We’re proud to present the latest ride report from resident ColVelo scribe Liam Hendry. If you’re considering joining us for one of our longer rides, you won’t need much more convincing after reading this!
The Colvelo “Monument” rides pay homage to professional cycling’s biggest and best one day races; 200km plus routes through the arteries of East Anglia and beyond. These annual rides underpin the core values of Colvelo – long days out exploring our region, a reward for all those mucky winter Tendring loops. The prize at the end of the series is recognition amongst the club membership for having the iron quads and mental fortitude to complete four rides totalling over 1,000km, and of course a commemorative t-shirt for the series, giving the chance to brag both on Strava and up the pub.
First up for the Monuments is the Ronde van Anglia, a cheeky wordspin of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, AKA the Tour of Flanders. In parallel with the loop of northern Belgium, RVA is just shy of 255km, however the vicious attacks and cobblestones are substituted with an aura of bonhomie and the flat lanes of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. Cycling is ingrained in the Belgian mindset and of course they love great beer – a perfect alignment with Colvelo!
A group of ten left Culver Street headed north-west to Newmarket, a similar 90-odd km leg to that of the Dragon ride a few weeks previous. This is a testing stint without a break and we were soon a rider down owing to an “off” south of Haverhill. Having arranged a lift back for said rider we pressed onto Newmarket, circling Lidgate. After a welcomed pit stop all riders were shedding layers due to some great spring weather – with only limited pocket capacity stopping most from having fully exposed elbows and knees! At this stage the ride made east across Suffolk, cutting into the wind before turning south towards the next planned stop at Thurston at approximately 155km.
Another load up on sausage rolls and scotch eggs and we were back on the road for the last leg of the journey. However, by now the weather was turning and the lack of sun made the breeze a little more cutting. Over the next few hours the weather would graduate from a teasing spit of rain to a full blown deluge, befitting of any Belgian classic. The dejected remainder of riders stopped at Lavenham to gather their thoughts and refuel before an arduous 60km loop of the Eleighs, Elmsett, and East Bergholt, coming back into Colchester via Elmstead Market. Here the comradery was underlined, a tight group all taking their turn for a pull and it was quite easy to imagine (or even dream?!) of oneself on the front of the Ronde, defying the grim weather whilst streaming through single lane agricultural roads towards Oudenaarde.
To conclude, a long day in the saddle exposed to the full spectrum of Spring conditions. A good effort by all, and seven hopefuls are still in with a shout of wearing a Colvelo Monuments t-shirt come October. Next up is Colchester Swaffham Colchester at the end of April, a testing 300km day out which a few members will be using to gauge their condition for the Asparagus and Strawberries Audax, a 400km overnight ride in early Summer.