Prudential Ride London – Saturday 03.08.13

Prudential Ride LondonMy family of four are looking forward to the Ride London ‘Freecycle’ event on Saturday

The 8-mile route, from Tower Hill to Buckingham Palace, taking in Westminster, Trafalgar Square and St. Paul’s Cathedral, is closed to traffic from 9am to 4pm.  The CTC is integral to the event, with ‘bike doctors’ on hand to provide mechanical assistance, as well as ‘Tweet ‘n’ Charge’ in the Green Park Festival Zone – phone-charging by pedal power, apparently.  I understand there will also be representation from the Essex Cycle Champions initiative  which has been going very well over the summer.  I cycled down to Maldon on Monday for an enjoyable led-ride around Heybridge with ride leaders from Maldon CC.  The youngest rider must have been about 6 which is always good to see.

I will post again next week with some pictures of our day in the capital.

Dunwich Dynamo 2013 – Adrian’s ride

Dunwich Dynamo XXI – 2013-07-23


I’d like to start with a big thanks to the Baddow Anglia CC (most of whom are also CTC members) – for having me along. Since I last reported on this event in the September Spotlight of 2008 it has grown immensely in both size and fame. To illustrate the point, our small informal group of Chelmsford riders set out to catch the 18:21 to Stratford. It arrived, loco-hauled, full-sized with a proper guards van, but it was completely full up with cyclists. “Sorry, lads, no more bike spaces.” No worries, we took the following train without difficulty. Stratford station was buzzing, and more riders joined us there for the short canal-path ride across to Hackney.


We left fairly early, but our plans to beat the rush were thwarted by a puncture half a mile in. I’d say we rejoined with the 8:40 leavers, many of whom were club riders, lightly equipped and going for a quick run. The sheer volume of cyclists throttled back the traffic and it was stop-go all the way to the North Circular. The usual carnival atmosphere was enjoyed, with supporters cheering us on and (almost unbelievably) positive comments from drivers. By the time we reached Epping it was getting properly dark and I was beginning to realise that the head wind would necessitate pacing myself a little bit. Sitting in the midst of a long, brightly lit snake of bikes can be an almost surreal experience, as if you were a fish in a huge electrified shoal being carried downstream on a fast current. Every street lamp now had a small group of moth-like cyclists huddled under it checking or adjusting or mending things. After Epping, very pub, every village, every garage had cycles spilling out onto the road in a pool of yellow, white and red light.


On the outskirts of Dunmow, the group halted briefly to allow the back end (myself included) to catch up. I rested, ate and switched on my rear-facing camera to film the next 20-mile stretch. It was soon becoming obvious that the pace of approximately 15 MPH average, would kill off my legs if I just kept going, so at Hedingham I made my excuses and pulled into the village hall stop for a rest and a feed. The facilities provided were superb as before and for me it has become an essential part of the experience to make the big half-way stop. For £5 I got soup, a roll, a coffee and a flapjack and the chance to sit down for 20 minutes and chat with the other complete strangers brought together by this event. It was quarter past one and the night was cooling down already. I put on my leggings and the rest of my kit before settling back to the task ahead. The wind seemed to be strengthening as I went. Of course, it had been less of a problem in the group but was sapping away at me once I was alone. I made up my mind not to push too hard, and in return, not to stop before Framlingham, (45-miles ahead). Its strange how even if you don’t feel tired (I personally was buoyed up by roaring adrenaline) you nevertheless are, and your mental processes can become slow and lazy. The sunrise failed, instead a grey mist gradually closed in and my vision blurred as it settled on my glasses. I should have stopped but somehow couldn’t be bothered. Stupidly, I wiped them with my rather slimy track-mit, and was temporarily blinded by a white smear. I removed them quickly, but could not then read signposts and my headlamp batteries chose this moment to begin fading. With streaming eyes, I followed a group of red lights, trusting them to navigate; they of course, immediately went off-route!


I stopped, sorted out all the various logistical problems, re-gained the route and buckled down once more. Framlingham arrived at about a quarter to five, and one of the many wayside refreshment points shortly afterwards. More coffee, some food and an essential replenishment of water all came at just the right time. I bumped into Martin Cockersole and had a morale-boosting chat (for me, if not for him).


It was by then fully light, a cloudy, slightly soggy, breezy morning. I wasn’t soaked but just cold and clammy.  I knew I must dig deep now and ride hard enough to stay warm.

