Ride Report – The Cyclists’ War Memorial – Sunday 18th May

Excellent report from CTC Northampton about a special and poignant memorial service. Northampton’s blog gave us the inspiration to start ours a year ago. It’s well worth following. Another of their recent rides followed stage one of the inaugural Women’s Tour of Britain, from Oundle to Northampton. http://ctcnorthampton.wordpress.com

CTC Northampton

David planned this train-assisted ride and writes:

Every year the CTC Heart of England Rally and St Laurence Church, Meriden, commemorate the cyclists who gave their lives while serving their country in the two world wars at the National Cyclists’ Memorial in the centre of England.

This year the service was blessed by the Bishop of Warwick and a new plaque was officially unveiled in honour of those cyclists who have perished in conflicts since 1945.

The Bishop of Warwick unveils the new plaque The Bishop of Warwick unveils the new plaque

The inscription on the new plaque The inscription on the new plaque

Bill and I went by train from Northampton to Berkswell, where we met up with Iain on his large-framed fixie. The Service started at 11.00 a.m. which gave us just enough time to stop at a farm café on the edge of Meriden village. The place was full of cyclists including John D, George, Bob and Sue.

A good attendance A good attendance

John D at the Memorial John…

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Sunday Ride to Horseheath (Cambs) 18 May 2014

This was one of those beautiful early summer days to remember.  With a clear blue sky and warm sunshine only a short-sleeved top was needed although sun protection was essential!

9 of us gathered at the start for the first leg to Finchingfield via Rayne and Shalford.  We kept up a reasonable pace and arrived there at 10.45 when Margaret and John joined us on their ‘pentacycle’ tandem.  For the uninitiated this is a new creation of John’s which is hard to describe but essentially a bike and a trike joined together.

ImageJohn and Margaret on the ‘pentacycle’!


Riders ready to set off from Finchingfield (thanks to Mel for the photo)

(click on image for full sized view)

After elevenses surrounded by a multitude of motorcyclists, we headed for Horseheath where we enjoyed the usual excellent food and service at the Old Red Lion.

We returned via Ashdon and Great Bardfield where we were only allowed takeaways at the Blue Egg as it was 3.35pm. The wind had strengthened to about force 4 from the Southeast for the return leg which made this 71 mile ride fairly challenging.

We arrived back in Chelmsford at about 5.30pm with the sun still shining brightly.

Here is the link to my Strava record:



The DOT SHARP memorial ride

I’d say it was a success despite the weather and only half the riders turning up. We still got 20, but as “organiser” – I’m biased anyway. Here’s a quick quote from one of the victims who paid the immense sum of £5 to enter-on-the-line…. 11th May 2014 – The Dot Sharp ride No doubt the damp blowy weather restricted the entry numbers. Adrian had 19 riders on his register. Both the Chelmsford and Havering Groups were well represented but SEG had only two, Brian P and I. I got away dead on 9.30 and was out on my own, which was convenient as I had a phlegm issue! The rain stopped about 10.00 and I carried on alone to our first check point at Hatfield Heath. Whilst I was having some refreshments Brian and the Chelmsford bunch turned up. I then paired up with Brian for the rest of the ride. After Hatfield Broad Oak my rear tyre suddenly deflated. The fix was too hasty as I could feel something was wrong so about a mile up the road I stopped and noticed the tyre wasn’t sitting in the rim properly. That sorted we made good progress with the wind behind us. There was a quick stop at Great Waltham to write down the answer to the second control question and then it was largely riding into wind. After Chelmsford Brian began to flag and at the top of the hill just before Stock I waited for him. He told me to go on, which I did. The ride up to Padhams Green into wind was tough. I was down on the drops, which was an option Brian didn’t have. I got back to the finish at 13.50 and found 4 or 5 Baddow Club members already there. I think they passed me when I had the puncture. A mug of tea, a chocolate biscuit, a chat with Adrian and then Brian joined us. Computer read out 51.4 miles, average speed 14.0, max speed 30.2 mph. Brian declined a lift to Billericay Station so I went back through Padhams Green and met the Chelmsford Group completing the last stretch. I think I they had had a culture/lunch stop off route at Great Canfield Church. Summary- enjoyable but could have done without the wind! Mel Martin

Ride Report 4 May 14

The bright spring sunshine attracted only eight starters but then some of our regulars were overseas, touring and thus avoiding the quite chilly breeze. The traffic seemed mercifully light until we neared Stansted where we rode a mile on the B1051 and were overtaken by several vehicles including a Mercedes CL55 car doing at least 100 MPH. The Yeoman café at Stansted served us well before six went on to Fernaux Pelham for lunch. The Brewery Tap made us welcome with a good selection of light options including Dave’s “Garlic Infused Camembert Baked In Its Box” – which he generously shared around. The ride home was punctuated by mechanical failures – firstly my chain decided to break at the spring-link (thanks to Martin for the repair), Diana’s rear tyre threatened to disintegrate, de-laminating further as we went and then my gears jammed. (Damaged rear mech and broken jockey wheel, caused by the earlier chain failure). Nevertheless, we made it to Sawbridgeworth, where The Shed stayed open late for us to enable a coffee stop. Not sure of the trip mileage but is was well into the 60’s in my case.

