Between 21st and 24th June the Branch had a fine weekend in South Wales based at the Premier Inn, Merthyr Tydfil. Nine of us went and we enjoyed generally good weather as we rode through the Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons, Llandovery, Garth, Carmarthen, Llanelli and the Gower. The roads and views were stunning and it is likely we shall visit the area again..
On Sunday 30th June a very rare and possibly propitious event took place! All the bikes that turned up for the Ride were Hondas! How spooky is that! Not sure when that last occured. We had a lovely ride and a nice get together, some lovely country roads. Lunch at Cafe33 at Stradishall and afternoon tea at Thaxted. Warm and sunny. Minor panic afterwards as we thought we had forgot to pay for cake at Parrishes, but we had, Phew! Exciting or what...
On 7th July Robin led a very pleasant ride with six bikes involved. After meeting at McDonalds we spent the day on fine, quiet, sunny country roads. Two breaks were taken at pleasant farm shop cafes. We went from the edge of Harlow towards Chelmsford, Braintree, Sudbury, Stowmarket, Bressingham, Bury St Edmunds, Finchingfield and Dunmow. About 180 great bendy road miles..
On 14th July six of us had a fine day riding into Fenland. I love some of the roads, the 1101 being one of them. We went as far as Spalding and had lunch at Peacocks in Ely, very nice, with an afternoon stop at Barton Mills.
On 21st July seven bikes had a lovely ride led by Dave Plumb. He kindly stepped in after our planned leader was struck with a puncture. We met at the Bikers Tea Hut High Beach and went Ongar, Dunmow, Rayne, Halstead and then cut across to St Osyth's for lunch. Lunch was at the Sailor Boy and was cheap and cheerful, though we were in a massive coastal caravan park rather than in a picturesque village! We then cut over the top of Colchester towards Sudbury. The afternoons roads back were brilliant with a nice stop at a new place for most of us, Baythorne Hall cafe off A1017. Home run back through Dunmow via Finchingfield.
Arranged at short notice, on 4th August, a good team of seven bikes and nine people went to Lowestoft for lunch at the very nice Lighthouse Cafe. The weather was great, as were the roads and the company. Well over 200 miles were done. Thanks to Richard for organising..
On 11th August six of us had a lovely run through to Beachy Head near Eastbourne. The weather and scenery was stunning on a fairly sunny day. Lunch was taken near Bexhill at the pleasant Custom cafe and afternoon tea and scones at Pooh Corner tea rooms on the lovely B2026 at Hartfield. We found some good roads and avoided too much traffic. A fine day indeed.
On August 18th we had our traditional annual BBQ deftly organised by Steve, our regular chef. Before that Gary led us on a nice ride, though there was a bit of rain, that took us up to Tapps tea room at Baldock. We went through the Baldock bends both ways, wet and then dry! A pleasant day with about 16 of our members involved.
On 25th August Richard led five bikes and six people down to Box Hill for coffee at Ryka's cafe and then on to West Wittering for lunch. This is a pleasant coastal resort near Chichester and they partook in a pleasant lunch there as well as a stroll on the beach. There were some problems with traffic but a great day was had with lovely weather and good company.
On 1st September the Branch met at the Kings Oak, High Beach and took a very nice route up near to Luton for a good lunch at the Lilley Arms. We found mostly country roads the whole way, believe it or not! Afterwards we took the A505 through Hitchen before finding country roads to a tea break at Arrington on the A1198. The highlight of a nice ride home from there was the B1039 running East from Barley. A very pleasant day indeed.
Sunday 8th September was the annual run to Harwich in aid of the Essex and Herts air ambulance. North London joined in with thousands of others. After looking around the show lunch was taken at Halfpenny pier with an afternoon break at Braintree.
On 22nd September three of the Branches finest Amigos rode to the Iron Horse Ranch House at Deeping. A stack of pancakes was consumed and a jolly time had despite the damp weather. A day for the hardcore.
October 5-7th the Branch had a lovely trip to Cornwall organised and led by Richard. A very nice Ride down featured stops at Loomies and West Bay with a scone tea on Dartmoor. On the Sunday we visited Tintagel, Padstow and other coastal resorts and enjoyed great coastal scenery. We stayed at the very pleasant Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor. Very atmospheric it was there. The Ride home on the Monday was rather damp, otherwise a great weekend.
