Windmill Ride and Stevenage Circular


1 July 2010

With the combined prospect of the hottest day of the year and watching dreadful England football, I headed to Chelmsford on Sunday for the ‘Windmill Ride’ audax. It turned out to be a good decision, and not just in view of the eventual match result.

Chelmer Cycling Club put on a well-organised event from their own club house which is conveniently located just 2 km from the station (itself under 40 minutes from Liverpool Street).

Even hours before kick-off, the roads were practically empty of traffic, making for fast progress along the lanes and B roads of north Essex. In contrast to my usual 200 km rides, I’d opted for the shorter 112 km option today – thinking mainly of the temperatures. It was a welcome change from the loneliness of so many 200 rides to find myself in a tight and sociable bunch formed by the Braintree Velo club – all seven of their club members were determined to get round in time for the start of the football. We reached the 50 km mark with an average rolling speed of 29.7 km on the clock: the only time I’ve ever threatened the maximum speed limit on an audax.

Things slowed after that as I lost contact while searching for a poorly placed ‘information control’, but I still completed the ride in four and three quarter hours.

This is a pretty and well-constructed route through picture postcard villages such as Felsted, Finchingfield, Great Bardfield and some of The Rodings. Half time control is at the Victoria CC club hut, familiar from the early season Henham audaxes. I recommend this event for next year.

Cakes on the lawn

The previous Sunday saw a visit to Stevenage for the 84 km ‘Stevenage Circular’ audax, now a Bike Week fixture. I am surprised that more London riders don’t join this ride, with fast trains taking just over 20 minutes from Kings Cross or Finsbury Park. Perhaps it is down to the crowded Bike Week calendar. As ever the Stevenage CTC put together an impeccably organised event from the lakeside HQ at the cyclist-friendly Costello’s cafe. There was the usual Mayoral presence at the start, a clear route sheet, and home made cakes served on the lawn outside Hexton village hall.

The Circular audax attracts a wide variety of riders, ranging from speed merchants using it as a lengthy time trial to leisure riders out on city and mountain bikes, and practically everyone should be able to complete within the generous time limits. For myself it was a pleasant ‘recovery’ ride after the rigours of the End to End the week before.

Have a look on the Stevenage CTC website to see numerous photos which give a flavour of the event (link on right of this page) and put it in the diary for next season.

Cyclists with the Mayor of Stevenage before the start of the Stevenage Circular 84 km audax ride, Sunday 20 June 2010 Credit: Andrew Cornwell

Riders await the start with the Mayor of Stevenage

Recumbent trike at the start of the Stevenage Circular 84 km audax, Sunday 20 June 2010. Credit: Andrew Cornwell
Every kind of bike could be found on the Stevenage Circular audax

Andrew Cornwell's bike outside Hexton village hall on the Stevenage Circular audax, Sunday 20 June 2010. Credit: Andrew Cornwell
Andrew's bike outside Hexton village hall at the control point and tea stop