It was a dreary, miserable morning and I studied the weather forecast in detail – keen for my New Year exercise campaign to continue, but wary of getting wet. The weather forecast showed a persistent wind from the west, meaning the rain would be blown over us as we headed southwest to Chelmsford.
5 intrepid riders assembled and off we rode. We headed out down Rayne Road, turning south in Rayne, heading to Cock Green. The weather was significantly grey and lowering, but actual rain was limited. Mick offered to call the ride off, but by this time, the exercise had made me feel in high good humour, and I was very much of the view that we should continue. We toiled up the hill to cross the B1008 at Ford End, and I was hanging off the back of the group, but at least it meant we were well spread out, and the very limited traffic found it easy to pass us.
At Ford End there is an house with an amazing row of pleached trees, which I admire every time we ride past. In the heart of winter, the tracery of branches is clear to passers-by. Pleached trees form a very narrow barrier, usually to a road. A framework of branches, about 3 feet apart, is trained horizontally, and whips grow vertically from them. During summer this forms a screen of dense leaves. This is a high maintenance barrier, as the whips have to be cut each year to prevent them getting too big.
As we rode through Pleshey the sun started to come out, and I noticed an illuminated red rearlight lying on the road. John and I stopped to retrieve it and pedalled on to catch the others. We rode through Mashbury and Peppers Green, where we joined the A1060, turning off to head to Roxwell. We stopped for a refuel break at Roxwell, which led to me remembering the red light in my bar bag. It turns out it had fallen off Peter’s bike, and he was relieved to be reunited with it, despite not realising it had fallen off in Pleshey. We had a bit of a debate about the best way to stop bits of kit falling off the bike, and I extolled the virtues of zip ties. (This is the health & safety tip for the day!).
We finished by pedalling through Cooksmill Green, and crossing the A414 to arrive at the Fox and Goose. I felt fantastic – high on exercise and clean air from a wonderful ride on unfamiliar roads. My husband Jim met us there, in order for me and my bike to return home by car! I knew I was not fit enough to do the full 40 miles but really enjoyed riding on beyond our normal range. The Fox and Goose is a pub with café/restaurant attached, and it was busy with customers. The food was expensive, but really good. We all fell on meaty sandwiches, all accompanied with a nice bit of salad (Adrian – you would have hated it!).
Our intrepid boys proceeded to ride home, probably with another stop to investigate one of Mick’s potential new café stop venues. They probably rode much faster without me!
My ride – 23 miles, average 10.3mph, pedalling time 2 hours 5 minutes.