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1st June 2006


The Windmill Ride

Torrential rain washed out the club show at Stanford Hall but did nothing to damper the determination of the Herts and Essex riders to get out and enjoy their motorcycling. Anarchy reports...

Looks armless enough to me...'In a place in La Mancha, whose name I do not care to recall, there dwelt not so long ago a gentleman of the type wont to keep an unused lance, an old shield, a greyhound for racing, and a skinny old horse.'
Excerpt from Don Quixote - Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de.

Diesel Dave suggests a windmill ride. Yes, a ride visiting as many windmills as possible in the county of Essex, as opposed to hitching a leg over the sails, Don Quixote de la Mancha style, with lance in hand, riding the dragon.

Cards are scribbled up so we can select each windmill destination at random and we agree on a common first meeting point.

Now then, there is a very nice road that leads from Bishops Stortford to White Roding, the start and site of the first windmill and main meeting point for this ride-out. I won't tell you the road number because I want this route all to myself, mine all mine (shrieks of manic laughter). It's a fine quiet back road with swooping corners and scenic countryside, heath and village vistas abound.

I ride 'Pikey' the 1943 WDCO Royal Enfield accompanied by Craig 'the shirt' on his behemoth 700cc Meteor-engined Bullet.

The sun is shining, memories of the wet and grey previous weeks are swept away as we swoop and glide from Hertfordshire to Essex searching for a site of the first Windmill and the rest of today's ride-out crew.

A windmill, yesterday, Note lack of surrounding undergrowth.
Random Enfield Stuff on eBay.co.uk

The first three riders had already knocked off Mountnessing windmill on the ride up from Brentwood so had an extra feather in their caps to start the day with.

Onto the next windmill which was just along the road and, bizarrely, inside a small back garden and then off to the next destination, Fitchingfield, pulled out of the hat.

Fitchingfield village is something of a bikers' meet paradise on a Sunday morning. Roads leading to Fitchingfield are full of plastic fantastics in power ranger costumes wobbling along around the corners. We were riding along in an orderly convoy when a BMW GS rider overtakes me (de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme) and cuts in front a little too close for comfort. I set off in pursuit pleasantly surprised that the 63-year-old girder sprung and rigid rear war bike can quite happily gnash at the rear of the Beemer on such meandering country roads. I overtook the GS to make my point and the look on his face was priceless!

They've been standing there so long that the bushes have grown around them.

We all rolled into the village of Fitchingfield to locate the windmill. I had spotted the large white Windy Miller residence as we rode into the village but the god-like Tom Tom GPS gadget insisted it was further on in a field of wheat…? Moral, don't trust your new fangled GPS gadgets in a life-threatening or even windmill-chasing scenario.

Of course I paid for the thrash-metal racing with modern bikes and the aged Amal 275 vaporised its fuel long before the motor could get a sniff of it and 'Pikey' demanded a cooling off period. Fair enough, he has done his duty.

He'll never push start it standing that far away...

A futile attempt at push starting him was tried but the pretty café just down the lane beckoned more strongly than the coaxing of a German Para boot. 'Pikey' would have none of this Germanic persuasion! Once cooled off he started first prod as usual on his own terms, bless him.

Please don't walk on the grass.

The restaurant/café at Fitchingfield is very popular with motorcyclists and they do a very welcome full English breakfast. Highly recommended in the 'The Anarchists' Guide To favourite Scoff Places' by Mr A.N Archy, Free press. ISBN 007-666-34W32L

Don't like the look of those clouds...

This is where the Hertfordshire contingent split off and ride through Great Dunmow and Takely back to their heartland and the Essex massive head for Battlesbridge motorcycle museum and a final windmill or two.

Note the rare and almost priceless blue anorak on display on the right of the picture.

Jenny, who missed the first meeting point through partying until the early hours of the morning, forgot her phone and instead set off from central London to Essex sans map to ride aimlessly around hoping the 535cc Bullet would find its friends. Amazingly she was spotted passing a petrol station and welcomed back into the fold.

'How brilliant is that!'

In her very own words: 'There's a lot to be said for Positive Thinking. I set off today on a bike that hadn't been anywhere since I pulled it all to pieces. I aimed for the county of Essex, which I'm not at all familiar with. Without a map, or a phone, riding down country lanes, wishing to come across some other Bulleteers who are riding down country lanes in an area that is probably about 300 square miles at least.

'…And we met up!

'How brilliant is that!'

Which is my whole point indeed.

Don't moan and groan like grumpy old men when an organiser trips up on an event booking. Get out there and ride your bike with a group of likeminded friends with even the simplest excuses for destinations. It's not the destination that matters; it's how you get there that counts, honestly.

'Look, your worship,' said Sancho.

'What we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the vanes that turned by the wind make the millstone go.'

'It is easy to see,' replied Don Quixote, 'that you are not used to this business of adventures.

'Those are giants, and if you are afraid, away with you out of here and betake yourself to prayer, while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat.'


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