Escape from the city

The blog has been a little quiet of late. A reflection on a few things in the Duckhouse but certainly not of inactivity! We have been busy doing lots of stuff behind the scenes as well as sorting kit orders for customers who have been busy riding everywhere from the Alps to Barry Island! At the time of writing we have loads of you guys battling the elements for a few hours in RideLondon and also select few venturing out for London-Edinburgh-London; yes you read that right London to Edinburgh and then back to London. We are pretty determined to join that ride on the next edition in four years time and the chances are that when you're reading this they may well will still be on the bike! 

So in the last month or two we've been riding and racing but frankly we haven't been anywhere outside of our normal radius. However, as at least half the readers and visitors to rideblackmore are from outside the UK we thought we'd retell a story of a recent ride and route that is well trodden by many but never trodden by even more.

The lanes of Essex. Todays venue.

Our friend Rav has been living in the states for a time now. Pre Blackmore days he had starred in some great away trips around the UK and Europe. However more recently the Atlantic provided a substantial barrier to seeing him. Now Rav is back and residing in West London. Back in the capital (although on the wrong side) and riding regularly around the responsibilities of a young family, maybe both literally and metaphorically, we thought we would take him out of the city and into Essex on a route that many of you would have done but a lot might not have and one that you can play around with in reverse or as part of a grander day out.

A quiet morning up at High Beach

We met at Mandys tea hut at High Beach in Epping Forest. Home of Deans' controversial liver sausage and cheese roll as well as loads of other more common and popular menu items! An 8am start doesn't see a lot of activity up there at the weekend; most of the riding groups start to meet around 9 but its a great time of day, the car park empty and the forest quiet. Our route is to take Rav out of the city limits (the M25) and out into the sticks. We depart High Beach and work our way through Epping High Street which is busy setting up for Saturdays market towards North Weald. The famed airfield here plays host to the Tuesday night tear up and more famously was an important RAF base in both World Wars which provided a home for Hurricanes and Spitfires who saw action in key battles over Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain. 

Some more early morning warriors

Once you cross the A414 it is really noticable that you are now in the countryside. We head out towards Magdalen Laver before turning east toward Morton and heading toward Fyfield, another village which hosted airbases in the war although these are now disbanded and only visible to a trained eye. Our obvious stop was for coffee in Blackmore, a reasonable 20 miles or so from High Beach (40 from Ravs outset). A kind easterly got uus there in good time. Our route took us through the single track lanes of Essex, Willingale and Norton Heath and Spains Lane, an unforgettable barrage of the senses at virtually every time of year! After descending into the village half an hour before opening we added an extra loop of Mill Green and Fryerning (the Viper loop as it's known locally; named after the pub of the same name that nestles in the woods in Mill Green). At this time of year the trees are fully laden and enclose much of the roads around here. The massive herds of deer were somewhere else this morning but they were surely watching as we had a little race through the woods before doubling back towards the village and some well deserved cake! An hour out of the city and you would never have known you were there in the first place!

The arable farm land of Essex has more to it than meets the eye.

The route back is probably less picturesque but its not bad, running through Hay Green Lane and up towards Kelvedon Hatch and Navestock Side. This is a route that we use regually when riding into the city but today we hung a right to keep us north of London and back towards Epping Forest. Keeping on the aviation theme this would skirt us past Ongar and Abridge. The former being a base for RAF and USAAF bombers in WWII. The latter played an important part in D Day and suffered a direct hit from a V2 rocket in 1945 that killed 17 and injured 50 personnel. Amongst other things in the war it provided a home for the Hurricanes from No46 squadron that were made homeless from the sinking of HMS Glorious in Norway.

387th Bomb Group B-26 Marauders parked at RAF Chipping Ongar ,1944

The last part of our ride took us up to Theydon Bois via Coopersale Lane and into Epping Forest up Jacks Hill. This provided a good test of the legs on an otherwise flat but windswept route and onwards back to High Beach and for a cuppa at Mandys. Epping Forest has a distinct history of its own, but that might best be saved for another day!

It was great to show Rav around and this route is ideal for anyone looking to explore out of the East side of London on largely quiet lanes. In the coming weeks we are off to do some more riding in the UK and then at the end of August we are off to Eurobike which we are going to write a blog about and are very excited about indeed! 

Until then!