03.12.18 – Murky Lanes

The first ride of the meteorological winter brought five intrepid wind-millers out to test the roads. Maurice, Rod, Geoff, Simon and Sandra met at The Tally Ho, Barkway. The time is drawing closer to clean and put away the Summer bikes and bring out the winter steeds, sporting mudguards!! Having encountered a heavy shower on the ride up to Barkway, with Rod gleefully tooting his car horn passing by at this moment in time, I knew then that I had chosen the wrong bike for this ride but I sure wasn’t going back to change it now.

A little bit of confusion at the start, thinking Martin would be joining us but no sign, a few phone calls ensued and still no sign, with light fading we looked around to see that Maurice and Rod on their electric steeds, had set off, thankfully for the followers the wind was on our tails as we turned to head towards Nuthampstead and we quickly caught them up, passing Barkway golf course heading to Anstey, Geoff and Maurice drew the attention of an Alsatian being walked off leash in the field nearby, as it rushed over to say hello, apparently friendly but didn’t sound that way to those dashing off in front!! On to Gt Hormead, Furneux Pelham where we took the track from Whitebarns through to Hartham Common, this was where Rod had flashbacks to a previous ride on this route and the first outing with us on the EBike, thankfully the thorns had been washed away or squashed enough not to cause any punctures on this ride. On through various Greens (Walsall, Starling’s, Deers and Roast) to Meesden, again along this stretch Geoff would draw the attention of another dog being walked, this time on a leash but with enough rope to lurch at him as he cycled past, a warning to us all, if there are dogs around make sure you’re not cycling with Geoff!!

Back via Anstey to a warm welcome from Saleesha and a roaring fire at The Tally Ho. A mixture of refreshments this evening, selection of beers and even a warming pot of TEA.

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19 miles anticlockwise

Another great ride, if a bit damp and mucky. Thanks Maurice.

Sandra

 

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26 November. Gloomy evening circuit.17 miles.

It was gloomy only due to the time of year, not for any other reason, as four Windmillers in good spirits assembled in the Tally Ho! car park in Barkway at 2.30pm for what proved also to be quite a chilly 17 mile ride around the lanes. Maurice led the way followed by faithful Dawg Andrew, Deborah and Martin. Here is the anti-clockwise route taken:

Tally Ho Barkway circuit via Sandon 26 Nov 18

Deborah came well layered, Martin donned ski gloves and both Maurice and Andrew looked as though they had a few layers on but were not admitting it, nor removing them. But Deborah was also minus lights and as it was already gloomy when we set off we agreed to keep her well sandwiched to avoid any possible danger.

It wasn’t long before we all began to feel the heat seeping through and, luckily for Deborah, Martin’s capacious rear bag swallowed two of her layers with space to spare for one of his own.

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A brief stop to admire a dung heap and the view beyond near Kelshall

On we whizzed through Kelshall and on to Sandon, where a brief stop was made to admire the pond, before cycling past Lyn and John Bagrie’s lovely house on the outskirts of Sandon. Then it was down to Buntingford and left to Wyddial where we recalled that memorable vision of loveliness that some of us experienced on a hot summer’s evening earlier in the year – see Blog of 23 July for all the details! Or was it just the heat getting to us?

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Pylons on their march towards London as the evening draws in

Less exertion was required on the homeward leg which meant some re-layering on Deborah’s part to keep warm but it wasn’t long before the Tally Ho! came into view. We bid farewell to Deborah, and the remainers (no Brexit pun intended) were then welcomed warmly by Saleesha who opened early specially for us, the log fire already roaring. And what a pleasure it was when Keith joined us along with John and Lyn Bagrie, who we hadn’t seen for a while. Much mirth and merriment was to be had.

Thanks go as usual to Maurice for planning the ride and to his Deputy Dawg Andrew for getting us to the starting line on time.

Martin

 

 

 

 

22 November 2018: Westmill to Ware

20181122_120135Who were those grizzled men offloading bikes in the pub car park on a cold Thursday morning? Shifty looking types; maybe the Hatton Garden Gang? But then Sandra arrived and all became clear; it was the Windmillers, gathering for their regular weekly outing.

