Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

I

Friday, 27 May 2016

My that's steep (Climbing Monte Zoncolan, European mountains cafe search Day 3)

European mountains cafe search
Day 3
For the last day in the mountains I had decided we needed to try something proper steep. Fortunately Monte Zoncolan was only an hours drive away and fitted the bill perfectly. It is considered to be one of, if not the, toughest climb on the professional cycling circuit. It was last used as the final mountain stage in the 2014 Giro Italia (which is like the Tour de France but in Italy).

Monte Zoncolan is about 10km of up at an average gradient of 11% and peaking at about 22% so pretty damn steep. I had obviously forgotten to mention this to cycling guest Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) as I didn't want to put him off so just told him the bit about it being part of a Giro route as he loves all things Italian, espically cycling.

After yesterday's excursions we decided to just concentrate on doing the climb rather than a rerun of last 71 miles of the 2014 giro stage I had originally planned, as on map below. Once again we took the hire car and drove to the town Tolmezzo about 10 miles from the start of the climb. By now Andrew was aware we were going up something a lot tougher than anything we had tackled before and he was a little nervous about his chances.



As we approached the start we met an Italian cyclist coming the other way. He looked at us and just said "Zoncolan" in a knowing sort of way. We said yes and I took confidence in the fact that he thought we were the type of cyclists who would attempt such a thing.

But then everything changed. We had cycled up through the village covering the first couple of kilometres of the climb (the easy bit) when we reached the foot of the climb proper and there was a red sign saying that Zoncolan pass was closed. Disaster, to think that we had come all this way, trained hard (once) on the steepest hill that Norfolk has to offer and it would be all for nothing. A local saw my despair, and Andrews relief, and said she thought it was closed 6km further up by snow. We agreed, well I did, that we should go at least that far and I set off with Andrew following.

Every half kilometre there is a picture of a famous cyclist that lets you know how far you have gone (the sign not the famous cyclist).
Famous cyclist at 1500m
It was incredibly hard work as the opening section gets up to 20% and doesn't fall much below 16%. Even in my easiest cog it was like pedalling in your hardest gear very slowly. My speedo said that was about 3mph and kept switching off as it thought I had stopped. I could feel my heart pounding and I was sweating for Britain. It took nearly 20 minutes to reach the 1.5km (less that a mile) mark and there was no sign of Andrew behind me. I rounded the hairpin to see nothing but up in front of me at which point my legs went on strike and demanded a rest.
Another steep hairpin
I decided a rest every 1.5km would be in order as I set off crawling up the hill again only for my phone to ring. It was Andrew who told me he had 'dropped his sunglasses' from out of his cycle shirt and would be going back to look for them. He also said it was just too hard and he was making no progress, pedalling squares, so he would wait at the bottom. This was a a shame as I had been looking forward to him getting to the top so I could point out how much longer it had taken him to ride up than me. However I decided to press on in the same manor as before until I got to Eddy Marx at 3km.
Eddy Merckx at near halfway
According to the lady at the bottom I was half way to where the road was closed (although she had been wrong) and set off again. The gradient was relentless and never dropped below what we had considered the very steepest bits on the previous rides this week. However as I gained height, quickly, the views were spectacular.
One of many spectacular views
Occasionally I was passed by motor bikes going up, and occasionally cyclists, bikers or even small cars coming down. You knew if a car was coming as you could smell the burnt brake rubber before your heard or saw it.

I eventually got to the 6km mark with still no sign of snow so I kept going before reaching some tunnels where there was snow piled up on either side of the road but it was still clear.
I did find the snow but not enough to close the road
Once through the final tunnel I could see clear road all the way to the top and cycled up the last few iconic twists with renewed vigour.
The iconic last few bends
And then I had made it. A nice German biker kindly took a celebratory photo for me and I immediately sent it to Andrew to rub it in, I mean let him know I was at the top and ready to descend.
Rare smile as I made it to the top
As the path was in very good condition then, despite its steepness, the way down was less hairy than a lot of my descending efforts. Once off the main climb I once again met Andrew coming up from the village to met me. I wanted to be sensitive and therefore agreed with him that he had been right to turn back (he hadn't), it was an order of magnitude harder than anything we had done before (it was), that you learn more about yourself in failure than triumph (you don't) etc, etc, blah, blah, yawn, yawn. After half an hour of his justification nonsense I was in desperate need of a cafe stop and review so we went to the first one we came across.
Outside cafe in nearby village
Being on the side of a busy road it was never going to challenge for the title of best cafe anywhere in Europe which had changed hands only yesterday however they did do an excellent hot chocolate and the pasta with wild boar was just what I needed but sadly no cake was available. It was still a pretty good cafe offering.
Excellent hot chocolate
To make up for the lack of cycling I had delivered for Andrew today we worked out a scenic route back to the car which once again took in some excellent views so thanks to a final bit of getting lost the day had still been a 40 mile ride (for some of us).
Final dramatic view on the trip
Once home it was straight to the excellent local cake shop, which is less than 100 metres from the apartment, for celebration cake. 
my cake reward
I had finished mine when Andrew said he was full and I could have the other half of his, which I gratefully took. It was now becoming clear why he had failed to make the climb, he simply doesn't eat enough cake.

