WOODBRIDGE TO LOWESTOFT, OFF-ROAD, 13/08/2014
I think this one must have been to 4th time we’ve done this annual summer event. Again, we were blessed with fine weather and a side/tail wind. I got the train down to Woodbridge to find the others supping coffee in the sunshine outside the station. We left at about 10:45 after catching up on things and general chat. Then we made our way towards, and into Rendlesham Forest then to Tunstall via Wantisden/Butley. No singletrack involved for a change this time, but I was able to show the others the remains of the “Fire Tower” that was demolished about 30 years ago but remains on even the most recent OS map of the forest. I’d often wondered where it was, and was only shown it the previous day by the contractor we employed to do the bracken spraying.
The heather was in full bloom with a very strong aroma on the Tunstall side of Blaxhall Heath where I was able to point-out another burial mound that again I was shown the previous day. The same contractor is also employed by the FC to strim all the other ancient monuments in the forest , he had an interesting map showing where they were, far more than are shown on the OS map, and another reason why we need the correct permission to trail-build.
On Blaxhall Heath, just north of Sandgalls car park.
We then made our way to Snape, and used the very overgrown bridleway to Blackheath Corner. The foliage along here was the worst we had ever encountered and involved much blood letting from the brambles and tingling legs from the nettles. From here it was a bit of tarmac then sandy but firm tracks to Thorpeness, Sizewell and Eastbridge. By this time we were starving, despite regular stops for snacks and drinks. In fact we stopped so often to chat and partake in general “pee taking banter” that we were running late and didn’t roll in to the lunch stop until 14:30.
Bridge Farm Tea Room has now been re-named as “Little Dingle” Tea Room which could be confusing if you’re using the map to find it as it’s a fair way from Little Dingle further up the coast lane. Toasted sarnies were the order of the day followed by coffee, walnut cake and tea. As usual it was superb. After about an hour we dragged ourselves out of the chairs in blazing sunshine, refilled with water from the kitchen (and not the outside tap we used on previous rides, apparently it’s only “irrigation water” from a well).
Bloke on the left sampling the cake before rushing home and getting changed to judge “The Great British Bake-off”
Grudgingly we made our way up the hill towards Walberswick . Here we found the way towards the bailey bridge blocked by roadwork’s so we had to divert into the village to be confronted by hundreds of grockles packing the place out. To get back to the bridge we rode partly along the saltings which had only just been vacated by the high spring tide. Very wet and sticky mud quickly built-up on the tyres to which the stones adhered once back on the sea wall…………..followed by pebble-dashed legs.
As we had the extra diversion to deal with, we detoured from the normal route and rode directly to Reydon missing out Southwold and the pier. There was about 2 miles of tarmac before we could get back to the off-road sections to Benacre. A nice tail wind blew us out to the coast which was welcome, and by now the sun had gone in making a bit cooler for riding as well.
Then it was up the coast to Kessingland through the sand dunes. We just had to stop for this photo opportunity……………………..of some very haggard riders.
From here we arrived at the caravan site where the path along the cliff top has long been lost to the sea, so we needed to decide on either the boring inland beside the A12 route or the beach ride. I went down the steps a bit to get a better view of what laid ahead and decided to chance it and go for the beach. We carefully made our way down the long steps to the beach and dragged the bikes across the stones. The tide was still too high for my liking but we managed to find a still wet section of sandy beach at the high-water mark which although not perfect, it was still better than I expected it to be. It seems like this beach is rideable only on the ebb tide, as it would probably have dried out too much by the time it was coming in again. As we neared Lowestoft the sand became harder across the whole lower section of the beach where we could indulge in the usual “wave dodging” fun on wet hard packed sand that made your tyres buzz…………………………I love doing this.
Scooting along the beach at Pakefield (pictures taken “on the move” riding one handed……………and trying to miss the soft spots)
Paul was getting a bit tired by now…………………
We finally arrived at Lowestoft at about 17:45 to get the train back home.
It was a total of 51 miles at an average moving speed of just over 10 mph and 80% off-road.
Paul rang me the previous evening to ask if I thought he was up to it as he’d never ridden that far before ……………………….I said “go for it, you’ll be OK”. It doesn’t seem that long ago he was struggling to get around the VT at a decent pace, and now he’s done this, well done Paul…………………….especially for an “oldun”. It just goes to show that you’re never too old to start something new and he was really chuffed at his achievement which is a great accolade for what TROG is all about. A bit of encouragement, hard work and the opportunity to do a ride like this with mates. I worked out that the average age on this ride was somewhere around 56………………………..we do have young members as well though.