Thirteen of us congregated outside the Con Club for the Friday 40-miler on a day that was cold and a bit misty. Adrian had planned us a route heading east. We departed at 0930 and pedalled out to Stisted, through Tumblers Green and once again up my favourite (not!) hill into Greenstead Green. Here Chris noted that I was spinning nicely up the hill, to which I sagely responded that I was quite good at spinning, but not strong enough to mash. Bill was behind me coming up the hill, but only because he was carefully riding a new road bike, recently sourced from Re-cycle, and he was familiarising himself with the brakes and gear changes. The weather had become bright sunlight and warm, bringing out the daffodils in the village.
We took the right turn at the north end of Greenstead Green, to head north east, followed by the right-hand turn to Nightingale Hall. This lane is clearly signed as no through road, but is accessible to bikes. We followed this lane down a steep hill, well spaced out, and the road was full of mud and detritus from recent rains. At the bottom, just before Bourne Brook and the road closure, Bill and I had a chat with some road construction workers. It turned out that, despite the road sign at the top, lorry drivers kept following satnav and getting stuck in this tiny, steep, deadend, so the council had decided to make two 3-point turn points, one on either side of the brook.
Bill, as tail rider, and I, as slowest rider, were the last of the group to slowly toil our way up the hill past Nightingale Hall. This is an ascent of about 30m, from 35m to 65m above sea level. The group were waiting for us at the apex of the hill, and we pedalled around Earls Colne airfield, coming out on the B1024. We turned right, followed by the next left, and here I was into territory unfamiliar to me. It was an idyllic ride across open farmland, very flat, through Great Tey, over the railway line, and through the pretty village of Aldham. We were briefly on an A road, but turned off to end up at our lunch stop, The Barn Café, Stanway. We had a bit of a debate about who was turning their nose up at eating the salad provided with their sandwich; who refused to eat crisps; … and strangest of all, who ate crisps with a knife and fork! See if you can work out who it is from the photo! Ed - nowt wrong with being civilised ;-)
Refuelled and rehydrated, we leapt back on our bikes. Bill did a double take at a roadsign, and decided it did not say Dairy Green, but the prettier Daisy Green. Crossing the A12 was easy, and was via an underpass. This took us through Copford, and Copford Green. We pedalled due west through Messing, to the B1023 to Inworth, where we took a right turn back onto a quiet road, that brought me back into familiar territory, where we crossed the A12 on a bridge at Kelvedon. Here Adrian was advising Bill about the best quality brake blocks (Swisstop blue for aluminium wheels, apparently) and Alan was suggesting adaptations to positioning the brake fittings.
We headed through Kelvedon, and Bill and I were again bringing up the rear on the hill after the railway line. It’s only a 15m climb, from the railway to Leapingwells Farm, but we averaged 9mph up the hill, with which I was extremely pleased. We turned right to go through Silver End, and made a good job of spacing well out on this road. I had expected to go straight through the village, but we turned right at the Catholic Church and did a loop along Sheepcotes Lane, Perry Green, returning to Ashes Road and Long Green, where we dispersed to our various destinations.
A fantastic ride. Well planned by Adrian, on some unfamiliar roads. Great company, idyllic weather. No punctures! 42 miles, average 10.7mph, 3 hours 38 minutes pedalling time. 2,100 calories. What not to like!