Author Archives: Sally

Suffolk Lanes Extravaganza 200km Audax (20th July 2019)

In 2016 we rode the 100 miles of Suffolk Lanes Audax and enjoyed it so much we thought we would do the 200km as part of my RRTY, the weather forecast was for thundery showers but this was not going to put us off.

Not quite such an early start which is always good for me when riding on a Saturday but as we arrived in Bildeston at 8 am we were greeted by a heavy shower of rain, luckily it had blown over by the time we started at 8.30.

I reminded Geoff about how he hates starting off at the front and how its best to let the faster guys go tearing off first, a mistake we made on our last Audax, so we hung back for a few minutes then had a good start alongside Fixie Mick Ady and Jayden all from my TTT rides and Simon from Cambridge CTC.

For us, it was a very fast start as Geoff was determined to keep up with Fixie mick, at one point I almost lost them. We stopped at traffic lights and while I was helping Simon out the lights changed and the others were off like a bullet while I got caught by the lights again, then I had the dilemma of should I try and catch them or hang back with Simon, in the end, I decided to try and catch them. Just when I thought I would never catch them I found Geoff waiting at a junction for me and before long we were back in the group. Making it to Halesworth and the first coffee shop with an avg speed of 16mph.

Everything was going smoothly, in fact, I was very impressed with Geoff he certainly rides his Fixie much better than his geared bike! Then just before we reached Orford, I got a puncture, which meant we lost our little group as I told them to go on because we could hear the thunder in the distance. It took 2 attempts to mend the puncture as we discovered one of the new inner tubes had a split near the valve, by this time the thundery shower had blown over and we realized we would never catch the others up.

Shortly after getting our card stamped at Orford Geoff got his first puncture followed quickly by 2 more, luckily Simon who is an expert on puncture repair helped us out, combined with the help of a car driver who happened to have a track pump in his car !! We never did find the problem, although it could have been the cheap inner tubes, anyway, it was solved by using a liner in the tyre where it kept puncturing.

After all this Geoff had lost some of his enthusiasm but once we reached Framlingham and re-fueled we continued on our way with Simon, finishing the ride with no more dramas !!!

Interestingly it was the highest avg speed for Geoff on a 200km so he definitely does better on his fixie, due to the faster pace I only took one photo, at Orford, the rural route was  beautiful especially Orford Castle which is the only castle I saw out of the 3 we were meant to pass on the route !!!

This Audax was number 10 out of 12 for my Audax RRTY, next month it will be the Mildenhall 200km ….. after I have done the Lap of Anglia. 

Clare to Bury challenge and LDWA Wolsey Waddle

Back in May, Gina Jayne and I did the 18 mile Clare to Bury challenge, We almost missed out on this event, it filled up so quickly we had to go on the waiting list and I suspect it was a case of who you know not what you know that secured us a place !!

We all met at Clare country park and got the transport to Bury ready to start at 10.30 am, we usually do LDWA events where you have to find the way from a route sheet although I always have the route on my Garmin which really helps if we go wrong. This time though the route was going to be marked so we didn’t have to worry about route finding

The route was definitely undulating and it was often hard and rutted underfoot, but the Suffolk countryside was beautiful and the checkpoints and refreshments were always welcome. Towards the end, my feet did start to hurt a little so I was more than happy to see the finish line, once again I was amazed at how enjoyable this run/walking can be and we were soon planning our next goal !!

Which turned out to be the LDWA Wolsey Waddle, at 20 miles this would be our longest run/walk to date, just a shame that Jayne could not join us.

On the week running up to the event, we had many e-mails about route changes which left me feeling apprehensive but on the day it all worked well, the route sheet as always was well written and easy to understand and of course, we have the Garmin just in case !!

The route was lovely although surprisingly boggy along the River Orwell, so we were forced to walk this stretch as we didn’t want to slip on the Algae. The other surprise was finding all the Elephants in Ipswich.