On 20th October the weather was finally dry, if a little fresh, so six of the Branch took a ride on a sample of the best of the local roads. Corners was the order of the day and our route took us through Much Hadham, Elsenham, Thaxted, Finchingfield, Dunmow and Hatfield Heath. Lunch was at the fine Corner Cafe at Sible Hedingham with an afternoon break at Hatfield Heath. Great company was an added bonus.
On 27th it was a dry but rather brisk autumn day. Dave T boldly led a contingent of eight bikes and nine people into the wilds called the 'Cotswolds'. The route was great (though I rarely knew where we were) and we had a nice morning break alongside a river, may have been the 'Thames' before a fine Sunday lunch at the Inn for all Seasons. This was on the A40 just east of Burford. It was a long day, rather cold but extremely pleasant.
On 3rd November we decided on a Pilgrimage! Well it was St Neots, even though we did not visit any churches! We did have lunch at the highly recommended Ambience cafe on the Riverside though. I was the victim of some worthwhile abuse as I was first in the queue and got the last bit of steak pie. A fair exchange me thinks, lovely! And the Ride? Very nice, if a bit damp, great company and roads. Nine bikes and a prospective new member came along for the first bit. Afternoon stop taken at Mayfield farm shop Shearing where we were the reluctant recipients of some nice cakes left over after an event. Tough it isn't!
North London November report
The Branch has had an active month and not been put off by the colder, murkier conditions. On 10th a nice run to the Duxford Remembrance Day was enjoyed with lunch at Bury Farm shop in Royston. One of our regular haunts.
On 17th a Ride Out took place to the Super Sausage for a health enhancing dose of sausages, bacon and other lovely foodstuffs.
On 24th a well supported Ride went out towards Stowmarket.
Hopefully a mild winter will enable us to enjoy further Rides on the rather good roads in our area. The NEC show was also attended by some of our crew...
This Sunday, 8th December, the weather forecast looks okay and a Ride will take place. We will leave McDonalds M11/Harlow junction at 1100 and head towards Burnham for lunch, via Chelmsford. Probably take afternoon tea on seafront at Maldon... All welcome.
On a fresh but pleasant winters day, 8th December, we went for a pleasant Ride to Burnham for some nice lunch, splitting between the Cabin Dairy and the chip shop opposite. As usual the Burnham 'Bends' were spoilt by slower traffic. Some lovely roads around the Peninsula took us for afternoon coffee on the Barge cafe at Maldon. Another pleasant coastal destination. A lovely day with our usual low standard of conversation adding further pleasure to the occasion..
On 15th December four of us took a pleasant route to one of our regular haunts, Krazy Horse at Bury St Edmunds. We used main roads to get there and in the afternoon used country roads to get to Thaxted for afternoon tea at Parrish's. A very pleasant day and enhanced by meeting Mick O' at lunch. He now lives up in the wilds that are Norfolk...
North London have a Gem of a day.
At the Blackwater Pearl cafe on West Mersea... (Geddit) 22nd December and yet again we went for a winters ride! Wet roads but dry air on a lovely route that took us along the A414 and via Chelmsford and Maldon. Afterwards our route took us through Kelvedon and Coggeshall before an afternoon break at Blake Craft Centre near Dunmow. A nice day enjoyed by five of us..
It was a pleasant Sunday in between Christmas and the New Year and four of our finest, ably led by Dave P, decided some fresh air was needed. A lovely run took them up to Thorpeness for lunch and they even went Al Fresco! (It was actually full). The afternoon saw them amble back towards Finchingfield to finish a fine day out.
On Sunday 5th January we joined Essex and Kent Branches for our traditional first Ride of the year. It was nice and mild and we went from Thurrock Services to Maidstone Services and then on to the seafront at Hastings for lunch. The route and company were very pleasant. Afterwards, due to the time and the coming darkness, us North London lot headed directly for home via the A21 and M25.
