There’s a first time for everything!

And today was my first time as Ride Leader. I got off to a bit of an inauspicious start – I looked at the route description, and my map and could not work out some of the instructions. No matter, I thought – I’ll take my map and ask Mick to point it out. Except when I got to Drury Lane, I’d left the map on the kitchen table!

As we were heading down London Road, I reminded my group of the 5 rider rule, and off we set. I was concerned about the new roundabout at the bottom of London Road, as there were about 13 of us, and I did not want friction with car drivers, anxious to get past us, as we toiled uphill towards the King William pub. So we went past the roadworks, and reassembled on the footpath immediately after before the sliproad to the A120, and a torrent of traffic flooded past us.

Health & safety tip for the day is about suncream. Cyclists need to use it. Did you know sunburnt skin does not sweat? In hot weather, we need to sweat in order to keep body temperature correct. But if you get burnt arms and legs, you won’t sweat and can overheat. I’ve usually got No 50 suncream in my barbag if anyone needs it.

We took Route 16 down to Great Notley then pedalled down to Youngs End and Ranks Green. Here I noticed some of the fields had been harvested already. We made our way to Fuller Street, turning right at the bottom. We reassembled at the Boreham Road, and turned left then right to head towards Great Leighs. I think I was more directive than most ride leaders, with regular stops to reassemble, and instructions to drink as it was a hot day. I was aiming for the ride to average 10mph, and had a conversation with Julie about speedometers. I know very little about them, as Jim sorts out all my bike

kit. I just want a speedo that is big enough to see without my glasses! If anyone knows which brands are cheap and effective, can they please talk to Julie.

I found I needed to pay attention to how to set the speed to spread us out enough to make it easy for cars to pass us a few at a time, but without causing people to drop off the back. All this thought, led me to concentrate on reaching The Castle, and forgetting a 2 mile loop at the end of this half of the ride! Oops!

It was great to see Mave and John who had ridden down to The Castle to meet us, and Ann and Peter who had driven, as Ann’s hip is still healing. I’ve had quite a few friends at art class recently who have been seriously ill, and because I think visually, I have developed an ‘antibody and white blood cell’ dance which gives most people a bit of a laugh and lightens the mood. I gave Ann a demonstration of it – involving me being an antibody fighting infection (ie shadow boxing) and me being a white blood cell, wrapping itself round a germ, squeezing it, then being flushed out of the system. It made her giggle!

As the middle group had a shortened first half, we took a slightly longer route back, turning left out of The Castle, bearing right under the A131. We picked our way past Leez Priory, and at this point I realised I had not taken any photos. As tail rider it is easy, as you have time to stop to photograph anything that appeals. As ride leader, I was concentrating more on the group. So between Leez Priory and Willows Green I raced ahead a couple of times, to get some action shots of the group actually pedalling. If anyone wants to have a role when I am lead rider, I’m quite happy to use someone else’s photos for the blog. From here we headed back to Rayne, and dispersed to various home destinations.

So thanks to all the team: Gifford for keeping me on the right directions, Bill for being second tail rider; various people for waiting on the junctions and the rest of the group for being generally good humoured throughout the ride. As this was my first ride lead, I’m quite happy to receive feedback on what went well, what went badly and what I could do differently.

Happy pedalling!

18 miles; average 9.8mph, 1 hour 48 pedalling time.

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