CAFE Knead at the Blue Egg has built quite a reputation amongst cyclists.
Riders from across the county hold the Braintree cafe in high esteem after it was given a professional stamp of approval by some of the biggest names in British cycling, and have flocked to sample its delights for themselves.
Star names, including Tour de France rider Mark Cavendish, British professionals Alex Dowsett and Basildon’s Russell Hampton and former Olympic medallist and world champion Rob Hayles are frequent visitors to Cafe Knead, as it is on their training route.
And with the biggest cycling race in the world heading through Essex in less than a week the owners are preparing for a bumper week – and a lot of baking.
Sue Fearnley has been in charge at the cafe for seven years and has seen it turn from a regular eatery to the only place for riders to eat in north Essex.
Now Sue and her partner Alan Taylor are planning an all-day celebration in aid of the race, which runs about three miles from the cafe next Monday.
Staff show off cyclists favourite - delicious scones
And she said avid Tweeter Dowsett may have started the trend when he mentioned the cafe on social media.
“It really began to attract cyclists when Alex Dowsett first came here about four years ago,” said Sue. “When he trains on the roads he nearly always comes in here for a bite to eat and we know him quite well now.”
She points at the signed jerseys on the wall, from the four riders mentioned above, and says they couldn’t be more approachable.
“We are on first name terms with them. When Mark and Alex come in they go out of their way to speak to the staff and if they say on Twitter they are here, there will be riders here soon after. We are very proud so many cyclists see this as the place to come but the beauty of it is we are a cafe for everyone.”
Cafe Knead can serve up to 300 cyclists on a busy weekend, with 50-strong groups often stopping by for a scone (the cyclists favourite, according to Sue) and a tea.
Chef owner Alan says Monday promises to be a great day, but wishes the route would run directly past the cafe. Instead it runs through Finchingfield, about three miles north of the Braintree Road cafe.
“It is a bit of a shame, but we are doing plenty here so Essex cyclists can enjoy the best of the stage with us.
“We will open early so people will be able to enjoy breakfast before heading out to watch the race, and can then come back here to watch the riders head into London on the big screens.
“We will also have a BBQ so it promises to be a great day.”
So if you fancy a soup, pastry, cake or brownie on Monday, there is only one place to go.