Autumnal ride to Kelvedon.

As tail rider, I had an inauspicious start to the ride. Mick noticed my front tyre looked a bit soft … and he was right. Due to a long standing back condition, I don’t bend to deal with tyres, and my first reaction was to go home and delegate the tyre problem to my husband Jim. However, assistance to reinflate the tyre was forthcoming from Steve and various others, only to discover that the valve had completely detached from the inner tube. Here Mick intervened, and had my tough Marathon tyre off in no time, (he must have a vice-like grip), the new tube in, tyre back on and reinflated in moments. I worked out that this inner tube had been on my bike since 2014, when it was put on after a glass cut, half way across the USA. It owed me nothing!

Ian Bousfield was the lead rider of the middle group, and we pedalled off down Manor Street. A bus from Phillips Coaches tried to remonstrate with Ian, for ‘riding the wrong way up a one-way street’, and the driver was duly advised to consult the road signs which allow two way traffic up to the Elim Church, and allow bikes on the bike path the rest of the way to the junction. As a former public transport employee, I add that all bus drivers should be familiarised with any route they drive, before they commence passenger service duties – so the driver should have known we were entitled to be there.

So off we go, along Millennium Way, round Fowlers Farm and down to Cressing. We turned left and followed minor roads, running parallel to the south side of the A120. We had almost reached Coggeshall Hamlet when we turned right to head south to Kelvedon, arriving shortly after the shortest ride group. About 11 miles.

Health & Safety thought for the day is about cycle helmet covers. Now the autumn is upon us, it’s time to think about being warm and visible. I think one of the key reasons to wear a helmet is for temperature control, quite apart from impact protection. In summer, helmets help cool your head, because of the vents. In winter, a helmet cover provides an astonishing amount of insulation, simply by allowing your head to heat a big lump of air under the cover, while additionally keeping the rain out. In acutely cold weather you can add a beanie hat under the helmet as well. And brains that are the right temperature, make good quality decisions - for example, to look properly before pulling out, and clear hand signals - which a cold, foggy brain does not! If you want to see what happens when your brain gets chilled, take a look at triathletes after a cold open water swim – they stagger all over the place, and have that gaga look in the eye! And sometimes the race doctor has to get involved, to try to persuade hypothermic competitors not to get on their bikes, but to withdraw and warm up. I’m also a big fan of the fluorescent helmet cover – be seen; be safe.

The Kelvedon café made a sterling job of serving about 18 of us, before our long group arrived. My husband Jim also arrived for a chat with various riders, some of whom he had acted as sag wagon driver on the End to End ride a year or so ago.

Refuelled, we leapt back on our bikes, heading west along Kelvedon High Street, then right past the convent, across the railway line and up the hill. When the middle group reached the right turn to head up to Silver End, we missed a trick. I had meant to suggest that we split into two groups of 5 for ease of passing, and then pull off the road into the Western Arms car park, to reassemble and allow traffic to pass. But I forgot. There were cars queueing to get past us all the way through Silver End. We picked up the B1018 and pedalled back home via Fowlers Farm and Millennium Way.

A contentment filled ride on a lovely autumn day.

Ride leaders wear orange.

Paul gives his royal wave

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