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North London play the Bends

On 21st May eight of us were waved off from McDonald’s by our Graham and took a fine route though to Burnham on Crouch for fine food at the Cabin Dairy. We went via Chelmsford, Hanningfield (with views over the reservoir), Rettendon, Sowf Woody Ferrers, Latchington and Bradwell. The north east side of the jutting out bit of the area was particularly good with nice bends and little traffic. After lunch we were joined by Chris C who had had navigational problems getting to our start. He was hungry but it was time to move on, needs of the many outweighing those etc…..  Due to minor roadworks we hit the famous Burnham Bends with the traffic behind us, a rare experience indeed, they were very good. We then went through Malden, Tiptree, Coggeshall and towards Braintree before diverting to Finchingfield for our last stop. Here Chris happily ordered some proper food and was then told the kitchen had closed! He did get a piece of cake though and I couldn’t let him eat alone. A great day and the warmest of the year so far.

North London lunch at Walkers

On 28th May, there were worries about heavy bank holiday weekend traffic and some road closures due to a big cycle Event (I had to push my bike along a bit of pavement and ride across a field footpath to make the start). Nevertheless six of us enjoyed a great ride in the now warm temperatures, that consisted of great bends and not too much traffic. Going via Takeley, Thaxted, Haverhill and Bury St Eddy we arrived at the fine Walkers at Barton Mills. We had a lovely snack here and met our spiritual leader Graham who had ridden out separately to meet us. We then took my favourite route home bound through Barrow, Wickhambrook and Clare before a final stop at Parish's in Thaxted. Here Richard kindly paid for afternoon tea and cakes for us all. Our route home from here generally had to mirror the route out (the cycling) with people splitting off as required. A fine day indeed.

North London eight eat at Bramford

On 4th June Dave P led a very pleasant ride of about 160 miles for lunch at Bramford waterfront cafe. It looks very nice there and the weather and roads were good. The route there took in Hatfield Heath, Leaden Roding, Dunmow, Braintree, Halstead, Stowmarket and Needham Market. I don't know about the route home though as I could not be there. All who took part are in the photo apart from Alan, who kindly took the picture and volunteered as back marker.

North London go to the Show

On the evening of Wednesday 21st June Graham organised and led a Ride up the A10 to the very popular Royston and Meldreth Motorcycle show. A good number of our Branch attended, some meeting us there and the roads up and back were full of motorcycles. There were probably thousands there and a lot to see, though I had been hoping more main dealers would be there. The evening was very warm and it was a pleasant evening. We were joined for the first time by new member Phil, who is on the right of the picture..

North London Venture into Scotland. 

Steve Jones arranged an eight day trip for our Branch up into Scotland for 10-17th June and seven of us ventured forth. Steve was joined by myself (another Steve), Martin, Richard, Christopher, Stuart and Gary. We had great weather, great roads, great views and no problems. The only issue of significance was that Steve's bacon was never quite crispy enough and the rest of us failed to give him due credit for having a big petrol tank, though since it was not a Honda I don't think it counted. Also Martin's breakfast permutations confused many a waitress. None of us fell out, which is a plus, as was my Karaoke singing when I was easily the worst to give it a go, non of the others daring to try. We journeyed up via the boring A66 to Scotch Corner and cut across the lovely North Pennines to Alston before the A7 to our first nights stop near Hawick. We then went due north to Nairn, a nice day compromised by some heavy rain and a road closure on the nice A93. We stayed five nights at the Havelock in Nairn, quite nice but poor value overall. While their we met Martin’s sister in law Morag whom it was nice to see. Ride outs included John O Groats, Braemar, a loop via Tomintoul and the best day that was Applecross and Shieldaig. Our route home took in the glorious A82 past Loch Ness, Glencoe and Loch Lomond before a last night at Somerton hotel in Lockerbie. This was our best night’s accommodations of the trip. We all got home safely on the Saturday, tired but happy and with bodies full of saturated fat and whisky! We would all like to thank Steve J for organising and leading the rides with myself helping.

North London Supa 7 Saunter to Swaffham.

On 25th June the day turned out rather warm, some might say hot, and seven of us met at Birchanger Services for a run to Swaffham. A lovely route took us through Newport and Saffron Walnut before a road closure forced a slight back track. Using all my skill and experience as a trained leader I changed our route and so we still hit Dullingham before Newmarket, Brandon and Mundford took us to the square at Swaffham. Here we were fortunate to meet Mick O' who had ridden out from his rural community to meet us. Our planned cafe had problems in the kitchen and so we had nice food in the Pub on the other side of the square. 

We then rode through Downham Market and then south on the lovely 1101 from Outwell to Mildenhall. Due to some slowness and a loss this took us a while and we took a needed break at Walkers cafe at Barton Mills. Mick had just left us to go Norf into the wilds and as it was getting late we did an early split as some needed a quick route home. This left Chris, Richard and myself to have a lovely flowing ride through Barrow, Clare, Finchingfield and Dunmow before a wave goodbye at Ongar. Another road closure required my skills..   .

A lovely and tiring day..

North London find new cafe.