Dunwich hove into view. A cheering crowd pointed me to the finish. It was 6:15 and I was surprised at how far up the field I seemed to be. I parked up, but couldn’t find the group, which had evidently already left. I soon felt the onset of cramp and realized that once stopped, I was cooling down fast and had no dry kit. Looking around me I saw many who seemed far worse off. After queuing 20-minutes in the cold breeze I revived myself with a hot tea. Sleeping on the shingled beach (my original plan) was ruled out by the cool windy conditions coupled with my damp gear.


I had planned a leisurely ride south, but almost automatically found myself in a phone call home. Near Woodbridge I met my daughter coming the other way and was soon home. It had been a superb experience, some of which I had managed to capture on camera: Despite pedaling all night, and covering almost 140 miles (including rides to and from) – I slept intermittently, for just 3 hours, my sub-conscious senses still enjoying the brilliant night ride. Roll on the next one.


Adrian leeds

Dunwich Dynamo 20/21 July 2013

The DunRun as it is often called is an overnight ride from London to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. When I first rode it in 2007 only a few hundred people took part and due to the shocking weather only about half finished. However I love night riding and despite having done it three times before I couldn’t resist another go this year.

The route:


The scale of this map is impossible, but you get the general idea, knowing the main towns and the coastline!


The sight of about 1500 cyclists gathered in London Fields for the start is truly staggering.


This photo only shows the tip if the iceberg – I was disinclined to get into the morass of riders and bikes behind the pub!

The weather was cloudy and mild but with a gentle NE wind which increased steadily as we went along. By the time we got to Dunwich it was a good force 4.  115 miles against the wind is not ideal and a big contrast to the South-Westerly we enjoyed last year!

The route out of London was slow with the congestion caused by so many bikes and the normal vehicular traffic, so it was a relief to get out into our more familiar Essex network. The pubs in Moreton were an attraction many riders could not pass by, but I rode on accompanied by Mathius, a German rider I had teamed up with along the way.  We stopped in Dunmow for a quick refill of drinks bottles and met a young lad mending his second puncture – really bad luck.

At Sible Headingham a road closure meant we had to dismount and go round a tortuous diversion over a scaffolding structure.  This caused a long queue of DunRunners:


We spurned the crowds at the official feeding station in Sible Headingham and rode on to Sudbury where it was great to find an enterprising local business open at 1am serving food and a much-needed mug of strong coffee!

At Needham Market a quick snack on food I was carrying helped keep me going and then on to Framlingham where it was getting light.  Even better the kind people at Hatherleigh Farm had set up a stall offering free tea and coffee to riders. I was just sipping mine when who should arrive but our one and only group secretary Adrian.



By that time I was riding with a young guy Dan whose front light had run out of power, so I stayed with him to the finish which we reached at 6.20am. This was an hour later than I made it last year and reflected in an average speed of 12.9mph, down from 14.2mph last time.  The congestion in London and the headwind undoubtedly had a part to play in this.  I’m sure my on-coming 70th birthday had absolutely none.

The conditions at Dunwich beach were so horrid with mist and a cold wind that there were very few riders stretched out on it. The customary dip in the sea was forgone by all but a tiny number!




It was a great night out and a very satisfying event in which to take part. However it may have got a bit too big with the overwhelming numbers.  Sadly a minority of riders, mainly in groups riding fast racing bikes, have no more consideration for other riders than do a minority of inconsiderate motorists.  More than once I was forced into road defects by groups like this pushing past at close quarters and giving me no ‘wobble-room’.

But it’s great to see all types of bikes being used, even Bromptons and other folders.  I also passed one guy with a box mounted on the front of his bike containing two dogs!

The key is to have excellent lights. This is my front set-up:



The EL530 on the left was just a backup for the Magicshine MJ-808 unit on the right, but that lasted all night, mostly on half-power which still gave excellent illumination of the road ahead. The silver EL300 in the middle just allows me to say I have complied with the BS requirements!

On now to the Exmouth Exodus at the next full moon in 4 weeks time. (mind you, we saw no moon this weekend)








Ride Report – Sunday 21.07.13 -Rowhedge

Dave S. led Dave R., John, Chris and me towards Heybridge Tesco for elevenses, taking in the climb up Woodhill Road and a burst water main next to the duck pond in Danbury. Making good time, we headed for Beeleigh Falls where the only thing that appeared to be falling was the water level.  From there, we followed the towpath to Tesco, where we met up with John and Beryl.

