Was it the overcast sky or the fact that it was Father’s Day which depleted our turnout today to eight riders? A shame really as we had an excellent day’s ride and the sun progressively worked it’s way through.
We took the usual route via Roxwell, Bird’s Green and Matching Green to our elevenses stop at Hatfield Heath Post Office café. Coming into the village we found the ‘festival’ in full swing and had visions of the café being over-run with hungry and thirsty festival-goers. However the opposite was the case and we were served quite quickly, although had we arrived 10 minutes later our experience might have been different.
Only three of us went on to lunch at Fleur-de-Lys in Widdington where we chose from an excellent menu of light bites/starters. Dave and I both had the Camembert with garlic, redcurrent ‘jam’ and delicious granary bread:
From there we took the off-road track past the Henham mast and then to Broxted, Molehill Green and High Roding to our tea stop at the excellent ‘Snug’ café at Lodges in High Easter where we met a number of other cyclists including a group from Maldon Cycling Club.
Thence back to Chelmsford via the Chignals having completed 100Km or 63 miles.
Here is a link to my Strava record: https://www.strava.com/activities/330057173
Those of us who cycle regularly through the Chignals to the NW of Chelmsford are used to seeing plenty of other cyclists – after all, these are some of the most popular quiet lanes anywhere around the city. However, some new faces, admittedly mostly straw-filled, have appeared in the last couple of weeks, including two very different cycling types.
The first is an uber-cool Tour de France winner. The build-up to the successful world hour record attempt was shrouded in secrecy, with all sorts of rumours circulating about the most cutting-edge equipment tested for those marginal gains. How many of us knew, though, of the 16″ wheels that were tried on the former record-holder’s local roads? And with an even more radical innovation to shed weight that not even Mr. Brailsford could have dreamed up, who could have predicted that ‘going the extra mile’ meant replacing the entire body’s content with straw? Surely the UCI will have something to say about this when they see the evidence.
This sort of ‘Sky Blue’ thinking isn’t entirely original, though. I think we can clearly see that these latest innovations have come from the other end of the cycling spectrum. Compare Wiggo with new local Chignal St. James resident, Sally, warming down after a particularly hard effort, and it becomes obvious who the real (straw) brains behind last weekend’s record-breaking triumph belong to:
The cycling media have been keen to ask more about the so-called ‘Chignal-effect’. However, these two local residents remained poker-faced:
Mel called it “the long haul to Long Melford” and at 79 miles he was sort of right.
Nine starters enjoyed the bright clear morning coming out of Chelmsford via the well-trodden Leighs Road route and via Perry Green to Greenstead Green Post Office. John, Margaret and Ken made the numbers up to 12 for elevenses before we parted company in various directions with 6 going on to lunch. We took the small lanes via Gestingthorpe and Borley Green arriving at around 1:10 p.m. The George and Dragon wasn’t busy, (so service was quick) – but it was “Sunday Roast menu only” from which we selected various starters. The soup and whitebait offerings were reportedly good but my own prawn and salmon salad was tiny and not very impressive at £6.75. Never mind, we had got back onto schedule and set out for Coggeshall hoping to make it by 3:30-ish.
Going by way of Little Henny and Lamarsh was of course hilly, – you don’t need to go to Alton Towers to sample a roller-coaster; just ride the Henny Road. After tackling climb after steep climb, our arrival at Coggeshall was a fairly tired 4 p.m. Although the Clock Tower advertises “4:30” as its closing time, we were halted at the entrance by the proprietor hanging out of the 1st floor window above it like a sort of red-faced cuckoo clock. He was telling us we couldn’t put our bikes in, around or anywhere near the shop, that they were “very busy” that they had run out of cakes and that we were effectively, too late. All that, despite ushering other people in at the same time. The mistake of trying to use that establishment isn’t one I shall be repeating. “The Vineyards” nearby did us proud with good quality cakes and teas and even refilled our pot without being asked. Ok it’s a bit posh and a quid or so dearer but for me it was money well spent. The home leg went via Hatfeld Peverel completing despite everything a very enjoyable summer day, at 6:30 p.m.