There were a lot of Easy Riders (Ed - 41 I hear) for this week’s ride to the golf club at Rivenhall. There were a lot of people in the middle group, so as I felt slow, I decided to ride with the short group, and it was a joyful ride. I found Bill to be an exemplary ride leader, as he explained our delayed start (so the short, medium and long rides don’t bunch up on the first couple of miles of the ride), reminded us regularly of the 3 rider rule (particularly before we accessed the busier roads) and found sensible pausing places for the group to stop and drink.
Today I managed to have a chat with Benita, who first rode with us 2 weeks ago. She was brought up in Castle Hedingham, moved around the south-east, and returned to Braintree a couple of years ago with her husband. They have both recently retired and, sensibly, have decided they need some independent interests so they are not together 24 hours a day! Very wise! So Benita has joined us.
We set off through Sainsbury’s car park, and Millennium Way, to Fowlers Farm. Here I discovered our ride leaders had obtained permission for the Easy Rider group to walk our bikes through their beer garden whenever we ride this route (it is not a public right of way). Bill made a good job of reminding us of the 3 rider rule and we rode down Long Green to take the back roads to Perry Green, then along Sheepcotes Road to Silver End. We had a long stretch on Western Road, again riding well spread out, before turning right on Rickstones Road, to meander to the golf club. I like this as a ride destination as they cope well with a steady stream of about 30 Easy Riders, and their refreshments are considerably lower priced than many.
On the way back I had a chat with Kevin, who has recently rejoined the Easy Riders. He was riding with us a couple of years ago, but work got in the way. Now he also has recently retired and has started it with a gentle ‘get fit’ campaign.
We rode back the same way. A couple of times, I was aware of traffic behind, so pulled off the road, into a layby and into the Western Arms car park. On these occasions, the traffic went past, but I also discovered that the riders behind me were well spaced out, and we were not obstructing the road too badly.
Here, I’m going to go into lecture mode. We’ve had feedback from a rider from another local cycle group when they were driving their car recently, and got stuck behind a long line of Easy Riders with no gaps, not giving way, causing a queue of traffic and no ability to overtake. Needless to say he was not pleased. As a group we need to improve our group riding. We do not need a reputation for bringing cycle clubs into disrepute with drivers or other bike groups. Can I suggest that all rider leaders become more directive with safety instructions before setting out, and more critically, that all riders pay attention when riding to be able to ride safely. Key rules are:
Wear high-visibility clothing.
Look behind you before moving off safely.
Indicate clearly (think about wearing a jersey with hi-vi arms and hi-vi gloves ie not black)
Shout safety messages up and down the group (traffic, pothole, rider down, etc)
Allow gaps between riders so cars can pass. (3 riders and a gap for the short group, maybe 5 riders and a gap for the faster groups)
Ride with fastest riders at the front, slowest at the back.
Look behind you before overtaking.
Give feedback to each other (very often the person at the back can see the consequences of actions of unaware riders).
Take feedback on board positively.
Specific roads where I think we have caused problems are Long Green going south to Silver End, Western Road going north into Silver End, Broad Road leaving Braintree, and to a lesser extent Bovingdon Road from Bocking to Beazley End. These are all roads that take more traffic and have either poor visibility or a hill. Particularly on the hills, can the faster riders set off first, then everyone can ride at their natural pace, and allow gaps for traffic to pass.
My feedback to the short group ride members, and ride leader Bill, is that I found them to be courteous, sensible riders and a delight to ride with.
Short group stats – 21 miles, 9.7mph, 2 hours 14 minutes pedalling time. I love riding with the Easy Riders – it’s exercise, it’s social and we have some really interesting club members. Let’s keep it fun!