It was a damp but mild day on 12th January when Richard led a group of six on a lovely country route from McDees Harlow/M11 and up to Dents farm shop off the A10 at Hilgay, for a nice bit of lunch. We returned on different roads and back through Newmarket and Claire before afternoon tea and scones at Tarka's cafe, Baythorne. We finished with one of our regular routes through Finchingfield, Dunmow and Ongar. It was a day for sharpening our skills with a brisk pace and about 160 miles of damp challenging roads. A great day out.
The 19th January turned out cold and frosty and our Branch bravely decided on a Ride Out. By the time we met at McDonalds our plan had been moderated from heading up towards Kings Lynn and going towards St Neots instead. A number of our gang mentioned slippery roads. While sipping our coffees we got a call from one of our Team... He had come off on black ice on the way to join us! Some of our crew immediately went to help him. After a while the rest of us went to reunite with them and another of our riders hit the tarmac on the same road!
After a regroup and chat seven survivors had lunch at a nice cafe in Hoddeston and went our separate ways from there. Both riders seem not to be badly hurt at this time but minimal damage on their bikes will still cost a bit to fix. No names no pack drill!
No Hondas were damaged in the making of this Story! .....
On 2nd February a team of six met at McDees M11/Harlow. This time everyone got there safely! After a short chat we decided to go to Southend for some traditional seaside fare. That's fish and chips for those of you who are landlocked! Richard put in a curvy route request into his satnav and off we went. The route was okay and took us past the picturesque Hanningfield reservoir. Just outside Southend Robin got a puncture which turned out to be a good team building occasion and lost us about half an hour. We boldly continued and lunch was taken as planned. We took a direct route home with a stop at a garden centre on A414 where Robin treated us to afternoon requisites. A lovely day and a warm welcome to Ron and Cliff who joined us to try out the Branch.
Our first Ride for a while, on 1st March, was very pleasant and it was a fresh clear day with a bit of sun. We used a lot of country roads that were affected by rather a lot of water and gravel run off and we had to turn around twice as the road was flooded, but a great day was enjoyed by ten of us. Steve J led us from Harlow/M11 to the nice Lilley Arms for lunch and then we took a meandering route to Baldock Services for an afternoon brew. Afterwards we negotiated the famous local bends before heading home via the A10. A warm welcome to Tina who joined us for the first time with recent member Ron..
On 8th March Mark kindly volunteered to lead a Ride and thirteen people on twelve bikes met at High Beech keen and ready to go. We took some of our regular roads up to Bury St Edmunds and then went West on the A14 to Fulbourne hoping to have a pub lunch. They could not cope with our numbers and so we went to a nearby pleasant garden centre instead. John led us after lunch to one of our favourite cafes at Hatfield Heath. We all split off for home from here. A very nice day out...
On 15th March 8 intrepid riders left from Birchhanger Services on the M11 to head for Market Deeping (the Iron Horse (motorcycle eating place!) Richard , Ron, Simon, Dave P, John, Steve (new man), Steve J and Robin D all set off with great hopes of a 90 minute run…. ! not sure if that’s as the crow fly’s?
We had some early “farm lanes ” to test the skills around Manuden and Barkway on the way to Royston. Then open roads to Saint Ives and a somewhat windy …and now wet crossing of the Fens around Pondersbridge and finally around Peterborough to the goal.. (eating) at Market Deeping (the Iron Horse). That was after a little help from Dave P to correct a “Sat Nav error” and get us back facing the right way we arrived JUST 2 hours and 15 minute after setting off!
After some personal refueling , some more that other a direct route home was the planned. Only slightly scuppered by more rain and then the A14 being closed at Huntingdon with diversions along A roads, forcing more skills testing of white lining, and slow speed filtering!
Finally all home safe to dry off then tea and cakes ….. !
On 22nd March a Meet for a Ride was arranged at High Beech. I thought not many would turn up and the countryside would be quiet. The area was buzzing and, rightly or wrongly, 13 of us turned up for a Ride. Unfortunately one of the bikes liked the area so much it decided to stay where it was and also we lost a Rider after lunch, otherwise the roads, the day and weather were top notch. Best roads of the day were probably B660 around Kimbolton and B1040 around Ramsey. We managed to get some takeaway provisions at the Ambience cafe, though we had some supplies with us and also managed an afternoon break outside a McDonalds. A lovely day with some of my favourite roads. No photo shown.