Route we planned to do including up Zoncolon


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Highs and lows, literally (European mountains cafe search day 2)

European mountains cafe search (2016)
Day 2
After the disappointment and lack of cafe stops on Tuesdays ride I was determined to find better today. I also wanted to make sure that the scenery was an improvement on the rather bland Ironman Austria route we had cycled round on a drizzly morning. My plan was to use the experience gained from last years cafe mountain tour to satisfy both requirements. However the day turned in to an emotional and cycling roller coaster of high climbs, getting lost and a miraculous discovery

The plan was to do 3 climbs over 90 miles, 2 in Italy but first starting off in Slovenia with the iconic climb up 24 hairpin bends to Visci. As it would be a long day I set off early, with my European cycling guest Andre (who is notoriously hard to please), from our apartment at the foot of the climb and headed for the first hairpin. I knew from previous experience that I was much better at going up and Andrew faster at coming down so we agreed to see each other on the other side.

It's a lovely ride up, if a bit tough with the 24 hairpin bends and road maxing out at about 15% gradient, but the views are great and you can lose yourself, and your cycling guest as it happens, whilst you wind your way up for about an hour. It was only spoiled by the motorbikes and sports cars that came up behind me before always having to rev loudly as they whizzed past. What's the point? 

After exactly an hour I reached the top where to my surprise there was snow at which point I took a photo of summit sign for evidence of my ascent. Andrew later informed me that he had tried to take what would have been his first, and he assures me will be his last, selfie but missed half the sign out.
Evidence of reaching the top
From here I descended as fast as I could down the 26 bends on the other side before a long more gentle descent straight to Bovec. It had been 7 miles of up then 20 of down so I guessed Andrew would be catching me up soon so decided to wait to maintain my credibility. A couple of minutes later he appeared so I told him I had been waiting much longer than I really had, before we continued into Bovec for first stop of the day right on schedule.

We decided to stop at the Bovec Rock hostel as it looked very nice and the staff did indeed turn out to be most pleasant and friendly. It also had excellent views of the mountains in the Soca valley.
Outside the excellent Bovec Rock Hostel
Despite it being a boiling hot day I had to maintain standards and ordered a hot chocolate, I was offered thick or milky so obviously went thick while Andrew went for a cappuccino. We were then told they didn't do food but that I could pop to the nearby bakers and bring something back from there. This offered the best of both worlds as I had a proper cake selection to go with my drink. The refreshment highlight being my chocolate covered doughnut type thing.
Drinks and cakes featuring a chocolate covered doughnut type thing
Food, drinks and atmosphere and ambience (AAA) had all scored highly making it one of my favourite European cafes visited to date, but the scores said it was not quite as good as my current number 1 rated European establishment which coincidentally I planned to revisit at the top of the next pass.

We left the Bovec Rock Hostel and soon found ourselves climbing again, separately of course, but we had done this particular part of the route last year so knew the way. First we had to cross the boarder into Italy which unlike our crossing into Austria yesterday is not patrolled.
Un manned boarder crossing, just the way I like them
The views in the Soca valley were stunning all day so despite it being hard work it was a lovely hour of climbing until we arrived (10 minutes apart) at my current number 1 rated European cafe. (see Only a theory)
Andrew eventually arriving at cafe
The views from this cafe are fantastic but it does have some drawbacks. No hot chocolate and no cake, although on the plus side the pasta is very good and authentic plus Andrew said his cappuccino was top notch.
Great Pasta just the way my Mama would have made it if she was Italian 
Because of the drawbacks I decided it wasn't as good as I had remembered and couldn't really keep its number 1 status as I had preferred the Bovec Rock hostel. Despite cycling to cafes in Holland, France, Slovenia, Italy and Austria I still didn't think that I had found a destination yet that delivered the cafe experience I was after. I hoped the last stop today would be worthy contender but held out little hope.

