Colchester Cycling UK

Maldon Ride Report

February 25, 2018

Colchester CTC and the Beast from the East!

Another BBC weather forecast fairy tale

One evening a few weeks ago we received a message from Paul to say that he was at a ride planning meeting and as we normally join rides at the coffee stop that are coming in our direction from Colchester would we be interested in leading a ride if someone else led as far as Tiptree? The unfortunate thing about getting a little bit older your brain does not work that quickly and I was unable to come up with any excuse and in no time at time we were put down as leaders going unto Heybridge.

We had some ideas of routes but as the date drew closer the weather forecast deteriorated by the hour and panic started to set in. The Tothams are full of small lanes so we decided to just do a route around without going too far in the event of the 2 foot of predicted snow/ice we would all be able to get home quite quickly.

Sunday morning arrived and just as we were having our second cup of tea in bed Caroline (deputy leader) phoned to say she was on her way down to the Leisure World Colchester and the roads in Colchester looked clear “she had offered to take a few hours off duty from mopping Paul’s fevered brow and taking care of his every whim!” In fact the actual words we think had been “I will be glad to get away and out on the bike for a few hours”. This meant that we had to get ready to leave our warm cosy bed and trundle down to Perrywood Garden Centre.

Surely on such a cold and windy morning no one was going to venture out and we had planed our day by the fire. Can you imagine our dismay when arriving in the car park to find Neil, Shelly and Simon waiting for us — they live out in the wilds on the other side of the A12 and had opted for a later start and came straight to the coffee break. We had all just settled into the cafe when we saw Dave Russell locking up his bike soon followed just minutes later by Caroline and 2 others from Colchester (was this going to be it) what we had not realised several others had crept into Perrywood leaving their bikes out of sight which finished up with 14 sitting down for coffee and cake.

Well time went on and eventually Les said 5 minutes and 9 hardy souls departed, leaving Alan, Caroline and the others to make their way home. The first destination was a little lane up in the “Essex Mountains” at Gt Braxted where we stopped to admire the very good view over Mersea and on a clear day you can see the wind farms off the coast at Southend. Unfortunately Chris dismounted beside the tallest part of the hedge and complained that he could not see anything but then you can’t please everybody. Then it was a ride through the Totham lanes (some of our favourites), doing a loop around Goldhanger with Chris again complaining that every time we seemed to be heading for Heybridge we would turn away again and he felt that 12:30 was easily time for lunch. This was a trick that I learnt from last week’s ride with Ken: every time we got near his lunch stop we would then head back into the hills of Polstead and Hadleigh. At one point stopping a local cyclist (in fact almost knocking him off his bike) who told us if we went back and turned right it was a very pretty ride but going straight on was a big hill. We all turned our bikes around heading for pretty, but Ken being made of stern stuff would have none of it and soon had us all heading for the hill!

When we arrived at the lunch stop (The Jolly Sailor) Ken did point out that we could not really call this a cycle ride as we had hardly had to peddle having the wind behind us and the ride being nearly all downhill! Mel had arrived for lunch having cycled into the strong headwind all morning coming from the other side of Maldon. We had excellent service, the pub is small but they had reserved a large table and made us very welcome. The discussion soon turned to route home. I had thought back through Tiptree to School Rd Copford and leave everyone to make their own way home, but somehow Gill’s suggestion of Coffee and Cake at Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre got the better of us.

We said goodbye to Mel and 9 headed back towards Tolleshunt Major at which point Dave turned off to head home. The rest of us going onto D’Arcy, Salcott, to School Ln Gt Wigborough although Chris rushed ahead and took the first turning to Abberton (we think his bladder had got the better of him!). Simon also left at this point to make his way home, but we had to include School Ln as the climb is a little bit steeper and we thought this would make Ken happy! We eventually arrived at the Visitor Centre having battled through the headwind and cold leaving Shelly, Neil, Ken, Peter, Chris, Gill, and Les to enjoy CAKE and a good natter. Our apprehension had been unfounded: the roads had been clear of ice and it had turned into a really nice day out with excellent company.

By Les & Gill