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Not my greatest example of ride leadership! 03/07/2024

Plenty of Easy Riders turned up at Weavers Park for a cold start, anticipating showers, with a variable weather forecast. Only a few riders for the short ride chose to brave the weather, whereas 14 Medium riders and about a dozen long riders turned up to cycle. 


As medium ride leader I decided to split the group in two, with the rear group of 7 remaining in sight of the front group.  We went out along the cycle route along Panfield Lane, and through Panfield, up to Church End, Shalford.  We rode down the hill to Codham Mill Lane, crossed the River Pant, and pedalled our way to the top, where my 7 riders waited for me.  The rear group caught us, and we recovered our breath together. 


What I’d not realised was that I was riding quite fast on the flat/downhill.  I had the impression that I was slow, but my group were mostly riding e-bikes, so could keep up on the flat and overtake me easily on hills.  Unfortunately, this meant my group pedalled off towards Beazley End, Gosfield and Halstead, and dropped the rear group (mostly non-e-bikes).  This was my fault because I lacked self-awareness of my increasing fitness level, and I’d not instructed my second rider to wait on the junction to ensure the group could follow appropriately.  Fortunately, good leadership by Mike, and good local knowledge of Bill B, meant they could remember and follow my earlier description of the route.  Note to other ride leaders – learn from my ineptitude, and please keep your full group in sight!  Note to ride members – if your ride leader is too fast/drops half the group, please give feedback!


Health & safety tip for the day is about carrying spare kit.  I’d had to change from pedal pushers into long trousers before I set out, because I was cold.  I decided to take along some extra kit – gloves, buffs, helmet covers – in case others also misjudged the weather.  Tracy happened to say her hands were cold, and I was able to provide washing-machine-clean full gloves which she found a godsend.  The addition and removal of small kit can really help with temperature control – once the weather warmed up, Tony found his over-heating was resolved simply by removing his helmet cover – 25% of body heat is lost through the head.  Another use of helmet covers can be to cover your saddle during the tea stop so your saddle stays dry if it rains.


The rear group caught up with us at The Fox at the Stables in Gosfield, neatly staggering the customer flow for the tearoom.  Here again I botched the leadership role, by thinking of us as two separate groups.  When the lead group was ready to depart, I failed to wait for the rear group to be ready.  We departed in two separate groups for the return ride.  It was not my greatest performance! 


Back in Braintree, my group dispersed to their various destinations, and Jeff and I met with Bill Twinn and his riders at Braintree station.  Claire had had a flat tyre at Black Notley Cornerstone Church and was most impressed by the Repair Café volunteer who had her wheel off and repaired in minutes. 


26.3 miles – as Tony said, almost a marathon!

Cathy MacTaggart


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