Colchester Cycling UK

Coggeshall Ride Report

April 21, 2013

And so with the oldest Spring Classic rolling our from Liege – Bastogne – Liege on Sunday, I took to two wheels to take on the Spring Classic of Britain’s Oldest Recorded in Leisure World – Witham – Leisure World.


This was one of the regular Sunday rides organised by Colchester CTC. A higher than normal peloton signed on shortly after 9:30 am by the glamour of the Leisure World skateboard ramps. The talk was of possibly two breakaways to funnel us through the chicanes of Witham etc. The appearance of a tricycle only complicated matters.

But they’re a friendly lot at the CTC. Ahead of us was a 54 mile round circuit, roughly taking in Tiptree and Witham, before backtracking around the edges of Braintree and heading slightly north for Wakes Colne, then the descent back to Colchester.

The hive mentality of the peloton is ALWAYS there to be celebrated. No one gets left behind — not even the wonderful tricycle contraption with a pair of drop handle bars to match. I’m still not sure who was doing the pushing or the pulling, but the male / female team both seemed to be enjoying the sexual division of labour.

A slight climb exiting the edges of Castle Park, and whaddya know — I got lost.


Other CTC riders chose to roll out with GPS devices attached to their frames. I prefer the more informal navigational route of asking an old fella if he had seen a group speed past wearing Lycra.

The peloton was caught around Prettygate, and soon we were Stanway bound. Layers of Lycra started to leave the bodies as the North Essex sun broke through and threatened to develop a roadie suntan.

I almost came a cropper at Copford. The POTHOLES were on par with moon craters. The joy of riding in the pack is the etiquette of the Lycra arse in front of you pointing out each POTHOLE. This becomes a problem though when the road is made up of 90% POTHOLES and 10% rubble.

Meanwhile the rolling lanes of Messing were anything but a mess. This is my new FAVE time trial patch. A long, straight and smooth surface, and not a car in sight early on Sunday morning. The joyous sound of rubber rotating on the road is something quite special for any roadie wannabe that is living out the Spring Classic dream out in the suburbs of Sunny Colch.

The first feeding station took place at the Perrywood Garden Centre in Tiptree. If you didn’t fancy tea and scones then at least an Alan Titchmarsh grow bag was available to buy.

Out of the Land of Jam, and then we were presented with the most challenging part of the ride. Twenty-four miles of uninterrupted pedalling lay ahead if we wanted jam tomorrow — or even a late luncheon.

A poor bolting horse got the jitters around the edges of Braxted Park. The whole pack slowed down to walking pace, but the old fella didn’t take a liking to the Lycra tights. The rider managed to steady the old chap, proving that jodhpurs probably have the better of cycling tights when comes to a game of Transport Trousers Top Trumps.

It was at this stage of the ride that I first started to feel tired. It was a funny sensation — not tired as in my legs were turning to lead; there was still plenty left in the tank to keep on pedalling, but tired as in yawn, yawn, yawn.

Cycling often overcomes the metaphysical. A five-mile sprint into town and back can put you out for the count for the rest of the day. Thirty plus miles into an all day ride and you almost pedal yourself into fitness. The yucky energy gel bar certainly helped as well.

Witham was a little… weird.

“Look! London Marathon!”

…exclaimed a teenage girl.


Buzzards and beautiful gardens characterised Bradwell, and soon it was time to go Dutch at… Dutch Nursery at Coggeshall. You buy the tea, I’ll buy the brie and bacon toasties. We’ll split the difference on the Alan Titchmarsh grow bag this time, darling.

I’m not quite sure what it is with cycling groups and garden Nurseries, but the two go together like punctures and compost. Add in a bussed group of OAP’s, and it was quite a collection of travellers in the serene gardens of the Dutch Nursery.

By now it was late afternoon and the chase was on back to base. My magpie eyes were hungry for the prize — much like Mr Magpie himself just outside of Wake’s Colne. He stooped down right in front of the peloton and plucked a poor field mouse from out of the grass verge. Impressive stuff — but not quite on par with the feat of one member of the CTC group confusing a scarecrow kite as a magnificent bird of prey.


It was just past Wake’s Colne that I took the pro-rider [yeah, yeah] decision to ride at the tête de la course. Stay out of the pack, stay out of the pitfalls, as Lance was often fond of saying. Yeah, but yer man never had to guide his way around a route that he knew bugger all about.

Five minutes of over enthusiastic cycling, and soon I was left stranded and off route. A rescue service was sent out, and I was back with my bicycle and tail firmly between my legs and pulling up the back of the pack.

The approach ride back in to Colchester was relatively smooth. A rider punctured, but the joy of these CTC rides is that no one gets left behind. A new inner was on hand, and we were back on course for the final push for the punching of the air as the Leisure World – Witham – Leisure World came to a close.


By Jason Cobb [original]