The Redbridge Etape du Tour: Cambridge – Redbridge July 5th

Riding Le Tour stage 3 from Cambridge to The Mall seemed a great idea but we would not have the luxury afforded to Froome, Contador etc, of a traffic free route through East and Central London.  Instead, we chose to ride from Cambridge to the car park of the Castle pub in Woodford in our very own Redbridge, a distance of 75 miles.

Riders inside and outside the Black Cat Cafe before the ride

Riders inside and outside the Black Cat Cafe before the ride

The date was set for Saturday 5th

In Cambridge, passing the colleges

In Cambridge, passing the colleges

July and transport to Cambridge was provided by Abellio Greater Anglia Railways, who for £8.00 would whisk us up to Cambridge on the 6.28am service from Liverpool Street.

Within minutes of getting off the train we were stocking up on Carbs in the Black Cat Café and by 9.30 am all twenty club riders plus some welcome guests from the Crest Cycling Club were on Parkers Piece, a large green space near the centre of Cambridge adjacent to the official stage start and ready to go.  Nazia drove her car as support vehicle ably assisted by Robin providing much appreciated and used mechanical assistance.

The Redbridge Peleton somewhere in Cambridge

The Redbridge Peleton somewhere in Cambridge

Despite the drizzly rain putting a bit of a dampener on things, Silver Riders went off first led by Roger Vale and then Bronze riders led by yours truly and Maggie on tandem. Unlike our heroes two days hence, we would have to thread our way through the busy streets of Cambridge. Soon, however, the clogged streets and the narrow thoroughfares surrounding the colleges gave way to the open road. It headed for Saffron Walden and the flat wide A1301 matched the broad expanse of the Cambridgeshire countryside until after Stumps Cross when the undulations of the B184 took us

Will we ever get out of Cambridge?

Will we ever get out of Cambridge?

uphill into the ancient town of Saffron Walden. Here imaginations ran wild thinking what it would look like in two days’ time with flag waving crowds cheering on the peleton as they made the left turn onto the B1053 into deepest Essex.  We had to stop at the traffic lights to make the left turn but it gave us time to look at all the ‘Le Tour’ displays in shop windows and house fronts, something we would see all along the route. Quintessential English villages dressed in yellow, green and white with red spots, bikes of all sorts and shapes below the eaves of thatched roofs, the tricolour hanging from pargetted walls and, in the village of Howe Street, a blow-up bike rider and bike, disappearing head first into a hedge.

In Finchingfield

In Finchingfield overlooking the duck pond

Stage three was described as a ‘pan flat’. There were no points on offer for the KOM.  But for us it was mildly challenging with the small hills enough to make our legs burn a little and lungs open up more than usual.  The longest drag was the two mile stretch out of Saffron Walden to Sewards End and the steepest was the ramp out of the chocolate box village of Finchingfield.

At Shalford, the route took to unclassified roads. We were now in Sunday club-ride territory, passing farms, hidden mansions and secret hamlets with names like Duck End Green, Shellow Bowells (featured in Bill Brysons book ‘Notes from a Small Island’) and Birds Green.

In Shalford, barriers at the ready

In Great Waltham, barriers at the ready

Unlike the tour riders who would be handed out bags, more accurately ‘musettes’, of grub near Chelmsford, we had two official refreshment stops. The first, after thirty five miles, was in the village of Rayne at the old railway station, now a café.  Le Tour was being celebrated to the full here and with two days before the peleton would pass by, a rock band was striking up in the marquee alongside the platform. So you can appreciate it was very hard to prise ourselves away back onto our saddles but it had to be done and it wasn’t long before we were threading our way through more villages all eagerly awaiting Le Tour’s arrival.  The second stop, after 65 miles, was at the White Hart in Moreton where the landlord supplied us with very welcome baguettes and refreshment.

One of the many road closure advanced warning notices.

One of the many road closure advanced warning notices.