See Strava:

Adrian Leeds

CTC Spring Tour of Norfolk


This year’s return to Norfolk saw 14 riders booking into the Park Hotel, Diss and 4 at the nearby caravan park. There were 4 octogenarians, a couple of 60-somethings and the rest in between somewhere. They rode 12 solos and three tandems, one of which was a “Pentacycle” (5 wheels!). We enjoyed the usual superb support, eating and bike parking provided by the venue, which also cut us a deal on our rooms and some 2-for-1 dinners.

So, it was just a matter of deciding where to go. Broadly speaking, there were 2 groups of 6 and 9 bikes with the smaller group going a little further each day than the larger. But these groups completed some rides together and if not, usually met up at some point. The rides began on arrival day with Dave’s short afternoon ride to Bressingham Gardens tearooms – a sort of “taster ride” taking and hour each way around the quiet lanes. The next day, the whole group of 18 followed Brian and Jan’s tandem on a ride out to Stowmarket, visiting the same tea-stop at Cotton for elevenses and afternoon tea. I made that a quite impressive 53-miles.

We had good weather up to this point although the breezes were definitely chilly, despite the bright sunshine. Norfolk farmers would seem to be heading for a good harvest this year, with all of the crops well ahead of schedule for late April, lining our route for mile after mile. The rape crops were particularly noticeable, sending huge carpets of yellow over the horizon (not to mention tons of inhaled pollen).

Day three began wet, but after a short delay we set off and the rain stopped almost as we left. The 2 groups met for elevenses at the quaintly named “Blo’ Norton”. (Corruption of the word Below, perhaps?). To get there we had taken the “river route” along the Suffolk side of the River Waveney eventually tracing it back to its source. At this spot, the Little Ouse also begins, flowing in the opposite direction towards its destination at The Wash. In the damp, bright morning spring air the valley route looked just plain beautiful, like a rolling constable painting. The groups parted and five of us embarked on the longer ride to Thetford, eventually running out of open farmland and into thick forest along gently rolling straight roads with little or no cars and just the odd tractor. To me, the short lunch stop in Thetford was a bit of a letdown. The town has changed significantly since my Suffolk childhood and is now in the aftermath of large scale London resettlement, followed by large-scale industrial failure (the closure of the Thermos factory). It looks a sad shadow of its former self. Back on the road we went north before heading east through more pretty Norfolk villages. At East Harling, we paused to visit the church, where a lady Church Warden gave us an impromptu tour. These old buildings and their contents are always a source of fascination for me and this one didn’t disappoint. It has medieval painted oak screens, tombs and effigies of the 16th century landed gentry and beautiful stained glass, all of which have survived the Devolution, Civil War, Puritanism, bombing etc. Marvellous!

Next day we were all together for the short ride to Eye, where the “long” group opted to ride on whilst the majority took tea. This resulted in their discovering the Bank Arts centre, of which, I’ll say more later. It was getting more drizzly as we went and our eventual elevenses at Debenham was in a tiny bric-a-brac shop reminiscent of the one run by “Miranda” in the TV series of the same name. It was decided to abandon the original plan (Framlingham) in favour of chasing after the other group, who, led by Ken and Maureen were heading to Laxfield for lunch at The Low House. This ancient and very charming pub is well worth a visit with its oak panelled screens, and beer cellar (no bar!). We got there chilled and wetted, just as the others were finishing but enjoyed the mushroom and garlic soup and a welcomed warm-up before leaving. We caught the others once more on the Eye route and had afternoon tea at “The Bank” art studio, culture centre and teashop. This former Midland Bank branch has been superbly transformed and we found it contained working artists, home made cakes and a gallery in the old vault downstairs. We were well served and enjoyed some beautiful exhibits.

Sunday was the final riding day and the morning sunshine had us all keenly off and away. The small group plumped for a ride along the Waveney Valley towards Beccles whilst the shorter run was to Harleston for elevenses, again led by Brian and Jan. The conditions were pretty well ideal for cycling and we made good progress on the small lanes and traffic-free roads to elevenses at the Flixton Buck. This is a unique pub, one of whose former landlords was Alan Breeze (you need a long memory for this) – who was a regular on the Billy Cotton Band Show in the early 1960’s. It also is the site of a very large, free aircraft museum. The old planes are a mix of military and civil aircraft parked on a large field with hangars at the rear housing many more aircraft, helicopters, engines, bombs, and most importantly, the “NAFFI” café. We supped tea at £1-a-mug and ate home made cakes served by some very fetching ladies wearing 1940’s period dress. I dallied a long time there, momentarily forgetting the ride but don’t regret that and I have vowed to return to this Aladdin’s Cave of aeronautical nerdiness and wonder. Back on the road we passed by Bungay and skirted Beccles before looping back to the south of the Waveney, stopping for further snacks at Fressingfield and afternoon tea once more at The Bank. The by now familiar and scenic run through Yaxley and Mellis completed the ride.

In the final reckoning, the “short” group had covered about 170 miles and the “long” one about 230. The beautiful farm lanes, traffic-free roads, big landscapes, villages, pubs, cafes, museums, windmills and churches made this tour fly past in a wave of enjoyment. Roll on the next.