Saturday 25th April.
After basking in sunshine for most of the week, and with forecast looking fair for Saturday, it was a little disappointing to wake to the patter of rain in the morning. A tidy crew assembled at Velo! with a couple of riders only intending to join us for the first part of the ride, we knew the group would shrink at some point.
Saturdays ride was a homage to the rides that follow the Cobbled classics, the start of the Ardennes classics see some crazy winding routes, over large distances with plenty of Ascent. Our Saturday ride searched out the hills and lumps that are so few and far between in North Essex and stitched them together into a route picture that resembled a handful of tangled fishing wire. 135km and fifteen fine climbs were the target for the day. Although hampered by some miserable early ride weather and getting a proper soaking, the winters efforts seem to be paying off. A pace that never really caught fire to blow the group up, but never let up, regardless of what terrain we encountered. With the group reduced and set to six riders for the final 70km plenty of turns were taken** and a fantastic team effort ensued. We were lucky that with 50km to go the sun made an appearance and dried up the tarmac for the final push to Velo.
This ride was considerably lumpier than anything we would usually see on a ride of this length in the area. For context our Bank Holiday ride (CSC) at 280km’s, is 145km’s further and only climbs an additional 600m over the ride we billed as Fleche Colchester (!?) – I think the rolling and punchy nature of the ride made for a fun outing and it would seem this sentiment was echoed by those that went the distance. Another one to add to the rotation, and with some finessing and tinkering…We can get more climbs and eek up the distance too. Who doesn’t love distance and climbing?!
**The riders known only as Roy Vandenburgh and Andrew Terpstra were electric up at the front and added some sparkle to this ride. Chapeau boys.
Sunday 26th April.
Following an epic day of riding on Saturday, we decided on a shorter, slightly more sedate ride on Sunday.
Just to remind us that summer is still not here, a grey and wet morning was the order of service. A motley crew of 8 braved the grim conditions. We sipped our coffee slowly at Velo as the clock ticked to 08:30. The roll out was the hard bit, but once underway the the blood started to flow.
Our route headed directly from Colchester and towards the rolling country village of Bures. As a no drops ride, the leash was pulled on the excitable duo of McNulty and Foley. Once TOLD by road captain Evans to ‘soft peddle’ the duo held back and the group as one juggernaut rode through Boxford and onto Hadleigh where we pulled up for a coffee stop at the dependable Crabtree Cafe.
Now warm and full of caffeine (and bacon in one particular case) we set of once more. The roads starting to dry, we took a direct route back into Colchester and the safety if Velo.
A couple of new faces amongst the old, a lovely ride and good fun had by all. Next week, more of the same!