15.10.18 -Mudguards and waterproofs!!

This Autumn afternoon/evening wasn’t what it was supposed to be but the four intrepid souls embarking from The Bull, Lower Langley, were determined to ride their bicycles into the night. As the dry weather had dispersed, so the battle with low, blinding sun would not be the case this afternoon.

Maurice, Andrew, Simon and Sandra, set forth into the damp air. Most took to layers of waterproof gear, while Simon chose to brave the most natural, probably quicker and easier to dry layer of “skin” (I must add, not the full birthday suit!!). This would prove at the end of the ride to be a wise decision, as even though it was damp throughout the ride, it certainly was a pleasant temperature but that may have also been down to the layers we were wearing!!

We set forth to Meesden Bury, Brent Pelham and then on to Berden, with the roads quite damp, muddy and littered with leaf debris care needed to be taken, thankfully Maurice had chosen an unpowered steed, so there was no need for us to be chasing after this Speedster!!

On to Wicken Bonhunt, Arkesden, Duddenhoe End and Langley Upper Green, along the way a cheeky hen pheasant took flight alongside Andrew and cut across in front of him, possibly an attempt to take him out prior to the beating/shooting season and saving all her friends/family! The conversation quickly turned to game recipes and making space in the freezer for ‘the bag’!!

At Langley Upper Green, the group split, with Maurice and Simon heading the short route back and Andrew and Sandra going via Butts Green and Roast Green to add approx 4 miles to the route. A warm welcome awaited us at The Bull. ‘Flanders Field’ the beer of choice, Green King – British Legion special, very refreshing too.

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19 miles clockwise

Thanks to Maurice for organising the ride, Andrew for organising us and to Simon for the delicious Quince jelly (still warm).

Sandra

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11 October. It was a breeze. 30 miles.

For the third week running a baker’s dozen of Windmillers assembled for a ride around our beautiful local lanes. Starting this time from The Fox & Duck in Therfield, Maurice chose a clockwise route via Baldock, Ashwell, Guilden Morden and Royston before the climb back to Therfield.

Accompanied by Andrew, Vernon, Birthday Boy Keith, Sandra, Ric, Brian B, Brian Y, Chris, Lawrence, Simon, Graham and Martin, the group set off a bit earlier than usual so that Maurice could fit in a flu jab in Royston on the way back.  Here is the route taken:

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There was indeed a breeze in our favour on the outward leg which meant we swept along, clocking up an average speed close to that achieved the previous Monday. The route through to Baldock is very pretty, particularly the village of Wallington which was once the home of George Orwell, author of Animal Farm.

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Three little piggies, Napoleon, Pinkeye and Squealer outside the farm on which Animal Farm was based

And here are the animals and humans (minus Napoleon and Vernon the horse) outside George Orwell’s cottage:

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From the left, Boxer, Pinkeye, Benjamin, Moses, Mr Jones, Mr Pilkington, Mr Whymper, Mr Frederick, Old Major and Squealer

For more information about George Orwell and Animal Farm, here’s a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Farm .

The animals and humans then left in single file, speeding down the long descent to Baldock before heading north east towards Ashwell for coffee at Rhubarb & Mustard. The breeze seemed to be still in our favour.

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Contemplation over coffee

 

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Ric gets the prize for best pose

After coffee we sailed downwind towards Wrestlingworth before finally turning for home, when the breeze became a full on near gale on the nose, reminiscent of some past rides organised by Storm (Pinkeye) Sandra. The imposing Litlington church was passed on the way:

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St. Catherine’s Church tower in Litlington was used as positioning focus for World War Two P47sand P51s landing at the nearby airfield home of the United States Army Air Force 355th Fighter Group. In 1993 a stained glass window honouring the 355th—made in the USA—was installed in the Church. (With credit to Wikipedia.)

The peloton thinned out and by the time we reached the A505 there was some distance between the front and back. A slow climb up the hill to Therfield, hoping that a golf ball would not impede progress, was finally rewarded by the welcome sight of The Fox and Duck and a welcome birthday pint courtesy of Keith (thanks Keith!) sitting outside in the hot sunshine before having a splendid lunch inside.

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Animals and humans discovering they have lots in common whilst celebrating the birthday of Keith (alias Mr Pilkington) at The Fox & Duck

Thanks to Maurice for planning the route and to Andrew for getting us to the starting line on time. And congratulations to Sandra, Ric and Graham for clocking up many additional miles by riding to and from The Fox & Duck.

