Monday 17 October 2016

Action Man Has Got His Commando Boots On (C#50)
Monday 17 October, 102 Miles

Click here for Route Flyby

With the prospect of completing the fiftieth ride in this century series, today was a bit like reaching the final part of a long thriller with only a few chapters left to read. So I decided to mark the occasion by riding one of my favourite local rides – to Orford Ness on the coast. This would be the seventh time this year that I’ve ridden there.

As the Infinito was still feeling a bit down in the dumps after last week’s failed attempt to sample a Bedfordshire Clanger I thought I would give it a ride out today to try and lift its spirits. This was going to require some tact if the other members of my Bianchi family weren’t going to feel hard done by. Fortunately, the Infinito sensed that something was in the air and waited until we were outside with the door closed before asking where we were heading. “Orford” was my reply to which the Infinito responded with “Donuts”. Oh dear, I think there may be tears before this day is done.

The Infinito is a splendid bike. My one predates the introduction of Bianchi’s CV (countervail) technology which was developed to reduce the tiring effects of riding on cobbles in the spring classics such as Paris-Roubaix. But even without the CV it is still an incredibly comfortable ride. With a carbon monocoque frame it is lighter than the Impulso and slightly more responsive. Its Campag Athena groupset, with an 11-speed cassette, means that the mid-range gear ratios are a bit closer together and so ideal for long distance riding. When I use it for sportives I give it some Campag Zonda wheels which add to its performance. We’ve been together now for nearly 14,000 miles so are quite comfortable in each other’s company.

We were quickly off and headed south east through Debenham and on to Woodbridge. The sun was shining and the roads were drying out so this was going to be a great day. One of the things I enjoy about riding the same routes throughout the year is the chance to see the countryside changing. The seasonal evolution of colours from spring, through summer and autumn into winter always adds interest. It often surprises me how different a view can look between the fresh, young green of spring and the orange and gold tinges of autumn. Riding in the countryside also means that I can see changes in the way the fields are farmed with crops being rotated: wheat and barley, rape, onions, sugar beet, potatoes and so forth, not forgetting livestock with East Anglia’s pig rearing industry.

Green gold near Woodbridge
Today just beyond Woodbridge I spotted a crop I hadn’t noticed before. There were a significant number of fields growing grass. Now, this wasn’t grass for grazing. I’m referring to green gold – grass for turf. There seemed to be any number of large fields growing the stuff. And when I say large fields, I mean at least a couple of hundred acres each. It was quite amazing to see grass being grown so uniformly and on such a large scale. I struggle to achieve anything near this with my small lawn. I’m guessing that a combination of soil and climate make the area suitable for turf production. I did wonder what the catalyst was for switching in to turf production. At one point I passed a machine harvesting the turf. Basically it consisted of a large tractor with a flat plate mounted out front which scraped along the ground lifting turf onto a roller mechanism. Unfortunately, it was too far away to get a photo.

Leaving the turf industry behind we headed nearer and nearer to Orford. I could feel the Infinito getting excited at the prospect of a Pump Street Bakery stop. Oh dear, I was going to have to come clean as the Pump Street Bakery is closed on Monday’s and Tuesday’s so no donuts today. I broke the news as gently as I could. Just in the nick of time I remembered that the Orford village shop, if it was open, stocked a fair supply of edible delicacies. Hopefully we could find some salvation there.

Just what a hungry Infinito needs - apple crumble tart
We were in luck. The shop was open and I was able to procure a rather fine Apple Crumble Tart. The Infinito can be quite choosy so I was not surprised to be asked why the tart was cold and where was the cream? There’s no pleasing some people! With warm sunshine we were able to sit outside and watch village life pass us by. Something I always enjoy doing and which has been the starting point for many interesting conversations. Local passers by nearly always want to chat with the resting cyclist.

Now I must tell you about a curious incident that took place today. While I was in the shop waiting to pay for our refreshments a voice behind me said “Action Man Has Got His Commando Boots On.”  Hmm, how strange. It was almost like some special code from a low-budget 1970’s spy movie. Then I began to wonder if this was a key to getting served. (It wasn’t.) I managed to catch Miss Moneypenny’s eye and then realised that there was another party involved in this affair. In very discreet and rather hushed tones I promised to return when I had broken the code. So whilst, we chowed down the tart I looked around and gradually all became clear. In an instant I realised who Action Man was and I also knew the correct response to the code line I had heard. So, feeling confident, I returned and uttered the fateful words: “At least Action Man hasn’t gone commando.” These were met by smiles all round and some knowing winks. At this juncture, let me just say that the acts of espionage here involve lust and desire amongst a couple of Orford’s citizens. And, Miss Moneypenny, if you are reading this, I can assure you that my lips are tightly sealed. When I next visit, as I surely will, I don’t want you to feel that I need to be disposed of! A nod’s as good as a wink here!!

Well after the skulduggery of Orford it was time to turn around and head home. I can report that both the Infinito and I enjoyed the last 40 miles and our heart rates remained within sensible parameters. Anyone got any cyanide?

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