The countryside was truly at its best with many fields of beautiful golden corn which all seemed to have a splattering of poppies and wildflowers thrown in and of course, an LDWA event  would not be the same without the wonderful food and cheerful marshals at the checkpoints, I especially liked the glass house although if it had been a warmer day we may have boiled inside

The other great thing about these events is seeing all the people I know, and this time a real surprise was seeing a dear friend I had not seen for what seems like years !!

The ground was kinder to my feet this time and I had no problems with my feet so I was relieved although I must still sort myself out with some wider trainers.

As always great food at the finish, and I bumped into Justin Smith a runner who I follow on Twitter, his blog makes an interesting read too.

So what’s next with the running, once I get this Audax challenge finished I have the  George Munday 10km, St Neots Half and a 26-mile run/walk.

Solstice Sunride (22nd July 2019)

I have wanted to do a night ride for some time now and I always thought we would do the Dunwich Dynamo, then Geoff discovered the Solstice Sunride, the logistics of this ride made it very appealing, you start in Cambridge at any time you want with the aim of getting to Lowestoft for the 4.30am Sunrise. The only cost is for transport for you and your bike back to Cambridge.

The plan was to get up on Saturday do Cambridge Parkrun, potter about for a few hours, then aim to start the ride around 6.30pm, after a late afternoon snooze, needless to say, the afternoon snooze did not happen, I put it down to excitement !!!

We started the ride with 2 fellow lappers, Julie and Darren and had a most enjoyable ride out to Mildenhall with them, passing 2 more lappers  Stephaine and Brian, on the way, it’s amazing how you recognize people by their riding style. Julie and Darren then went off to visit family while we carried on to East Harling and the halfway stop.

As we had made such good time to Harling social club, we stayed for longer than we usually would, but by 11 pm was eager to be on our way, so after adding a few more layers of clothing, and checking our lights we made our way out into the night.

We expected to be much slower on the second half of the ride, but our eyes soon became accustomed to the dark, by this time the roads were quite empty, so it was an awesome experience to be riding at night on roads just perfect for night riding, with Matt Darey blasting out from Geoff’s Bluetooth speaker.

After a while, we passed by someone at the side of the road putting on a jacket, as we sped past I thought I know that man !! Shortly after Aphid, another lapper caught us up at a junction, the 3 of us continued the ride together, by now we were well ahead of schedule again so we made our way to the 24hr Mcdonalds at Gillingham arriving at 1.25 am.

After a hot drink and chips, we continued on our way 45 mins later with just 10 miles to go. Usually, when you arrive somewhere at 3.15am you would expect the place to be deserted but due to Lowestoft having its new 24-hour First light festival it felt quite amazing to be pedaling down to the pier dodging tons of people.

We spent the next hour hanging around waiting for others to arrive then we enjoyed a bacon roll and coffee while we watched a beautiful sunrise before catching the transport back to Cambridge, wishing we were riding back !!!

Totally awesome ride with a route perfect for night riding but neither was prepared for just how cold it gets during the night on the East coast with an N/E wind…….

Diss’d Clare permanent 200km Audax (5th May 2019)

It was a challenge just to find a date for our May 200, with me running and Geoff going away walking in Spain. so regardless of the weather, it had to be this weekend.

Sally Kelly at Angel CafeAfter finding the Alferton to Skeggy ride so cold I was really hoping for a warmer ride, it was May, after all, so surely it should be warming up.

We decided on a local permanent, 200km. Calendar events are hard to find at the moment due to everyone trying to qualify for PBP. We have done many of Nick Wilkinsons routes so knew it would be a good one, what we didn’t expect was another very cold ride.

The route itself was very picturesque traveling through many beautiful villages, with lots of wide-open Yellow and Green countryside, as a calendar event It would have been perfect but today it was hard to find places to stop and warm up.

Just outside Diss after just over 50 miles we found the Angel cafe where we stopped for Eggs and Toast, by the time we left we had warmed up and was eager to get on our way, as we came into Diss I remember thinking the church looked quite spectacular.

