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Ride and Groom
WORDS & IMAGES: Max Leonard
It was one of those gentle autumn days, mists and mellow fruitfulness and all that, which seem like a gift: as if the season is cosying up to you, to apologise in advance for the wind and the rain to come. The sign in a hairdresser's window in Woodford - "We Are In Presence of God" - seemed auspicious.
Some friends of mine have a tradition - only three years old, but it feels established already - of riding to each other’s weddings. The Ride and Groom, they call it.
First, this took them to Greece, then to France. This year, the destination was Leiston Abbey in Suffolk. Groomless (he was already there) but enthusiastic, three of us met early in east London. The plan, a sort of daytime Dunwich Dynamo, the annual overnight bike pilgrimage to Dunwich, out of London. Then turn right at Framlingham. Bob's your uncle.
As east London gave way to Epping, North Weald, High Roding then Great Dunmow, the mist lifted off the fields and the sun began to shine.
• There is an apple tree by the side of the road in Chelsworth groaning under the weight of the most delicious apples ever. Eve never had it so good.
• The smell of fresh earth, as tractors turn fields from green to brown, spreads far across the countryside.
• Looking at said tractors, as the plough blades catch the low sun, is not a good idea.
• Men in shooting parties wear amazing coloured socks (vivid mustard was the best we saw, as we watched them in their carriages, trundling across the fields).
• Steamed syrup pudding with custard is such immense fuel it cannot be UCI legal.
• 190 kilometres riding side by side induces surprising frankness in your companions, including tales about their sexual history.
• By Saxmundham, you can feel the sea in the air, the salt sticks to your skin.
• The Normans, as far as church design goes, were pretty much one-trick ponies.
We rode past Leiston; rode until we hit the sea at Aldeburgh and couldn't go any further. Then we retraced the road north and arrived at the Abbey, fish and chips in hand, as the sun was setting behind the ruins. 190 kilometres. 30 churches, two mosques and a hairdresser's. The wedding, the next day, was a humanist affair.
- How good is this shot ! “@TourdeKorea2013: @mike_cuming looking good in yellow! #TdK2013 @johnherety @raphacondor http://t.co/CrCV1zkCUB”
- RT @TourdeKorea2013: @mike_cuming looking good in yellow! #TdK2013 @johnherety @raphacondor http://t.co/oCjdyhvSue
- Reality check we also lost teammates @AaronBuggle and @carthy94 today. Going to be tough to defend.
- @mike_cuming in yellow with just over a minutes lead going into the final 2 stages of @TourdeKorea2013 couldn't of happened to a nicer guy
- RT @TourdeKorea2013: 25km to go in Stage 6. @mike_cuming is the virtual leader for @raphacondor. #TdK2013
- RT @TourdeKorea2013: 102 riders will sign on today after eight were dropped by their teams in the TTT and failed to make the time cut. #TdK…
- RT @London_phill: @raphacondor @MiBsponsor @james_fairbank_ Rapha team in Tour De Korea 2013 TTT http://t.co/SW09x70Zs0
- RT @182Jay: @raphacondor please share my @JustGiving page @thomwilson88, @DavidMetherell1 and I are fundraising for @MyelomaUK http://t.co…
- Great ride by the boys in Korea. 3rd by only 3 seconds in the 25km TTT today. Mike Cuming now up to 5th overall.
- Some nice pics of the boys and report on the great Mr Cancy's ride last night: http://t.co/ctoHu37ixb