31 May. Mud, mud, glorious mud.

And we all felt just like hippos as we waded through a mile or so of the stickiest form of Essex mud ever seen on a Windmill ride, but there was no singing of the famous Flanders and Swann song. This was Andrew’s promise of an interesting off road route but half way through the mud there was talk of whether plan B would have been a better choice. But there were happier faces all round when, feeling guilty, Andrew bought all the coffees and so he was forgiven his sins by the Revd Holy Moley and others present.

The ride of 28 miles started at 9.30am from the Fleur de Lys in Widdington with a briefing from Andrew about the need to cycle safely and to leave a gap in front of every four or so cyclists to allow drivers to pull in when overtaking, which was well received. There was  a good gathering of Windmillers, the others being Vernon, John B, Sandra, Brummie Brian, Yorkie Brian, Chris, Lawrence and Roger. John B decided to do his own thing, wisely, and the rest set off on a circuit through pleasant lanes, until the off road section was encountered……………

Here is the route taken, courtesy of Brian’s Strava:

28 miles clockwise 31 May 2018 (002)

It is difficult to see from the map exactly where the off road section started and finished but it was essentially the squiggly bit near Little Walden.

Those with mudguards, perhaps better described as rainguards in future, and rim brakes suffered the worst as both clogged up resulting in much poking and removal of wheels to clear the sticky stuff. But once through, on we sped to a welcome coffee at the Three Hills at Bartlow where a hosepipe came in handy too. If Andrew hadn’t bought the coffees there was a considerable risk the hosepipe might have been used for another purpose.

The virgin soldiers at the start of the off road section on a disused railway bridge, not knowing what was in store
A few moments later. Sandra had sensibly brought her old bike.
Phew! We’re through.
But there was still some cleaning up to do….
…whilst the ducks looked on in amusement

After a pleasant stop at the Three Hills, where the restraining chains around the garden chairs and tables had been removed (they must trust us now), we left as little mud as possible on their patio before the return leg to Widdington on mainly quiet roads, although there was an unusually high level of bad behaviour by motorists despite our polite and responsible cycling.

Back at the Fleur we were delighted to be joined by Maurice who had been given a lift over by Linda. He was remarkably well and only using one crutch, which he claimed he didn’t really need. All this less than 2 weeks from his hip operation which says a lot both for the latest medical technology and being Windmiller fit in the first place.

So it was all smiles at the end of an eventful day. Thanks to Bear Grylls Andrew for pushing us to limits we never knew we were capable of!

Holy Moley Martin


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