EDitorial ± 6-Sep-2012

Tour Of Britain

It's starting, like so much throughout history, in Ipswich. This Sunday. The Tour of Britain, that is. Many men on many bikes. Men including Bradley Wiggins, this year's household name. Doing my bit, I thought it'd be fun to pre-trace the opening few miles while remaining vaguely en route to work.

See this Google map of the route I took.

— Neptune Quay —

Only 7:37 and I'm down on the Waterfront clutching a cutting from the EADT showing the town centre route and beyond. Start is Neptune Quay, it says. I'm guessing they mean in front of the Custom House, but, taking no chances, I'm choosing UCS as my launch location. As I'm readying myself for the epic journey, a lady cyclist with hi-vis top and helmet shoots past and disappears past the Salthouse. I set off, already going against the (non-existent) traffic. Nice down here.

— St Peter's Street —

Decision needed already: how to get to St Peters St? I turn right into Key St opposite the under construction Premier Inn and gingerly join the (very much existent) traffic on the busy-busy one way system. Into right hand lane and on past ancient Wolsey's Gate next to the church. I'd normally take the crossings into St Peters St, but I can't imagine the peloton doing that, so round the Novotel roundabout it is, risking L&L.

Left into the relative calm and nice of St Peters St.

— Buttermarket —

Along the best shopping street in Ipswich and naughtily head up St Nicholas St -- tut -- and Queen St -- tut tut. I spy Costa no.1!

Right into the pedestrianised Buttermarket. Ooh, new place, Patisserie Valerie, opened only yesterday. Quick in & out for a takeaway almond croissant. Haven't quite earned it yet.

— Northgate Street —

Left and legally up Northgate Street -- I spy Costa no.2! Giving us power over there is the library. No right turn allowed at the top here. Wheel onto pavement and over two crossings to where I watched the riders speed through the town last year.

— Christchurch Park —

Like the 'clists last year, I'll be cutting sharpish left into Christchurch Park. Unlike them, I'll be keeping a watchful eye out for Percy The Park Keeper since I don't think cycling is permitted past the mansion. All quiet so stay on the pedals and power up horrible hill by Reg Driver centre and out into Bolton Lane.

— Westerfield Road —

Continue climbing up Westerfield Road -- hello, Woolpack -- and aren't these houses all rather lovely and all rather expensive? Past the park, past Park Road, and past Birkin Haward's Spinney over yonder on the right.

— Colchester Road (1) —

Fortunate to find a break in the traffic to pull out and turn right onto my normal route to work, the efficiently dull Colchester Road, aka the A1214.

One positive point: cycle lane is generously wide. Though probably not enough to accommodate all of 'em come Sunday morning.

— Colchester Road (2) —

Tuddenham Road roundabout brings the challenge of the gradual hump over the railway track. I think they'll manage. Though you do need to watch out for the pedestrian crossing used by all the Northgate kids. Bummer to stop there on the downside of that railway slope.

And if you look over there to the left, you'll see the site of the former fire station. Flat as a Kansas pancake at the mo'.

— Colchester Road (3) —

Next roundabout, this time with Rushmere Road, and that cycle lane magically disappears, leaving cyclist and car drivers to battle it out for supremacy. They tend to win.

— Woodbridge Road (1) —

Here's the ex-Shell petrol station, now curiously unbranded. What's that, they serve coffee here? I spy Costa no.3! Some advice for the chaps when approaching this junction: there's a legitimate bike path on the pavement alongside the main road: take that, watch out for cars leaving the garage, then nip along past the bakery and other shops.

Best of all is a dropdown kerb just shy of the bus stop, thereby cutting off a corner and giving you a wee bit of acceleration into the start of Woodbridge Road.

— Woodbridge Road (2) —

On we go away from Ipswich Borough Council's jurisdiction. Watch out for the cycle lane magically reappearing for a full 10 metres, if that, by the Beech Road traffic lights. Somebody was clearly having a laugh with the last of their standard issue white paint.

You can tell you're in Kesgrave when you see Kesgrave Fisheries and the Kesgrave Kitchen. There's the Bell pub -- my usual turn-off, if I'm awake enough. Going straight on? No, you're not. The gravitational force of the ever-growing Grange Farm is pulling in the entire Tour of Britain, who are obliged to do the lengthy loop around Ropes Drive. Over the underpass, round the top bit, over the other underpass and back onto Main Road.

— Main Road —

Phew, back on a proper road. Motorists on this bit of the A1214 don't much like bicycle riders. Those in the know exercise a little bit of patience since they know that the cyclist slowing them down could be a policeman on their way to work at the Martlesham HQ.

Left hand out, everyone, and into Hall Road.

— Hall Road —

The ToB website talks about stage 1 of the race having a "largely flat profile". Whoever wrote that should cycle down and up Hall Road: it's a pig. Cars avoid this on icy days in the winter knowing that they can get stuck in the dip.

Anyone having (a) the time and (b) the money is advised to call in at Milsom's for breakfast, by the way.

— Martlesham Road —

Where are we now? Bealings? Playford? Martlesham? It's another right, no doubt signed to Woodbridge, along the rat run that is the Bealings Road. Over the chocka A12 and there's the joy of a downward slope all the way to the Red Lion pub on the corner. What kind of coffee do they serve here? I spy Costa no.4!

That'll do for me. Those pro-riders head left at this point, taking Sandy Lane into Woodbridge and beyond. Whereas I need to show my face at the office. Oh, joy, it's the severe hill up Main Road to Crown Point. Change down now!

More than enough miles for one morning.