Today, Sunday, I decided on a solo ride – Maurice and Jim were watching the Braintree Duathlon, and I needed to do some college work in the afternoon, so I needed an 8am start. I was unlikely to find a companion that early, so off I went on my own.
I went down London Road, and took the footpath that runs on the south side of the A120. Mercifully this footpath has had the hedge cut back, so you don’t end up riding on the farmer’s field. I pedalled through Black Notley and turned down towards Bulford Mill. Here there is a garden with a steep bank, and the owners have planted a stepover apple tree, which I think is a great way to stablise the edge of the bank, and make a productive barrier which will give privacy from the road, once established.
I rode round the corner at Bulford Mill and saw a collapsed ditch. I find it irritating when drivers mount the soft verges and churn up potholes at the road edge, as this is hazardous for bike riders. However, here I felt sorry for the local residents as the obstructions in the ditch will lead to flooding, and maintenance costs. I think part of the problem is caused by satnav instructions giving ‘average’ journey times, often with inaccurate assumptions about speeds attainable on country roads. I have observed friends who take the ‘alternative route’ because it is 2 minutes faster to destination. They then drive as if they are on an A road, rather than a single track lane with poor visibility, and end up mounting the verge because of oncoming traffic. This is not safe for cyclists using the same roads, and creates unnecessary ditch maintenance for farmers.
I rode down Polecat Lane, through Cressing and along the minor roads on the south side of the A120 to Coggeshall. I saw the first cowslips of the season. Cowslips are part of the primula family – primula veris – and I remember their latin name as they are primroses (primula) with a VERY long stalk – thus primula veris. This makes me wonder whether the rare oxlips around the lanes to the north side of Braintree are blooming. There is a miniscule difference between cowslips and oxlips but I can never identify it.
Then I had a friendly chat with a man with a 14 week old white boxer puppy. The dog, Albie, was a happy, playful puppy, but the owner had discovered he was deaf – I think this is a known problem with white boxers. Then I pedalled on through Coggeshall, across the A120 to Great Tye. I made my usual mistake on the back roads here, and took a couple of attempts to get on America Road, heading west towards Greenstead Green for tea break.
It started to drizzle after I left the café, but it remained a peaceful bike ride down to Stisted, across to Bocking Church Street and down Panfield Lane. I took the quiet route past the leisure centre, through the new houses and came out on Rayne Road. Then I slipped down School View and ended up on the Flitch Way, where I met Karen and Ivan, walking their dogs. Karen is working at the library on Wednesdays now, so is not able to ride with the Easy Riders at present.
3 hours riding, 32 miles, average 10.4 mph. A lovely morning out with some interesting conversations with passers-by. What not to like?