Martin

 

 

 

8 October. Feeling Bullish for 20 miles.

Six Windmillers comprising Maurice, Andrew, Keith, Sandra, Simon and Martin set forth from The Bull at Lower Langley at 4.30pm on this cloudy but dry autumnal evening, not knowing that they would be achieving a higher than usual average speed of 12.4 mph for the ride. Was this the wind, increased fitness levels or the thought of a pint of Benny’s Best at the end? Perhaps all three.

Maurice led the way on his highly charged steed firstly towards Shaftenhoe End and then due South to Little Hormead before turning left towards Furneux Pelham and back via the outskirts of Clavering. Here is the route in detail:

Bull circuit 8 Oct 18

There were some significant hills at times, as shown in the graphs above, resulting in a loss of 839 calories, according to Mapometer. A pint of Benny’s Best only amounts to 210 calories and so we can comfort ourselves with a net loss of 629 calories……………

There were few stops, not even outside the church in Furneux Pelham where ‘Time Flies’, but a brief pause was made to take on and expel water, rather like a steam engine.

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Stopping briefly for water, knobbly knees still in evidence on a mild October’s evening

The moving average had slowed to 12.0 mph by Roast Green but thanks to a high speed descent to Lower Langley this increased to 12.4 mph just as the welcome sight of The Bull came into view.

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Calorie replenishment taking place in The Bull

Thanks once again to maestro Maurice for leading us around the Autumnal lanes and to deputy dawg Andrew for organising us all. It’s a good feeling not to have anything to do except just turn up and pay our dues. Over £1500 has already been raised for charity this year and so by Christmas this should be a tidy sum to distribute.

Martin

4 October 2018: Nasty? No, he’s rather nice

20181004_123724This used to be Maurice’s home turf, so for him it was a trip down memory lane; no map required. Starting out from the Sword Inn Hand at Westhill, we were on a 28 mile circuit of east Hertfordshire, Maurice leading the way around his old haunts, followed by Deborah, Andrew, Graham, Keith, John B, Martin, Victor, Ric, Chris, Roger, Lawrence and Brian. A baker’s dozen once again.

20181004_100312(0)Along the way we stopped at Standon to admire the Old School House and the nearby puddingstone (you’ll have to look it up).

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Old School House, Standon

IMG_20181004_102028271It was 22 miles before we pulled in for a coffee stop, this time at Whitehill Golf Club. Then it was back on the bikes for the short trip back to Westhill, where we were delighted to catch up with Sandra who had cycled out to join us. She was a pint ahead but we soon caught up and together enjoyed a hearty lunch at the big table.

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Thanks, Maurice, for leading the way – and Andrew for getting us organised.

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28 miles clockwise from Westhill

Brian

1 October. Minding our business around the lanes. 21 miles.

An earlier start of 4.30pm was necessary today due to the shorter days creeping in slowly but surely. As long as The Bull was open at the end of the ride, that’s all that really mattered, which indeed it was.

It was good to have another new member join us, Jenny, a friend of also new member Deborah. Welcome Jenny! Accompanied by electric Maurice, Andrew, Sandra, Keith, Simon and Martin, we set off at a brisk pace to get some warmth flowing into those brave enough to display knobbly knees. Here is the route taken:

Bull Manuden circuit

The route took us down Andrew’s favourite off road / track past Rockell’s Farm in Duddenhoe End and on to Rickling and Rickling Green. The lanes were quite busy for a while, this being rush hour, but it soon settled down to the usual peace and quiet we have become accustomed to. Then on to Manuden where it was tempting to stop at Martin’s daughter’s house but baby Willow was busy watching Cbeebies with her dad before tea and might just have wondered what Grandpa’s hi-viz friends were up to on what would have been a lightning visit.

Maurice had a devious off-road / track section planned in Furneux Pelham but before that we just had to pay homage to the gleaners of yesteryear who are said to be responsible for the inscription on the village church of Times Flies – Mind Your Business . Gleaners were apparently allowed onto harvest fields after work had finished, strictly at 6 pm.

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Minding Our Business at 6 o’clock outside St Mary the Virgin in Furneux Pelham

Time was indeed flying – 6 o’clock meant it was opening time at The Bull – and so on we sped up the track and down a bumpy concrete bit towards another Pelham, Brent this time, before finally zooming downhill to Lower Langley. Saying farewell to Deborah and Jenny, the remaining Windmillers received a warm welcome inside The Bull.

Thanks, Maurice, for another entertaining ride and to Andrew for getting us there and supplying the photo.

Martin

28 September. The Lost Tribe, in Suffolk. 33 miles.

It was a magnificent Suffolk morning as a baker’s dozen of Windmillers gathered at The Packhorse in Moulton on a Newmarket race day. Driving past the gallops from Newmarket to Moulton watching the horses in training is always a special sight and on this crisp sunny autumnal day it was extra special.

