The Windmill Club territory borders on the counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, South Cambs, Bedfordshire and Suffolk, with occasional forays to Norfolk, London and elsewhere. This means we frequently criss-cross county boundaries and can compare road surfaces, potholes, white lining, the behaviour of motorists and other fascinating variables. This ride, however, was a 100% Essex ride which meant that potholes should be generally mended but we should keep a watch out for mad drivers. It was also an opportunity to assess the myth that Essex roads were built by Irishmen who always worked with the wind on their backs, which frequently changed direction.
And so it was that the Fleur de Lys in Widdington was once again the start and end point of a delightful clockwise tour of quiet lanes for no less than 14 Windmillers, a record for a December day. After a safety briefing to ensure that our large group left several gaps to assist overtaking Essex drivers, Maurice led the charge followed by Andrew, Rod, Sandra, Keith, Ken, Brummie Brian, Yorkie Brian, Ric, Chris, Victor, Graham, Geoff and Martin. Ric rode to and from Widdington from Harston and Graham arrived just in time having consumed a large bacon butty in Saffron Walden whilst cycling from Ickleton – well done, lads!
Here is the route taken:
For a December day, the weather was pleasantly mild and not too windy which resulted in steady, puncture-free progress around quiet lanes through villages preparing for the festivities to come. Wimbish, Radwinter and Hempstead looked particularly festive.as did Henham later in the ride.
A large group needs a large coffee stop. Maurice must have known there would be a good turnout as he wisely chose Parrishes in Thaxted for refreshments – a coffee shop cum wine bar cum pub with ample space at the rear for 14 Windmillers.
Then it was back through more quiet lanes taking in Broxted and Henham, including a detour through Little Henham, before the final climb up the steep hill to Widdington and a Fleur de Lys brimming with customers enjoying lunch and some fine beers.
Grateful thanks are due to Maurice for leading us effortlessly around twisty Essex lanes, which only goes to prove that Irish workmen and the changing Essex winds were indeed to blame. Thanks also to Andrew for whipping us in.