From here we descended down a very tricky road and my lack of finding a genuine top cafe had me feeling a little down. Soon things, and my mood, only got worse when my cycling GPS had a melt down and somehow made up a fictitious route for us to follow. Despite it not feeling right and Andrew pointing out we were going the wrong way I insisted that if my GPS said it was that way then that was the way we would go as technology knows best and off we went. Despite now going in completely the wrong direction the view was stunning and temporarily cheered me up.
The view you get if you go the wrong way making it almost worth while
We then climbed up into a little village and to the end of the road where we stopped at a dead end. As we looked at a wall, which I was all for climbing over as the GPS said it was that way, a local shrugged and told us in Italian we needed to turn round, which after checking the map I reluctantly did. This detour had added 7 miles to our ride and I was now worried any further cafes would be shut by the time we got to our next potential stop. I had hit an all time low as this trip wasn't going to plan and I do like to follow a plan.

Fortunately we soon found the right way and we went down the valley before finding the start of a lovely flat cycle path which went along an old railway line for several miles. We then came to the point where I had planned to turn off for the final climb and cafe stop. But what was this, at the junction there was a converted station which was now a cafe and information point.
Cafe heaven on a flat cycle path in the mountains
I assumed it was a mirage but things only got better when the information lady told us we could continue on the cycle path all the way to Tarvisio and there was no need to get home by cycling over another mountain. Next they provided excellent hot chocolate and cappuccino along with some lovely plum tart.
Lovely Italian Plum tart
As I sat there enjoying smashing refreshments and lapping up the fabulous views by the side of the worlds best cycle path I knew I had at last found a top quality continental Cycle cafe which is now officially the best one anywhere in Europe (that I happen to have stopped at).

We were enjoying relaxing there rather too much but bicycles don't cycle themselves (unless they are motorbikes and what's the point of that) so it was time to move on as there was still over 30 miles to be done. Although the cycle path was smooth it had a gentle incline all the way which got rather tiring on the legs as the miles went past. However I informed my legs that this was a much quicker and easier option than the alternative would have been. It was also rather exciting as it went through many tunnels and over high bridges.
Part of the cycle track over one of many bridges
Despite cycling nearly 100 miles and being out on the road for 11 hours we agreed today had been a great success especially after finding the number 1 cafe in Europe and the miraculous cycle track. Thoughts now turn to our final challenge. This will be our attempt to ride up Monte Zoncolan which is considered to be the toughest climb in professional cycling and we are far from professional cyclists.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Austrian Ironman Cycle practice (European mountains cafe search day 1)

European mountains cafe search (2016)
Day 1
In my continuing quest to become a top cafe cycle ride reviewer I felt it was again time to head off to Europe to test out some more cafes in Slovenia, Austria and Italy. It would also be a chance to up my cycling training ready for next months Ironman Austria triathlon (which I may have mentioned). To help on both fronts I had packed Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) in my suitcase and now unpacked, we were ready to go on today's trip


For this ride I would be getting a metaphorical stone and aiming to throw it in such a way that two birds would end up dead. If you have ever tried to do this you will find it is very difficult as you have to hit the first bird and then get the stone to bounce off with enough force and at the right angle to take a second bird out. So for a saying about making things easy for yourself it's not a very good one as I proved today.

In my scenario the first bird is a lap of the Iornman Austria cycle route and the second bird is to track down some cafes to review. I think that makes my bike the stone although no one was actually killed on the ride.

As it was 40 miles to the start from our Slovenian base, I decided to put our bikes and cycling guest Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) in the back of the hire car and drive to the start in Klagenfurt, Austria. From here we set out on the route which is clearly marked with Ironman signs for people wanting to have a practice the ride or pretend they are an Ironman.

Iornman sign
The route goes along by the lake for about 20 miles until coming to the first of two climbs. This one being only 1100m and max of 12%. From here you do a figure of 8 so when I spotted a cafe/cake shop on the way out we decided to stop at it on our return after about 30 miles.
A very pink cafe stop
As a Cafe/cake shop there was obviously a good cake selection but as most cafes in Europe don't sell cake, like back in the UK, the official EU cafe rating system only scores atmosphere and ambience (AAA), food and drink. This cafe scored well in all three categories but not good enough to depose my number 1 rated European cafe which I plan to revisit tomorrow.

Cakes, in the form of pastries, and drinks
Eagle eyed readers may have spotted a problem. Yes they had only gone and served my fresh fruit Danish pastry on its serviette. I believe I have nearly eradicated this practice in East Anglia if not the whole of Great Britain but have much work to do in Austria. I have therefore launched my campaign "die serviettn ghert oba ned unta den kuchn" ... the napkin does not belong under the cake! (Thanks Edith for translation) to hopefully have the same impact here and stamp it out.

die serviettn ghert oba ned unta den kuchn
After our break we set off again until we reached the second climb. This one was a bit longer meaning I had time to read a short novel as I waited for Andrew (who is not training for an ironman triathlon and kept reminding me) at the top.