North London go coastal
On 21st June five of our most alert members took a lovely Ride to West Mersea. The weather was lovely and so were the coastal and country roads used. The weather was not as murky as my photo suggests and we had fine views over the water. Two others in our Branch also went to Mersea and had an equally fine day, though at a faster pace I suspect. A final stop at Hatfield Heath for a drink completed the day.
North London divide and conquer
On 28th June it was decided that the Branch needed to do a Ride open to the whole Branch and not just the select few. We arranged a meet up at Birchanger services and from there dispatched an 'A' Team that was followed about ten minutes later by the rest in a slower group. 11 Bikes made up the two groups and we both did slightly different routes. I was 'B' Team captain and we went to St Neots via Newport, Royston and Gamlingay. It was a lovely day with just a bit of rain at the end and it was nice seeing some members we had not seen for a bit. After a small stretch of the A1 we cruised the Baldock Bends and cut across country to Hatfield Heath. A few of us had a last stop there with a few from the first group. A very nice day.
North London have a cruise about 5th Aug..
Unfortunately, though we are now riding regularly, we don't always advertise the Rides fully to keep the numbers down. Hopefully this won't continue for much longer. Sorry to anyone who is missing out.
A group of us decided we were missing the briny seas. So at the risk of copying some of Roland's fine destinations decided we would visit the lovely seafront at Walton-on-the -Naze. We had a lovely run up to Colchester via the A414, Maldon and Tiptree, but Colchester was a bit of a pain and the roads nearer the coast were a bit busy. Afterwards we returned to the 'Smoke' via Halstead and Sudbury.
We did have a casualty though! John was stung by a bee on his face and somehow we lost him when he stopped. Though he bravely carried on home okay.
It was a lovely day with refreshments and loos available at lunch and some fine country roads. I should have taken my swimming trunks though...
On 19th July Richard led a very pleasant Ride that took a group of us down to the South Coast where we got something to eat from the Boulevarde cafe in West Wittering. Generous portions of fine food were served here. This is south of Chichester. Some M25 was necessary but we covered a lot of pleasant country roads and had a good ride there. Things improved on the way back as the weather slowly dried out which enabled us to speed up a bit around the bends. The small group had a great day and changed here and there as we had a few separations and were met at lunchtime by Keith who joined us on the way home. About 220 miles was covered in total.
On 26th July we decided to take the latest Diet Advice from our Boris (Johnson) and eat small portions. We settled on the Super Sausage near Milton Keynes as a tester for our new found resolve. We all failed in fine style and dug into large portions of bread and processed red meat! To cap it all we found a nice tea room with outdoor seating in Tring on the way home which, unfortunately, served rather nice cake. Well... there's always tomorrow!
Anyway, I digress. The weather was lovely and we all did a nice cross country route to lunch from High Beach. We didn't all do the same route, but hey, one day we might! I can but dream....
We stuck together okay for the return which took us on the lovely A413 to Aylesbury via Buckingham, then home via Tring and those funny roundabouts at Hemel. A nice day. Nice having Jack join us as not seen for a while.
On a lovely day on 2nd August Dave T kindly volunteered to lead a Ride. Starting from Hatfield the outward leg took them through here and there, back to here.... Okay, I'll be more precise. Hemel, Ivinghoe, Aston Clinton, Aylesbury, Stone, Thame, Chiselhampton and onto Burcot. Here they stopped at 'H' Cafe. A fine place previously not known about to most of the group. They look a happy bunch there. Back home via Benson, Chinoor and Wendover. I couldn't make the Ride so everyone stuck together and had a great day. That's what they told me anyway! Nice to see a good bunch out and about. Next weekend some of us are going to Belgium. And not just for the buns..
16th was very grey and with a poor weather forecast but three of us were keen to try and get out on a Ride and arranged to Meet at McDonalds near Harlow. Surprisingly six of us turned up and had a fairly dry day going to Tapps tearoom at Baldock for a mid morning break. Great roads took us there and the ride home was equally good using the Baldock Bends, Buntingford, across to Newport, Elsenham, Takeley and then Harlow. We finished at Ron's place where Tina made us a lobvely fresh meal to send us on our way. An unexpectedly very good day.