Beeleigh FallsChris returned to Chelmsford, so Dave led the six of us through Tolleshunt Major, past Wilkins at Tiptree, north around Abberton Reservoir and through Fingringhoe to Rowhedge, where quite a gathering were watching the yachts down by the quayside.  We went for the sandwich option and a drink (excellent real ale) from Ye Olde Albion

The sun and heat had returned by the afternoon and we enjoyed Dave’s steady pace as we headed back via Birch and Messing.  We forewent afternoon tea; at Messing, John pointed his recumbent towards Hatfield Peverel, Dave and Beryl were considering visiting Wilkins in Tiptree, while we three headed back towards Wickham Bishops. John fancied extending his ride by doing an extra loop north of Chelmsford, and Dave and I headed for Paper Mill Lock and North Hill.  Dave turned off towards Little Baddow church; I felt like testing the legs after 60 miles.  Not quite the polka dot jersey, but they held up pretty well.

A great ride – thanks, Dave.

CTC Rowhedge 21.07.13

A couple of ‘away days’ in the Vale of Belvoir

Incredible as it seems, we seem to continue to start each new post with the phrase ‘hottest day of the year so far’.  Predictions of a slightly cooler weekend are welcome.

I stayed in Nottinghamshire on Tuesday and Wednesday this week as I was helping my in-laws to prepare for a house move.  A good opportunity to take the bike, I thought, and explore the Vale of Belvoir.

It didn’t disappoint.  I followed an evening ride of 25 miles with a 36 mile ride early next morning.  This fairly hilly area to the south-east of Nottingham features a series of picture-postcard old English villages (most mentioned in the Domesday Book) around Belvoir Castle the high-point in every sense:

Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle

Belvoir is hardly Mont Ventoux, but these things are relative and, perched on top of the hill, it is visible across the Vale.  Other notable landmarks can be found on the outskirts of the large village of Langar. The first is the home of John Deere tractors the second, Langar Airfield, dates back to 1942, but is now the largest parachute and skydiving school in the UK  My wife, who grew up and went to school in the area, was offered parachuting as a ‘Choice’ activity in the sixth form, so somewhere we have a photo of her dropping out of the sky taken by my father-in-law in the mid 80s.  A bit more exciting than badminton!

Early morning and late evening rides are the perfect antidotes to these exceptional daytime temperatures and the peace and quiet were equally perfect antidotes in the nicest possible sense(!) to the enjoyable couple of days I spent with the in-laws.

Vale of Belvoir Ride 2Phil

Ride Report – Sunday 14 July 2013. Coggeshall and Bures

With some of our regulars riding the CTC Essex Member Group 100/100, we were a small group for this lovely ride on a hot summer’s day.  I had intended to ride the EMG event too, but for domestic reasons changed my plans.  My cousin Richard had come to visit us and he virtually lives on his bike in London, so a ride round the Essex countryside was a nice change for him.

Richard and I met Geraldine at the start and we headed for Coggeshall where we met up with Dave and Beryl.  After a much-needed elevenses we rode on towards Bures, stopping above Chappel to admire the view of the viaduct and the fields of purple Borage.


After lunch at the Eight Bells in Bures we headed for tea at Tiptree and then back to Chelmsford, covering 67 miles in all.

CTC to Bures 14 July 13



Ride Report – Sunday 07.07.13 – Sawbridgeworth/Standon

Five of us met on what promised to be one of the hottest days of the year so far.  Dave, leading, was joined by Norman, Martin, Phil and new face, Adrian.  Adrian has been enjoying the shorter, led rides on a Thursday and Saturday from the town centre (see June 11th post below) and fancied joining us for a slightly longer ride.  As we explained, though, the extra miles are usually manageable in these situations due to the steady pace of around 12-13mph, and this is always flexible to suit.

The route took us out towards the Chignals, Easters and Matching Green before crossing over the M11 and the level crossing to arrive at The Shed (  Here, the air conditioning, as well as the refreshment, were welcome respite.

2013-07-07 11.37.24

Dave and Martin went on, while we three headed back towards Chelmsford via the Hatfields (Heath and Broad Oak).  The slightly ‘sticky’ sound typical of puncture caused me to slow to a halt, only to find no problems with either tyre.  The sticky sound was caused instead by the melting tar.

A thoroughly enjoyable morning, a little under 50 miles, and back in time for the tennis.  This was our route:

Endomondo route 07.07.13


Update 08.07.13 – Martin has now left a comment about the rest of the ride.