Another cold morning with frost around so turnout was a bit disappointing with only 5 of us at the start, including Mel from SEG who we are delighted to welcome as a not infrequent visitor.
With the scheduled elevenses stop at Rayne station, a few loops were necessary to keep the first leg at a reasonable distance. One of these was a very attractive lane we rarely use from Howe Street to the A131 just South of Great Leighs. It does dump you on the A131 but we only had to do a couple of hundred metres on it before turning onto the cycle path into Little Leighs.
Adrian’s Gatorskins not quite up to the job!
Luckily we were able to sit indoors at Rayne, sharing the space with Shaftsbury riders who arrived at about the same time. Dave R joined us and we set off for Finchingfield via Shalford and Waltham’s Cross enjoying intermittent sunshine on the way.
John D joined us for lunch at The Red Lion where the size of the baguettes impressed the others but my soup was a bit average. However the welcoming approach of the staff and the excellent beer were much appreciated.
John stayed with us for the ride to tea at Andrewsfield where we saw several planes taking off and landing. We returned to Chelmsford against a slight headwind and I recorded 49.1 miles for the day.
Here is a link to my Strava record: https://www.strava.com/activities/245954373
It’s true what they say; you can’t have everything. Sunday was bright and dry if extremely chilly with a strong southwesterly breeze. We soon felt its edge as the six of us battled out of town into a country landscape right on the point of freezing. There was a little ice here and there in the puddles and on the tips of the kerbside grasses but nothing of significance. After about 20 miles we reached Hatfield Heath Tea Rooms on time for “elevenses” and welcoming the chance to stop and warm up a bit. Service was fast and efficient and I judged the teacakes as well priced and full of flavour. Back in the saddle we headed out through Sawbridgeworth and eventually along the exposed lanes with the wind holding us back and at points causing us to tack left and right as it tried to push us across the road.
Thankfully, we made it safely to Green Tye where the Prince of Wales (the pub, not the person!) – served us very well indeed with £3.50 sandwiches and good ale. Presently, John arrived; having ridden his recumbent trike all the way from Halstead he wore a shiny wet brow, imparted to him by the raging headwind. Thus seven of us began the journey home, which was less well assisted than we had hoped because the wind had by then dropped back a degree but still had some effect as we ran up past Spellbrooke and on eventually through sometimes flooded lanes to High Easter Post Office for our final tea break (choc brownie only £1.50!). An hour later I was indoors, mudded and windswept but very pleased with the 55-mile day. Not bad for January, really.
The thermometer in my garden read minus 0.4deg C as I left home to ride to the start and the roads were still wet from yesterday’s rain. It was a perfect recipe for ice so I decided to keep to the main salted roads. Brian had cycled in from Billericay to lead the ride and Mel, John and I brought the numbers up to 4. We all agreed that salted roads were the best option so we headed to Felsted via Great Waltham and Hartford End. These roads were fine but it felt really raw and cold in the freezing fog. All our bikes gathered ice from the cold damp air and hoar frost formed on our clothing and helmets.
Ice on Mel’s front fork!
The warmth in the revised elevenses stop at Blake End was welcome indeed. Although we had seen a brief glimpse of the sun near Felsted, the fog then thickened and the temperature was showing no sign of rising above freezing point as we left Blake End. As a result there was a notable lack of enthusiasm for any more mileage so we headed back to Great Leighs, Boreham and Chelmsford. 30 miles was quite enough today thanks!
Here is a link to my Strava record: http://www.strava.com/activities/236546029