Saturday, 18 March 2017

A Family Ride in Essex and a Mechanical (LGD -421 days)
Saturday 18 March, 48 Miles


Click here for Route Flyby

Are we all ready?
Today was a rather special day - a family reunion. Expertly organised by Steve Richardson, we all descended on Basildon for this year’s i-Ride Essex gathering. Over twenty of my cousins were there so there was a lot of catching up to do. So much catching up that it was quite an effort to gather everyone together at once. (Herding cats may be easier readers.)

As I’ve written a few times before BOCUK (Bianchi Owners Club UK) really is one big family. No, I’ve got that wrong; it’s one big happy family. We keep in touch with each other regularly through our Facebook wall, sharing and seeking advice and experience. And we post lots of photos of our rides and even more of our bikes. Although I’ve probably only met and spoken to a couple of dozen members they all feel like my cousins. In fact, one or two are getting close to becoming brothers and sisters – you know who you are! So, family gatherings like today are important events.

Yaay! A cafe stop
Steve had picked out a nice 40(ish) mile route which took us north from Basildon to a great café stop at Paper Mill Lock on the banks of the River Chelmer. The weather gods smiled on us (can you let me have their number sometime Steve) – there was no rain. Although the wind was blowing the sheltered nature of the route protected us most of the time. As I rode along the main sound apart from the hiss of rubber on tarmac and the occasional rattle of chains on sprockets, was happy chatter. The cousins catching up with each other in the unique Bianchista dialect.

Unfortunately, my own sounds became rather harsh and reverted to muttered Anglo-Saxon. Climbing a short rise, after only a few miles, I moved my rear gear shifter to change up and keep spinning up the hill. Without any warning, I found that the opposite had happened I was riding in my highest gear (50x12 for you tech types). Bugger! Shifting the shifter had no effect and looking down all I could see was slack cable. Bugger, bugger! Well in a nutshell, it seemed as if the clamp that attaches the cable to the rear derailleur had broken so moving the shifter had no effect. After sizing up the situation I used a cable tie to stop the gear cable from flapping about and carried on riding. At least this wasn’t mountain country – there was only one climb that I couldn’t manage and had to walk up. There was genuine concern amongst the cousins; who kept asking after me and making sure that I didn’t get dropped or lost. (Big thanks everyone for this.) As it transpired when I was able to turn the bike upside down and have a good look at it I discovered that things weren’t quite so terminal and was able to make a temporary repair to get half my gears back into action.

The cousins at home
But that’s enough of my troubles. Today was all about the family. After a great café stop (the coffee and walnut cake more than refuelled me) we were off again heading back to South Benfleet. With gently undulating roads and a tail wind we made excellent pace and all too soon the end of the ride was approaching. We had an important rendezvous to make at one of our ancestral homes – JD Cycles. Awaiting us were refreshments (and more outstanding homemade cake) as well as live coverage of the Milan-San Remo on the telly. And there were lots of bikes to drool over. Thanks Jason – you are a top ‘Uncle’.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Quindi, a tutti i miei cugini - Passione Celeste!



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