15 October. The ABC of ride organisation. 32 miles.

Oh, the joys of ride organisation in these Covid days! First we had CAC rides, now we have ABC rides but it is not quite as simple as ABC. Planning routes, finding suitable pubs, staying Covid-compliant, organising groups and getting members to the start line on time for a scheduled departure is quite a feat and we have Maurice and Andrew to thank hugely for their efforts on our behalf.

This ride from The Black Bull in Balsham was soon oversubscribed but Windmillers are a creative lot and soon found a solution to the problem by organising a separate group starting and finishing at The Three Hills at Bartlow, thanks to Geoff and Brian putting their heads together. So Groups A and B, comprising 11 riders, did the route clockwise, 15 minutes apart, and Group C went anti-clockwise, making this the first ever ABCAC ride! No doubt more will follow before we are free of the Covid plague.

This is where we went:

Sadly, whilst en route to Balsham, Rod had a collision with a Wincanton lorry being driven fast and dangerously (witnessed separately by Martin) but luckily it was only his wing mirror that got destroyed. It could so easily have been a lot worse. This resulted in a slight delay as Rod went back down the road to try and retrieve bits of the mirror.

Group A, comprising Maestro Maurice, Howard, Mike, Roger, Lawrence and Martin led the way at 9.15am followed by Group B with Deputy Dawg Andrew, Rod, Ken, Victor and Andrew. Group C also left around the same time, judging by the place where Group A met them between Bartlow and the A1307, when we did our best not to mingle – see photo above. Unfortunately for Lawrence, whilst stopping at the junction with the dreaded A1307, he collided with Howard who was waiting patiently to cross and the impact threw Lawrence off his bike sideways to laand on his hip joint. ‘Ouch’, he said, or words to that effect. It wasn’t long before a bruise was surely to emerge and by the end of the ride he was decidely uncomfortable.

Group A’s ride otherwise went well and they were overtaken during their coffee break by Group B who then took a wrong turning allowing A to regain the lead and get back to the Black Bull first in line for a beer, but drenched to the skin due to a downpour during the last few miles, during which they spotted John Bagrie heading in the opposite direction. Much steam was to be seen in front of the roaring fire in the pub.

Here comes the cavalry

Here’s a report from Andrew’s Group B:

Group B 

Faithfully congregated at Balsham with Hot Rod missing a major component from his new Mazda wing mirror having made contact with a Wincanton lorry en route to Balsham 

A quick return visit to the scene of the crime failed Rod’s attempt to recover the wing mirror part .

Five windy millers  Andrew, Rod, Allan , Ken and Victor eventually left on a 32 mile beautifully planned route sculpted by  supremo  route master Maurice 

Only 3 miles into the ride we past Group C going in the opposite direction led by Brian C 

Our ride was mainly uneventful apart from the occasional rain shower ,

The coffee refreshment stop took place at Birdbrook opposite a disused farm 

To our surprise we bumped into Maurice’s Group A who elected to have a late refreshment stop . There was much shouting from Group A instructing Group B not to stop in fear of perhaps catching the dreaded C disease from the Essex contingent.

Approx five miles to the end of the ride we encountered a solo very familiar cyclist heading in the opposite direction- it could only be John Bagrie and it was the man himself.

A slight detour into a main ride saw us back at Balsham for 12.20 ready an eager to tuck into hearty ales and a well prepared lunch.

A good time was had by all.

And here’s Brian’s report:

Andrew’s instructions to Group C were clear and – following last week’s escapades – perfectly understandable: Do not lose Simon! So it was that Geoff, Deborah, Jenni, Brian and Simon set out from The Three Hills, Bartlow, going clockwise and looking forward to seeing our pals in Groups A and B coming the other way. Sure enough, and after less than a few miles, we passed Maurice’s gang, followed some ten minutes later by Andrew’s; both groups glad to see Simon was still with us.

Cheery waves were exchanged and we continued on, pulling over occasionally to admire the autumnal colours and curiosities; notable of which were the field mushrooms, pictured below (with Brian, for a sense of scale).

Not mushroom for these in Brian’s saddlebag. (Ed.)

Mid-way around the circuit, Geoff introduced us to the delights of Tarka’s Café, Baythorne End. Hitherto unknown to the Windmillers, the coffee and cake were excellent. We must return.

The return leg to Bartlow passed uneventfully and we enjoyed a good lunch and a few beers at The Three Hills.

Strong focus on eating and drinking by Group C


It was great to have John Bagrie join Groups A & B during lunch and to catch up with him whilst examining archive copies of the Manchester Evening News from the 1970’s in The Black Bull. Nothing much changes – tanks at Heathrow airport and flu epidemics etc etc..

Thanks again to our organisers Maurice and Andrew in achieving the first ever Windmill Club ABCAC ride.


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