|Stephen Linden's contribution|
|Who's got the Picnic?|
Stephen Linden, Tom Cahill Smith, Ron Fisher, TomTom, Peter Heath, Dale Sturman, Tony Panting, Justin Wallace, Barry Denny, Peter S-W, Michael Lawson, Gerry Barton & me (SJH). Our prime mover for this jaunt into Essex and the Blue Egg Café at Great Bardfield
was Peter Heath and we had been, in his email directive, encouraged to wear items of yellow or Union Jacks or anything that would celebrate the historic and astonishing success of the Sky Team in producing not just the Winner, but 2nd place and
the Champs Elysées winner in the Tour de France. The title of this blog celebrates Cav as World Champion and regular at the Blue Egg, and Brad as the man who made history.
|Peter without helmet!|
If our rendezvous at the earlier hour of 0830 had been a Féte, and our outfits were to be judged in the Fancy Dress Competition, then Tony Panting (left)
would have been the undisputed winner. Note the aero modification to the helmet (Of course Wiggo had the Roundel on his TT helmet as his modification).
|One approach to re-hydration. . . . . . |
|The guilty tyre|
was a joint effort by TomTom and Justin, with a dash of Kevin Flanagan on the way home.The pace seemed quite brisk, and I was glad that I had decided to use the Flandria (best bike).
We rattled our way to Clare via Glemsford and Cavendish heading to Essex and a crossing of the main road that most of us still think of as the A604. A short way west of our crossing, just a hundred metres short of Toppesfield, there was a familiar "CRACK!!" from the rear of the peleton. Stephen L had a puncture. But it as rather more serious than a mere flint or thorn, both the tube and the tyre having split - when the tyre was eased off the rim on one side, the damage was far more extensive than the photo shows. As is customary, several of us explained to Stephen exactly why it was entirely his fault (we felt confident in this, since we knew that he only recently returned to serious cycling
). Mainly, we accused him of causing damage when fitting the tube. We (well, Stephen mainly)
now had a problem. No one (natch)
had a spare tyre (well, ok, some of us were displaying something along those lines - but not the thing we needed).
The ride had begun to resemble one of those irritating team-building exercises, where groups randomly thrown together solve problem like crossing a river using a box of tissues, insulating tape and some twigs. Justin nipped to Toppesfield while the rest of us ran through further possibilities. Mrs Linden was at London learning to be an Olympic Games Maker, Stephen only had enough cash for the tea stop, and no credit card. No one seemed to be able to do any of those tasks now possible with smart phones - not even find were we where - and this with more than one Garmin available! Someone remembered that we had passed Malcolm Borg's Cycle Clinic
repair and sales business as we left Glemsford, Gerry had the phone number, and Tom Tom used his photocopied fragment of Suffolk and Essex to explain our position (in both senses of the word).
At this point Justin returned to announce great news, he had found a man who would summon a Taxi to take Stephen and bike to a bike shop. No one was listening. It turned out that the man had already phoned for the taxi - so Justin had to nip back and get it cancelled. I thought that Justin handled this reversal with admirable equanimity. With Malcolm due to be there in half an hour, we were able to do what we had really wanted to do at the start; leave Stephen behind.
He would try to make his way to the Café (about 5 miles)
before we had left.
We made a classic Wheelers Clubrun restart, with half a dozen of us dropping the other five . . . . and not noticing that we'd done so until we had a considerable gap. Re-forming into an orderly group we sped to Gt Bardfield and on, southwards, to The Blue Egg
. There were a lot of cyclists on the outside area, and more inside, plus a few 'civilians'. We had just formed an orderly queue when Kevin Flanagan
arrived -with impressive timing, having ridden directly from his home in Hundon. One of the special features of this place is the ability to cope with large groups with ease. The fifteen or so riders from the Cambridge CC Wednesday ride (fast chapter)
who arrived very shortly after us were absorbed with ease. The food is reasonably priced and, with the exception of the scones (which are disappointing)
is varied and of high quality. Ron's Bread Pudding was the size and shape of a lump of Belgian Pavé. TomTom and I had bacon sandwiches which, though a bit slow to arrive, were packed with more slices of cured pig than one could count without dismantling the two, huge, crusty and fresh white bread triangles. Stephen had passed on to Peter a Union Jack plastic tablecloth (we were impressed when he brought along a bottle of Champagne in an insulating bag within a small rucksack, with which to ply us in celebration of his sixtieth birthday the other week, so we shouldn't have been surprised at this attention to detail)
provided us with a customised table and later, a backdrop for the group photo (sadly, without Stephen)
I commandeered my old friend Tim Williams
from the Cambridge group to press the button.
|Stansfield. The moment they drop me . . .|
Just as we were leaving, a sweat-soaked Stephen arrived having been riding hard all the way from Toppesfield. Good service received from Malcolm, and payment deferred, plus advice that because the tyre appeared to have failed (it came away from the cord)
there might be a possibility of compensation from Continental. We allowed him to go and fill his bottle from the standpipe on the outside seating area, and set off, with a slightly different route led by Kevin, which veered left before Toppesfield. Peter S-W has a rear puncture, and we settle down in the sunshine while it is fixed. No one thought to bring a picnic, though. After this leisurely repair we crossed the "A604" at Ridgwell and headed for Clare via Ashen. Still a Glorious ride in perfect weather. Though it was pretty warm I was pleased that I had managed to finish two bottles by the time we reached the café and already getting through the refills as we sped back. After Clare it was, as almost always, a right turn to go through Poslingford and up the hill towards Stanningfield. This was when I felt that something wasn't quite right, I dropped back rapidly up this short (but sharp)
hill that normally (these days)
I manage quite comfortably. And I'm on the best bike and all. Get back on before Stansfield, pass the group, charge the bank up past the church . . and die again. Peter S-W passes me, with his rear tyre partly deflated. I only catch a distant glimpse of the ride two or three times before they finally disappear over the summit of the Cote de Hawkedon (see picture)
. Between Stansfield and Hawkedon Stephen L catches up with me, and thanks me for waiting - what a tactful chap, or was it sarcasm? We rode together (he waited after each climb, even uneven road repairs were becoming a challenge by this stage)
until the point where I turned left up to Whepstead. At least SL had sound reasons for feeling slightly sub-optimal, having had no tea stop and passing his previous longest ride distance at about 60 miles. He expressed the desire to spend the afternoon asleep in his garden before turning out to collect Mrs Linden from the last London Train at Cambridge.
It is said that history is written by the victors but, as I have said before in similar circumstances, clubrun accounts can end up being recorded by the loser who gets dropped. But I'm not going to complain, I knew my way home (always do).
I just regret not having the opportunity to say 'goodbye'.. . . . . . .sob. . . . .
SJH PS, I haven't got the hang of moving pictures around on this latest version of Blogger - as you can see. I hope for improvements, especially if someone out there has a few tips . . . . .
| . . . . . .and another|
|Stephen L & Dale at the start|