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We nearly filled the car park as Maurice, Andrew, Vernon, Sandra, Keith (still recovering from a bug), Ken, Lawrence, Chris, Roger, Victor, Simon, Deborah and Martin got ready for the off, knowing also that Ric would be cycling over from Harston and joining us for lunch. Simon had to firstly mend a puncture – possibly caused by the same thorn / flint on Keith’s driveway that caused Martin’s puncture on Monday? Maurice distributed a map and off we went, not knowing that the actual route might be somewhat different.

This is where we were meant to go:

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The planned route

…and this is where we actually went:

Moulton Ickworth circuit
Spot the difference

The main variation was a scenic detour into the suburbs of Bury St Edmunds followed by a U-turn and a  stretch along a busy A road but other than this the lanes were fairly quiet. Not long after starting, however, an overtaking car, just before a bend, forced a fast oncoming car to take quick evasive action on to the verge which avoided an accident. Which all goes to show how careful Windmillers need to be at all times, particularly when cycling in a large group.

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Somewhere in Suffolk
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…and now lost somewhere in Suffolk. Is God trying to show us the way?
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Welcome to the Pleasuredome. Roger (of Frankie goes to Hollywood fame), happy to let others do the map reading

Our coffee destination was Ickworth, but not the café in the grounds. Every now and then Windmillers like to splash out and so it was the hotel that Maurice had booked us into, where we enjoyed our coffees sitting outside in a magnificent garden in warm sunshine:

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Coffee at Ickworth
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Friends, Romans and Windmillers, lend me your bikes

The Suffolk countryside was in fine fettle, post-harvest. As always, there were some fascinating churches, cottages and fine country houses to admire as we pedalled along.

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St Nicholas, Little Saxham. ‘Suffolk’s finest round tower, and perhaps England’s,’ according to http://www.suffolkchurches.co.uk 

And this one too:

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All Saints Church, Gazeley

Knowing that lunch was to be served promptly at 1.00pm some of the group charged on ahead whilst others were content with admiring the views. But on reaching Moulton there was a large group on the fine bridge desperate to be caught on camera:

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Hands up – who got lost?

A treat was in store back at The Packhorse, our second upmarket eating establishment of the day. An earlier photo shoot had left cocktails all over the bar that needed drinking up, and who better to oblige than a gang of thirsty Windmillers?

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Getting in the spirit with the help of Tom Collins, Dark ‘n’ Stormy, Cosmopolitan and other tasty cocktails, assisted by Veuve Cliquot. But who had the Moscow Mule?

Then we sat down in a large private room and enjoyed a Wherry good lunch, joined by Ric who once again gets the prize for the longest ride of the day – approx. 45 miles from Harston and back. Well done, Ric.

Thanks, Maurice, for organising the Lost Tribe and getting us back for a splendid lunch bang on time. And Andrew too for getting us to the starting line. Let’s try a greasy spoon next week.

Martin

 

 

 

 

19.09.18 – Great Monday turnout.

What a glorious evening to go cycling, meeting at The Bull, Lower Langley in the sunshine were newest New-by Deborah, shortest time as New-by Simon (1 week), Maurice, Andrew, John T, Keith and Sandra.

Introductions over and we headed up towards Meesden Bury, Brent Pelham, Furneux Pelham, thankfully not opting for the off-road route or what is also known as the longest ford!! We would have been more than happy to meet ‘Off Road King Andrew’ at the other end, had he chosen to partake but was persuaded otherwise, even though it had been a very dry period of late.

On to Manuden and up to Rickling Green, Maurice having thrown down the gauntlet to anyone wishing to have a bit of a burn up the hills on route. Well it seems that I was the only one feeling the need to stretch my legs a bit more (even though I’d ridden to the start, John T having ridden to the start too). So, I sat over looking the green and the Cricketers Arms, longing for some refreshment until the crew arrived (probably could have managed a swift half after all!!).

Once regrouped we headed to Rickling and the hopes of a photo opportunity with the Black Swan but sadly no swan and a dry pond was found (Not sure what has happened to the Black Swan)!

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Heading back with long shadows behind, the sun is getting low!!

The sun was dropping and the shadows lengthening, so we returned via Wicken Bonhunt, Arkesden, avoiding the gravely off-road section to Duddenhoe End and then into the now blinding sun to Langley, Lower Langley and welcome refreshments at The Bull.

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21 miles anticlockwise, right hand circle. The other circle is my circuit to the Bull and back adding about 15 miles

Thanks to Maurice for the route and Andrew for organising us.

Sandra