Wednesday 6 July 2016

Orford Ness - The Other Way with a Tyre Challenge (C#19)
Wednesday 6 July, 105 Miles

Up early and ready to do one of my favourite rides this morning – to the Suffolk Coast and Orford Ness. The lure of those Oscar winning doughnuts is simply too hard to resist! From spring to autumn I usually try to do this once a month but this year I have only ridden down there twice so far (C#3 and C#11). So off I went under a sky that promised (hopefully) some sun as the morning developed.

After a couple of miles I decided to ring the changes and ride the route the other way round. Normally I head for Woodbridge and reach Orford after riding about 60 miles. Then it’s back via Framlingham (c50 miles). That way if (when) I stop at Orford I have already done more than half the route. But the great thing about riding circular routes is the chance to see them the other way round.

Just after leaving Eye I sensed that all was not well. A slightly spongy feeling on my back wheel announced a puncture. Damn! At least it seemed to be a slowie and not a blow out like the one I had a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, there was a convenient stopping place complete with signpost that I could lean my bike against. After removing the wheel and levering off the tyre an inspection of the inner tube gave no clues as to the exact location of the puncture. The wind meant it was hard to hear the hiss of any air escaping and in any event the tyre didn’t seem to be deflating much. A close look at the outside of the tyre and a feel on the inside didn’t help much either. There was the tiniest of fissures on the tyre so I could only guess that whatever had caused the puncture had stayed on the road. So with slight apprehension I fitted a new tube and hoped that my diagnosis was correct i.e. when I got moving again I didn’t discover that I had missed the offending object and suffer another puncture which is every cyclist’s nightmare. As I can’t inflate the tyre to quite the same pressure on the road I had a slightly softer ride which meant that for the next few miles I wasn’t totally convinced that I had sorted the problem. But gradually I realised that everything was fine.

Quite a few non cyclist friends – and I do have some – have asked me what I do when I get a puncture. So whilst I’m on the subject I’ll complete the story. It’s quite simple really I carry two spare inner tubes, a pump and sometimes a gas canister which is quicker than a pump and can inflate the tube to a higher pressure. I also carry a conventional puncture repair kit (patches and glue) in case I’m really unlucky. Changing an inner tube takes about ten minutes. So it’s not a real hassle; rear wheel punctures are a tad more annoying than front wheel ones because removing and replacing the wheel usually means handling the chain and getting greasy fingers. But over the years I’ve got quite adept at using a leaf or a bit of stick to hold the chain and keep my fingers relatively clean. So there you have it. Punctures. Now back to the ride.

I was soon through Framlingham and over the A112, which for me means I’ve arrived in coastal country – the sea’s actually still a few miles further on but the A12 is a sort of frontier to me; the only time I cross over it is when I’m heading for the coast. From Saxmundham I was soon at Snape and decided to have a quick look at the Maltings before heading on to Orford.

Concert Hall Visitor Centre
The Maltings are famous for the concert hall which is home to the Aldeburgh Festival which was started in 1948 by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. Britten was born up the coast in Lowestoft. In addition to the fabulous concert hall, which one of my daughters has sung in, there are a number of ‘designer’ shops and other amenities. Judging from the cars in the car park and the well-dressed people wandering around it looked like the rich folk had come out to play and spend. Clearly not the place for the sweaty cyclist.

Reclining Figure by Henry Moore
So I moved on, riding the wrong direction round the one-way system much to the annoyance of a large Mercedes driver – large applied both to the car and its driver. Minor victory to me! I was soon away from Snape and riding through Tunstall Forest. With a gentle tailwind I arrived at the quayside in Orford in next to no time. Then it was back to the village for a visit to the Pump Street Bakery to grab some lunch. I had a lovely egg sandwich washed down with a Cappuccino. The bike had a freshly made raspberry jam doughnut.

So that’s it really. The ride back home via Woodbridge and Debenham was very pleasant, if rather unremarkable. And I wore my green jersey to celebrate Cav’s achievements so far in this year’s Tour de France.

A little footnote to end on. Eagle eyed readers (there are such people as I have discovered) may have noticed that this route is usually 110 miles long and today it was 104. Well that’s because I didn’t make my usual detour to Bawdsey which adds the missing six miles. And no special reason for this - just ringing the changes! So there you are!!

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