A frosty Thursday morning saw nine Windmillers set out from the Fleur de Lys on a 35 mile circuit taking in the Pelhams, Puckeridge and Farnham. Our gang comprised Sandra, Tom, John B, Vernon, Ken, Brian and Andrew, accompanied by his old school chums, Ronnie and Don.
The lanes around Widdington were white with frost and, after a couple of nasty skids, Vernon thought it wise to turn back rather than risk a return visit to A&E. The rest of us, having checked our winter sports insurance, decided to brave it. Braking and cornering gingerly along the country lanes, we eventually arrived unscathed at Puckeridge where we stopped off at our favourite tea room.
Refreshed and with the lanes now frost free, we set off on the return leg. But it wasn’t long before Ken was brought to a sudden halt by his chain jamming in the front derailleur. Brute force proved insufficient to pull the chain free but Tom, getting to work with a multi tool, managed to release the mechanism and Ken was back in the saddle once more.
Then Tom himself was brought to a halt with a rear wheel puncture. With Don’s help this was soon fixed and we were on our way again.
The next hold-up was down to Network Rail at Elsenham. This must be one of the few remaining level crossings with manual gates. Opening and closing them is such a palaver that they just keep them closed for much of the day, or so it seems. We gave up waiting and humped the bikes up and over the very high footbridge. It felt like the highest point in Essex.
What with icy roads, jammed chains, flat tyres and slow trains, we were late getting back to the Fleur. But landlord Chris kept our usual table and we enjoyed an excellent, if somewhat delayed (2.30pm!) lunch.
Many thanks to Andrew for planning and organising things.