According to Government guidelines, cycling is still allowed as an acceptable form of exercise. So off I trotted on my bike. Within 200m, I’d met Mick, heading east, and Margot heading west, on the Flitch Way. Margot was returning from a spin around Great Saling, and Mick was heading out for a spin around Good Easter. I’d looked at the weather forecast, and the wind was from the east/south/east, so I’d planned to ride into the headwind on the way to Great Tey, and benefit from a tailwind on the way back.
To my total astonishment, the leak on the Flitch Way, east of London Road, has been fixed! I spoke to the workmen who were finishing the job and thanked them for their achievement. The foreman told me he had laid the original tarmac path 20 years ago. At that time he had put in a drain to deal with the rising spring just east of London Road underpass. Over the last 20 years, a walnut tree had pushed its roots into the drain about 200 yards downhill, and had totally obstructed the pipe, resulting in the flooding. The pipe has been cleared/relaid and brambles and trees removed, and the Flitch Way is instantly drying up. Hurrah!
I rode across the council estate, then spun up through Bocking Churchstreet. I went past several magnolias – very susceptible to frost – and if they were in a sheltered dip, their blossoms were beautiful, but those in exposed farms were wrecked.
I skirted Stisted and pedalled up to Greenstead Green. I stopped at the café for a can of coke, as I’d not brought much food with me and I was not expecting any other venues to be open. I’ve recently been following a low sugar diet – and the coke tasted absolutely disgusting – appallingly sweet – even when diluted in my waterbottle. I went around the airfield and across to Americas Road. I’m less familiar with the roads here, so had to regularly consult the map as I approached Great Tey.
In Great Tey I met a man (a keen birdwatcher) with a litter picker. He was doing a litter pick on his own, as the Great Tey community litter pick had been cancelled (coronavirus). I thanked him for continuing to do his bit for his community (his main collection was usually Red Bull cans).
In Great Tey main road, there was an obstruction caused by a small tractor and trailer. All along the road, there were people waiting at their front gates. It appears the local farmer was bringing the veg shop to the local residents. Everyone was calmly waiting, all spaced out but having a good chat with their neighbours as she steadily progressed down about half a mile of road.
From Great Tey, I turned back towards Braintree and immediately had the benefit of a tailwind. I pedalled down to Coggeshall where I stopped at the grocer (who wore a mask) for a bag of crisps and sat on the bench, eating them in splendid isolation, enjoying the sunshine. I rode through Coggeshall Hamlet then turned right to ride across the fields. There was a peloton of about 6 teenage boys riding towards me, obviously having a high old time together, but some dog walkers observed in a po-faced manner that they were not keeping 2m of social distancing between the 6 of them. Given these teenagers are a low-risk group, in so much open air, I don’t think there is any hazard. Much healthier than sitting in a hot, dry atmosphere, playing computer games. They were certainly getting plenty of air in their lungs, with all their laughing and shouting to each other. They were a happy bunch, doing no harm.
I pedalled past the gravel quarry – it is ABSOLUTELY ENORMOUS, with a small lake of water forming in the bottom of it. Hugely bigger than last time I rode past, 3 months ago. I rode through Perry Green, and took the usual route home via Long Green, Millennium Way and the Flitch Way.
In the last 4 days, I’ve ridden 102 miles – 18, 21, 32 and 31 miles. Yesterday I did a loop from home to Kelvedon, Witham and home. Today’s ride was to Great Tey. I now have a problem indirectly caused by Coronavirus and social distancing! My cycle shorts, which previously were a close fit, are now too tight around the thigh – all this riding means I’m bristling with muscle! Bigger shorts was not my expected outcome!
It was a fantastic, virtually traffic-free, ride. Health and safety tip for the day – keep riding, the roads are quiet and there are lots of things to see and hear. I’ve noticed more butterflies than usual for the time of year, and wonder whether it is because of less traffic fumes. I’ve also noticed different colours in magnolia blossom. There’s plenty of good stuff to see, if we just take the time to look.
31 miles, 9.8mph, 3 hours 20 pedalling time. (I was out for 4 hours 30 because I spent a lot of time wayfinding, and talking to passers-by).