48mph or 48kph? Who really cares whether they were imperial or metric gusts of wind forecasted for this ride? Both are Force 8 + on ye olde Beaufort scale and that’s just how it turned out to be for 14 hardy Windmillers as they set out from The Chestnut Tree in West Wratting on a three county circuit of lanes in Cambs, Suffolk and Essex.
Maurice led the first group with Ric, Charles, Nigel, Deborah, Alan, Victor and Jeremy in tow, followed shortly afterwards by Andrew, Howard, Brian, Simon, Graham and Martin. The outward leg via Great Wratting was a dream with only the occasional sideways gust reminding us of what we had in store on the return leg.
Having passed St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Kedington on many occasions, it was decided to stop on this ride and take a look inside what is commonly known as ‘The Westminster Abbey of Suffolk’, and we were not disappointed. The interior pays homage to the Barnardiston family, from the nearby hamlet of the same name, and is brimming with tombs of early family members, some of which are covered in graffiti dating back to the 1700s. (Some more recent graffiti includes the word Debbie but we didn’t see Deborah scratching away whilst we were there.)
Moving on, it wasn’t long before Tarka’s Café came into view at Baythorne End – always a good place to stop for excellent coffee and oversized cakes.
As Group B was leaving the café who should be seen returning but poor Deborah whose Group A had shot off at speed and not waited for her at the first junction. She was warmly welcomed into the fold of Group B who wouldn’t dream of such behaviour.
The first section of the return leg was quite well sheltered by trees and hedges and so it was only on the exposed parts that we felt the full force of the 48mph / 48kph gusts, most probably the former judging by the speed of the cloud shadows whipping across the fields towards us.
The worst part by far was the stretch between West Wickham and the turning to West Wratting where it was tough going even pedalling downhill.
This is where we went:
All agreed back at the pub that it had been the windiest ever Windmill Club ride. But where was Sandra, someone was heard to say? She would have loved living up to her name of Storm Sandra.
It was great to have Geoff join us for lunch, which was brilliant as always. The Chestnut Tree never lets us down.
Thanks once again to Maurice and Andrew for their organisation and to Charles and Brian for some of the photos, more of which are on The Windmill Club site on Google. Thanks also to Jeremy for the WWWWW inspiration.