As the professional Spring Classics period draws to a close, Colvelo pays homage to Liege Bastogne Liege with their own iteration of a testing out-and-back route spanning four counties. Ride report by Liam Hendry below
The week leading up to a long ride is often spent nervously checking the weather forecasts, and the days prior to the 2016 edition of Colchester Swaffham Colchester were no different. At one stage it was looking like a wash out, with secret contingency plans being made to switch to a shorter Monument route should the weather be grim on the day. Thankfully this wasn’t the case, and in the event we were treated to a long sunny day with only a wisp of a northerly wind to contend with.
A varied group of riders and cycles – carbon and steel frames, disc and caliper brakes, even a token fixie – made for the meet point at the Bricklayers Arms pub. Despite the range of bikes on show, the group was well capable and made for Newmarket at a solid clip. Quick breaks and good progress were the order of the day and after 20 minutes or so we were back on the road, passing through Soham to the next stop at Needham Market. This segment contains a beautiful stretch of almost traffic-free road running parallel to the River Great Ouse, known as Ten Mile Bank. Here it’s possible to pick a gear (not an option for Alex M!) and cruise for 15km-ish, taking in the views of the river. Not long after Downham Market the route reaches it’s most northerly point – panning across on a map shows that the tip of CSC is further north than Birmingham!
A greasy spoon café on Swaffham High Street was a welcome sight as the group loaded up with a proper meal. At this stage we were over halfway, a big plus mentally with the added bonus of a slight tailwind on the next 70km leg to Thurston. After skilfully missing a few rain showers (perhaps we shouldn’t complain about Rob’s “indirect” routes), a compact group reached Thurston and after a brief stop continued on for Wivenhoe via Hadleigh, the sun slowly dropping to the west. Strangely the average speed continued to rise all day which is testament to the participants, everyone taking their turn and sharing the load.
To summarise, a fantastic long day in the saddle where most riders ticked off their longest distance in a day. A special “well done” to Alex McNulty who, wanting to test his new fixed gear bike, decided to use a 300km ride to iron out a few niggles (!). The next Monument ride is the 260km “reverse Dynamo” in July, which has seen a big sign up with Colvelo members and casual riders alike. Be sure not to miss what is a great ride and also a procession against the flow of north-destined Dynamo riders, followed by a self-indulgent beer or three while the stragglers set off from London Fields.
The Colvelo Monument season takes a brief hiatus before the next big day out which is the reverse Dynamo ride on Saturday 16th July 2016. If this takes your fancy be sure to sign up on Strava!
Note – photographs courtesy of Will Ibbotson