After another 50 miles and a puncture that took us off the road for 30 mins we rolled into Clare desperate for a warm cup of tea, luckily we found the Town hall had an art exhibition on and was still serving tea and cake.

30 ish miles to go and a few small climbs up to Balsham to keep us warm then it was downhill all the way back to Cambridge. I never really like coming back through central Cambridge, it’s way too busy for a country girl like me, especially when silly bus drivers shout at me for no reason what so ever !!

Anyway that is number 8 of my RRty done, it’s much harder than you think especially when trying to fit rides in around life, in general, for a while I did wonder if I could be bothered to continue especially as I am missing my running so much BUT calender events are booked for June and July, my running legs promise to return after September and it must be time for the sunshine rides now !!

Daffodil Dawdle (31st March 2019 )

As we put the clocks forward and jumped into summer it was time for the first of my run/walk events with my friend Gina, the LDWA Daffodil Dawdle, a circular scenic route along the Waveney valley, starting from Stradbroke.

Gina and I used to walk these 18-mile challenges, but as we saw more and more people running or run-walking we got the urge to try that ourselves.

The day started well as I bumped into a friend on my way to registration, it’s always a delight to see the amazing Sandie, who will be doing her own challenge for the Air Ambulance in July. Race to the Stones, a 100km walk along the Ridgeway.

By 8.30 after a quick cup of tea, a loo visit and a chat with Jayne who was in the kitchen, as usual, we set off on our way.

The challenging part is usually following the route because it is not marked out, you have to follow a written route sheet so it can be easy to miss your place when chatting too much !!. In the old days, a GPX file was not available but luckily for us, they now include one which certainly helps.

We had no set plan just run when we wanted and walk when we wanted, depending on the terrain, it’s amazing how quickly time passes when you are having fun, we seemed to reach the first checkpoint in no time at all.

The checkpoints and food are amazing on these events, you can easily linger far too long, but after a quick drink and some lovely homemade snacks we set off for checkpoint 2 promising ourselves a longer stop then.

Sandie was sticking to a training plan on this event and we kept playing cat and mouse with her along the route, which was always encouraging.

Arriving at checkpoint 2 feeling slightly hungry we were not disappointed with the food, after a picnic lunch, loo visit and a chat with Paul from Cambridge Rambling club we set off feeling happy knowing we only had approx 5 miles to do.

We had a good strong finish and arrived back in Stradbroke with nice big smiles,4 hours and 46 mins after leaving (moving time was 4 hours 14 mins.)

As usual, the finish food did not disappoint, homemade soup followed by crumble and custard, I was delighted to see Cathryn from Cambridge too so we had a quick catch up before we all departed for home.

Maybe Gina and I will attempt the 26 miles next year !!!!

Everyone Rides to Skeggy 300km Audax (13th April 2019 )

This Audax was on my list of things to do as Geoff really wanted to do it last year but for some reason, we were unable to do it, I expect I was running or something !!  Anyway, I was determined we would do it this year even though Geoff seems to have lost a little bit of his love for cycling !!

The Travelodge at Alfreton was booked for 2 nights to make it all a bit easier, and as we traveled down I was excited about doing our 2nd 300km event even if Geoff wasn’t.

We set our alarm for 4.30am and had our egg sandwiches ready for breakfast, I still find it far too difficult to eat this early in the morning but managed half my sandwich before we set off for registration at Alfreton house, taking a banana with me to eat before we started the ride at 6am

Richard ThodayWe soon realized it was very cold much colder than we had anticipated, in fact, according to the BBC it had been the coldest April night for 6 years! By the time we reached the first control point in Newark, I was actually wondering if I was going to be able to carry on but after a bowl of the best porridge and honey I have ever tasted I was ready to face the cold again.

Next control point was at Woodhall Spa and for a short while we rode with a small group from Derby Clarion, the time goes much quicker when you have someone to chat with, they had great riding skills too, taking it turns on the front,unfortunately after a while we lost them going up a hill.

