With the previous weeks ride being short due to a degree of wetness today’s weather was perfect for cycling.
The ride was meant to be led by our recently departed colleague John B so I stepped in.
We did a 19 mile circuitous route to get to Heybridge Basin meeting Lynda C on her way to the SEG’s elevenses. We arrived at the Lock Tea Room to find Ken R already there reserving us a table. It was pleasant sitting outside but the wasps certainly liked the Wilkin’s jam!
The next stage was a 14 mile loop to get us to lunch. I had forgotten Inworth Road was closed but we easily found a way round the bridge repairs. A traffic-free road was a bonus.
At The Railway Tavern in Kelvedon we found all the tables by the river occupied and I thought we would have a problem getting served. It wasn’t a problem and we found a quiet corner inside.
After lots of chat including an amusing story from Adrian about aunt Trixie, four of us made off for tea at Terling. Arriving at the Owls Hill Tea Room we found a notice saying “Closed due to a family illness”. We quickly moved over to The Monkey opposite where Dave R funded the tea purchase.
The four of us split after tea with only me riding back to Chelmsford completing 59 miles.
The previous Sunday I was part of a breakaway group that went to join SEG for lunch. The last bit to Andrewsfield was off-road and unfortunately almost un-rideable due to a fresh layer of brick and concrete rubble. This left me wary of including further off-road tracks so the Tuesday before today’s ride I went to check some out. I found two acceptable but I had road alternatives. On the first one between Kings St and Mill Ln near High Ongar three riders chose to ride it and it was where our off-road expert, Dave S, got a puncture. The four of us who did a sprint down the A414 and through High Ongar felt we had made the right choice!
The elevenses on the runs list was Delimores in Ongar but their new premises weren’t open so we went further into town to Nerissa and Claire’s within Budworth Hall.
After our refreshments Adrian left us to make sure he was home to see the World Cup final. The rest of us headed north to Moreton with a loop round the Lavers before descending on North Weald. Here was a track which gave a short cut and avoided some nasty hills so everyone rode it.
The Mole Trap at Tawney Common is in an isolated location but even with our relatively early arrival it was busy. There was a shortage of cheese and brown bread but we all found something acceptable.
Afternoon tea was taken at Blackmore but not before a hot and hilly ride. Throughout the day we were being passed by riders on the Evans Ride It Essex Sportive. Along Shonks Mill Rd I came up behind a tired, lone rider who was doing the 68 mile ride. Fortunately he didn’t have far to go to the Secret Nuclear Bunker (sorry, I couldn’t possibly tell you where it is!).
I was pleasantly surprised that five riders had turned out and the six of us made our way out of Chelmsford in a light rain. I think there were groans about me taking them up Swan Lane to Stock but there would be plenty more hills to come! The good news was the rain had given up and moved off.
The route to the Café in the Park at Brentwood was based on that used by the Southend Section of the Forty Plus so easy on the memory. After refreshments in the almost empty cafe Martin decided to return home.
Our exit from Brentwood took us through the new housing on the old Warley hospital site. It is a confusing route and at one stage I did get confused! It was soon sorted and we crossed the A12 and the M25 getting into unfamiliar territory. The two things we noticed was the increase in the amount of traffic and the terrain had got rather lumpy.
From Chigwell Row onwards I was familiar with the area and knew we would encounter more traffic.
Charles Dickens was a frequent visitor to Chigwell and declared it “the greatest place in the world … Such a delicious old inn opposite the church … such beautiful forest scenery … such an out of the way rural place!” Things have changed and even the old pub he renamed The Maypole in his literature is now a Turkish restaurant.
Loughton High Road was one big queue of motors, which we filtered by to get to The Last Post. The Wetherspoons pub was once the town’s post office. As always the food and drink was good value especially considering the previous Sunday I was charged £4.70 for a pint of beer on the SEG ride to Dungeness in Kent.
Our escape from Loughton involved a steep hill immediately after lunch! By the time we got to Theydon Bois I think everyone had worked out the likely route back. There was less traffic but still stupid antics from some drivers. Today’s bigger cars on the same narrow roads results in several broken door mirrors in the gutters!
Blackmore Tea Rooms was our afternoon stop. The ride post mortem declared it was different! It was difficult to judge whether the traffic level was the usual for a Sunday or higher because of Father’s Day or the getting into position to the watch the football World Cup. I go along with the saying “Try anything once except incest or Morris dancing”
There are only so many ways out of Chelmsford and I thought I knew most of them but Adrian took the four of us out on a route I wasn’t familiar with. This was through the university, around Broomfields Hospital and then an off-road track to Broads Green.
Along the straight near Andrewsfield we met a race organised by London Phoenix CC in progress and kept well out of their way.
A combination of sun on a Sunday usually means many cyclists congregating at Blue Egg. And so it was with bikes everywhere and loads of riders sitting outside but to our surprise it was empty indoors. We placed our orders and went to sit with Dave R. Then several clubs arrived including some from Islington and St Ives. John and Maggie arrived in the midst of this on their new machine. On leaving we examined this electrically assisted tandem trike. By now even more cyclists had arrived and the queue extended a long way outside. We are not certain how Adrian managed to arrive in the lull of customers!
