Chappel Railway

This was another ride where Mick had set up two start points as it was a longer ride for a Wednesday. It ended up 33 miles for the group of 8 led by Mick from Braintree, and 32 for Bill’s group of 10. Gifford led the group who met at Greenstead Green and whilst this was the shorter ride, a number of the riders rode out there to meet up anyway.

Mick’s group set off through Braintree, along Coggeshall Road, and joined the pavement cycle path at Kings Park, to get to the turnoff on the A120 to go down to Stisted. We usually follow cycle routes along Mountbatten Road and Kings Park here, but we were a small group of 8, with experienced riders, and the traffic was low because of the summer holiday season, so using the main roads meant we were out of town quicker. I still pushed my bike along part of the path beside the A120 as my balance is not great when judging narrow spaces.

We whizzed down, and then laboured up the hill to Stisted, through Burtons Green and through back roads to Earls Colne. We had plenty of stops for drink breaks.

We then headed south east towards Great Tey and turned north east, going down a long hill to a river, and then up a short steep incline to reach Chappel & Wakes Colne Railway station and museum. Here we met our group who set off from Greenstead Green. They had made fantastic time on their ride, and had been at the café for at least half an hour. This had the advantage of staggering the turnover at the café, where one member of staff worked incredibly hard to serve us all. We were a bit surprised that, despite informing the café of our group visit, only one person was on duty. Some of the café seating was in the railway carriages, which made a novel venue, even if, to me, it did had the very familiar smell of railway dust! Bill’s group arrived next, and conversations indicated Bill had tried to follow the directions exactly, whereas Mick’s group might have done a freer interpretation! Who knows? It was a lovely route whichever way.

On leaving the café, we braked down, and then laboured up the hill, as we had come in. We went through Great Tey, and cycled towards Coggeshall, crossing the A120 to a footpath that took us into the village centre. At the centre of Coggeshall, we turned right and headed to another crossing point on the A120, which took us to one of Mick’s infamous tracks. Fortunately everyone in our group gave me plenty of space, because I get very anxious about falling off, when the ground is uneven and has potholes, particularly when there is dappled shade. We returned to metalled roads and pedalled back to Stisted retracing our steps (or revolutions?) to Braintree.

Safety thought for the day, is to watch for damage to the edge of the road/verge. There is a particularly nasty rut at the edge of the road as you go past the mill at the bottom of the hill on our way south from Stisted. If you caught the rut, you’d have a really nasty sliding crash. Because more people use real-time satnav directions, drivers are often going too fast for country roads, and damaging the verge, so watch out for broken road edges (and drive in accordance with road rules when you are using satnav in your car!).

Ann, tail rider for Mick’s route, did a sterling job. She’d not ridden for about 3 weeks because of holidays, then acquired a summer cold. At some points, particularly coming back, we were tearing along at 16mph, yet she carried out her role with calmness and aplomb. Notably, the times when I was riding with Ann at the back, I was struggling up the hills feeling like an unfit blob, watching the ease with which she cranked the pedals. I don’t know how she managed to ride so well, when carrying a cold!

Today’s route of 33 miles, when estimated on Google maps, appeared to go up and down like a fiddler’s elbow. We climbed (and descended) about 1100 feet! Thanks to all tail riders and leaders.

Ed...some bikes just don't like the heat and don't want to get up....

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