The day dawned early in the stiflingly hot Chelmsford Travelodge. A quick trip down to clear out the breakfast buffet and the team were ready to go early this morning – even with the “only 1 bike in at a time” size of the lift at the hotel.
A quick meander around Chelmsford town centre with the inevitable navigational issues and we were on the road North. For once this week it was a misty start, putting some of the team in mind of the St Andrews Sportive a few days ago, organised by Ky Thomassen-Kay of Rebellion Bikes.
Luckily this time, the weather cleared quickly and we were soon cycling through hot sunshine into picturesque (and yes I really mean that) N Essex.
At this stage, however the road that we thought was going to be the lovely B1008 had been rebranded as the nightmareishly fast A130 and this led to our first casualty. Unfortunately the mascot acquired by the previous team somehow parted company with my bike somewhere along this stretch of road and there was no chance to retrieve it!
Greater love hath no teddy bear than to lay down his stuffing for a white van.*
I would like to apologise for all concerned for this tragic incident, however I was also at the back of the group and didn’t see the moment of falling.
Luckily the road soon calmed down and we hit a lovely spell of cycling to Great Dunmow, where Eric our support driver was at the side of the road waving us into a cunningly placed café underneath a bike shop. Stuart impressed the team with his mid-morning cycling snack consisting of a double espresso and a power bar, clearly adding for more fuel for another breakaway attempt.
We next headed along to Thaxted where, in fact it was Tom who managed to leave the team behind with the aid of a fast moving tractor, a white van and a spot of draughting.
Pictures were taken of the team as they sped through the village (unfortunately every photo today seems to have been taking straight into the sun) before a major catch up effort ensued. First Stuart…
Then Lesley and Gordon…
The team coasted into Saffron Walden, a lovely little town, though the complexities of the one-way system seemed to mean all members of the team arrived in the market square from different directions. We were travelling so fast that we had arrived well before lunchtime so we decided to press on to Cambridge after a quick snack.
We had a quick meet with the van on the downslope of Windmill Hill (the clue’s in the name) just out of town to replenish water supplies. Stuart was concerned when he arrived at the van that there had been an almighty bang behind him, but luckily it seemed that was just due to 2 cars taking out one another’s wing mirrors at some roadworks and didn’t involve any of the team.
We were left about 13 miles to go of more fast cycling to make our accommodation at Emmanuel College.
The cyclists managed this easily, though the baffling nature of the Cambridge traffic system meant it was a much harder job for Eric in the van. Luckily the college porters kept us in touch with his progress by reporting which other colleges he’d been to visit to ask for directions!
So, another early arrival after a high-speed day. Tomorrow the Fens are beckoning, so we are hoping for some long, straight and most of all flat roads on our way to Spalding.
*Phil Goose, master of thy beloved namesake, Phil the Bear (may he rest in peace), Phil’s kin are being sold off in B.E.S.S.