Suitably refreshed we made off for our pub lunch. As usual the Wagon and Horses at Great Yeldham were very accommodating despite being busy. A scooter club had decided to meet there and we had a look at their polished machines.
When it was time to head south Adrian took us to Timbers at Blake End for tea. It sounded like they had had their share of cyclists in the morning but we were the only ones there in the afternoon.
Dave left us soon afterwards and the four of us, Adrian, Martin, John B and I, headed for Chelmsford.
A very pleasant ride of 62 miles in ideal conditions.
The five of us headed off on a dry but rather nippy morning on what was about the shortest route I could devise and at a pace to suit Diana who is still working up her fitness after her accident.
We had a brief stop at Littley Green to look at the traction engines being uncovered and being prepared for The Compasses Easter Steam Up.
What was noticeable about the day was how quiet the roads were. This was because most places were shut and when we passed a closed Blue Egg I was getting worried. Fortunately Bosworth’s in Finchingfield was open and we joined Mark Beard who was out for a morning ride.
Diana and Dave R decided to return south with the intention of stopping at Andrewsfield. This left Adrian, Dave S and me to continue to lunch. At the crossroads near the Radwinter Plough we stopped to allow a road race peloton to come down the road we wanted to use.
Even The Temeraire in Saffron Walden was quiet, which is odd for a Wetherspoons. Dave S wanted to get home early so left on his own. The climb out of town up Debden Road came too soon after lunch and it took a while before Adrian caught up with me! I thought without Dave we would do a relaxed pace but of course we didn’t!
Our route took us passed Adrian’s favourite radio mast, which looks like it was conceived by a demented designer playing with Dexion. At the junction in Suckstead Green we were informed Bury St Edmunds was 34 miles, which is no doubt true but not very helpful.
Being Easter Day we had to go to High Easter but then it was the only practical tea stop if open. We were relieved to find it was as we needed tea and cake.
Back in Chelmsford I had covered 66 miles, my longest ride since last year. I was also on a new seat, which I hadn’t got round to testing but being one of Lidl’s finest it was comfortable.
Adrian led four riders out of Chelmsford on not only a cold but a misty morning. The mist gave some strange effects like the bottoms of pylons disappearing. On the way out near Sandford Mill we met a female runner who said something, which Adrian thought was “My pyjamas are in the fridge”. Later we came across a young lad with some disability coming up the ridge!
At Kelvedon Sandwich Bar we met Dave R, John D and Maggie. After tea cakes and drinks Martin, Phil, John and Maggie departed for home whilst we departed in the wrong direction for Maldon. This was due to an initial Garmin malfunction and it wasn’t until we got to Feering we decided it wasn’t right! A bit of back tracking and we were on way to arrive at the Rose and Crown in good time.
Stuffed with a Wetherspoons meal we decided on a tea stop at Butts Green Garden Centre. On Sporhams Lane we came up behind three members of the South East Group on their return ride.
Sandon was the last place all four of us were together as we started to split for different places. I was back in Chelmsford after 49 miles.
A bitterly cold wind kept everyone other than the hardy, fools and the leader away. It was the kind of weather where sucking a Fisherman’s Friend was appropriate!
Four of us (Adrian, Dave S, Martin and I) left Chelmsford. The ride out by Mashbury Road, which is a steady climb and was into wind became too much for Martin who opted for a coffee at the Snug Café and a return home.
I led the remaining two into Dunmow from the west side, which is the most cycle friendly approach. Already at The Paradise Café were Dave R and Diana who had come by car.
Our exit from Dunmow was along the B1256, which was not a pleasant experience with loads of traffic, uphill and a cold crosswind. After Felsted there was only Adrian and me. I made for the Flitch Way, which was a bit of a mistake. Adrian’s mudguards got seriously clogged up so we had to get back to tarmac. Both wheels were removed to clear the guards.
On the way to the pub we did a grand tour of Great Notley’s cycle paths. At the Compasses in Littley Green we found both Daves, Diana and John B. John had been off riding for a while and was still suffering from a cold.
There was no interest in a tea stop so we rode back into Chelmsford with John coughing like a good’un.
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.
The cold NW wind certainly indicated what we can expect from now on.
At the start there was talk about how the latest Spotlight could be got to Adrian and I said it was easy as we were passing his house. I then led the six other riders there. Our appearance encouraged him to meet us at elevenses.
Our ride out took us down London Hill at Galleywood, which was directly into the wind and very bracing!
Later we found our route coincided with the course of Billericay Striders 10 km Road Race. The marshals were encouraging the runners to keep to the left. A few were wandering into the middle of the road and we carefully passed them on Ingatestone Road.
At Blackmore Adrian arrived as we locked up our bikes and we found Brian T inside so after elevenses we gained two but lost Heather.
Much of our route was into wind and I decided I had had enough resulting in cutting off a corner from what I originally intended.
At the Fox Inn in Matching Tye there were already a number of cyclists there. The Crest CC seemed to be having a meeting but fortunately the eight of us found two tables available.
We all left the pub together but after Matching Airfield we split equally into those going directly home and those going onto a tea stop at the Snug Café.
Lights were not required to get back to Chelmsford but unless riders are prepared to ride in the dark this was probably the last tea stop this year.
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