A hard frost and dire warnings about road conditions were enough to put off many riders today. However as leader I needed to get to the start where I was delighted to find Mel ready and willing to attempt a ride.
We took the main salted network to get to Hatfield Peverel and had no problems. There we called on Dave and found he was planning to join us at Heybridge for elevenses. We then took to more minor roads and headed via Wickham Bishops, Great Totham and Chigborough to approach Heybridge Basin from the East. The odd icy patch was easy to spot and riding in the bright winter sunshine was a joy.
After elevenses we headed back onto the country lanes towards ‘the Tolleshunts’ and then back to Goldhanger for lunch at The Chequers. We rounded off the day with tea at Bunsey Downs before returning to Chelmsford having covered 48 enjoyable miles.
Here is a link to my Strava record: http://www.strava.com/activities/233817035
Writing this 8 days after the event is not good for remembering the ride in detail, so this is just a brief resume. How our runs secretary kept track of the numbers riding defeats me as they fluctuated throughout the ride. I recall we had about 8 at the start but then another 4 or so joined us for elevenses at Coggeshall together with a large number of Colchester members. Some then went home, some went to the Colchester Christmas lunch at Wivenhoe and about 10 went on to Ford Street for lunch.
Lunch at the Shoulder of Mutton was excellent with a Landlady who, having greeted us with a claw hammer in hand, went out of her way to accommodate us despite being the busy pre-Christmas Sunday. Good beer too!
We called in at Perrywoods in Tiptree for tea and made our way back to Chelmsford in the gathering gloom of the shortest day of the year having covered 54 miles.
Here is a link to my Strava record: http://www.strava.com/activities/231537827
It was a very frosty morning and only four of us assembled at the Civic Centre. I had ridden over a fair amount of frost and ice crossing the park to get there and was not really keen to set off until later. The others pointed out that we could reach 11’ses mainly on treated surfaces and I was persuaded to go. We went around Writtle, through Edney Common and past the Viper taking Bag Lane, Trueloves Lane and the pedestrian underpass to arrive at Ingatestone Garden Centre well ahead of time. There we met Mel, with Phil arriving later so six went on through the Hanningfields route collecting John B along the way. There were still a couple of slippery patches where thickly frozen puddles had only party thawed, but thankfully we all stayed the right way up. Dave R had met with the SEG at their coffee stop and was already at Cock Clarks when we arrived. Two couples, (John and Margaret, Brian and Jan) made the Chelmsford contingent up to eleven. I’m not sure of the total but the combined ranks of us, the SEG and Havering Member Groups soon filled the pub with the bar queue stretching out into the car park. Lunch was served very efficiently and we enjoyed the usual Fox and Hounds good quality and value for money. After lunch the group dispersed and three rode to afternoon tea with the rest of us heading for home to warm up.
Three damp Sundays – seen from Adrian’s saddle…
23 November – A horribly wet day. Only 4 of us failed the initiative test and set off to Blackmore tea-rooms where (by arrangement) – we met the Havering group and a couple of Southend riders. It was a convivial CTC meeting and we stayed a good while chatting over coffee with the occasional mournful glance out of the window at the persistent downpour. Dragging myself back outside, I bid a cheerful farewell to the others, who had all opted to call it a day. By now I was double-waterproofed by cape and jacket but the rain soon penetrated both and by the time we got to Edney common I was ready to throw in the very soggy towel, and headed for home. Martin followed leaving Dave and Diana to squelch onwards to Lunch.
30 November – Dave Russell’s ride to Monk Street via Dunmow. It was a much better looking day than the previous Sunday, tempting a dozen or so optimists to take to their machines in the false hope that they would stay dry. Fat chance! My own machine proved to be less willing and fell prey to a puncture at Writtle, then a second deflation but a few hundred yards later. I needed time to investigate this second one and two gallant assistants (Dave S and John B), stayed back to help sort it out, sending the others forward. After much (wet and muddy) tread-searching the problem was discovered to be a faulty tube, perished at the valve-base. We short-routed to Dunmow and met the others for tea before going on to Monk Street. It occurred to me that the back lane between Duton Hill and Folly Mill lane is the roughest stretch of “road” I’ve seen and an absolute disgrace for Essex County Council: have they heard of the new invention, Tarmacadam? The Farmhouse Inn coped admirably with the 9 of us before we returned home through the wet lanes.
