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The Annual ‘Falling Leaves’ Ride to Hatfield Forest Or “Dry, Dry, Very Very Wet" 26/10/22

At the end of October every year, the Braintree Easy Riders have an extended ride to Hatfield Forest. It looked like a fantastic day for a long bike ride. As usual the Long group set off at 0930 from Weavers Park, followed by the medium group, at 0945. The short group had a different start point, from Tesco Great Dunmow, at 1045 led by Peter Milner, and where we were very pleased to see Bill Baker, who is steadily returning to ride-fitness, having had a break for a few weeks.

The medium group picked up a couple of riders at Rayne, and another couple of riders at Felsted then split into two – one with 8, the other with 9 riders. Gifford’s group, being just slightly faster, went ahead, and we followed them through North End, and Onslow Green. I’d found a lovely lane through Proverbs Green which took us through to Great Canfield. Here we found some model making on the telegraph poles, of witches who’d obviously been test pilots for a broom factory, and had crashed on their maiden flights! We snacked on marmalade flapjacks on our way out (I’d supported the local Scouts in their fundraiser for a trip to Normandy, and had far, far more than Jim and I could possibly eat!).

Health & safety tip for the day is about ensuring your bike is prepared for winter. Andy P advised that if you have different tyres for winter and summer, now is the time to change them over. Winter tyres have a bit more grip, and if you reduce the tyre pressure just a little, the tyres will be a bit more forgiving on wet/slippery/muddy surfaces. Alternatively non-mechanical riders might want to take their bike to a mechanic for a general service.

The clouds started lowering as we approached Hatfield Forest, then as we turned in, a sudden downpour hit us. It absolutely poured with rain for 20 minutes, and we were soaked by the time we reached the café. It turned out the other groups had arrived before the rain. Lucky them! I’d brought my rain jacket but not my helmet cover. Several of our riders had the distinctive ‘helmet hair’ look!

I’d planned our route back via the Flitch Way. When Helen and I recce-ed the route, we found the road at the bridge where we ascended to the Flitch Way was flooded, but passable. I’d assumed that it would have dispersed by our ride, but the sudden downpour put paid to that idea. I gave the group the options of taking an alternative route back to the Flitch Way (probably now muddy), or retracing our route on the road. The democratic opinion was to take the road, and we discovered we had a healthy tailwind to push us back in brilliant sunshine.

40 miles, 10.2mph. Thanks to all lead and support riders. A ride with your mates always makes you feel good!

Cathy MacTaggart


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