It appeared there were plenty of Easy Riders on a ‘get fit’campaign for the New Year as we assembled at Drury Lane. We were all destined for Gosfield, and Mick had arranged 3 different routes out of the town. The Short group was led by Bill, the medium group was led by Mick, tailed by Ann and the long group had John volunteer to take them out.
Mick’s group, with a anti-clockwise route to Gosfield, rode out across Weavers Park, through the back roads to Broad Road, and pedalled up to the track that crosses the A131 and brings us out at Lyons Hall. As usual I was a bit of a wuss along the track, and ended up pushing my bike on the muddier sections, so I did not fall off! We pedalled east, and at the bottom of the hill Gavin punctured. Half the group stopped to assist, and when parking her bike, the first thing Julie did, was stand in some deep mud, leaving the sort of footprints that would have convicted her in an Agatha Christie murder!.
Gavin and Mick completed a speedy repair and we pedalled on to catch the rest of the group. We passed a posh house, where Dee knew the occupiers – I think her husband used to go shooting with them. I heard the call of peacocks, and lo and behold, there were 3 of them strutting about the grounds and hedges. Julie and I were having a discussion about pheasants – she had recently been offered a brace of pheasant, but refused as they were not prepared for cooking and she did not fancy plucking and gutting them! We discussed the word Brace – it means a pair of animals killed in hunting and comes from the 14h century French – bras meaning arms – ie carried in two arms.
We rode up to the A131, crossed it and arrived at the Gosfield tea room after only 7 miles. As planned, Mick’s group were the first group to arrive, thus staggering the workload on the staff at the teashop. Those of us at the front of the queue had the pleasure of seeing sausage rolls appearing, fresh from the oven. Then a splinter group from the long group arrived, followed a little later by the bulk of that cohort. As Mick’s group departed Gosfield heading west, we passed the short group toiling up the hill on the A1017, having ridden a clockwise route from Braintree, and completed two-thirds of their ride.
Mick’s group rode down to Gosfield, turned left and rode to Beazley End where we turned right towards Blackmore End. He pointed out a large church on the corner just before we reached Blackmore End, which had been converted to a private home. This was indicated by the windows let into the roof. I checked google maps, which had an image from 2009, when the signage said it was owned by the Diocese of Chelmsford, and there were gravestones leant all the way along the side of the church.
We cycled through Rotten End, towards Shalford, where I saw some unusual gate adornments – not entirely in keeping with the area, (unless the householders are Welsh).
Here I waited at the back of the group, for Ann to catch up – it turned out she had had a phone call stating her granddaughter was ill at school and Ann needed to collect her. While waiting I had a lovely conversation with a lady walking an elderly poodle. He was a very friendly poodle – who was an expert at inveigling people to give him titbits, and he sniffed hopefully at my bar bag and saddle bag, hoping I was a food source. Which I was not!
We rode on to Church End and Saling, and here Ann and I agreed I would take over her tail rider role so she could hurry on home to collect her granddaughter. As the group reached Rayne, riders selected their optimal route home – meaning Peter Rhodes took over tail rider with the people taking Rayne Road, and Bill and I took the Flitch Way home. I think this is a good indicator of how our group shares the required duties of a group ride.
23 miles, average 9.7mph and 2 hours 13 minutes riding time.