Today’s rides were led by Mick and Adrian. We had a couple of new riders join us today. Of these, I only managed to speak to Martin, who’s looking for a sociable riding group, as he’s just about to retire (Hurrah!). I immediately picked up that he speaks a refined form of English – a Glaswegian accent – which he has not lost after working at Stansted airport for 30 years. As my Scottish husband, Jim, would say, you don’t lose a good thing! Ed - Peter was the other rider and also hoping to retire this year.
There were about 20 of us departing from Drury Lane, separating into 2 groups, Mick leading and Gwen tailing. Down London Road, then via cycle paths past the newly renamed Prince Louis pub (formerly The Oval) in Great Notley, back onto London Road and turning right onto Blackley Lane at Youngs End. I noted that Brian, one of our ride buddies, was chatting to Martin, and generally making new riders welcome. Easy Riders are a sociable, non-competitive group, and one of the things I like about the group, is the diverse subjects we discuss. I had a conversation with Bill about the livestock that our parents and grandparents kept in the East End during wartime.
We pedalled on to The Compasses at Littley Green, where we met Adrian, the other ride leader, and more Easy Riders (some who had opted for the shorter ride start point). As it was a hot day, Brian, Paul and a couple of others chose to have a very short ride, and turned for home at this point to avoid the heat of the day. The rest of us, in our 2 groups split with Mick's group pedalling on through Howe Street and on to Pleshey. Here the instructions went a bit awry, as Mick had said to wait in Pleshey, but half our group went straight through.
The planned route turned right in Pleshey, before returning to Route 50 and ending up, after 14 miles, at our tea stop in The Snug, High Easter. Just a shade under 14 miles done.
Meanwhile Adrian and the other group had turned right at Littley Green towards Hartford End and then on to Ringtail Green, Ralph Green and Parkgate and finally High Easter and the Snug. They were first to arrive and were already tucking into their tea break when we joined them, with various conversations. Gael had recently been to the Latitude Festival which she had found excellent, even if many of the comedians had been poking fun at the concert supermarket being the Co-op, whereas most of the concert-goers might have expected Waitrose! She was also impressed with the Hay Festival (although much further to travel) and more expensive because attendees pay for each event they attend, rather than one fee for attending the whole event.
The 8 riders from the breakaway (Ed - just like the Tour de France the peloton catches up with you) turned up, having ridden c16 miles. However, this was quite useful because it staggered the pressure on the waiting staff. A sage observation on my part, is that these 8 riders were our strongest, fittest riders, with a fine set of rippling muscles between them!
After our tea break, we turned left out of the Snug, then left again to head north to Onslow Green. We went past a workman who appeared to be grinding paint off an old road sign. Hot, dusty work on a hot day!
Ed - Adrian's group turned right and headed back also via Onslow Green, North End and Felsted, only picking up the flitch at Rayne. 26 miles completed in total.
Having noticed on the way out that the wheat fields looked particularly ripe, on the way back, Bill and I noticed a couple of newly harvested and ploughed fields. We also saw fields with purple blossom, which are linseed. I’ve only noticed it for the last couple of years – maybe they are more profitable for farmers now, since they have been promoted for their nutritive qualities – high in various trace elements. The trace elements are more accessible if they are milled, and I use them quite a lot when I’m making bread. I’d be pleased if it turns out I’m using local ingredients.
We turned left in North End, and cycled down, and then up, Mill Lane to enter Felsted. We turned left to Watch House Green, and then took a tiny access way to join the Flitch Way at Bannister Green Halt. We pedalled along the blissfully shaded disused railway line back to Braintree. 25 miles, average 10.4mph.
Many thanks to Mick, Adrian and Gwen for being ride leaders. I love my Wednesday bike rides in good company.