Needham Market to Lavenham by bicycle

Wednesday was my day off, so I told a few people that I planned on cycling to Lavenham and back, thinking that if I told enough people I couldn’t back out. So once Wednesday hit I got ready and set off to do a trip that consisted of very little planning and to be fair looking back was pretty dangerous…

Why you may ask…? Cracking question! Well I cycle to Stowmarket every week to go to work and its fine because there’s a cycle path the whole way. This trip was around 15 miles each way and did not have one cycle path on the route. A route that mainly consisted of A roads and B roads…

It took me an hour and a half but I got there in the end. And it was WELL worth it!

Lavenham is an old medieval town that was once so prosperous that is was once the 14th richest town in the whole country according to the tax records from the Tudor era. Good old Henry the eighth liked to keep records! The main reason for this prosperity was because of the high quality cloth and wool they produced there, which was shipped as far as India and Northern Africa. The town also has literally hundreds of listed buildings that go as far back as the 1300’s. The reason for this was because the town quickly switched from being a rich town to ultimately worthless and many people abandoned the buildings, which meant the buildings were left untouched. Well that was what the woman in the tourist information centre told me anyway…

I grabbed a posh lunch at a pub called ‘Number 10’, then strutted over to the museum and did whatever it is that tourists are supposed to do. I whipped out my phone and took pictures and every so often I stroked my chin while looking at something of historical interest. Then I went out to the communal garden and walked around aimlessly making sure I got my moneys worth…

Then it was of to ‘The Swan’, which is I guess the marquee hotel in the area. It was posh, too posh for me to eat there and too posh for me in general, but I nervously walked around pretending I was interested in eating there with my minimum wage pay cheque. I ticked a few boxes then headed to the church.

Once I left the church and I explored the high street it was time for me to go home. I was still tired but knew there was no point in hoping that someone would magically transport me home, so I hopped on the bike and made my way back

I went a different way back; on the way there I went via Bildeston (I’d never heard of it either…) but on the way I realised there were a lot of steep uphill bits on the way back that were dangerous even if I cycled it, let alone got off my bike and walked up there. So I bricked it, used the excuse of saying I could see a different route and went that way, through a place called Hitcham.

Hitcham had a nice church to see, Hitcham also had a bitch of a hill that beat me and I had to take a ten minute break sprawled over a park bench like some loser who’d just downed a couple of 2 litre bottles of cider. As I was there a girl in her mid twenties walked towards me with a dog. I smiled at the dog and called him over and the girl looked at me like I was a rapist and swiftly pulled the dog in the opposite direction. You’ve still got it Lewis…

Oh, and I also died. I didn’t really, I just nearly crashed. Some dipshit overtook me and was way too close to me. I was flying down a hill and gaining speed to attack the next steep hill that was coming up and just as I got to the bottom he passed me with about half a metre gap between us, which made me swerve and hit the kerb. Luckily I had a firm grip of the handlebars (That’s not an innuendo for anyone looking to make a terrible joke…) and I stayed on my bike.

I got to Stowmarket and decided against going to see my sister. I thought it would be rude to rock up unannounced, take my shoes off and stink her house out. So I went straight back home, had a bath and then fell asleep. Woke up an hour later and celebrated with a Chinese.

Finally I saw the bloke who actually owns my bike (it’s a long story that involves me thinking the bike was abandoned, using it for months and walking past him looking in disbelief as he said “You know that’s my bike don’t you?”) and he said he’s leaving at the end of the month, so I offered to buy the bike off him as I still need to use it to go to work on weekends. So yeah, I own the bike now, but I won’t be going to Lavenham again by bike anytime soon. Not that it’s not worth it, because it definitely is worth seeing, it’s just a long old trek, plus the though of being knocked off on an A road by someone who’s not paying attention doesn’t really appeal to me. I suppose this rules out me cycling around the country when I travel, which was one of my ideas. If I struggle to make a 30 mile round trip then I don’t have much chance making it to Devon with a 20kg backpack on my back do I…? Still, I feel like I achieved something and it was a long old trip. I haven’t done any cycling of that magnitude in ages so go me!!!

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