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Rod with his hat collection

Eleven strong – Maurice, Victor, Martin, Andrew, Rod, Lawrence, Simon, Roger, Bruce, Brian and Sandra – we set off from Westmill heading south towards Ware. There was a wintry edge to the wind and various items of ski wear – mits, thermals, etc – were in evidence. Sandra, having cycled from home, was already warmed up and, together with Rod and Maurice on their whizzy electric bikes – set off at a cracking pace leaving the rest of us trailing in their wake.

Somewhere along the way we managed to lose Martin. There was some debate as to where he was last seen and speculation as to whether he had been distracted taking  a picture of some old church or other. But following a phone call or two – and a judicious short cut on Martin’s part – we caught up with each other again a few miles on.

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Where the hell’s Martin? Maurice makes a phone call.
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Martin; they seek him here, they seek him there

Pulling in at our regular café on Ware High Street, we ordered coffee and some of us even had a mince pie. ‘ Twas the season, after all. Indeed, Lawrence and Brian were so impressed with said mince pies that they bought more and force fed them to Maurice and Andrew, who agreed they were mighty fine pies.

Restored and back on the bikes, Maurice led the way westwards along the Lea towpath to Hertford where we turned northwards for the return leg via Sacombe and Nastry to Westmill. Arriving back at the Sword Inn Hand, we were delighted to be joined by Ken for lunch.

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30 miles clockwise from Westmill

It had been another excellent Thursday outing. Thanks as ever to Maurice and Andrew for organising everything.

Brian

19.11.18 – Return to The Tally Ho

Evenings are drawing ever closer and the shower clouds were looming, so 2.30 would be the start time from The Tally Ho, Barkway. Simon at the bar playing ball with the barman’s dog, in the hopes to tire this young dog out before the trip home, not much chance of that with a spaniel. Sandra and Maurice joining him before setting off in the glorious sunshine but sadly this wouldn’t last for the whole ride.

Setting off north through Barkway to Reed, Therfield and Sandon before heading to Buntingford and this would be the start of the changing skies, darkening with rainbows in front, as sure sign of rain, thankfully we passed through Wyddial and on to Anstey quarry before turning to pass Barkway Golf course and into some rain, enough to annoy but not soak us, arriving at the Tally Ho before the official opening time but Saleesha would take pity on us and let us in for a warm by the fire and refreshments. Plenty of lagers to choose and Guinness but Hophead was the only choice for beer, hoping for more choice soon. The heavens opened and a huge downpour happened while inside, clearing just before I set off home. Saleesha is prepared to open earlier for us in future, there’s only so much I can drink to make it worth her while, thankfully it’s downhill most of the way home and fairly straight.

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19 miles anti-clockwise

Thanks Maurice for yet another great ride.

Sandra

15 November. Rude and funny named places in Essex. 30 miles.

As it happens, today’s ride included 2 of the 14 most rude and funny place names in Essex, namely Steeple Bumpstead and Rotten End. That means we still have to visit Fiddlers Hamlet, Turkey Cock Lane (where houses are apparently difficult to sell) and another 10 besides.

And so it was that 11 Windmillers gathered at the Fox and Hounds in Steeple Bumpstead and placed their lunch orders before setting off on a delightful tour of quiet lanes. Maurice led the way on his e-bike with his faithful followers behind – Ken, Vernon, Sandra, Lawrence, Brummie Brian, Chris, Graham, new boys Jeff (Geoff?) and Bruce (friends of Deborah) and Martin. Lawrence caught up at coffee time having been stuck in a jam on the A505.

Here is the route taken:

Bike ride Steeple Bumpstead 15 Nov 18

Maurice claimed to have brought his bolt croppers with him just in case Martin decided once again to padlock his bike to Vernon’s at the coffee stop in Castle Hedingham having forgotten to bring the key, as happened once before on his first ever outing with the club. But with a club policy of 3 strikes and you’re out, Martin’s membership was luckily allowed to continue.

The weather was cloudy but dry and except for a slight error of route we proceeded steadily towards an earlier than usual coffee stop in Castle Hedingham after just 9 miles, where there was a noticeable absence of hunger. Clearly, 15+ miles are needed before the yearning for scones and cakes sets in.

