Today’s bike ride was to Cressing Temple, but a late-availability appointment for Mick meant we had a vacancy for the lead rider of the short group. Fortunately Gifford, Bill and I were all prepared to step into the breach – which was as well, because there were 15 riders. and we divided the group into two – Thank you Bill and Gifford.
I led the first short group through Sainsbury’s car park and out along Manor Road, towards Fowlers Farm. We made good progress down Long Green. I had decided to aim for an average speed of 9mph. In order to spread the group out, so cars could pass easily, I took the pace up a bit until we got to Cressing where we reassembled, turning left, right, left to Perry Green. Here, I was unable to visualise all the upcoming turns and had to consult the map.
OS Custom Made maps are fantastic for bike groups like ours. Today I found my map useful to show riders the exact route of the footpath to Dagnets Lane. They make great gifts for anyone with an interest in a particular area, because you can tailor the exact area they cover, add a cover photo of your own and give them a personalised name. They are also useful for people researching family heritage – my brother has used a custom-made map of Sunderland when visiting the area where our Dad was a Bevan Boy, working mines, in WW2.
Heading towards Perry Green, we pedalled past a blonde lady with two small white dogs, who was amused when I said she looked like Tintin with two versions of Snowy. We pedalled to Silver End, coming out at the Catholic Church. Roger used to be a GP in Silver End, so he was enjoying riding the country lanes and reminiscing about happy times. We rode past the 1930s art deco heritage buildings along Silver Street before turning onto Broadway and heading to Cressing Temple.
Our group made a good job of staggering our arrival, and succeeded in not overwhelming the venue. The two short groups were served, chatted extensively, and were just departing when the middle group arrived.
We departed heading right out of Cressing Temple, then left to Cressing, turning left again along Polecat Lane to cross the main road. We rode down to Cressing station, past Bulford Mill and our riders made an excellent job of spreading out on the hill up to Notley. Gavin on his electric bike made it look easy! We turned left and right onto the footpath up to Dagnets Lane. After the recent rain, I anticipated it being muddy and reminded riders to spread out, to ensure sufficient space if anyone had a sliding fall or got bogged, but the surface was generally good despite a couple of branches having fallen across the footpath.
There was a horse and rider ahead, and I thought the rider was very sensible. I was calling ahead to ensure the horse could hear us on the single width footpath, and she turned the horse around at a passing point, so he could see us coming towards him. He was well schooled and stood obediently while we passed, with us having a few pleasant words with the rider, before she turned him again, and followed behind us. Hurrah! A happy co-existence between pushbikes and horses!
We arrived at the roundabout south of Great Notley, and took Route 16 back to Braintree. Thanks to Bill and Gifford for leading/tailing the short group. Mick – we missed you, but we coped!
And at about 2pm I had a phone call from Phil to say thanks for the bike ride, and he’d ridden back to the centre of Braintree, had a haircut in the barber’s van and had thoroughly enjoyed the ride. So a good time was had by all!
18 miles, average 9.1mph, 1 hour 57 minutes pedalling time.