Contributed by Paul Wheatley
Assorted doughty individuals collected outside Ipswich station, with road bikes, on a sunny Saturday morning, wondering what on earth Miriam had in store for them. Advertised as a 40-mile excursion, we had every confidence in our intrepid leader’s ability and planning, and set feet to pedals safe in the knowledge that the day would have been planned to the nth degree.
Vicky, Rachael, Boyd and yours truly followed Miriam to Shotley where we clambered onto the ferry to Harwich. Disembarking, we cycled along the sea front to find a quiet bit of beach so that the hardiest of us could venture into the chilly North Sea. The ‘hardiest of us’ excluded Vicky and Boyd, both of whom pretended not to have brought their swimmies!
Lunch on the beach followed, after which we set off towards deepest Essex. I look forward to seeing the route map that may get published along with this poppycock, since some of us spent much of the ride with little or no idea where we were despite our leader having furnished us all with maps in advance. Happy to simply let Miriam dictate the route, there was, however, much to enjoy. The weather was lovely, the company jovial, and the East Anglian scenery splendid. Nonetheless, letting our leader dictate the route was one thing but letting her dictate the pace was very much another. Slowing down to select lowest gear before reaching every upward slope was simply too challenging for some of her motley crew!
Old Hall afforded a welcome afternoon stop for tea and cake. Miriam had excelled herself with a delicious carrot cake that will live long in the memory. So yummy that we all couldn’t resist a second generous portion, we then staggered back to our bikes and hefted our significantly heavier personages onto our saddles for the cumbersome ride back to Ipswich.
Boyd, who had cycled from Earl Soham, made his way directly home whilst Miriam, Rachael, Vicky and I rounded off the day with an affable beverage at Cult Café on the waterfront. A fitting end to a great day out.
Oh, and one more thing. Remember the high level of confidence we had in our leader’s planning skills? A supposed 40-mile cycle ride proved to be a tiny tad longer. Perhaps Miriam had mistakenly measured the distance with an elastic band rather than a piece of string – add 40% to the advertised length and you will discover the actual distance. Advertising Standards Authority, please note!
Joking aside, a great day out and many thanks to our leader for both her baking and planning skills.
Unfortunately a route map and/or pics have not been forthcoming for some reason but Miriam asked me to add the following: ‘From Harwich we followed Sustrans route 51 to Elmstead Market then took the scenic route back via Manningtree to East Bergholt then on to Ipswich.’