Biking with my mates

One of the good things about the Easy Rider group, is that there are often people around who want to ride on different days.

It happened that once again, my calendar as a student, meant I would miss Mick’s Autumn Leaves bike ride to Hatfield Forest – for the third year running! Fortunately, Ian B was also not available for the Autumn Leaves ride, and we decided to go out on the Tuesday instead. The weather was glorious, so we decided to replicate the destination of Hatfield Forest, but to use our own route.

We set off about 8am, and zoomed out the Flitch Way, through Felsted, down Mill Lane to cross the B1008 at Onslow Green. We headed west to pick up route 50 a bit north of High Easter across to Hellman’s Cross, which took us to familiar roads leading to Hatfield Forest. There were plenty of dog walkers at the Shell House, with some very handsome dogs, playing around like the dogs in the children’s book Hairy MacLary from Donaldson’s Dairy. When reading these books to my nieces and nephew, I remembered adding their family dog into the rhymes – “Goodliff dog Buddy, inclined to be muddy”, and with the dogs at the forest, I invented “Lurcher dog Minnie, tends to be skinny”, much to the appreciation of her owner. I seem to get into convoluted conversations with total strangers!

Ian and I headed north to pick up route 16, along the Flitch Way, to head back. This took us off the disused railway line, through Great Dunmow. There is a section of the Flitch Way out of commission at present, due to renovations, so we had to ride a section on the B1256. I was dreading the long pull up the hill out of town. Possibly because of the increased cycling traffic where the Flitch Way was closed, the footpath alongside the road had been cleared of vegetation and it was more or less rideable all the way to the right turn to Felsted. Ian and I rejoined the Flitch Way in Felsted and pedalled back home. 36 miles.

Then on Friday, Peter Skirrow put out a call for riders for an afternoon ride on the Saturday, after his morning shift at work. Ann and I responded, and we had a lovely tour, from Rayne Station out to Finchingfield. This was a warm, but windy bike ride, across undulations, that made me drop down the gears to spin up the hills. Peter and Ann both seem to pedal effortlessly on the steeper inclines – I am deeply envious!

On the way back at the Tree Nursery in Rayne, three young horse riders and an adult guide trotted out in front of us. As is my wont, I called out to them, to ensure they and their horses could hear us. We had some friendly chat with them, as we allowed them to cross Rayne Road in front of us, and waited until they had assembled calmly on the little access road to the Flitch Way. Once they had congregated, we passed them, with more chat, and the riders were very appreciative of our understanding of the needs of the horses on the road.

Ann turned off for her route home at Rayne, and Peter and I freewheeled down the railway gradient back to Braintree. Another lovely ride with my mates. 23 miles.

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