The 2011 annual CTC Birthday Rides, were held from 14 to 20 August at Framlingham College, Suffolk. The rides are held in a different region each year and are organised by CTC Holidays with the help of the local member volunteers. This year 640 members attended to celebrate the 133rd birthday of the national CTC.
The event was based at Framlingham College, wonderfully situated in its own grounds with views over the mere to Framlingham Castle. Members could stay in the student boarding accommodation with breakfast and evening meals provided, or opt for a self catering option with caravans and camping within the grounds. The Burnley and Pendle CTC member group were represented by 8 of our current members, and the wearing of our club tops generated numerous discussions with other cyclists and members of the public. We were also very pleased to meet up with a couple of our ex-members that have moved out of our area, in Ronnie Gill and Marion Whitwell.
Detailed ride cards were available for 22 different rides, with at least 5 rides to chose from each of the categories, which were 'A' (60-80mile), 'B' (40-60mile), 'C' (20-40mile), and 'D' (10-20mile). The cards were marked with points of interest and visitior attractions. Some of the rides were recommended for certain days, due to the opening days of visitor attractions etc with some attractions being specially opened for us, or guided tours and discounts on offer.
The countyside is relatively flat, with some wonderfully quiet little lanes, which suited Sonia and I on our tandem which we are just getting used to and was ideal for young families. There is plenty to see, of interest, with quaint villages many of which are thatched, and historic sites such as Sutton Hoo the site of a saxon ship burial. The coast is in easy reach, with seaside towns such as Southwold, and we also visited the RSPB reserve at Minsmere. We were extremely lucky with the weather, which always helps, and it was a good job I remembered to take my sun protection as I used it every day. The one bit of bad weather came about 4:00pm on the Thursday afternoon when there was an absolute downpour, lasting most of the night. This of course was the night that we had pre booked a trip to the open air forest theatre to see a performance of Twelveth Night.
With the bar situated in a large marque and the college theatre also available there was a variety of entertainments on offer, each evening, including talks, slide shows, a quiz, and an eccentric look at Suffolk by local comedien Charlie Haylock. CTC stalwarts Chris Juden and Mark Waters provided a maintenace workshop and slide shows on some of the tours they have led. The college swimming pool was also available daily, free of charge, but we didn't quite manage to fit a dip.
On the Friday, the last full day, there was a thanksgiving service in the church followed by a mass procession back to the college for the Birthday Tea on the front lawn, where CTC vice president Josie Dew was the special guest. Josie also put on a slide show of her travels later in the day, before the last night barn dance with 'Inertia Reel'.
Burnley and Pendle CTC got a mention in the Birthday Tea speaches as we collected our prize for the Treasure Hunt.
This was the first visit to the Birthday Rides for my father, neice, Sonia and I, with the experience far exceeded our expectations. We will definately be looking out for details of next years event which we understand will be based in Shropshire.
Everyone we spoke to were impressed by the organisation which had gone into the event and the warm welcome we received. We did our best to show our appreciation to Paul Fenton the president of the Suffolk CTC and the other volunteers from the local CTC member groups. By John Ramsden.