Fantastic Four

Four Easy Riders took to the road for the first spin of the year. Helen, Peter and I met at midday at the Prince Louis at Great Notley, and pedalled on to meet Ann at the Green Dragon. We decided to head down to Paper Mill Lock.

We were keen to be back home before it started getting dark so were having a bit of a debate about when it got dark. Today, 1 Jan, was the latest sunrise at 0806, and days have been getting longer, with sunset today at 1557. I thought about Mick in Adelaide. His longest day was on 22 December, with 14 hours 30 minutes of sunlight. The earliest sunrise was on 4 December, at 0554, but their latest sunset won’t be until 7 January at 2035.

We pedalled down to Ranks Green, through Fuller Street, and Terling and over the A12, to head down to Paper Mill Lock. There were plenty of parked cars, but we discovered these were for the many anglers sitting along the banks, rather than for the tea room – which was disappointingly closed.

Peter made the decision we would pedal up North Hill into Little Baddow to a pub for refreshments. We pedalled from 20m above sea level up to 60m in about half a mile, to the Rodney Pub. The tone of the pub was set with an unfriendly sign on the door “No Muddy Boots” and the pub landlord was truly miserable, sullenly taking our order for tea and coffee. We retained our cheery spirit, but won’t be returning there. However, outside I made a friend of a lurcher dog. We had a chat with its owners, and while rubbing his chest, and generally making much of him, his owner said, ‘he really likes you … he’s leaning on you and he only does this with people he likes’. I have to say he was a big strong dog, and was really leaning on me heavily.

We pedalled down North Hill, past Paper Mill Lock, turning right at the top of the hill, to follow a route back into Hatfield Peverel, taking a right and left over the railway line. Here it started to get overcast and we wondered whether we were due for a soaking. We rode through Terling, Fairstead, and Ranks Green before dispersing to various routes home.

2 hours 30 minutes pedalling time, 26 miles, a great start to a New Year.

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