I left Wickford with SEG but after a couple of miles we parted company as I headed off to meet the Chelmsford Group at Heybridge Basin. Led by John B they had just arrived as I turned up at The Lock Café. With much rearrangement of the furniture we all got seated together but then head honcho Adrian turned up so another chair was purloined.
To reach The Bell at Purleigh John put in a small loop through Langford, Hoe Mill and Woodham Mortimer. At Cock Clarks we met SEG making their way to The Fox and Hounds nearby.
Brian T had made his own way to The Bell and was seated at a large round table. It was reserved for another party but we had it until 13:30. It was no problem as the food was served quickly.
On our return ride after Bicknacre we were down to six riders. At East Hanningfield, John, Dave S and Dave R were going right to Butts Green Garden Centre and Brian, Diana and I were going left for home. This didn’t happen until we had a good chat, which included discussing Airey Houses because we had stopped beside a row of them. These were prefabricated houses built after WWII and later suffered a number of defects including structural and lack of insulation. At least two of the houses beside us had been modified.
The BBC had forecast heavy rain from any time after noon but it never materialised on my way home.
It seems you can’t post photos in comments without a special plug-in, so here is a separate one for the photo I took of ‘the team’ repairing Diana’s puncture in freezing conditions in The Viper car park.
I wasn’t surprised that we didn’t get the full complement of riders out as it was very cold. The BBC said it would be -1 deg C at 9 o’clock and I’m pretty sure when the four of us left Chelmsford it was still below zero!
As we went onto Woodhill Road we found a fog dense enough for me to put my lights on, which cleared as we climbed up to Danbury. I stopped near the top for us to regroup and Ioan who been following close behind me sat down on the kerb. I thought he was just having a rest but when Martin, who knows him better, caught up he realised Ioan wasn’t well. We think it was a combination of a bug and the cold. Martin escorted him back to Chelmsford.
This left Dave S and me to continue onto Billericay for elevenses. At the Wetherspoons we met Diana and Brian. Brian was in civvies having declared it too cold to ride. Diana was up for a ride so after a good chat we set off on a loop through Shenfield and Doddinghurst. I had been asked to keep the pace down, which was no problem and I lopped off a mile of my original route. Although we had been riding on white frost it wasn’t until Beggar Hill we found our first real ice where water had run across the road. A text from Martin saying he was trying to reserve a table at the pub hastened our progress. John B had also made it to the Viper. As we vacated our table a Southend Forty Plus rider and his friends grabbed it, such was the demand!
On Beggar Hill Diana had picked up a slow puncture so the first thing on getting outside was to fix it. Dave S didn’t shy away from getting his hands dirty!
An afternoon tea stop was never a serious consideration and after a couple of miles we all headed home in various directions.
Despite a typical drab early January day 8 riders turned up for the start. Our elevenses destination at BHN Pot Plants is too near for the first leg of a full day’s ride so I led the group on an indirect route via Writtle, Loves Green, Fryerning, Ingatestone and Hanningfield reservoir. We took in the lane via Warren Road and Chalk Street which makes a nice alternative to the relatively busy road to South Hanningfield.
At elevenses we met up with 4 more riders but 3 went home before the 9 remaining set off for lunch at Maldon. I had been off cycling for 4 weeks, so I was not on peak form and even in normal circumstances that peak is pretty low! So I rued having included in the route the demanding hill up Edwin’s Hall Road to the radio masts. The rest of the group had already been encouraged not to stay behind me and duly waited at the top.
At lunch our numbers were boosted further when we met up with Brian and John D at The Rose and Crown. By the time we left the sun was shining and the dull day had turned into an exceptionally pleasant one for the time of year.
Gradually the group dispersed on the return to chelmsford with 3 riders having tea at Bunsey Downs.
I arrived home with 49 miles on the clock.
Here is a link to my strava record: