Over 30 Easy Riders assembled on Drury Lane on a bright sunny day at the end of February. I missed who led the long ride, but it was tailed by Peter Rhodes, Mick led the middle ride, and Julie led the short, tailed by me.
We pedalled off down Manor Street and along Millennium Way. Here I discovered I had forgotten to put on my sun visor – with the sun being low in the sky and us riding east, I was absolutely dazzled by brilliant light. At Fowlers Farm, Julie made a great job of getting our group assembled in the entry at the top of Long Green, and we rode in an exemplary manner down to Silver End – well spread out, with groups of 3, 2, 1, and 3, enabling traffic to pass easily.
Health & Safety tip for the day is about the buff. It was blowing a cold wind from the west, which was particularly noticeable down the exposed sections on Ashes Road (runs on from Long Green) and on the road that runs down to Kelvedon. If you are prone to earache, and are sensitive to an icy wind blowing on your ear, keep your buff pulled up over your ears. I learned this one when cycling around the perimeter road on the Isle of Arran, and I thought the wind would never stop blowing!
We rode through Silver End, then down to Kelvedon, across the railway lines and turned left down the main street to the Kelvedon Sandwich Bar. The short group arrived first, quickly followed by the medium, and completely filled the café with noise and conversation. This is one of my favourite venues – I’m one who likes the greasy spoon café, far more than the upmarket ones. I had the most fantastic bacon and black pudding sandwich! Yumm!
On the way back, the wind seemed to have increased – or more likely we had benefited from a tailwind on the way down, and now had to fight the headwind on the way back. This meant whoever was at the front of a set of riders, was battling into the wind. It made me think of a conversation with Mick at the café, where he had sagely observed that Tim, as an experienced road rider, had tucked in behind him sheltering from the wind, letting Mick take the brunt of the weather. So as part of sensible riding practice, if you are riding behind someone who is struggling in a headwind, go past when it is safe and take your turn to allow them to shelter behind you. Apparently this will take about 15% wind resistance away from the rider behind, which when you are exhausted, is a tremendous help (this is another lesson I learned riding around Arran!).
Julie made a lovely job of leading our group down to Kelvedon, regularly pulling the group off the road to reassemble and drink. We returned to Braintree via much the same route and dispersed to our various home locations from Fowlers Farm.
20 miles, 9.5mph and plenty of good company, good conversation and good humour throughout.