As a collective, ColVelo has always maintained a preference for rides that may be considered a bit of an adventure. While the classic cafe club spin is a staple, a long day into uncharted territory stokes the fire in our bellies.
This weekend saw the second running of the Worminford Dragon Audax. A 208km tour of the region. A successful event last year saw a considerable uptick in participation for 2015. With riders from ColVelo having ridden the first Dragon, we were keen to come back for more once we heard it would be running again.
We were lucky enough to combine our effort with a team of riders from Boxford Bike Club (BBC). BBC fills a place in the cycling community that works well in the opinion of us here at ColVelo. They are friendly folks, who run a club that is above all inclusive with a calendar of great riding on offer for its members. It was a pleasure riding with these guys, and we’ll hopefully have them along on some of our longer rides this year. Very nice to meet you guys.
In 2014, we were incredibly lucky with the weather. The day of the Dragon bought warm, dry and bright conditions with not a hint of wind. Perfect for an early season 200km ride. In the week leading up to the 2015 edition we were all glued to the weather radars watching the forecast conditions change back and forward from good to fair, to horrific, back to fair, swinging right back to horrific before settling down on fair. It remained this way for the majority of the ride. The only real bite being a grizzly head wind from the south-west. This was only a major factor for the anchor leg from Debenham to Wormingford. We dug in hard for a few hours, and this is always a little easier when you know home is the next break spot.
Many will ride further than the mapped 208km route ridden as the year rolls on, but I’m probably not alone in suggesting that at no other point in the season am I as apprehensive about a ride as the prospect of the first “big one” of the year.
Will the legs last? Can I hack the pace? – The Dragon is filling a space in our club diary as our very own season opener. A regional spring classic! Although dry, the heavy skies and buffeting winds gave this ride a Flandrian flavour. Progress was steady all day with the pace never becoming too much. The Expansive vistas and big, dark sky of Suffolk provided a dramatic back drop for our ride this day.
Dark clouds were not the only thing to cause concern. A handful of mechanicals plagued our group with one rider shredding a tyre no more than 5km into the ride. His day done before it had even started.
With only one visit from the puncture fairy it was our spokes that were the thorn in our side, with me popping one just after Newmarket (75km). A carefully positioned cable tie allowed me to nurse the bike 40km to the next control at the Maglia Rossa Cafe come bike shop where they very kindly loaned me a wheel with which to complete the ride. Another rider wasn’t quite so lucky. 15km shy of Debenham (142km) a spoke on the rear wheel pinged, and sadly put pay to his day in the saddle. The phone call was made and the good wife was on her way to his rescue. Not before he managed a swift pint of Adnams to help drown his sorrows…..The pint looked very….very good!
As alluded to above, Debenham was the furthest point east on the ride, and the point at which we turned for home and faced the wind. Following a hot cup of tea and a few snacks being consumed we hit the road for the final 50km. Although tough at times the front was shared around as we went. With a few lumpy sections in the last 10km, I’m probably not alone in suggesting the stretch between Nayland and Wormingford provided the most testing winds as day turned to night.
Cresting Church Hill in Wormingford, one left turn, then another as we turned into the Village Hall Car park, it was done. 208km total distance and smiles all around.
It’s here we must extend our thanks to Viv Marsh, his wife Sarah and the rest of the support crew from Cycle Club Sudbury. A slick, well managed, well planned Audax. The feed at the end of the ride was something to behold. A magnificent soup, Sarnies and cakes of all description! Just what the doctor ordered.
We can’t recommend the Wormingford Dragon highly enough. This route shows off the best of what our region has to offer cyclists. We may lack the hills of the South Downs or the mountains of the Lake District but the open countryside and the endless sky of East Anglia is an inspiring place to ride.
If the Dragon is our season opener, then this coming Monday can be considered a feature event. The ColVelo Collectives very own Ronde Van Anglia. 243km taking in yet more of the regions stunning scenery and roads. Keep an eye on our social media outlets this week for more details.
Well done to all who rode the Dragon. A great effort.
Rob Harwood – The ColVelo Collective.