This was my first bike ride for a month, and I discovered I was seriously unfit! The Easy Riders had two café destinations – the Blue Egg for the middle and long rides, and Felsted for the short ride. The middle ride was led by Gifford and tailed by Julie (fresh from her ride leader training!).
Off we went through Bocking to turn left at the Braintree college and left again at the Almshouses. Then we had the 2 mile gradient up to Beazley End (where I realised just how unfit I was!). Mercifully Julie rode slowly enough to remain behind me in her position as tail rider, and faster riders in our group always waited on the turns so we did not drop off the back! We turned left before Beazley End to skirt the north side of Great Saling before turning right towards Great Bardfield heading for the Blue Egg. We had only done 12 miles and I was so exhausted I felt like a blob of jelly!
Peter and Ann (recovering from her hip op) and their very tall 2-year-old grandson Jude met us at the Blue Egg and joined us in tucking into mid-morning refreshments.
On this road, I noticed a sign advertising the Greenstead Green ploughing competition at Ernest Doe CM7 4QD on Sunday 15 September 10-1.30. I was a bit surprised to see a trench being dug a few feet from a spectacular row of trees and this roadside area also being driven over and compacted by a tractor. Fiona was suitably withering about the folly of this and confirmed my suspicions that that the trench would chop off the roots of the trees and probably kill them.
As we pedalled home I thought about cyclists and cars sharing road space. I’ve recently driven home from Ludlow and I was driving on a cross-country A road, with many chicanes and small hills – outstandingly poor visibility. There were 2 racing cyclists, wearing black, who were on this road for about 8 miles, admittedly doing about 20mph, but holding up about 20 cars. They cycled past several laybys where they could have let the traffic past, and even as a fellow cyclist, their behaviour irritated me. It was not a suitable road for cyclists and they were definitely not helping drivers get past.
I was thinking about how good it was that we had recently trained more ride leaders. When we were riding on minor roads, I counted the riders ahead of me, realised there were 5 bikes, and slowed my speed to create a gap. At this point, I could hear a car behind, with no chance of passing us on the very narrow road. I saw a large farm entrance, and shouted to the riders behind that I was pulling over to let the car past. We all tucked in, and on went the car. If anyone else is wondering about taking up a support rider position, but is not sure about their suitability, this is a good action to practice with. It’s always good to have a gap after 5 riders, and to pull into some form of passing place on narrow roads to let cars past.
We pedalled back to Rayne via Great Saling and had the easy downhill of the Flitch Way to get back to Braintree. 19.5 miles, 10.5 mph average, and 1hour 50 minutes pedalling time.
Roger has asked me to inform Easy Riders of the Cycle For Life Event supporting Farleigh Hospice, 9-11am Sunday 15 September. https://www.farleighhospice.org/events/cycle-for-life. Participants need to register beforehand by phone or on-line 01245 457300. Or contact Roger 07918 024320.