Next control was at Skegness, rumor had it that we would lose the headwind here which would be a relief ,it was on our way to Skegness that we met the amazing Richard Thoday , riding the 300km on a Penny Farthing, we arrived at Poppies Cafe together and spent time warming up over a bowl of soup and hearing about Richards record-breaking challenge in July, riding end to end on his Penny Farthing hoping to break the world record set in 1886.

We left poppies heading for the information control at Sutton on Sea, looking forward to the tailwind, first we had to stop and get a photo by the welcome to Skegness sign, then it was on via chapel St Leonard’s spotting the Butlins big top tent on our way,but no sign of the sea! Our route instructions said to write down the information found at the public toilets.

In Horncastle, I thought Geoff would stop for our receipt at the local Garage especially when I saw other riders there but he sailed passed and we stopped for a warm-up in Costa coffee, I didn’t find the soup very filling at lunchtime so I took the opportunity and had a very enjoyable Sausage bap.

Only 35km to Lincoln and lovely to see the cathedral on the horizon, in fact, this stretch was the best bit weather-wise, here we stopped at the local Coop for our receipt, added lights and another layer as the temperature was beginning to drop again.

Next stop would be Alfreton, the longest stretch at 65km, all rode in the dark, I actually enjoyed this night riding, the roads were big and wide never feeling truly dark, the sky had a glow to it, unlike in the countryside when darkness is truly pitch black! Feeling cold we stopped off at the Mac Donald’s in Ollerton for a hot drink, shortly after leaving here we bumped into Richard again on his Penny Farthing so we continued down the cycle path next to the A38 together, I enjoyed watching him maneuver the Penny Farthing along the bridge over the M1

At midnight we rolled back into Alfreton house 18 hours after we left.

While getting our Brevet Card checked and enjoying yet another cup of tea we discovered, 2 things our route sheet was an old one we had downloaded from the internet, for some reason we had not received the up to date information through the post. So no information was needed from Sutton on Sea and the first man back finished 6 hours before us and had been in the pub all evening!

While I would like to do a Summer 300 I am not sure I will be able to persuade Geoff so it’s back to 200 km for the next 5 months!

Horsepower 200km Audax (9th March 2019)

At last a calendar event, an opportunity to meet up with like minded people and soak in all the amazing Audax stories!

We arrived in Great Dunmow with plenty of time to get our Brevet Card and have a coffee, it wasn’t long before we were seeing familiar faces and chatting with other riders we knew from Cambridge. The talk was mainly about the wind and how it would blow us out to Snetterton then would be head-on from Snetterton to Newmarket before easing up again for the last leg home!

It’s all Bananas

At 7.30 am we all gathered outside ready to go, I love the way complete strangers chat away to you like they know you, Audax riding is so friendly, after the first few kms, the group starts to spread out as we settle into our own riding pace.

Our aim was to try and get to the halfway point at Snetterton without a cafe stop, and with the tailwind, we were flying along, as we came into Lavenham the church looked very grand and always makes me think wow! By 9:20 nick was stamping our brevet card, after eating a hot cross bun I had in my pocket we set off for Snetterton.

Due to the tailwind, we made good time to Snetterton, arriving at 11.40, making it a very enjoyable ride but as we turned into Snetterton circuit we got a taste of what was to come. At Tyrell’s Restaurant, the service was quick and efficient, as we ate, we thought about the howling wind outside and watched as other riders set off into the wind.

40 mins later we ventured out into the wind, the wind so strong we could barely stand up straight. As we set off I thought once we get out of Snetterton and back onto the roads it would ease up but I was wrong! The strong head/ side winds continued all the way to Newmarket and were the most ferocious winds I have ever experienced, I learnt quickly to observe my surrounding look for gaps in the hedges and keep the bike in a low gear, it was mentally exhausting and at times out my comfort zone!

The religious experience

Just over 3 hours later we made it to Newmarket, by this time I was dreaming about a cafe stop out of the wind, so my heart sank a little as Geoff turned into the BP garage, but we soon had food and a receipt for our Brevet Card. We also found other riders here too, including Nigel and our quick stop turned into a 30 min stop as we chatted away.