All too soon the lanes gave way to the busy roundabout by the Talbot pub and the main road into North Weald.  Here, club members George and Margaret had covered their house in Le Tour bunting with the addition of the words ‘Go Cav’ emblazoned on their front wall. Little did we know as we were reading those words that our hero had just crashed out during the sprint for stage 1 up in Yorkshire.  Soon we were one long line of riders on the main road through Epping Forest getting ever nearer to Redbridge.  It was 5.30 pm when the bronze riders rode into the car park of the Castle, about two hours adrift of the first silver riders but at least we had paved the way for the professionals even if they would take three hours for the same distance.

Words and Pictures, Paul O’Kelly

 

Club Dinner & Dance 15/02/14

It was a pleasure to see so many of our new members attend this year’s Club Dinner & Dance at Theydon Bois Golf Club.  Over fifty club members enjoyed the meal, celebrated the trophy and medal winners (see the pics below), exchanged stories about their cycling exploits in 2013 and finally enjoyed dancing the night away to great music.

Thanks to Wendy for organising a great event.  Scroll down to see five pictures.

Trophy winner

Trophy winner

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Everyone having fun!

Table decorations

Table decorations

More winners!

More winners!

Trophy winner

Trophy winner

 

 

 

Club Ride 16th Feb 2014 to Cooks Mill Green.

Approaching Fryerning from Beggar Hill

Approaching Fryerning from Beggar Hill

 

The winter sun shining through the trees in Fryerning Wood

The winter sun shining through the trees in Fryerning Wood

 

Preparing to leave the Bake 'Huse'

Preparing to leave the Bake ‘Huse’

 

 

 

 

At last, the weather was kind to us. Crystal clear skies greeted the twelve riders assembled at the Cycling Centre for the ride to the Bake House Café, Cooks Mill Green.

Unlike the previous week the stiff westerly wind had now reduced itself to that of a gentle breeze and it made the ride out to the café through Navestock and Doddinghurst a very pleasant experience.  The route took us through Fryerning woods just passed Mill Green, always an enjoyable road to cycle along but more so on this day with the winter sun shining through the bare trees of the forest.

We’d clocked up 22 miles by the time we reached the Bake House.  A very pleasant café adjoining the newly refurbished Fox and Goose pub on the A414.

Heading towards Roxwell

Heading out of Roxwell towards Shellow Bowells on the Tour De France Route

 

The return journey took in the lanes north of the A414 through Roxwell, following the Tour de France route to Moreton. From there we headed for Toot Hill, Abridge and the notorious climb of Mile Hill to the Cycling Centre.

On Tawney Common at the top of Banks lane

On Tawney Common at the top of Banks lane

 

 

 

Words and Pictures  Paul O’Kelly

Club Ride to Sawbridgeworth (The Shed Coffee House) 9th February 2014

Leaving the Shed

Leaving the Shed

 

Just past Sheering

Just past Sheering

 

Winter Bleakness

Winter Bleakness

 

Near Matching Church

Near Matching Church

Nine riders set out from the Centre  expecting roads full of water and wondering whether we’d ever make our objective: the Shed coffee house in Sawbridgeworth.  Our fears were unfounded and after taking more main roads than usual we took to some lovely lanes after riding, in grand procession, around the huge roundabout at the M11 junction, close to the old Bull and Horseshoes – now a Macdonalds.  Our route was a sort of rural bypass of Harlow and I recommend it for cyclists wanting to avoid its busy traffic clogged roads:  Hastingwood, Foster Street, Hobbs Cross, Churchgate Street, and the original old A11 to Harlow Mill.

We reached Sawbridgeworth bang on 11.00am and soon were very warm and comfortable in the Shed;  a largish weather boarded building alongside old multi-storeyed mill-like industrial premises very close to the river Stort.   Full of lovely coffee and food we set off on our return journey in the direction of Sheering.   The westerly wind had been no friend to us at all and now it was getting stronger. Riding with bikes at 80 degrees to the

Passing Matching Church

Passing Matching Church

horizontal became the norm as we fought against the vicious side wind but, thankful for small mercies, at least it wasn’t raining. It fact, wind aside, it was a lovely day and any time our route went eastwards it was cycling perfection.   The strong winds had dried the lanes and apart from weaving our way around some very large puddles we had a pleasant ride home past the hamlet of Matching with its lovely old Church and Meeting House, Matching Green. Moreton and Toot Hill.

 

Words and Pictures  Paul O’Kelly