Five riders left Chelmsford led by John B in a heavy drizzle. The journey out to elevenses was generally with the wind behind us. Down Hammonds Road I made a mental note not to come back that way.
At Perrywood Nursery we found Dave R already seated. Ken Rickwood joined us later.
Afterwards both headed for home as did Peter T. It left four of us to set off on a loop before lunch but I think John went further north than he intended. We looped round the top of Birch Airfield and from Birch village it was a constant struggle against a buffeting headwind. Martin C had found it too much of a struggle earlier and decided to make plans for getting home.
Because of the wind we arrived at the Chequers in Goldhanger later than we intended. It was very busy and fortunately with only three of us, John, Jason and I, we propped ourselves up against part of the bar.
Our exit from Goldhanger went well at first but John missed a turn and we found we were going back along the main road! We only did about 50 yards as I knew it was wrong i.e. I recognised the road and the wind was from the wrong direction.
Back on course we pulled into Bunsay Downs for refreshments and a break from the wind. Christmas had arrived with two members of staff putting up decorations.
With our lights on we made for Chelmsford with one almighty gust at the Danbury roundabouts almost halting progress. Back at my car in Meteor Way I had covered 55 miles and was relieved we didn’t get the heavy rain forecast.
To paraphrase Winnie the Pooh, the wind was blowing blustery and the trees were thrashing “thrustily” and I think it was safe to say….that seven windswept Chelmsford riders set off on a very “gusterly” day. Coggeshall Vineyards was our elevenses stop and we took the extremely exposed Airfield route to make full use of the following sou’wester. The overnight gusts of 40 mph (source, the met office web-site) had stripped the trees of all sorts of loose wood, around which we swerved and over which our tyres ominously crunched. One twig folded up Johns milk-bottle-plastic mud-flap but mercifully there were no punctures. After enjoying some quality tea and toast, just three of us went on to lunch the rest having a weather eye for the challenging headwind among other factors.
We were blown along Chappel – Bures climb so fast that lunch was varied on-the-fly to Bures itself after checking the Thatcher’s for other riders. This enabled us to get a head start on the return run. We were obliged to dine outside of the fully booked-out Eight Bells, but on the plus side (correct me if I’m mistaken) – I can’t remember a milder November day. We ate our keenly priced toasted sandwiches in the sunny, sheltered beer garden in the company of ladybirds, flies and wasps. By the time we left the wind had dropped a little but was still gusting to 30-MPH. We went via the very muddy, potholed and steep road through Daws Cross, Colne Engaine and Langley Mill and managed to fit in a tea-break at Black Notley golf Club, 15 miles later. By then, battered by the relentless wind, we were all tiring out at a fair rate. The final leg of the ride became for me, a grinding effort with lights on and everything clenched that could be; considering that it was a mid-November ride I suppose I mustn’t grumble!
A mild day with only light wind attracted 10 riders to the start at City Hall. A quick voted resulted in a clear decision to stop at 11am for 2 minutes silence on Remembrance Sunday wherever we were.
We set off on the normal route via Fyfield and Moreton arriving for elevenses at 10:50 at the Harlow Garden Centre. There we were joined by Chris and Gillian and I was concerned that serving 12 people might mean we were in the queue or being served at 11am. This could have been awkward if no-one else was interested in the 2 minutes silence. In the event we were all served very efficiently and were at our tables at the anointed hour. It was great to see and very moving that at 11 am Big Ben struck from a radio behind the counter and all staff and customers stood and remained silent. Brilliant – I needn’t have worried.
9 Riders went on to lunch at the Cock Inn in Hatfield Broad Oak. The route took in a couple of ‘traffic-free’ sections at Matching and after Hatfield Heath which both worked out fine.
A stop for tea at The Snug in High Easter and then home well before dark after about 53 miles.
Here is a link to my Strava record: