Saturday 8 April 2017

Suffolk Spring Sunshine (LGD -400 Days)
Saturday 8 April, 87 Miles

Click here for Route Flyby

Today was a gloriously sunny day. Spring really does seem to have arrived at last. The weather forecast was promising unseasonably warm weather so I put on a pair of bibshorts for only the second time this year. I decided to head east initially to get the maximum amount of sun in my face and start work on those cyclist’s tan lines. I already have quite a pronounced line around my neck but from the wind, so much so that a couple of people have asked me where I’ve been on holiday. Sadly my facial ‘tan’ is the result of the wind and not anything more exotic. It comes complete with a couple of stripes where the straps of my helmet cover my skin. Hmmm.

My Bianchi of choice today was the Infinito which was feeling quite dapper. I say ‘dapper’ because I have just given it a new set of tyres. The old ones had worn out - the rear tyre was almost bald in a couple of places. My tyres of choice are Michelin Pro 4 Endurances which over the years have given me excellent service, both in terms of puncture resistance and the number of miles covered. Choice of tyres is a subject that some cyclists can get quite excited about. Everyone seems to have their own preferences and is an expert on the subject. Personally, that old motto: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it …” is usually my best guide for this sort of thing. For sure there are probably tyres out there with a lower rolling resistance or more that are comfortable or have better puncture resistance or whatever. The Michelins have served me well over the last several years so I’ll be sticking with them.

Anyway, back to the ride. From home I headed out to Eye and then on to Fressingfield before turning south, eventually arriving at Framlingham which, on a Saturday morning, was bustling with activity. I had thought of stopping at The Dancing Goat CafĂ© which I’ve heard is both good and cyclist friendly. Like the rest of the market square it was heaving with people so I decided to keep going.

From Framlingham I headed to the edge of Wickham Market which was the furthest east I had ridden this year. I then explored a few small lanes to the north west which I hadn’t ridden over before. The gently rolling countryside provided some great views over the fields which are now coloured with rich shades of green (winter grain crops) and vibrant yellows (oil seed rape). It really does seem that now the sun has got its hat on, the countryside has come out to play. Not only are the colours invigorating the scents are almost overpowering too. The pungent smell of oil seed rape pollen was all around me. Fortunately I don’t suffer from hay fever – I pity those who do.

Would you fly in this?
Approaching Monewden something caught my eye through the hedgerow so I stopped to investigate. Walking round a barn I came across the wreck of small plane, a Cessna I think. Without its engine and wings I have to say it looked very small. The size of the cockpit wasn’t much bigger than the inside of a small car (think Mini or Fiat Cinquecento). I’m not sure I’d be happy to go flying in that. Heading back to the road I peeped through the barn doors and spotted a US Army World War II spotter plane. It appeared to be an original, not a replica. It looked as if it was still being used and if I thought the Cessna was tiny, then this was its smaller sibling! As I headed back to the road I saw a sign tucked into the hedge proclaiming that I was at Monewden Airfield. There was little visible sign of a landing strip but I imagine small planes don’t need much. The hedges and trees around the ‘airfield’ could make for some interesting and tense moments during landings and take offs.

Leaving the aeronautical splendours of Monewden behind me I passed through the small and delightful hamlet of Hoo. As I rode along I amused myself with an imaginary conversation: “Where do you live?” “Hoo.” “No, where DO YOU LIVE?” Haha, how droll! Anyway, back to reality. Pausing to take a photo of the village sign one of the villagers I guess, walked past me. We nodded at each other and exchanged cheery good mornings. My response to the question “How far had I come” (“About 60 miles”) was met with a stony silence and a complete lack of reaction. My village walker carried on as if I didn’t exist!

From Hoo it was an easy and very pleasant spin through Earl Soham and eventually back home. At 87 miles this was my longest ride of the year so far. And most enjoyable it was too. If the good weather holds I think I’ll try to complete my first century of the year tomorrow.

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