7 December – The same four “go-in-any-weather” riders as 23 Nov rode joyously with a following wind to Perrywoods, taking slippery bridges, closed flood barriers and muddy farm tracks in their stride. The rain held off and John and Maggie joined us for coffee, mixing as we did with the combined hoards of Colchester riders also gathered there. Honestly, counting them was pointless as more kept arriving. As we departed the rain came on strongly, blown along by a cold wind. After a bit of tricky navigating assisted by guest rider, “Snowy” I got us out of Tiptree onto the desired route and thence to Lunch. The Donkey & Buskins welcomed us all warmly and we set out our kit to dry off as lunch was taken. The rather strange soup billed as “Potato and Leak” was queried with the management and explained away by the “Polish Cook” – (that’s how he does it). Head wind and just-above-freezing drizzle were the returning conditions so we gratefully accepted Dave’s offer of tea and cakes at his place on the way home.
Another dire weather forecast for heavy rain during the morning must have put a lot of riders off as only four of us lined up at the start. The same four as rode in the atrocious conditions two weeks ago.
In the event we enjoyed ideal conditions for the ride to Tiptree for elevenses. There we were joined by Margaret and John and also a good contingent of riders from CTC Colchester. We should engineer such gatherings between the CTC Essex groups more often!
As we left the heavens opened; fortunately this downpour was short-lived and eventually the sun came out as we made our way to the excellent Donkey and Buskins for lunch. There we were very pleased to see Malcolm who had walked out from Colchester to meet us.
Leaving the Donkey and Buskins (thanks to Malcolm for the photo!)
The ride home started well but at Messing we were buffeted by strong gusts of wind and cold showers. Adrian decided we should head straight for home in view of the weather and deteriorating light, but Dave kindly invited us in for tea at Hatfield Peverel and we couldn’t resist. We cycled back to Chelmsford in twilight under clearing skies after an enjoyable 53 miles.
Link to my Strava record: http://www.strava.com/activities/227165723
Twelve riders assembled at the start for this ride on a pleasant winter’s day. Dave led us to Dunmow on an excellent route on country lanes. This was slightly circuitous and served to increase the distance from about 13 miles to over 20.
Adrian had a flat, and another, after which it was agreed he and Dave S would make their own way to Dunmow. This resulted in them getting there well before us, but Adrian assured us this was down to increased speed not short cuts.
After elevenses we headed north on another circuitous route to Monk Street which included the delightful section between Broxted and Tilty where the low sun was highlighting the features of this beautiful part of the County.
The Farmhouse Inn served some excellent baguettes and sandwiches after which we set off for home via High Easter where we stopped for tea in the Post Office café. 56 miles in all.
Strava record: http://www.strava.com/activities/224860194
This ride was supposed to be to Cock Clarks with elevenses at Blackmore, where we were due to meet up with our friends from Havering Member Group. However the weather forecast was dire with continuous heavy rain all day which was already in full swing at breakfast time.
I went to the start wondering if I’d be the only one but was delighted to find Dave, Diana and Adrian keen and ready to go. So we set off and dully got soaked but at least it wasn’t cold. Interestingly we saw none of the usual plethora of other cycling groups out on the road and I did wonder if any of our Havering colleagues would be daft enough to venture forth. But when we arrived at elevenses there they were – all six of them although they seemed to have imported a couple of ringers from Southend!
The extended break over, the groups went our separate ways having abandoned the idea of cycling to lunch together. Adrian and I went straight home and Dave and Diana stopped for lunch at Margaretting Tye. Only 27 miles but plenty in the rain!
Strava record: http://www.strava.com/activities/222299864