As we set off again we realised much to our delight that the wind had dropped and we had less than 50 km to do, after spending most of the ride on our own it was nice to see other riders too and the time passed quickly as we played leapfrog along the way, getting a blast of Nigel’s music every now and again also lifted my spirits.

Before long it was dark and I got the chance to try my new Volt 800 light out, I had bought it as an extra light to use with my volt 400, mounting it on my handlebars so I could turn it on and off as needed, it worked really well and I felt much more confident riding in the dark, the roads were reasonably good so our speed did not slow down due to the darkness.

We had 3 choices for the final return to Great Dunmow , the main road, which could be busy, the valley road which may contain potholes , or option C which was slightly longer , originally we (or should I say Geoff) had plotted out option C but was enjoying the ride so much we decided to keep to the main road, with the others, in hindsight we wish we had taken the valley road as the main road was quite busy and we had plenty of time so think the valley road would have been more enjoyable.

Finally at 18.40 we pulled back into the St. Mary’s Centre at Great Dunmow, to be greeted with soup, rolls and tea, as usual, I felt quite “high” from such an achievement and enjoyed the banter with fellow riders, while discussing the ride, we discovered that a few others had actually been blown off their bikes by the gusts of wind, but thankfully no damage had been done.

So that’s 6 out of 12 ! and surely the good weather is now on its way, April’s ride is a 300 so that will be an interesting tale !

Cambridge Half Marathon

Where the months disappear too I just don’t know but somehow it was March and time for the Cambridge Half Marathon.

After recovering from my biking injury that had prevented me from running for most of last year I was looking forward to doing some running training ready for the Cambridge half, what I didn’t allow for was the continued menopausal hell ! and the fact that biking was the only thing for many months that made me truly happy !

After the Freethorpe 10 I really struggled with my running, everything became a chore, apart from riding my bike,then I decided enough was enough I wanted my life back so I gave in went Doctors and started HRT, suddenly I had my life back,I was sleeping through the night,I stopped hating everybody,(well almost everybody ?) but most importantly I regained my bounce, the zest for life and my confidence.

Finish line in sight

With only 4 weeks till the half marathon there was not much time for training but with a few 8 milers and a 12-mile slow jog along the coast, I went from thinking I would never do it, to thinking if I could bike 120 miles then I could run 13.

On the morning of the half marathon, Gina and Richard met me at Geoff’s and we wandered down to Midsummer Common hoping to find many of our friends who would be running, as like past years the atmosphere was amazing and it wasn’t long before the excitement started to build.

As I had no idea how my run would go I decided to run on my own, well as much as you can be on your own when surrounded by 10,000 other runners, just one reason why I love this event so much.

Before long we were all gathered into the starting pens, easier to keep warm this year as we had all been encouraged to wear an unwanted top that could be discarded as you set off, all items would then be collected and donated to the homeless.

Reunited with my glasses

The weather was cold with some drizzle, perfect running conditions, for some silly reason I made the decision to run without my glasses something I never do and it annoyed me the whole way round, I can see well enough without them but it just didn’t feel right and for this reason I just don’t like any of the free event photos as I just don’t look like me !

My favourite run at home is an 8 mile route which I run quite often,so the first 8 miles was easy enough, as expected the support from around the route was amazing, even nicer when it’s from someone you actually know, the water and gel stations were well manned and easy to get too, nice to see everyone aiming to get the used bottles into the bins, with the promise of them going for recycling.

Around the 10 mile mark I noticed the 2.15 pacers, I decided I would try and keep with them, by mile 12 I was struggling a little but was just in front of the pacers, then a call out from Geoff spurred me on,then,down the final straight a call out from someone else I knew made me stride out for the finish line,which I crossed with a time of 2.14, at this point one of the pacers tapped me on the Shoulder and told me he had followed my calf’s for a few miles and what fine calf’s I had, later I thought I should of told him they were cyclist calf’s.

I received my medal from one of my fellow Ladybirds which made the whole day just perfect.