There was also a noticeable absence of hills initially, as can be seen in the gradient chart above, but that changed after coffee when a few gentle hills reminded us not to get too complacent. Eventually we arrived at Rotten End but there was nothing particularly rotten about it as far as we could see – it was in fact an idyllic spot with a bridge / ford over the fast flowing River Pant (surely another candidate for a funny Essex name?) which commences just east of Saffron Walden and feeds into the River Blackwater.

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The River Pant at Rotten End

The Autumn colours were at their best in places, particularly the avenues of beech trees, and being a mild day this meant for comfortable riding with little traffic to contend with.

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Another stop to admire the Autumn colours…
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…at this junction

At Waltham’s Cross, not to be confused with Waltham Cross, we said hello once again to a field of wallabies who were lolloping around and seemed quite happy even though they were 10,000 miles from home:

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Joey and his Wallaby family up above in Essex…
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…with their Alpaca neighbours

Then came the pretty village of Great Bardfield and its Gibralter Mill:

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Gibralter Windmill, Great Bardfield

We were by now on the last leg and passed a stunning litttle church in Little Sampford with an interesting tower. This turned out to be the Grade 1 listed early 14th century St Mary the Virgin, but looked from the outside as if in need of some tlc. More information here: http://www.english-church-architecture.net/essex%20l/little%20sampford/little_sampford.htm .

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St Mary the Virgin, Little Sampford

Continuing through quiet lanes, the peloton began to spread out a bit towards the end of the ride, in the usual fashion, or is this just a race to the bar? Having started a bit earlier than usual we were back at the Fox and Hounds by 12.45 and received a warm welcome before tucking into an excellent lunch washed down with Ridley’s Bishop’s Nick and other fine beers.

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Windmillers at lunch in the Fox and Hounds, Steeple Bumpstead

Thanks to Maurice for organising a great ride and to Statesman Andrew who was in New York up to mischief in Central Park………..

And congratulations to Graham for cycling from Ickleton and back again and to Sandra who accompanied Graham back, via Whittlesford railway station bridge (of all places!), and then through the lanes to near Royston, both clocking up an impressive mileage for the day.

Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

23.08.18 -That missing ride

This ride seems to have slipped through the net and with no known photos of the day I’m working with vague recollections of the day of who may or may not have been included. Starting out from The Sword in Hand, Westmill, who at the time were in full preparation for the impending August Bank Holiday beer festival and around 30 different barrels of ale settling neatly on the racking ready, maybe for thirsty Windmill Club cyclists to sample on our return, alas they needed to have some left for the weekend revellers, so we stuck with the very refreshing in-house beers.

From memory – (10) riders – Maurice, Andrew, John B, Lawrence, Brummy Brian, Yorkie Brian, Ken, Victor, Keith and Sandra rode out this day. If you rode and I’ve missed you off or if I’ve included you and you don’t recall riding, please let me know and I’ll edit accordingly, we all know how important statistics are!!

From Westmill we headed to Nasty, Great Munden, Dane End, Sacombe, Stonyhills to Bengeo (I recall a brief wait here as I think Yorkie Brian had a puncture, happy to be corrected if incorrect). Once regrouped we headed along the towpath cycle track to Ware and sadly our usual coffee stop was closed, no idea why but we just went around the corner to Jacoby’s for our caffeine fix while John B carried on and would meet back up with us at Westmill, might have been a wise decision, as this establishment seemed to only be able to make one drink at a time and took an age to serve us all. Suitably refreshed we set off, at this point the two Brians left us and headed straight back to Westmill, a prior arrangement and the need to get back after the elongated coffee stop. While the peloton headed on to Babbs End, Barwick, skirted Standon, before crossing over the A10 to Colliers End and back to Great Munden and Nasty. This was where I may have led a few followers astray and headed back along what I now know to be a more hilly route to Westmill, while Maurice took the chasing pack via the downhill route and were back all loaded up and heading for the bar on our arrival, sorry to those who followed me but we did end up at the same place.

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29 miles anti clockwise

Thanks Maurice for a great route and Andrew for organising us.

Sandra