Wednesday 16 May dawned blustery and overcast, but despite the 12mph headwind from the north, about 35 Easy Riders (Ed - 39 in total, a record for the club) turned out for a tour to Hatfield Peverel. We were glad to welcome two new riders, … and …
At the end of last week’s ride, Mick gave us some information about a ride leader from another cycling group, carping that our group did not always follow the Highway Code. Reluctantly I have to admit I need to raise my game, so this week I resolved not to ride on the pavement or the wrong way up the high street(!), and went the long way round instead – up Pierrefitte Way, turn right to the White Hart, right into the market, and dismount and walk through to the back of Sainsbury’s.
Mick divided the Easy Riders into 3, and the lead group of 17 set off down London Road, about 5 minutes ahead of the other groups. I was riding at the back with Diane (our official tail rider) when I heard a tinkling sound and Fiona and Margot pulled over suddenly. Fiona’s wedding ring had come off! I rode on to alert Mick to the delay, but very quickly it had been found, retrieved, replaced, and everyone was back on their bike, chasing to keep up.
We headed south along the A131 and then took minor roads down to the Boreham Road. Here, Mick instructed us to split into 3 subsets, 5 riders in each. I was the front rider of the rearmost group, and my role was to remain about 50 yards behind the 2ndgroup. It was actually quite interesting to see the two sets ahead of us, and how the cars overtaking us were very successful in going past 5 riders at a time. My position in the rear group gave good visibility to see the cars sitting in the 50 metre gap, until they could get past at a safe point.
We reached the outskirts of Hatfield Peverel and turned left onto the old A12. This is where our subset riding groups did not work quite as well. The road has good visibility, with a long downhill, then there is a sliproad to the left at the bottom so oncoming traffic can join the modern A12, followed by a long uphill. We split again into 3 groups – the 2 strongest riders some way ahead; a group of about 10; and 4 of us in the rear group. We were passed by my favourite (not!) Finch’s gravel lorry, which according to Gwen, did not pass the middle group on the uphill, in a friendly manner. I think if we continue to practice subdividing into groups of 5, with the 50 metre gaps, we can improve the safe passing by other vehicles.
I think Mick has found us a winner of a café in Hatfield Peverel. D’s Diner is cheap and cheerful. It has fast service, low prices and friendly staff who were completely unfazed by 3 groups turning up in quick succession.
It was a hard slog coming back to Braintree. Hatfield Peverel is at slightly lower altitude than Braintree, so we were going marginally uphill, into a cold, 13degC, headwind. My bike computer showed 24 miles ridden, average 10.7mph, pedalling time 2 hours 24 minutes, which burns about 1000 calories. How good is that, for a bike ride in good company?!