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Overcoming the Winter Blues


January is never a good month for me – this year, I’ve had flu, Jim’s had flu with a chest infection, my art classes have been cancelled due to tutor sickness, I’ve struggled at university producing naff work, and have repeatedly being called to Coventry for short notice tutorials that have stopped me from riding with the Easy Riders. I’ve not been pleased. I’ve tried to keep busy and be positive, but have been thoroughly out of sorts.

So after a month of miserable weather, this morning dawned cold, bright and sunny. Maurice and I decided for a short spin out to High Easter and The Snug Café. We were both well wrapped up and pedalled up the Flitch Way, joining the road south at Rayne Station. As we warmed up, breathing the crisp, cold air, I felt my mood lift. We pedalled through Bartholomew Green and Felsted, and freewheeled down Mill Lane. The lowest point of the road, where it crosses the river, is 43m above sea level. Maurice and I both toiled up the hill towards Onslow Green, where we reached 83m above sea level, feeling our mutual lack of strength on the bikes. We then rode west, into a slight, but cold headwind, across largely flat roads but had to watch out for shallow puddles that were iced over. Maurice’s health & safety tip for the day, is that if you see the ice on the puddle at the very last moment, don’t swerve. Just ride straight through in the hope that you will maintain momentum without skidding. Although the temperature was rising fast, riding west meant our side of the road was in shadow and the puddles remained icy.

Maurice and I turned left on reaching High Easter, to arrive at The Snug. To our surprise we’d only done 12.6 miles, but it was cold so we fell on our tea and bacon butties. We met with a group of cyclists from Chelmer Cycling Club/40+, and had a bit of a chat with a couple who had driven out to meet them. I noticed the man appeared a little jaundiced, but in conversation Maurice discovered he had recently had heart surgery and was forbidden from cycling for 6 weeks. Maurice was very impressed with this, saying it was not so long ago that it would be 6 weeks before heart patients were allowed to leave hospital, let alone ride their bike!

We had checked the map, believing it would be slightly shorter to get home. We pedalled through Pleshey, noting we had a tailwind, and that the bright sunshine was making the temperature rise considerably. We took the usual route back through Howe Street and past the Compasses, where we stopped for a chat with a couple with a wire haired fox terrier, that looked just like Snowy (Tintin’s dog). A few pleasant words were exchanged and Maurice and I cycled on through Willows Green, and Bartholomew Green, back to the Flitch Way home to Braintree.

Surprisingly the route back was longer than the way out, and we’d done another 13.5 miles. 26 miles in total, enough for a cold day and it left me feeling energised and in good humour because I’d had some social contact and decent exercise.

What not to like?


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Braintree Easy Riders is an affiliated community cycling group supported by Braintree District Council and Essex County Council
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