Sunday Ride to Widdington – 27 April 2014

With a large number of regular riders away on the Group Tour in Norfolk, only six of us gathered at the Town Hall for todays ride.  We were very pleased to welcome Steve who had cycled in from Maldon having been attracted to ride with us having read about our activities on this blog.  The weather was overcast and cold with a moderate easterly wind.

John led us on an indirect and enjoyable route to elevenses at the Doctors Pond café in Dunmow, following which we cycled on via Henham to lunch at Widdington where we were well looked after by the staff of the Fleur-de-Lys. The weather was improving with sunny spells as we left via the off road route past Amberden Hall and on to Sucksted Green. From there we made our way to tea at Andrewsfield via Monk Street, Lindsel and Lubberhedges Lane. It was warm enough now to sit outside watching the light aircraft taking-off and landing.

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Tea at Andrewsfield (click on images for larger view)

Steve left us near Lees Priory to head back to Maldon and we continued back via Littley Green to Chelmsford. 59 miles door-to-door for me.

Here is a link to my Strava record: http://www.strava.com/activities/134788289

Martin

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Sunday Ride to Wenden’s Ambo – 13 April 2014

13 riders forwent watching the London Marathon and set off for this ride on a chilly but sunny morning.  The moderate North-Westerly wind was in our faces most of the way to our elevenses stop at Elsenham Golf Club after 22 miles.  The Golf Club has an excellent café and the service was very efficient, even responding to a request to turn off the BBC News Channel and show the marathon live!

Despite his recent head injury Adrian decided he was enjoying the ride so much he would continue with us to lunch at The Bell Inn at Wendon’s Ambo.  The view from the summit north east of Arkesden was splendid in the bright clear light.  At The Bell we found they were only serving Sunday roasts but very obligingly decided to feed us with a choice of baguettes and free chips!  The beer was excellent too.

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Leaving The Bell at Wenden’s Ambo (click on photo to enlarge)

After lunch we set off on an untried off road route to avoid a long section on the busy B1383.  On the whole this was very successful apart from a short section of grass track which had been made uneven by horses’ hooves and baked hard in the dry weather.

We headed for Dunmow via Widdington and Tilty and enjoyed tea at The Doctor’s Pond (Deb’s Diner).  It had just closed but the kindly proprietor took pity on us and stayed open.

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Tea at Deb’s Diner in Dunmow

We headed back to Chelmsford via Barnston and The Chignals, arriving back at 5pm having covered 64 enjoyable miles.

Here is a link to my Strava record : http://www.strava.com/activities/129881611

Martin

Sunday 06.04.14 – Little Hadham

I’ve already posted a short edited video of Sunday’s ride to Little Hadham (see below).

Due to a fairly steady shower, which started just before 9am and didn’t ease off until about half an hour later, the muster point had shifted to the bus shelter where we found Brian Penny holding up brightly-coloured clothing.  Hence the (re)branding of Essex CTC is now over.  In this action-packed snapshot, our ride leader for the day scrutinises the winter jacket with Martin arriving in the background.

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A case of one man peddling his wares before 7 of us set off pedalling towards Ware.  (Ouch, sorry, but couldn’t resist; Sawbridgeworth doesn’t lend itself to puns).

The drizzle was still steady as we rode through the park towards Writtle College and one of our number headed home for an early bath after becoming the p*nc%*re fairy’s victim number 1 soon into the ride.  Between Fyfield and Matching Green, the p*nc%*re fairy struck again, this time Diana.  A steady stream of riders on the Essex Roads’ Spring Lambs early season 100-mile sportive hurtled past us, most on machines built more for speed than comfort, head down, doggedly and determinedly pushing up the small incline.  To be fair, many acknowledged us and the Sunday cycling church needs to be broad, but this is a very different way of ‘enjoying’ a damp, April day on a bike.  Once back under way, it was unfortunate to see someone clutching his wrist who had come to grief on a bend a few hundred yards further up the road.  That particular narrow lane was quite congested with the amount of cycling traffic, so we were quite glad to leave the racetrack and head for a pit stop at The Shed in Sawbridgeworth.  By now, there was just a little more brightness and the drizzle had all but stopped, but it was one of those days when another squall always threatened.

Elevenses was a relaxing, unhurried affair and, having arrived slightly later anyway, lunch plans were amended by mutual consent, but all six of us continued on.  Off we went, then, towards The Nags Head in Little Hadham, where service was friendly and obliging.  We took ourselves into the Public Bar where the locals’ partisan attention was firmly fixed on the screen showing Everton vs. Arsenal.  I made the mistake of momentarily blocking the view of a man who had that air of feeling at home in ‘his’ particular chair; he was clearly a regular.  As we ate and drank, Arsenal fell one, then two goals behind.  Reasonable food and ale and the ‘family’ atmosphere remained pleasant, but maybe it was just as well we left them to it before the second half (when Arsenal went a third goal behind).  It may have turned ugly…but I doubt it.

The vivid yellow of rape seed fields seemed particularly vibrant on what remained an overcast, though mainly dry afternoon.  As we headed towards tea at White Roding, Dave R. suggested we check out a memorial to Mathams Wood ALG (Advanced Landing Ground), used during both World Wars:

2014-04-06 14.49.18Martin tried some googling on his phone.  I have since found more information on a website called Derelict Places (http://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/main/showthread.php?t=20321#.U0PUbfldUrU) which maybe explains why phone coverage was a bit hit-and-miss.

After tea at White Roding, we headed our separate ways with Diana, Dave R. and Dave S. forming one group, while I joined with John and Martin heading for the Easters and Chignals.  Thanks to Diana for leading; after rather an unpromising start weather-wise, this turned out to be a fine and breezy day in every sense.

My route-tracker decided to play up (although some of our route is shown in the video below).  Thanks to Martin, then, for his Strava track which logs the ride as 61 miles:

http://www.strava.com/activities/127531735