Many people turned up for today’s bike ride, and we ended up with about 6 in the long group, about 15 in the medium group, and about 6 in the short group. Mick started by giving us some feedback about expected standards in group riding: don’t disappear during the ride without telling the ride leader you are departing; look behind you before riding out in the road and practice your tyre changing technique/ensure you have the right pump for your inner tube.
The medium group pedalled off down London Road, turning right down Queenborough Lane, across the A131, under the A120 to Rayne. The group was well spread out and halted to reassemble, to let me and tail rider Peter catch up. Mick waved us past, and one of the stationary riders did a U-turn in front of me without looking, and I had to shout at him to avoid a collision. Please check behind you before you pull out!!!
Continuing with my theme of shouting, my health and safety tip for the day, is that we need to improve our passing of messages up and down the group. Today, I think I was virtually the only person, calling out when there was traffic up or down. If we know there is traffic around, we can ride with greater awareness and therefore make better hand signals. Please – we need to raise our game!
We pedalled past the racecourse, coming out on the A131, before taking a convoluted route thorough the housing estate between the old and new A131 in Great Leighs. This was an eye-opener to me – I’d never seen residential roads with no pavements at all, but a road surface of large bricks right up to the buildings. I wondered whether it was to avoid the problem of cars parking on the pavement, which obstruct pedestrians and pushchairs, but I would have concerns about who had priority in a road with undefined areas for people and vehicles.
We continued south to ride towards Lyons Hall and then Fuller Street. Here we went past a very stoical horse who stood and watched us pass. We pedalled up to Ranks Green, and on to Black Notley where we turned into the church. I like this coffee stop – so far they have always been supporting charitable causes that appeal to me as they support people within the community – last time it was MacMillan and this time The Samaritans.
I had a couple interesting conversations with people in the long group. Ian and Gwen had returned from their house sitting on the Isle of Wight. Ian spoke about the 3 IoW prisons (Albany, Camp Hill and Parkhurst) now being merged into one prison – HMP Isle of Wight. He said the pace of life there was slower – partly because there is only one dual carriageway, that is about half a mile long – so no-one gets anywhere any faster than 30mph. And I spoke to Paul, who has been training his cat to use a nebuliser. Paul’s cat (formerly belonging to his late Dad, a 60-a-day smoker) has developed asthma. An emergency trip to the vet resulted in inhaled medicine being prescribed. I wondered how a nebuliser mask would be accepted by a cat – surely it would press on the cat’s whiskers? Paul said he had started by familiarising the cat with the mask by putting cat treats on it, and worked up to holding the mask near the cat’s face so it could inhale the meds. Paul – that cat fell on its feet when it came to live with you!
We pedalled past Bulford Mill and up to Cressing, passing the new estate (where I fell off my bike on Sunday, on black ice around a puddle draining out of the building site). As we did a loop around Pickpocket Lane we came up behind a tractor cutting the hedge. This certainly made me ride more carefully as often cyclists pick up punctures from sharp hedge cuttings and other detritus.
A brisk ride from The Three Ashes to Long Green led to our group dispersing to our various home locations.
21 miles, in good company on a grey, grey day. Just what I needed. Roll on next week!