Ann and I decided for a spin out in the fresh air to get our circulation going. As we were both up for a slightly longer ride, we decided to head over to Abberton, and meet our respective spouses there. Then we could each hitch a ride home in our respective cars. Great plan.
We met at the junction of Dagnetts Lane and Blackley Lane, just north of the Green Dragon. We headed down to Mill Lane, following Route 16 through Ranks Green, Fairstead, to Witham. We followed Route 16 up Chipping Hill, around the back of the station, and along Cut Throat Lane, across the Braintree branch line and over the bridge over the mainline railway.
We crossed the main road in Witham and returned to the peaceful lanes of Route 16. We noticed a ploughed field with cattle, busy pushing a barbed wire fence over. They were all steadfastly munching the crops in the adjoining field. But given the total absence of food in their field, we did not blame them.
Then Ann and I followed Little Braxted Lane and started climbing. We bore left onto Braxted Road, and continued to climb steadily. We stopped for some dark chocolate after about 15 miles, then pedalled to the top of Windmill Hill. I always look at the 1930s building where Route 16 turns right. It looks like a water treatment works, but there is no sign, so I don’t know if it is disused.
We rode on to Tiptree and turned right onto Tiptree Main Street. I was looking out like a hawk for the left turning to continue on Route 16 but I completely missed it. Ann and I were nearly at the Jam Factory when we realised, but it made a good opportunity for her to establish its potential for a different ride destinations. It fitted the bill perfectly.
We returned to the Damson Gardens, and followed Newbridge Road eastwards, joining Route 1. Here we passed some cycling friends of mine, Les and Gill on their tandem trike, plus their bike group (Colchester 40+ I think). Les is about 6’4” and Gill about 5’ so they are a distinctive tandem couple.
Ann and I followed the roads round towards the north side of the reservoir, and who should we meet coming the other way, but Peter! His satnav was taking him via the car route to the visitor centre. We continued north, east and south, round 3 sides of a square to take the bike-friendly route (fewer hills), and found both Jim and Peter had arrived before us.
We all fell on our lunch, and conversation flowed freely. A great bike ride, on mild, grey winter’s day. 28 m, average 11.7mph (due to a tailwind).