Sundays Big Adventure
Last Sunday morning was the annual Suffolk coast ride. I am not really into doing sportives or regularly taking part in these fund raising rides but I do like to do this one mainly because it’s close to where I live. This was the seventh time in a row in fact that I have taken part. I am getting a nice little collection of certificates on my office wall at home to prove it.
With all the rubbish weather we’ve had over the last couple of months I hadn’t done half the mileage I would have done by now so a couple of weeks before the ride I thought I’d better step it up a bit. It’s surprising how many miles you can get under your belt with a little effort and by Sunday morning I had no doubt that I would be able to complete the 60 mile course without throwing up or getting cramp.
I had an eye on the weather all week as I didn’t like the thought of riding all day in the wet, but the forecast was pretty good for the morning turning to showers in the afternoon.
I was up at six and had my usual two to three cups of tea and a bonus Weetabix in the bowl for extra energy. I loaded up my bike in the back of the van and went through my routine for getting prepared. My next door neighbour was also doing the ride with me which was great as it’s always easier with someone else as you tend to chat as the miles disappear beneath your wheels. We left home at 7.30am, it was only a twenty drive to the start, Glemham Hall, a beautiful Elizabethan House in the heart of the Suffolk countryside.
There was plenty of activity when we arrived. People like to get these things under way nice and early especially with the threat of rain. We got ourselves ready and made our way to the start line. At the start there was this guy, I don’t know who he is but he is there every year with his microphone doing a running commentary and getting people underway. He never runs out of things to say and he has a jokey approach to his work which does put people at ease. This is just what these events need, a light hearted approach to the day.
At 8.30am we were off. The very first part was the track out of the park which I really do not like as you have the threat of punctures straight away and on this occasion also mud, so you try and go along the grass but then you have to avoid the cow pats. Not the nicest of starts I have to say but soon we were on the road, a quiet country back road. The event was well organised with marshals at most of the road junctions and refreshment stops along the way. The course led up down very narrow lanes towards Sweffling, the roads were dry but they had seen a fair bit of water in the previous few days so there were sandy deposits and stones across the road in some areas. You have to pick your line carefully because thin tyres really don’t like this stuff and it’s very easy to pick up punctures.
Our pace was quite high and we tagged onto a group of guys who we followed for two or three miles before passing and lifting our pace higher. I did notice a lot of fairly dodgy passing going on round blind corners and I wondered if some of the people taking part thought we were on closed roads. Our first stop was Peasenhall. This was a quick splash and dash so to speak where we could just fill our water bottles and be on our way again. All was going well, the sun was out, the winds were very light and the atmosphere was great. There were people of all shapes, sizes and abilities doing this ride.
I really admire the ones who, and I don’t mean to be offensive are not proper cyclists. That sounds rubbish but by that I mean the people who have obviously dug their bike out of the depths of their garages and are riding round in jeans and sweat shirts with big bags across their shoulders. They have to put far more effort in to complete these courses because of the fact they are not riding on a regular basis but I bet that they raise far more money. This might be a real challenge for them and I take my hat off to them as I think they are the real heroes of the day. Let’s face it if you’re riding forty to fifty mile rides at the weekend anyway, this really isn’t going to take a lot of extra effort but having said that the more people that do it the more money is raised.
We carried on through mostly small lanes heading north until we came to Southwold. A lovely seaside town which to me seems like you’ve gone back in time to the fifties. There were a load of people there hanging out by the pier having a bit of a rest and some well-earned food before the next leg.
We headed through the town past the old Adnams brewery house to the harbour. In previous years we were made to go along a footpath at this point along the river wall and over a foot bridge across the river to Walberswick. This was not ideal as firstly there was the ever threat of more punctures and secondly it was a footpath with lots of people walking on it and cyclists and walkers together on a tiny footpath aren’t the best combo. This year however there has been constructed a new path next to the old one which is much better and it was only open to the cyclists.
Our next destination was Dunwich. This would be the last stop before heading back towards Glemham Hall. On the run back we got on to the back of a couple of guys that were really shifting. We were already 50 miles in and normally at this point I would be looking to take it a bit easier but we kind of got caught up in their momentum and carried through to Snape at an incredible pace.
We lost them at a junction with the traffic and other cyclists, so we carried on as before. We were soon back at the starting point having completed the sixty miles and on our arrival we were given our certificate and this year we also received a badge and a voucher for half a Bitter provided by the Adnams beer tent on site. This was great. We sat there with our Halves on the grass in the sun while listening to the Live Jazz band playing just a few feet away. There was the added smell of jacket potatoes and chilli coming from a food tent. After a brief rest we loaded up and headed for home, very happy with our achievements. I have to tell you that the rest of the day wasn’t quite so energetic and was spent mostly on the sofa watching the Olympics.
Another fabulous days riding. My time if you are interested was three hours and sixteen minutes, which I was quite happy with. My certificate is already being proudly displayed on my office wall. Here’s to next years ride.