On 9th July Richard kindly volunteered to take control of the days itinerary and met five others at McDonalds on a fine summers days. Their first stop was North Weald airfield to watch two of our Branch, Chris and myself (Steve) doing a Fire Services provided advanced slow speed handling course. We learned much and I was amazed at how well a modern bike can safely brake and just how effective quite aggressive counter steering can be. After they stopped giggling at my efforts then then took a lovely run to Mersea Island, one of our regular haunts, but this time tried a new place to eat, the Vineyard cafe, that was apparently very good. No photos provided though! A good run took them next to the Essex HOC show where they met other members and had a nice look around. Pictures compliments of Jim. Chris and I managed a late drink at Ongar with Richard and Steve. A good day…

North London have a Stag Lunch

On 16th July Robin agreed to lead a Ride after consultation with John and Richard. For the first time the Hungry Stag cafe was tried, this being between Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds. It was very nice apparently and a roundabout route was taken there and home with a stop for afternoon tea and cakes included. A fine day was had by all. Eight people attended and missing from the photo is John C who took it.

North London Visit Walkers

On 23rd July, on what turned out to be a pleasant and dry day eight of us took a Ride to one of our favourite haunts, this being Walkers at Barton Mills. We took many of our favourite roads and I generally reversed my normal route to make it look like I am more than a one trick pony. We went through Ongar, Dunmow, Finchingfield and Clare to get there and Mildenhall, Littleport, Newmarket and Thaxted on our return. The food and atmosphere at Walkers is very good and it is popular with other motorcyclists. There were some interesting bikes to look at. At Thaxted Chris treated us to afternoon tea at Parishes. Unfortunately Martin had to fix a slow puncture coming home but otherwise it was a great day and we were joined by Vlad, who we are hoping to see more of.

North London test the Weather

On 30th July Richard led a fine team of eight on a Ride towards one of our favoured establishments, this being the Ambiance cafe at St Neots, it was nice to see a prospective new member, John, on the ride and the route took in the Hadhams, Royston and Longstowe. The weather had been reasonable but as they approached Baldock on the return it started to rain and near Baldock they had an afternoon stop where Dave treated the team to tea and cakes. The rest of the ride home was very wet and they arrived home half soaked. No change there then..!

Missing from the photo is Martin, who took it.

North London have annual BBQ

On 6th August Steve J, our honourable chairman, arranged a Meet at the very nice Norton Heath cafe on the A414 for a run prior to our annual branch BBQ. I think there were about fourteen bikes and we gaily set off to go through Harlow for a run to Bishops Stortford and the Hadhams prior to the BBQ. Unfortunately we very quickly had a major ‘loss’ despite the first part of the route being straightforward and as far as I could see, well marked. About eight of us did the full run and we all met up later, with other members and the missing riders, for our BBQ with Ron and Tina, in Harlow. The BBQ was excellent and brilliantly hosted, with great cooking and a lovely choice of desserts and beverages. The BBQ chef was Ernie, who did a magnificent job and Tina had done lots of extra cooking. It was a great and sunny day. But as far as the riding goes I think we must take away a reminder of the importance of a full briefing before a Ride as one cannot assume that everyone knows what they are doing, because to be frank , some people just put their brains in neutral and things get messed up.. Hey Ho!  Not a very good picture but the best I have, my fault.

North London trio trip to Southwold

On 20th August Dave P led a great ride on which only two riders joined him. Presumably some people kicking a ball about on TV kept the numbers down. I was on holiday. A lovely day took in Hatfield Heath, Dunmow, Braintree, Sudbury and Stowmarket before a nice coastal stop at Southwold for some chips. On the way home they stopped at the pleasant Tarka's cafe near Stoke by Clare. Well over 200 miles done in all.

North London 14 Wander to Watton.

On 27th Aug it was decided to visit the Watton Street Bike Show near Thetford in Norfolk and thirteen bikes and a pillion departed early from near Epping for the run. I led the Team on a nice route through Takeley, Thaxted and Haverhill before a first stop at the nice Cafe 33 in Stradishall. After a leisurely brew there we used country roads north towards Mildenhall then Brandon and Mundford before entering Watton High Street. We were a bit split up by then and had to park in smaller groups to admire the hundreds of bikes on display and get something to eat. Some of us left separately but a group stayed together for some of the way home and I think we all got a slight soaking, but dried out again. A nice day with a good turnout...

North London visit Copdock,

On 3rd September, while a heavy squadron of the Branch was away in France and Spain, four of our team had a very pleasant day out at the Copdock bike show near Ipswich. The weather was lovely and John, Marina, Robin and Chris had refreshments going there and coming back! At the show they met up with Mick O' and whom it was great to see..

North London visit France and Spain.

Between 2-11th September ten of our Branch enjoyed a great trip to France and Spain organised and booked for us by Global Motorcycle Tours. The roads, hotels and weather were all very good with marvellous food and drink and swimming pools at almost all our hotels. After the euro tunnel a day of motorways and dual carriageways took us to our first stop at Orleans where we enjoyed a night out in the Old City area. Day 2 started with motorways but then we were going through the beautiful Auvergne area with nice sweeping bends before arriving at a lovely hotel in Peyre en Aubrac, the Chez Camillou, which had a Michelin starred restaurant, very good and priced okay. The nest day took us over the Millau bridge and on to Carcassonne via nice roads. Again we had a nice night out and a look around the old Citadel. Next it was the Pyrenees and through Andora to a two night stay in Vielha. Very nice here and on the spare day three of us enjoyed some fabulous riding that took in various Cols... Peyrosoud, D'Aspin and du Tourmalet. Across the Pyrenees to Pamplona was next, superb roads and a great night out in the City. Our last hotel for two nights was probably our favourite, it was near Potes but I want to keep it a secret.... okay it is the hotel Del Oso, there we had great food and three of us did a fine ride out in the Picos National Park. Next it was home via Santander. My brain was exhausted from a lot of great but demanding roads. Great company too! Only downsides were one of the bikes was not running too well, it was a Kawasaki though, and our Satnav downloaded routes caused us a few problems…

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