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Tour de Braintree

Last Wednesday, it was my turn to be ride leader, rather than ride member. When I plan the route, my preferences are to ride on really quiet roads, so this determined how we reached Cressing Temple.

We assembled at King George’s Playing Fields, for a 10am start. My group – Paul (Simpson), Roy, Bonita, Julie (Spicer) and I pedalled off, heading north crossing Coggeshall Road, down Deerleap Way and picking up the greenway to follow it past the River Blackwater to River Mead. Here I dropped a boo-boo. I had planned to ride up Bocking Church Street, as a quiet route to Lyons Hall. Except I turned right up Broad Road – so we pedalled up to push our bikes across the A131 and take the track (which was a lot less muddy that I had feared) to Lyons Hall. Here we rode through Stisted, heading south to cross the A120. From the A120 we went through Perry Green, along Sheepcotes Lane to Silver End, arriving at Cressing Temple for a tea break, where we met the other bike groups.

Every member of our group contributed to it being a really lovely spin through the countryside. Everyone rode well, making their own road safety decisions. I noticed Bonita, as last rider, sensibly paused at the A120 to let several lorries pass, before she followed us across. I found out from Paul, that he was awaiting his grand-daughter to give birth to his first great-grandchild. Paul has a really quietly, understated way of conveying joy and delight at his anticipation of this event (which means next week he may or may not join us for the ride to Hatfield Forest). Roy was saying how much he had enjoyed his recent holiday in Marazion, Cornwall, and Julie and I were debating our favourite bike cafes (whether we liked the cheap-and-cheerful like the Kelvedon Sandwich Bar, or the likes of The Stores in Great Waltham). Nothing earth-stopping but the sort of conversations that lead to peace and contentment.

Health & Safety tip for the day is about hi-vi clothing. I’m a big fan of wearing hi-vi on the bike, but have found that my own hi-vi clothing is getting a bit faded (despite my habit of wearing it with the right side and the wrong side out, to maximise the wear). So as we are coming towards winter and lower light levels, it might be worth riders checking their gear, and replacing it if required. In particular I am a big fan of hi-vi gloves (hand signals are virtually invisible if you have dark arms on your jacket), so hi-vi gloves help drivers to see the rider’s intentions. I also like hi-vi helmet covers – they keep your head warm on a cold day, as well as dry when it rains.

Having done a clockwise half loop east of Braintree, we pedalled off to ride the half-loop west, through White Notley, turning right then left, to Ranks Green. We rode to the Green Dragon on the old A131, and turned left down Blackley Lane to reach Rayne station.

From here, we pedalled down the railway track to Braintree, with group members dispersing to our various homes from various points. Julie and Roy both pedalled back to King George’s Playing Field as they had parked there.

24.5 miles, average 9.8mph. A good time was had by all.


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