Why do you ride? Earlier in the year as part of the British Cycling campaign One In A Million, a campaign trying to get one million more women on bikes by 2020, I shared a number of stories from inspiring ladies I knew who cycled. Whilst doing this I got to understand the main reasons why some of them cycled. The three main reasons that kept coming up were the sense of freedom, personal challenge and the social aspect and I think it is safe to say this is not just limited to women either!
I am based in Hornchurch in Essex and so my rides are all to destinations I can get to from close to home and I thought I would share some of my favourites:
- Blue Egg – Great Bardfield – this is super popular with cyclists in the area and the place itself is made up of several different companies but the cafe is Knead Food. The route I have for this ride is around a 90 mile round trip and a stop here could be breakfast, lunch, snack or cake. The full English is fab and I can recommend the carrot cake and the quiche too. Sadly closed on bank holidays.
- Andrewsfield Airfield – Great Dunmow – not too far from the Blue Egg (is actually about 2 miles on the route I take). They do a nice breakfast and also lunches and main meals. Take cash though as they do not accept card payments.
- Bakehouse – Chelmsford – this is a regular stop for many cyclists in the area. There is also one in Maldon though I have not yet been there. Again this is a popular stop for cyclists especially in summer months. Both indoor seating and a pretty courtyard to seat in too with lots of bike racking available. I can recommend all the food – been her for breakfasts, lunches, cakes and more!
- Blackmore Tea Rooms – Blackmore – this is another regular stop and another popular choice with many a local cycle club. It is not that far from the Bakehouse. Really lovely scones, cream and jam.
- Tiptree Tea Rooms – Tiptree – famous for their jams and really tasty homemade cakes. They also sell mini bottles of tiptree gin (not for when riding obviously but small enough to fit in a cycle jersey!).
- Paper Mill Lock – Little Baddow – the tea rooms are on the canal and popular in the summer with lots of outdoor seating. And after you have eaten you then have the delight of North Hill to cycle up!
- The Snug – High Easter – really tasty freshly baked cakes and super friendly staff.
- The Booking Hall – Rayne – great red velvet cake! Such a quirky little place that used to be an old train station. Lots of bike racks here too as it is another popular choice with cyclists.
- Hanningfield Cafe on the Water – Hanningfield – it is as the name suggests with the cafe overlooking the reservoir. Lots of bike parking and large area on the decking to sit and eat.
- Hall & Co – Ramsden Heath – the first time I visited here I cycled round the back to the garden area and it was full of pink, black and grey as the Rapha club had cycled out to here. Food is always great and staff are brilliant. Freshly made cakes and yes in the picture that is a cadbury cream egg, wrapped in chocolate cake and dipped in chocolate – need I say more?
- Butts Green Garden Centre – Chelmsford – found this little gem when on an organised Specialized ride and honestly I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of stopping at a garden centre and yet they have the best cafes, just like this one!
- Nerissa & Claires – Ongar – great hot chocolate!
- Norton Heath Cafe – Norton Heath – delicious all day breakfast though limited where to leave bikes.
- Peterboat – Leigh on Sea – note a cafe but a pub that has become a firm favourite especially after the London to Southend bike ride. Loads of seating outside with plenty of space to leave bikes and a huge menu.
- Liana’s Tea Shop – Hornchurch – this is a little gem I discovered only recently, recommended by some friends. It is not far from where I live so tends to be a stop at the end of a ride and something nice to look forward to. All the cakes are home made and the flavours differ from one week to the next. I am a sucker for nice china and a teapot and this place did not disappoint. Very welcoming and as it is in the courtyard on Langtons there is ample space to leave bikes too, with seating both outside and indoors.