We’re just back from doing to the 25mile option of the Essex Castle Bike Ride, organised by BikeEvents.com and run this year on behalf of COHOC, the Colchester Hospitals Charity (their website).
It was Josie’s first outing on an organised bike ride, and she reckoned 25miles was just about her limit. It turned out a little more than 25miles, as we cycled to and from Colchester Castle Park, where the ride started.
Having missed last year’s ride (fortuitously, it turned out, as there was torrential rain), the route (below) was a bit different to that of the 2011 ride which we wrote about. The first part of the ride saw us cycling up Mile End Road this year, rather than Bergholt Road, and along Straight Road to Boxted. Turning left, we knew what was coming, but others didn’t as we dropped down Carters Hill and then turned left to climb up Parsonage Hill. The very steep Parsonage Hill!
We whizzed down Burnt Dick Hill and turned onto the A134 for a few hundred yards before turning left and heading west on Bures Road to Bures itself – along some lovely quiet country roads, with just the odd incline or two.
At Bures the 75milers turned right to head off to Lamarsh and Sudbury, and then via the Hedinghams back to Bures. We climbed up the short but steep road to Mount Bures, and landlord Mitch of The Thatcher’s Arms was on hand at the refreshment stop. Of the five refreshment stops, four were at real ale pubs which we can heartily recommend (the aforementioned Thatcher’s Arms, the Bell Inn at Castle Hedingham, The Alma at Copford Green, and The Hare and Hounds at Layer Breton).
Some nice countryside back roads took us to the top of Fordham, where we dropped down the hill, to be confronted by Fiddler’s Hill – a real bugger! And barely having got our breath back by the time we got to Chitt’s Hill (and grateful for not having to do the extra 25mile loop that the 50milers and 75milers had to do), it was a left turn up Newbridge Hill to West Bergholt. And that was even steeper! Who says Essex is flat? Fortunately, after that it was a long drop down Bergholt Road and back to King’s Head Meadow for the finish.
So if you’ve got a bike but haven’t yet been on an organised bike ride – get on it, get practising and sign up for one of the rides listed on our Cycling in Essex page.