Sunday Ride to Cornish Hall End – 10.04.16

Diana led, starting off promptly at 9.15am (I only just made it!) on a bright but chilly Spring morning.  With quite a collection of pockets and maps, she succeeded admirably in choosing increasingly quiet and pleasant lanes as the day progressed.  After a relaxed, unhurried route to Andrewsfield via Great Leighs, the peace and quiet was balanced out by a steady stream of assorted light aircraft taxiing, taking off and landing, including an instructor and pupil repeatedly doing all three in quick succession and a helicopter that seemed to be manoeuvring alarmingly close by (but I’m sure they knew what they were doing).  Amidst all this aerial mayhem, two of our bikes were blown over and the feeling was unanimous that this was the busiest anyone could remember – there was even talk of Stansted being less busy on a Sunday morning.

Four of us continued to lunch, with topics of conversation including the recent opening of the new bridge connecting Chelmer Village and the Army and Navy.  With such pretty rural surroundings, you’d have thought we’d have banished thoughts of urban infrastructure, but as we arrived in Cornish Hall End, a group of bikers, about to leave, were sharing opinions on exactly the same topic.

Lunch done, we headed via Finchingfield (where a much larger group of bikers was gathered, as is customary on a Sunday afternoon) and Shalford towards Rayne.  Despite the early promise, the sun’s warmth never quite established itself; the same couldn’t be said of the cool easterly which strengthened during the afternoon.  As a result, we were quite happy to sit inside with a mug of tea at the Booking Hall Cafe.

At the race course I said cheerio to John, Martin and Diana, who turned right towards Littley Green while I headed home with a tailwind via Boreham, after a pleasant 57 miles.

Garmin 10.04.16

Seven Day Cyclist (and other inspirational cycling-related reading)

Forgive me if I’m hopelessly behind the times, but I’ve only just come across a website/magazine called Seven Day Cyclist with a strapline ‘Cycling, but not usually racing’.  Links to the first eight Back Issues, which can be read online, should provide something of interest.  I’m finding getting out for more than an hour or so is increasingly challenging, especially unless there’s more of a sense of purpose than just cycling ‘for its own sake’.  So instead, I enjoy reading about others’ experiences, including on this blog, other CTC group blogs, such as CTC Cambridge or CTC Northampton or the wealth of cycling touring travelogues in the form of old-fashioned books.  When I’m about 70 (or later?) and finally allowed to retire, I might even be in a position to embark on some sort of cycling adventure myself (or at least the odd day ride) but, for now, reading is at least some sort of substitute.  That’s how I’ve been consoling myself, anyway.

However, I recently had the pleasure of listening to adventurer, writer and cyclist, Alastair Humphreys.  He writes about adventures at either end of the scale, from 40000 miles around the world by bike to what he calls ‘micro-adventures’, smaller-scale, short, spontaneous experiences:

Microadventures from Alastair Humphreys on Vimeo.

Although these encompass many modes of travel, it seems the bicycle is where his adventuring heart lies.  I feel certain we would all have an opinion on his advice for ultralight cycle touring.

I am sure Alastair would approve of reading about the exploits of others at times when it is difficult to fit an active lifestyle around busy lives, especially as his latest book has just been published.  After all, it was reading travelogues that inspired the latent adventurer in him, and I’ve certainly enjoyed books such as One Man and his Bike, about cycling around the coast of Britain, for example.  But I’ve also heard his particularly persuasive form of outdoor evangelism.  It’s based around a premise that it’s all too easy to remain in a comfort zone, procrastinating, waiting for a time (such as retirement) when there is more time.

So for those of us still very much working full-time and with busy family lives, reading provides entertainment and inspiration, but even the types of day rides described on this and other CTC groups’ blogs, and in Spotlight magazine, are ‘micro-adventures’ well worth recording.  After all, there are the surprises, the chance encounters with fellow humans and with wildlife, the impromptu stops at the side of the road (for all sorts of reasons) the planned stops, food and drink, the conversation, the British weather (always a talking point) the bizarre and the unpredictable.  And, of course, the enjoyment.  I guess for me, the key is making the time to do both the reading and the doing, so I hope to see you soon on a Sunday, and thanks to those who make the effort to continue to contribute to the blog and to ‘Spotlight’ magazine.  A small but interested readership appreciate it!


April 2016- Two men went to — lunch!

Posted for Mel Martin:

It was glorious cycling weather but a surprisingly small turnout of three riders (Martin C, Norman and I). My route took us by SEG’s elevenses venue but at 10:05. Our elevenses was at Heybridge Basin, which we accessed by the towpath. The fine weather seemed to have brought out everyone who had a dog! At the café we found four CTC members, three who had come by car. The fourth was Ken Rickwood who joined us on our ride to Layer de la Haye. So with one going back we retained a nice even three.

Ken continued homewards leaving only Martin and me to go into the Donkey and Buskins for a long chat over beer and baguettes.

The ride back involved a stop at Bunsay Downs and by the time I got back into Chelmsford I had done 64.9 miles.