Orford Again and Always a Delight (C#55)
Thursday 3 November, 102 Miles
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Well, if there was any doubt about when autumn would fully arrive the frosts of the last couple of mornings have dispelled any uncertainty. That said, I do enjoy riding on a cold, clear, crisp morning when the sun is trying to break through the remnants of any overnight mist. And today was just such a day so it would have been rude not to take advantage of it. And what better to make the most of the favourable conditions than go on one of my favourite rides – to Orford. Yes, I know I’ve been there a lot – most recently about two weeks ago. But it is a lovely ride.
So waking the Infinito from its slumbers we were underway just as soon as the frost showed signs of thawing slightly. At this time of year with the sugar beet harvest in full swing the smaller lanes can be a bit of a nightmare, puncture wise, so we tend to avoid them where possible and stick to ‘B’ roads and the wider lanes. If the road surface is wet then the minor lanes really are a no-no. We’ve got to know which lanes are best avoided quite well now.
Another challenge can be road closures and today was no exception. Within two miles our progress was thwarted by a closure for a bridge repair and as there was no prospect of shouldering the Impulso and jumping the trench, a detour was necessary. Fortunately we could see that the road was impassable immediately so didn’t have to engage in any annoying backtracking – we simply turned right instead of going left onto the bridge and added an extra three miles on. For those readers who like to know about these things there’s quite a good website (roadworks.org) where the various folk who dig up roads are required to publish information in advance about what’s going on. It’s map based and very easy to use. I mainly use it, when I remember, during the tar and chip season to work out which roads to avoid. Looking at the site when I got home I learnt that the bridge was closed on Monday and will be shut for a fortnight. So that’s helpful.
Further on in the ride we encountered another closure. Unfortunately when we arrived at this one we faced having to backtrack about five miles with an additional eight miles or so to get back on the proper route. I guessed the road was being resurfaced in the village that lay about a mile ahead and decided to chance it. If I was correct then there had to be pedestrian access which meant we would be able to pass, cyclo-cross style. Reaching the barriers we realised that I was right and the guy manning the barriers told us we would be able to get through on the path/pavement. Result!
Now readers, if this all seems like I’m making a fuss about not very much then bear in mind that the last thing I want to do near the start of any ride is go on some random safari of the countryside, unless that’s the purpose of the ride. Also, at this time of year although I do carry some lights with me we really prefer to get back home while we can still see where we am going! So, pah!!
I snuck a few changes into the ‘standard’ route so instead of going via Saxmundham and Snape, today we went via Wickham Market and Tunstall on the way to Orford. Arriving in Orford we had a quick spin down to the quayside which was surprisingly busy. Then it was back to the village centre to catch up on recent developments since our last visit on 17 October. Sadly, neither Action Man, with or without his combat boots, nor Miss Moneypenny were anywhere to be seen so an update on the amorous affairs of Orford will have to await a further visit. Consequently, we headed over to the Pump Street Bakery for you know what. (I had a very tasty mini-sourdough baguette with ham and a spot of Dijon while the Infinito had the usual raspberry donut – which apparently was still warm.)
Sitting outside the Bakery in the full sun it was actually surprisingly warm and we amused ourselves by watching the passing visitors parade around the village square. Peering through the window of the (closed) Butley Orford Oysterage was a particularly popular activity. The Oysterage is up there with the best as reported in The Times: “30 things to eat before you die15: Fish pie at Butley Orford Oysterage. Great fish pie combines the exotic excitement of seafood – with its evocations of cold, mysterious depths – with the cosy warmth of creamy mash. Here, the pie has the perfect mix.” The Infinito got quite excited by this and wanted to know how soon we would be coming back.
With our lunches eaten and the sights, smells and sounds of Orford absorbed we set off for the return leg this time following the ‘standard’ route via Hollesley, Woodbridge and Debenham. Gradually, as the sun dropped towards the horizon the temperature cooled down and I was very glad of the wind proofing provided by my (excellent) Castelli Gabba jacket. This is a wonderful piece of clothing and today, with the average temperature hovering around 5°C, all I needed to wear was a base layer and the Gabba. It’s very popular with professional cyclists, so much so that Castelli used to sell a version complete with a black felt pen to hide the logos for those pros whose team used a different kit sponsor. And yes, eagle-eyed readers, I know that the Gabba has been rebranded by Castelli as the Perfetto. And that properly sums up today’s ride – Perfetto!