The Magnificent Seven Ride Again

The Friday Ride this time chose to go to Osea, on another brilliantly sunny, but cold, autumn day. Brian, Paul, Ian, Peter, Ron, Alan and I met at Marks Farm Tesco. Peter was keen to show us a shortcut for walkers heading towards Braintree town centre, so we set off down a footpath that eventually came out at Hay Lane North and Cressing Road.

We pedalled along Cressing Road, down through Silver End and turned left to head towards Kelvedon. Seven is a lovely number for a bike group – we were usually pedalling in two groups of 3 and 4. We went straight across the railway line, across Kelvedon High Street and reached the bridge over the A12. This is the half way point to Osea, c10 miles. Here Ian punctured, thus becoming an associate member of the puncture club! All the group gathered round him, and it was a team effort to remove the rear tyre and insert a new tube. The tyre was replaced, and various pumps were used to reinflate it. Having condemned 2 pumps for being ineffective, someone floated the idea that maybe the new tube had been punctured by whatever it was that caused the initial flat. The new tube was duly removed, and the boys checked the tyre for the offending sharp object. Paul inflated the tube, and I held it against my cheek to identify the hole – which turned out to be in the same place as the first one! So two punctured tubes from one incident promoted Ian to full membership of the puncture club! The boys could not find the sharp object, and Ian had the great idea of patching the tyre in the right place, in order to preclude a third puncture. I provided the patch. When it comes to punctures I might be rubbish at getting tyres off, but I played to my strengths by finding the puncture in the tube and having the kit to repair it!

This leads to the health & safety tip for the day. It’s worth carrying plenty of spare patches in your puncture repair kit, preferably in a tiny zip seal plastic bag. This way, if you puncture in a rainstorm, your patches remain dry (guess how Jim and I learned this one!). Jim and I use the self-adhesive patches because they seal much quicker than the old-fashioned wet glue type. It had not occurred to me to patch the tyre but it strikes me as a really good idea when you can’t see whatever has pierced it. The adhesive patches are useful in many ways: one camping trip Jim and I managed to puncture our tent on a broken branch, and the half-inch hole was repaired surprisingly effectively with a tube patch on each side.

The Magnificent Seven pedalled on, skirting the west side of Tiptree Heath, coming out to turn left at the bottom of Braxted Park Road. We crossed straight over the B1022, finding out way through the back lanes, ending up going through Tolleshunt Major, heading east. We would have done better to have turned west at Tolleshunt Major, as we ended up coming out on the Maldon Road rather further east than planned, and spent a couple of miles on a busy, twisty, B road, rather holding up the traffic. However we did the right thing, and as soon as there was a farm entrance, we pulled in to let the traffic past. We turned left into Osea caravan park and fell on refreshments in the Tiptree café.

On leaving the café, the chill in the air was apparent – we had had the warmest part of the day. We turned left onto Maldon Road then first right which takes you due north past the fish smokehouse along some lovely lanes towards Great Totham. Alan and I were pedalling well, discussing lots of farmers seemed to be cutting their hedges now, leaving a lot of freshly cut debris on the road. Then we realised the others were nowhere to be seen. We turned to go back, and discovered Paul had punctured outside Jepcrack’s Farm. (Paul is already a full member of the puncture club!) Once again the group all pulled together to fix it, identifying a HUGE thorn in the tyre. Brian was the only person with a strong enough grip to get it out of the tyre. I noted there was a surveyors benchmark on the farm wall, and, consulting the OS map, this is where the 20m contour runs across the countryside. Ron noted his front tyre was a bit soft, and reinflated it, hoping it was just a slow puncture.

We set off again, but within a couple of hundred yards, Ron’s tyre was flat again, thus increasing the number of Puncture Club members in the group. The temperature was dropping fast now. Our group fixed the tube, and pedalled on, nicely split into two groups. had been in the leading group following Route 16 through to Witham and along Dancing Dick’s lane but waiting in the chill had made me burn a lot of energy, and as we reached Fairstead my legs turned to jelly. Fortunately Ian rode with me and coaxed me along at the back of the group until we reached Mill Lane at Ranks Green, where I called for a stop to eat an energy bar. I’m always amazed at how fast they rejuvenate you, because in a couple of minutes, I was able to pedal along without hindering the team. We reached Braintree and dispersed to our various homes.

Great ride on a brilliant riding day. 41miles, avg 11mph, 2100 calories!

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