As this is a combined group report some of the riders mentioned may be unfamiliar to you.
I left Wickford with nine riders from SEG led by Brian Penny. Of the usual leaders Ian Mather was away visiting his mother and Peter W had a family event.
At the top of Brock Hill my intention was to peel off and do a 13 mile loop before meeting the Chelmsford Group at BHN. All hopes of a long loop were dashed when my front tyre went down.
I arrived at BHN to find Norman L waiting there so we went in to await the arrival of the small group led by Dave Russell. A rare visitor to our ride was Peter Tibbetts. Equally rare was Heather out on her own with Eric laid up with back problems.
I rode with the Chelmsford Group to Purleigh and then continued towards Maldon. Along Blind Lane I met Brian leading a large party of SEG returnees. I wondered if anyone was going to the pub but I carried on to the Wetherspoons.
Whilst I sat there as no mates Mel I planned my route home. Shortly afterwards Jim C and Claude turned up in civvies. Jim is still waiting for a stent op and is limited on how much he can exert himself before he feels queer 🙂 A little later Jon, Lynda and Ron S appeared. As we were leaving I noticed the amount of muck on Jon’s bike, which indicated just how muddy the Beeleigh Abbey route had been.
I stuck to my return plan as I knew the other three riders were going to SWF, which would have meant the Turnpike for me.
Home by 15:30 after 39 miles.
The changeable weather had brought us bright sunlight but a cold NE wind, which probably kept the numbers down and only three of us were at the start. A cold night made ice likely so we rode cautiously but only found a few mushy patches.
About half way to Blackmore I decided to cut out some of my planned route to get there earlier. With the Blackmore Tea Rooms this is never a bad idea considering how busy they get. John and Adrian had arrived ahead of us and we were lucky to get a table. Cyclists still kept arriving and when we went to leave there was some lifting required to extract bikes from the mass of machines!
On the way to lunch we stopped at the Bricklayer’s Arms for Martin to hand in our post-Christmas meal menu choices. Dave S and I made use of the toilets as the queue at Blackmore was ridiculous.
I followed my planned route to Moreton but again went for a shorter route to Matching Tye. I led the ride to The Fox two months previously and on that occasion it was fall of cyclists and I was expecting more of the same. It turned out to be very quiet! Brian T arrived a little later and had lunch with us. We had passed him earlier going in the opposite direction near Blackmore.
Over lunch we discussed our tea stop. The only practical choice was The Snug and that was rumoured to still be closed for the Christmas break. So with no tea stop we were heading back to Chelmsford. I didn’t fancy the openness of Matching Airfield with that wind so I recycled part of the route we hadn’t used earlier.
I was back at my car about 15:20 with plenty of light left having done 51 miles.