On 23rd August a few of us decided to have our Annual BBQ compliments of Masterchef Steve J. The weather turned out rather nice and the day started with a lovely Run to Burnham via the Burnham Bends and past Hanningfield reservoir. After a leisurely tea/coffee by the Cabin Dairy we then made our way to the BBQ. Having enough time we used some lovely bendy and quiet roads to take us through Southminster, Tillingham, Steeple and St Lawrence before heading back mainly along the A414. The food and company was very pleasant and it was a rather nice day all round. Due to the Government restrictions on numbers and gatherings I was not able to properly advertise this Event, so my apologies to those who would have liked to come but did not hear about it. Steve
Sunday 30th August was a nice day and a few of us arranged to meet up at McDees at Harlow for a socially approved Ride. In the Event there were twelve bikes and so travelled in small groups to Brown's at Mundford for some lunch. The roads around the Thetford Forest area are grand and a great Ride took us on minor roads up to Newmarket and then past Walkers to Mundford. Here we sat outside on four tables, all well within hearing of Steve J though! We properly split up afterwards and one group bravely ventured deeper into Norfolk for afternoon beverages at Mick O's. I led the second group on some lovely minor roads to Clare, via Tuddenham, Barrow and Wickhambrook. Near here we had a break at Tarka's before heading home. Thanks to Richard for leading and organising, other Steve and Mick O also assisted..
On 6th September a small group of resolute Riders, ably led by Dave P, left Brentwood services with a view to going to Folkestone for Feesh and chips. After crossing the water they arrived in Kent and did some great rural road riding before arriving for lunch at....??? Well it wasn't Folkestone because the sea was missing! It was a Burger King somewhere inland. The group then crossed back over into neutral territory, Essex, riding up to Chelmsford for a nice afternoon break at Papermill Lock. Some more pleasant roads took them towards Dunmow where they sadly parted company.
On September 2nd to 6th four of the Branch, Richard, Mick'O, Simon and myself (known as Steve), decided on four nights away to try and make up for all the riding we had been missing due to the Pandemic. The weather being relatively promising we modestly decided on the southern part of Scotland. The weather was generally not too bad and we enjoyed some brilliant roads and scenery, Simon sharing the leading with myself. I used my newish Honda Crossrunner which proved a fabulous bike, comfy, quick enough, good handling and smooth. Like me really. The first day we used the A1 to take us above Scotch Corner from where we cut across to Haltwhistle via Alston. The second day we cut over to the A7 and then over to the M8 around Glasgow and up the lovely A82 to Crianlarich where we had two nights at the recommended Craigbank guest house. From there Simon led a brilliant Ride, up A82, across Corran Ferry, A861, A830 to Mallaig and then home via Fort William. Stunning it was! Home route was another stop by Hadrian's Wall at Twice Route, using A68. Last day we went via Alston and used the lovely B6277 to hit the A1 near Scotch Corner. A very nice biking break with great roads, accommodation and company.
On 12th September an alliance of capable Riders decided to do, again in most cases, the ACU NRRally. We decided to go for the Gold 🥇 Award, being generally modest by nature. Roland, Graham, Keith and myself (Steve) stayed as a group and Mike'O did a different route as he now lives in the country. Norfolk. We did the twelve checkpoints required and 270 official miles, though more in reality, finishing at about 7pm. The route, led by Graham, was very pleasant and some of the roads will be used in our regular Rides. We went as far north as Lincoln, having started at Harlow. Lovely weather, good company, and a pleasant day. All Hondas too!
On 13th September, after last week's mysteries Dave P was determined to prove that Folkestone really existed and that England did have a coast. He persisted in using some techy route mapping to get us there avoiding big roads where possible. The route was pleasant, in parts, but the good roads were subject to traffic. After just over three hours we found it! Eureka! It is not a place just bound in myth and legend after all. We had a nice fish and chip shop lunch and came straight back via the A2 and M2. A nice day attended by five of us. I do apologise that the only Honda on the Ride isn't even in the photo.. For much of the route I was convinced that there was a village somewhere, unknown to me but with the same name, that we we heading to. But no!, it was the real Folkestone.