Famous Five becomes Tremendous Three

Five Easy Riders elected to go out on a bike ride to from Drury Lane to Osea – Alan, Brian, Cathy, Paul and Ron. It was grey and damp, with a bit of wind from the north west, making it feel colder than it was.

We pedalled off along Millennium Way, down Long Green to Cressing and through Silver End. We turned left at Park Gate Road that meanders down to Kelvedon. As we approached the railway line, the gates came down and we had to wait for a train to pass. While waiting, Ron and I noticed a smell of gas (Ed - you did have Compo with you!). I decided to report it once we got to our tea stop.

We rode due south through Kelvedon, over the bridge over the River Blackwater, and crossed the A12. We took the left turn, appropriately called Highfields Lane and pedalled up the incline to the highest point of our route. It was all downhill from here, and we had the wind behind us too. We turned right and right again, then bore left at the junction to reach Tiptree Heath. We joined Braxted Park Road, heading south for about 100m before crossing the B1022 onto Grove Park Road. It’s lovely open countryside here, and we turned left at the cattery, then straight through Tolleshunt Major, heading south west. Then it was a left, right, left, going past the Greyhound Rescue on Wash Lane. Here we joined the Maldon Road for about a quarter mile, before turning left into Osea caravan park for the Tiptree Tea Room.

While here, I did my civic duty and rang the Emergency Gas Leak Line 0800 111 999. This is a really useful phone number to know. Use the 0800 number (be aware there is a scam number that will come up on your phone that is actually a premium rate line that will connect you very expensively to the Freephone line). I got to know this number when I was a shift worker – for some reason when walking home from the station, late at night in the open air, I could often smell gas leaks. The Gas Board are always pleased to receive notifications of gas leaks, and send out staff really quickly. Just make sure you can describe accurately where you smelt the leak – I had to give a lot of detail about exactly where the gas leak was in relation to St Mary the Virgin Church (clearly marked on the map) and which side of the railway line, for the Gas Board to be able to find it. Normally a gasman in a van turns up very quickly and waves a gas monitor around to find it. And if there’s a gas leak, the Gas Board dig up the road to fix it! I’ve reported lots of gas leaks and I’m probably responsible for having lots of roads dug up!

Refreshed with a tea stop, the Famous Five leapt back on the bikes, and, feeling the damp cold headwind, headed north. Left and right out of Osea caravan park, past the smokehouse. We went straight through Great Totham, over the Maldon Road, turned right to ride up over Beacon Hill, and bore left to ride the lovely Little Braxted Lane to Witham. We regrouped where the bridge goes over the A12 on the east side of Witham.

Here we got separated. Just as Paul and Alan set off, Ron punctured. I shouted after Paul and Alan, but my voice was drowned out by the traffic noise from the A12 below us.

Brian and Ron were impressively quick at getting the tube replaced. Ron pumped up the punctured tube and I played my part by finding the puncture in the tube, and Brian checked the tyre and found the offending sharp stone, still wedged in the tyre. It was duly removed; the new inner tube inflated by Ron; and the wheel replaced on the bike. Unfortunately Paul and Alan were nowhere to be seen, so Brian, Ron and I pedalled through Witham, to pick up Route 16, heading home.

We had done about 35 miles when we reached Fairstead, and my lack of long rides caught up with me here. The cold and the headwind meant I just could not keep a decent speed up. Mercifully Ron and Brian tolerated my speed reduction (which always seems to hit me particularly badly up the hill into Ranks Green). We returned back to base via Youngs End and London Road.

40.1 miles, average 11.1 mph, 2000 calories! Lovely ride on very quiet roads in good company. What not to like!

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