I’m in my sixth year in LAM, as both as an Associate and Member. As much as I've enjoyed group rides, I've sometimes wondered why they couldn’t start a little closer to my home in SE4. We are the LONDON Advanced Motorcyclists after all!
The obvious answer was to plan a ride myself – but wasn’t this the preserve of those with vastly more skill and experience than I possess? My confidence was improved by planning and tail-ending the ‘Classic Run’ with Julian, then by leading a small group from Cobham on the Wales trip – all accomplished without any mishaps. As I live not far from the Blackwall tunnel, I sometimes use it to access the M11 and thence the country roads to the north of London. Why not string together an itinerary and put it on Tracker to see who’s interested?
The first planned date had to be postponed due to a combination of the petrol crisis and poor weather. However, on 23rd October, I and nine others gathered at the Esso station by Blackheath. We started the day off with a good deed: helping a glamorous young woman with a flat tyre. Her Mercedes hatchback was not equipped with a spare and despite Derek and Keith’s attempts to inflate her tyre, the sidewall was well and truly ruptured. Oh well! We tried.
It didn’t take us long to get through ‘the pipe’ and off the first junction of the M11, taking us on to the rural roads of Essex. The road up through Ongar to Finchingfield, where we took a coffee break will be known to those of us who’ve been on a Norfolk weekend. The landscape of Essex and Herts lacks the changes in elevation and dramatic vistas of the Wealden counties, however there are plenty of challenging twisties and opportunities to ride at the national speed limit.
We stopped for lunch in the Hertfordshire town of Buntingford. Unfortunately, the ‘Street Food’ van which should have been at the Fox and Duck had broken down. However, the hospitable landlady, who had set a small bar aside for our use invited us to bring food from the local baker or fish and chip shop, so we didn’t go hungry.
The route back was probably less interesting and took in a stretch of the A10. There's a rural route which takes you through a ford, but this would have made for a long day. Perhaps another time. Our final stop was the Epping Forest Tea Hut, a well-known biker hangout where some interesting bikes including high-performance two-strokes of 70's vintage can be spotted.
As I mentioned, there were a total of ten of us on the ride. This seems to be a pretty optimum number for a group ride, giving cohesiveness and not forming an overwhelming ‘pack’.
Learning for me? I should have 'recced' the route more thoroughly, particularly as there were some turns where zebra crossings or other road markings and restrictions made it difficult to place a marker.
Where I saw a 911 and Range Rover baulked by a slow moving hatchback I’m glad I held back, as an overtake could have resulted in disaster when the two vehicles pulled out simultaneously. I think it was the personalised number plate that brought about that extra caution.
So members: if I can do it any of you can. Advantages are that you can pick a time, date and starting point convenient to you, and if you need a drink or if nature calls when you’re on the road, it’s your decision to stop. Trevor Ambrose is able to help with posting the ride in Tracker – so what are you waiting for!
You must have a favourite route - or if not string something together on My Route. You need to think about refreshment stops and to check with the lunch venue, then put it on Tracker. Trevor Ambrose is happy to help with this - and watch the sign-ups begin! We have a reasonable number of members who live in London itself as well as the Surrey suburbs, so hopefully we can have some more rides which meet this group’s needs.
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