A Posse of Loveliness!
This is our last group bike ride before lockdown mark 2! I was leading the 9.40 ride from Braintree station, with Ann, Helen, Julie x 2, and Paul.
We set out along the Flitch Way, to Rayne Station, watching out for the slippery leaves (that I had already ridden over on my way to Braintree station). It was a truly glorious morning, bright sunshine, warming up after the first frost of the season. We were soon having a bit of a giggle about Paul being our only male rider, debating whether it looked like we were his harem(!) or how else to describe us. Julie S came up with the best description – that Paul was surrounded by a Posse of Loveliness.
We pedalled from Rayne Station down to Thistley Green along the lovely quiet lanes. Julie and I were discussing the importance of ‘stay busy, stay active, stay socialised’ in the upcoming months. I’ve been reading recently about lung health, and basically we all need to get out and use our lungs properly. When you stay indoors, you often spend a considerable amount of time sitting, only using a tiny part of your lungs, and are breathing dusty air. Getting out and about, either walking or cycling means you engage your pelvic floor muscles (good practice for both boys and girls!) and breathe clean air, thereby maintaining a healthy lung capacity. I know I sometimes struggle to motivate myself to go out on my own, but it is always easier if I’ve made an appointment with someone. As we have quite a few BER members who live alone, can I suggest that we take the initiative to contact each other, and suggest walking/cycling with a friend? Bill Twinn has been particularly good at staying in touch with group members – so let’s follow his lead and continue to exercise (in pairs) in line with Covid regulations.
From Thistley Green we went past the entrance to Leez Priory, down to Howe Street. We were averaging 9.6mph, which was just right for this group. We arrived at The Stores in Great Waltham and spaced ourselves correctly in their open air seating.
We tucked into our food at The Stores. The late autumn sun had brought out the birds but also a wasp. As Paul waved it away, the wasp managed to have a little nibble at him, and stung him on the thumb.
Julie S mentioned that she has some bike shoe covers that are too small for her. If anyone has particularly small feet, and would like them, let her know (possibly via Mick who has everyone’s contact numbers) and they are free to a good home. Helen uses shoe covers regularly and recommends them to anyone who gets cold feet.
The Posse of Loveliness remounted their bikes and pedalled back through Howe Street. We were regularly quite well strung out (so the traffic could pass), and there was plenty of chatting going on between group members. There was a bit of a debate about different types of kit, particularly about gloves. Mittens keep your fingers the warmest, but restrict dexterity. Sealskin brand gloves are good (but expensive). Lobster claw gloves (which pair your index and middle; and ring and little fingers together) are a happy medium between mittens and gloves. Paul was extolling the virtues of a beanie style hat under his helmet. I like a helmet cover as it traps a lot of air over your head. And I like anything fluorescent to maintain visibility to traffic. Ann sagely observed this is the time of year to suggest small bits of bike gear as rather nice Christmas presents. Another good idea is the custom-made range of maps available from Ordnance Survey. I use a custom-made map, where I requested Braintree in the centre. You get to put your own photo on the front, along with cover captions to your own specification.
From Howe Street, we had a small detour along a very quiet lane to Old Shaws, then turned right to go past the Compasses at Littley Green. We continued heading north-east to Youngs End, then took the cycle route into Great Notley. Here Helen showed us some public sculpture, Mrs Hedges. She looks like a female version of The Green Man. We then started exchanging bits of trivia, like why Robin Hood’s men were meant to wear Lincoln Green? Because natural dyes were the only ones invented and green was the main colour available in that time! Paul informed us that on various walking tours he has attended, he has visited at least 6 supposed burial places of Robin Hood!
I like finishing a ride via the cycle path through Great Notley. It’s an easy, flat, route when you are tired. From here we dispersed to our various homes. A ride on a beautiful, bright, crisp day, with conducive, conversational company. 19 miles, average 9.3mph.