Trice Q goes to Colchester

Today I went for a cycle ride – from Great Bromley to Colchester on my Trice Q.

The Q is my original trike, now 6 years old, and it had done 25,000 miles before I bought Alfie (the newer trike) and retired the Q. (For some unfathomable reason the Q was never given its own name, unlike my more recent recumbents).

Anyway, the Q is vaguely up for sale (except I haven’t advertised it) and languishes in the back of the shed at home in Essex. But it does mean that I have a trike to ride when I return home from Germany.

Today, halfway through my visit home to the UK after three months in Germany, there was a concert at my church in Colchester which I wanted to attend. So out came the Trice Q as I didn’t want to suffer the hassles of driving to Colchester, finding somewhere to park and emptying my purse to pay for the parking.

I had brought some cycling shoes with me (with SPD cleats on them) as these are needed for the Q’s pedals. The day seemed reasonably warm so I put on my old cycling clothing that was still here in Essex and got ready to set off, borrowing James’s blue panniers for the journey. The panniers didn’t have any tools in (my set of trike tools are 300km away in Germany) so if I had any issues I would have to phone up for the broom wagon!

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Having barely used the Q in three years (and I’ve done a cumulative 22,000 miles on my other trike and velomobile since), it seemed very different. The boom/bottom bracket seems lower, the trike is a little wider so feels different, and it seems to need a bit more muscle power to steer for the corners. But it is still a very comfortable trike and feels a bit quicker to accelerate than Alfie (it has derailleur gears at the back, not a hub gear, so the rear wheel has less rotation resistance). On the other hand it is shod with three Marathon Plus tyres so these have more rolling resistance and lead to a slightly slower ride time overall.

Off I went along the country lanes of Great Bromley, heading towards Colchester.

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It was strange to be riding on the correct side of the road again!

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The roads feel a little bit more cramped than in Germany but I think this is almost entirely down to the hedges either side that give an illusion of narrowness – all the roads around where I live in Germany have nothing at the sides except wide open fields which makes you think everything has more space.

My new cycling shoes were performing well – here’s one getting into the photo again!

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I must have done this ride to Colchester hundreds of times in the past. In includes two rather nasty hills (well, nasty for a non-climber like me). The first hill, Crockleford Hill, is a dip down to Salary Brook which marks the town limit of Colchester. It was also a bit strange today as there were lots of police about – a few days ago there was a murder in the Greenstead area (near where I was cycling) and they haven’t yet found the person who did it.

As I rode along the Harwich Road I spotted this house that didn’t seem to have noticed that England were now out of the World Cup!

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As I arrived towards the centre of Colchester I passed some of the old houses near to the river Colne.

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This mill building (I think!) has been turned into a very posh block of flats.

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Then I was at the traffic lights with East Hill in front of me.

Now for most cyclists this probably doesn’t look very hilly but believe me, it is. Especially on a recumbent trike, and when you’ve been eating too many cakes and too much chocolate in Germany. I was glad of my nice low gear ratios on the Trice Q so I could winch my way slowly up this hill.

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This is a slight problem with Colchester – the Romans decided to built it on a hill which means you always have to go up a hill to get to it. How inconsiderate of them!

Anyway, I managed to ride to the top without expiring and then rode down the pedestrian streets to get the the church which is slap bang in the middle of the pedestrian precinct central section of Colchester, built above the shops River Island, Costa Coffee and the Body Shop.

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One thing that I noticed almost immediately as I was cycling slowly around the streets is that an awful lot of the people round and about me were fatter than me. In the Kempen area I am one of the lardiest people that I know (well, lardiest woman anyway); here in Colchester I was very much at home in terms of spare tyres and muffin tops.

A possible reason is just opposite Lion Walk – a very nice bakery! (Although, of course, there are lots of nice bakeries in Germany too, as regular readers of my blog may have noticed)

I was very good and just bought a filled baguette from here, no cakes or pastries!

There appeared to be a Giraffe in the church car park.

As I was quite early I decided to park the Trice Q at the church and have a short wander around Colchester to do a couple of boring errands (paying in a cheque at the bank, etc).

Here is the Trice Q arriving at church.

This church began in 1647 but has been rebuilt several times – this particular building is only 25 years old, but the tower was retained from the previous building (which had to be pulled down as it wasn’t very well built!)

The church parking area was surprisingly busy with pushchairs – the pre-school were obviously still there.

I left the Q there and went off on foot through the pedestrian area. I was reminded how many mobile phone shops there are in the UK, as well as pound shops like this one:

However there is also some culture in Colchester with the castle:

And the town hall:

Once again some people are still flying the flag for England, despite their exit from the World Cup first round!

I had to cross the main road at one point and I suddenly realised that I was standing at the traffic light (with a red man for the pedestrian) waiting for it to turn green – but everyone around me was crossing the road as there was no traffic. My three months in Germany have made me very law-abiding!

There’s a small street market around Culver Square and it was all reasonably busy. The vegetable seller was doing the fabulous market calling of his wares but I couldn’t get a good recording of the special way in which they speak – it would have been interesting for my non-Brit readers! Sorry.

Here I am arriving back at Lion Walk church – dangerously close to an Apple Store!

I went into the church and had my lunch (they offer light lunches before the concerts) which involved me spilling some asparagus soup down my front (very messy!). I was then talking to Paul the church caretaker (who I know quite well) and he told me he had a new bike – well I really had to see it! Paul lives above the church in a flat so we went up to the roof of the church (which is itself built over some shops) to admire his wonderful new Pashley bike.

Interestingly Paul didn’t provide me with a safety harness as the sign suggests!

This is the view across the rooftops of the Town Hall.

And here is the beautiful bike!

He’s going to take the lock off and put it somewhere else which is a good decision – it rather spoils the lines of the metal.

It has a nice Brooks saddle, a Sturmey Archer 5-speed hub gear, drum brakes front and rear.

Paul says it is great to ride, which I can believe (for those who can ride uprights)

Some more views across the rooves – on the left is St Peter’s Church at the top of North Hill, the Jumbo Tower and on the right the Town Hall.

And this is looking over to the church – the grey stuff behind the brick tower is the area for the organ pipes and then the top skylights of the octagonal church sanctuary are visible.

After a good look around and chat about the bike it was time for me to go down to the concert which was a wonderful cello and piano event. Beethoven’s Sonate in A Major (Opus 69) played by Oliver Ray on the cello accompanied by his father Ian.

After the concert (which was 45 minutes and included a lovely Vaughan Williams piece as an encore) I stopped off at Aldi to buy some curry sauces for Germany and then rode home, once again hauling myself up the two significant hills at a snail’s pace.

Still, it was good to get out on the bike and it’s worth me knowing that three months in Germany absolutely kills my hill-climbing ability. I’m going to have to tackle the Süchtelner Höhen at least once per week if I’m to have any chance of coping with Essex Hills next time I visit.

My top speed was quite good though! Unfortunately it appears that my ‘Moving Average Speed’ has turned into ‘Sunrise’ so I’m now sure how long it all took but I reckon it’s about an average of 10mph which is pretty slow!

Here’s the track of the ride:

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And here’s the elevation information:

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The Trice Q acquitted itself well seeing as it’s been mostly ignored for three years except for when I’ve lent it to people. I am more used to Alfie and definitely prefer his hub gear (I am rubbish with derailleurs) but the Q is still a very decent trike. And it’s up for sale at a bargainous £1,000/1.125,00€ if you’re interested!

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