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.