Wednesday 14 November was another lovely autumn day – chilly with bright sunshine. 37 Easy Riders departed Drury Lane, with one new rider, Richard, who needed a quick trip to Cycles UK, to get himself a new helmet, as he’s forgotton to put it on before he came out.
We split into 3 groups of about 12 and pedalled off, with Ian leading and Diane tailing the middle group. We pedalled down the hill through Bocking, turning left at the college, then left again to Panfield, through Jaspers Green to Church End. Here we turned right, down the hill. This part of the road was in shade, and because the sunlight was not evaporating the overnight dew, the autumnal leaves had stuck to it and caution was needed to brake carefully and not skid. At the bottom, the main road turns a right angle, but we continued forward onto the side road which goes over the River Pant. Anytime you go over a river, you know you have a hill coming … which we rode up. I dropped to bottom gear, and laboured up the hill, turning left to Beazley End, and then right.
Ian and I were having a discussion about cycling authors. He’s just discovered Anne Mustoe, a headmistress of St Giles Boarding School, who gave up her job and started cycle touring. I read these about 20 years ago, when I was not in a position to travel, so was reading to travel vicariously through someone else’s experience. Ian was very impressed with how Anne Mustoe had classically structured her travels, around the Santiago de Compostelana pilgrim route, and Ramayana trail (a Hindu epic poem). As well as Anne Mustoe, I’d recommend Dervla Murphy, who is an eccentric Irish woman who started travelling after her parents’ deaths, and ended up travelling with her 5 year old daughter to various harsh destinations.
We went through Gosfield, up the hill and turned right to arrive at Peterfields farm café. We discovered the short group had arrived well before us (and Mick’s group was well after us), so the café was coping with a steady influx of customers. It turned out that Mick’s group were a bit delayed because Brian had had a puncture. Paul was ribbing Brian that he was at the top of the league table for the number of punctures recently. They had been to a church that did a service to bless the bicycles, and since then, Brian has had 4 punctures, and Paul has had 3. They have become the Puncture Club!
This leads to health & safety thought for the day. I’d like to recommend the Ordnance Survey custom made maps. With custom made maps, you can adjust the area covered to suit yourself. As a cyclist, I have positioned my address right in the centre of the map, which means that on the 1:50,000 scale, I can do a day ride in any direction, and only need one map with me. I always carry this map, as I do not change my own punctures (sore back and poor grip that won’t get Marathon tyres off). If I require assistance, I ring Jim, give him the map reference and he will come to pick me up. These maps make great gifts to walkers and cyclists – on the cover you can have your own photo, and there are 2/3 lines for your own descriptors. I had a map made up for my brother when he was doing family research in Chester-le-Street, and captioned it Trains, Mines and Family Heritage. And only £17.
We turned right out of the café, and a quick right/left across the A131, riding more beautiful quiet lanes to Lyons Hall.
Here we split, with the main group taking the track to cross the bypass and going directly into Braintree, and some of us going down Bocking Church Street to avoid the track.
20 miles in good company. A lovely ride out.