teacake!

Norman went back but we were joined by John on his recumbent trike for the next stage to Lamarsh via Pebmarsh.  At the Lion Inn we had excellent service, great beer and an enjoyable lunch with no ‘sorry we only do Sunday roasts’ to cope with.  This really is a great pub for a lunch stop with excellent views across the Stour valley.


The narrow back-roads I had chosen for the ride back to White Colne were not really ideal for John’s trike but luckily we didn’t meet any oncoming traffic on the narrowest sections.  John had inadvertently taken a route of his own down into Earls Colne but we all managed to meet up again for tea at the Paycocks NT property in Coggeshall – a new watering hole for our group and an excellent one at that.  The garden looked spectacular with a wonderful display of tulips.


Tom and John left us to make their ways home and the rest of us made our way back to Chelmsford via Kelvedon and Wickham Bishops. 

A great day’s cycling under sunny skies.  I recorded just over 60 miles.

Here is a link to my Strava record: