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.
Posted from Mel Martin’s report –
I lined up for the 08:30 start and would you believe it we had a rain shower! An Echo photographer was snapping away as we departed the café.
Immediately a fast group disappeared into the distance and made me wonder why they selected the 7 hour start.
The rain was only a short shower so at the first checkpoint manned by Ron and Lynda off came my waterproof jacket. After Writtle there was just me and the Chelmsford boys, Adrian and John. We checked in with Brian and Veronica at 09:52 near Smallshoes Hill.
By this time the wind was noticeable mainly because the ride to Great Waltham was directly into it. This third stage up to Great Bardfield was quite a long one (19 miles) and always had some head wind component. I tucked in behind Adrian!
We arrived at Gt Bardfield Town Hall at 11:08 and the refreshments supplied by Chris Spicer, Ken Winters and John Smith was welcome. I think it was Dennis Frost who was doing the time keeping. After 20 minutes we got underway again. Mike C had just arrived followed shortly by Jon C who looked like he had struggled in the wind. He also had a Garmin malfunction. What’s wrong with some scribbled notes on an old envelope?
We had the wind behind us for the 4 miles down the B1057 and holding a steady 20 mph was no problem. At the memorial in Stebbing we found Daryl stopped having dropped out of the fast group with leg cramp. He joined our little group.
In North End we caught up with the fast group who were having trouble working out which way to go! They followed us but soon got fed up with our pace and went past.
At Pleshey Jim and Claude were marshalling. Claude was generously handing out chocolate and Adrian accepted a coffee hoping it would revive his fading legs.
The last checkpoint at Cooks Mill Green was manned by Stefan and Ian. After getting my card signed I got away smartly. The others were slower to follow and I noticed my lead was increasing so with my legs in reasonable condition I kept up what I thought was comfortable pace. I arrived back at the café at 14:00 i.e. a 5.5 hour ride. Adrian and John arrived about 4 to 5 minutes later without Daryl who I heard had suffered a puncture. (And had no pump)! (A)
A pleasant ride in ideal conditions if you ignore the wind going out.
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!
Posted for Mel Martin:
Chelmsford Ride Report Sunday 18th October 2015-
The Tour de Navestock
It was the day of the Chelmsford Marathon so our outward journey avoided the cycle way through Central Park and we picked up NCN 1 well after Writtle. We still had to contend with runners/marshals etc. until Radley Green.
The nine of us out stopped for elevenses at the café attached to Budworth Hall in Ongar. It was a bit of squeeze getting us in but a table for seven of us was prepared.
Afterwards Adrian took us down some lovely quiet lanes in the Stanford Rivers area where the only traffic seemed to be horses.
Heather and Eric left us on Shonks Mill Road as we turned up Mill Lane. The hill up this lane had Tom and Dave with their fixies out of the saddle for a long period!
We arrived at the Alma Arms at Horseman Side about 12:40. Food and drink had to be ordered separately at different tills and we were given a pager. When that went off we all got up to collect our food from the counter. The beer was more expensive than usual but the food cheaper e.g. pint of Suffolk County £3.70, BLT baguette £3.95.
The problem Adrian had now was finding a threeses stop at the appropriate time so a few loops were put in. No advice on which way we should go was offered on this stage! At Swallows Cross the group headed for Blackmore Tea Room but I headed off for tea at chez Martin. 57 miles in dry, mild weather with only light winds leaves little reason to moan.
Link to my route
Mel called it “the long haul to Long Melford” and at 79 miles he was sort of right.
Nine starters enjoyed the bright clear morning coming out of Chelmsford via the well-trodden Leighs Road route and via Perry Green to Greenstead Green Post Office. John, Margaret and Ken made the numbers up to 12 for elevenses before we parted company in various directions with 6 going on to lunch. We took the small lanes via Gestingthorpe and Borley Green arriving at around 1:10 p.m. The George and Dragon wasn’t busy, (so service was quick) – but it was “Sunday Roast menu only” from which we selected various starters. The soup and whitebait offerings were reportedly good but my own prawn and salmon salad was tiny and not very impressive at £6.75. Never mind, we had got back onto schedule and set out for Coggeshall hoping to make it by 3:30-ish.
Going by way of Little Henny and Lamarsh was of course hilly, – you don’t need to go to Alton Towers to sample a roller-coaster; just ride the Henny Road. After tackling climb after steep climb, our arrival at Coggeshall was a fairly tired 4 p.m. Although the Clock Tower advertises “4:30” as its closing time, we were halted at the entrance by the proprietor hanging out of the 1st floor window above it like a sort of red-faced cuckoo clock. He was telling us we couldn’t put our bikes in, around or anywhere near the shop, that they were “very busy” that they had run out of cakes and that we were effectively, too late. All that, despite ushering other people in at the same time. The mistake of trying to use that establishment isn’t one I shall be repeating. “The Vineyards” nearby did us proud with good quality cakes and teas and even refilled our pot without being asked. Ok it’s a bit posh and a quid or so dearer but for me it was money well spent. The home leg went via Hatfeld Peverel completing despite everything a very enjoyable summer day, at 6:30 p.m.
The bright sunshine was tempered by a cool easterly breeze as I set off for Wangford but I consoled myself with the fact that it was dry and fine and no rain was forecast for several days ahead. The breeze seemed to strengthen as I progressed toward the coast. My route went via Messing, Copford and through Colchester and Ipswich town centres then stayed west of the A12 through Wickham Market and Peasenhall, finally arriving at 6:30 p.m. quite drained by 89-miles of head wind.
The Angel Inn is a quaint old pub, just off the A12 and a couple of miles west of Southwold in Suffolk. Eighteen of us dined together on that first night, enjoying the good food and ale supplied by our helpful hard working hosts Christine and Peter. We had taken all 7 of the inn’s rooms plus one at The Plough nearby with a further 4 riders in caravans near Reydon on the Southwold road. Everyone that day had been cycling – either arriving by bike or arriving by car and taking part in the afternoon ride-out to Halesworth, and we all noticed the North Sea breeze.
On Friday the entire group rode to Beccles where leader Brian had arranged for the 650-year old Church of St Michael The Archangel to have a coffee morning. The Group then divided with some taking the trip to the locks Inn, Geldeston and Ellingham and the rest going on to Oulton Broad’s Park Café, for a view of The Broad with The Old Maltings across the water. The café served some very nice homemade food, particularly the chicken soup which was more like a casserole. The group divided once more with my half taking a route around North Lowestoft, then down the steep “Ravine” to the old sea wall and Ness Point (the most easterly point in the British Isles) before heading to Southwold Pier to meet the others for tea.
On Saturday we all rode down to the “Low House” at Laxfield for a superb lunch (via two route options) and again recombined for coffee at Halesworth in the afternoon, still battling the ever-present breeze.
The first leg of Sunday’s ride was to Flixton and the excellent (but freezing cold) Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, where we were hugely entertained by Diana who very bravely took the controls of a flight simulator under the very stern direction of James, (a retired RAF instructor). I’ll leave the reader to judge how well she did but at one point (commenting on her handling of the joystick) the instructor said “my good woman you are flying an aircraft – not stirring a bloody Christmas pudding!” How we laughed. Afternoon tea was taken at the St. Peter’s Brewery; too late for a tour of the brewing plant but we sat ourselves down in the magnificent St Peter’s Hall tea-room where some of the seats are ancient carved choir stalls, presumably from the ruined priory across the road.
The final tour day began with the short hop to Southwold, taking in the Gun Hill followed by the Lifeboat Museum. For elevenses we visited the Harbour Café, which will be familiar to anyone who has ridden the Blaxhall Audax. From there we took lunch at Dunwich before riding on to Minsmere for tea. On the way back we visited Wenhaston Church, which houses a “Doom Painting” dating from the late 15th Century. This quite remarkable and beautiful object, painted onto wooden boards by a monk, once spanned the central isle of church. It had been whitewashed out during puritanical times and stood outside the church as firewood in the 19th century before being uncovered by a chance shower of rain, and eventually saved.
Tuesday came round all too soon so it was time for the long slog home, aided by a following breeze but lacking the excitement of anticipation which had spurred on the outward journey. Back to “normal” again, until the next one!
Easter Sunday showed us what was hopefully the beginnings of Spring, with clusters of primroses and daffs lining the kerbsides of the lanes. Seven riders shunned the domestic Easter-Egg hunt in favour of a bracing ride to Thaxted taking the very pretty route through Butchers Pasture. We got there for eleven, but the only café open was “busy with bookings” (which had yet to arrive) – and a little stressed if you ask me. The Commandant didn’t care too much for cyclists, suggesting that we remove our shoes to visit the toilet, even though there was no logical reason for doing so and ushered us off a table that was booked for lunch at least an hour later. I was therefore quite amused when, just as we were leaving, the combined ranks of 2 large groups of about 15 riders apiece from Cambridge and Hertford respectively converged on the place, stomping about in their cleated shoes and causing absolute mayhem behind the counter.
I must confess that I was thinking about aborting the run to lunch, fearing the “bookings only” syndrome common to Essex pubs at Easter/Christmas/fathers/mother’s day etc. In fact I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Cock at Henham welcomed us, fitted us in and even supplied sandwiches which were of both excellent quality and price. Ex-Chelmsford Secretary Felix Ormerod joined us, riding an ancient and rare “lightweight” fixie and stayed with the group for the longish run back to High Easter for tea. Well, Easter at Easter, – it had to be done!
We had 9 starters despite the very chilly conditions. I took the slightly longer Waltham route only to learn that Belsteads Farm Lane is now once again open to traffic. After Stisted, it was through the lanes to Bocking and across to busy A131 to the Roundwood Garden Centre Café. I think its worth a mention that we received an enthusiastic welcome there and the tea-and-cake deal was amazingly cheap – £2.20.
John and Margaret had already arrived, so 11 had elevenses and out of those, 7 went to lunch. Going to Finchingfield I avoided the traffic by keeping to the small lanes via the aptly named Rotten End (if you are talking about the condition of the road surface), and Walthams Cross, arriving at the Red Lion in good time for a hearty lunch of baguettes so generously built that some shared one between two and those who didn’t were usually unable to polish them off. After lunch we paused briefly to admire Mr. Davis’ new recumbent – a very classy machine. Having fought off a headwind on the way out I was dismayed to find that it had turned around and was still against us on the return. Threeses was a matter of individual choice: some went to Andrewsfield and some straight home but three of us rode the 16-mile leg to High Easter for teas and thence home, stopping a few times along the way to pump up Mel’s slow puncture. An enjoyable run of dead on 60 miles for me – plenty enough in the cold breeze.
Here’s a different view of the same ride – just to prove I was telling the truth…..
Sunday Ride to Lamarsh 1 March 2015
It was a bright sunny morning with the wind pushing nine riders to elevenses. 20 miles later we met John D at Greenstead Green.
With two returning the remainder of us were led north by Adrian. This involved some mucky lanes but we were entertained by a number of deer charging across a field at one point.
The Lion at Lamarsh wasn’t doing sandwiches or baguettes but fortunately the soup was very good. Eagle eyed Dave spotted the bar was actually a piece of ex-church furniture. Good to see a bit of recycling going on.
On leaving the pub we were confronted by a number of hills but the views of Suffolk bathed in sunlight across the Stour valley were excellent. At Bures a couple of us arrived early and deliberately crossed the bridge to claim we’d been to Suffolk! Martin was last seen making a turn off Adrian’s route and didn’t reappear until threeses at Perrywood.
Coming back through Hatfield Peverel I notice my rear tyre was under inflated so did a pump up. I moved off swiftly and Jason got in front to take the brunt of the head wind down the old A12 through Boreham. At one stage we hit 20 mph but by the Boreham Interchange Jason had tired so I stopped for another pump up. Oddly, the tyre still seemed rather hard. With the others still not in sight we headed into Chelmsford.
With the ride being on three Landranger Maps I expected it to be a 60 miler and sure enough my computer clocked up just over 62 miles. (Mel)