View from top of longer climb which I would have had time to paint while I waited for Andrew
From here the last 15 miles are all down hill back to Klagenfurt when, if you were doing it for real, you would set off on a second lap, but we agreed that was unnecessary today and the first bird was dead..

Although it was now gone 2pm I was disappointed that only 1 cafe had been reviewed so I suggested we do a 'quick' 36 mile route I had downloaded from the Internet which started a few miles away. Andrew foolishly agreed and with only the name of the town where it started from we set off with the bikes in the car. I spotted a good parking space and I used a special feature on my cycling GPS to take us to the start of the route. Unfortunately my parking space was not that good as it turned out to be 2 miles from the start turning this into a 40 mile ride. When I admitted this to Andrew he was not best pleased and threw a bit of a wobbly.
Andrew was not pleased when I told him of the extra miles added to the ride
By now we were both desperate for some food so stopped at the first place we saw which was on the main road and next to a garage so not really the type of Alpine charm I was after.
Roadside style cafe
However the food hit the spot and although not a recommended cafe it did mean we were ready to tackle the ride.
Energy food for the ride
This ride was more like it featuring a couple of long climbs each 2-3 miles in length going up through the woods and offering stunning views.
A stunning view
The only problem with longer climbs is longer waits at the top and by now it was getting rather cold and I had finished my book. However when Andrew did catch up we were pleased to find the last few miles down hill although I found that Norfolk and Austria do have something in common, it may not be the landscape but what ever direction you go in it is always into the wind.

We eventually got back to the car with the light starting to fade and after a very long day returned to our base in Slovenia. In dead bird terms we had hit the first by doing the ironman course but the second was only stunned at best as our café search had not really been terribly successful. I aim to focus on that side of things tomorrow.

Iornman route


Other route

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Hybrid bar. (Queen of Hearts Tearoom Bar, Lenwade)

Queen of Hearts,
Lenwade,
Opening times Mon-Fri 11:00-15:00 (closed Wed),
Sat 09:00-14:00, Sun 11:00-22:00
Next week myself and Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) head off to Slovenia for some riding in the mountains and to check out the Ironman Austria cycle course in preparation for the race in 5 weeks time (did I mention I was doing Ironman Austria). On le continent they don't really have tearooms but cafe bars, although I will still be doing reviewing while out there. I had recently noticed a new establishment in Lenwade which claimed to be a bar tearoom which seemed to be an ideal hybrid to help transition us for our trip. As an added bonus Big George joined us as a second cycling guest for the day.

Being cycling tarts we all own summer and winter bikes and today was the first day we all had our summer bikes out. This led to a lot of unnecessary showing off and sprinting up the road as we tested out each others bikes and fitness. We therefore covered the 20 odd miles to Lenwade in record time so were tired and ready to see what the Queen of Hearts Cafe Bar Tearoom had to offer to help replenish our energy stores.
Outside Queen of Hearts Tearoom Bar
This used to be Maxims (see Egg Hunt) that myself and Big George reviewed 18 months ago and had been a little disappointed by. The Queen of Hearts had completely changed the interior so it now resemble more of a pub with a small bar than a cafe or tea room so the focus seemed to be more on the bar bit of the name There was also some outdoor seating in the car park overlooking the Fakenham road but we opted to stay inside.

I would have thought that the minimum requirement to be able to call yourself a tearoom is some cake so I was slightly surprised to find the only things available in this department were scones (fruit or cheese). I was informed there are normally cakes but they had sold out. Obviously this meant I could only give a low effective cake selection (ECS) mark.
Only cakes available were scones, which aren't really cakes anyway
The coffee and hot chocolate came from an instant machine behind the bar so was pretty average fair, however the menu did say all food was locally sourced so I had more hope for the fruit scones we ordered which were from a near by bakery but they had been warmed up which I never think a fruit scone benefits from (remember cheese scone hot, fruit scone not) and it was therefore not at its best.

On the plus side the staff at The Queen of Hearts were very friendly although I feel they haven't quite got the bar tearoom hybrid balance quite right yet.

The ride home followed the same pattern as on the way out so we were all red faced and tired when we got back, ready for our afternoon naps.

Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
5.0
4.5
2.0
3.0
5.0
3.90
Route
Click here to download 40 mile Norwich Lenwade loop GPX file for your gps

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Cake Crusader Sportive 20. (31 mile via Cafe Jungle at Costessey)


Sportive 20,
Cafe Jungle,
Costessey,
Opening times Mon-Sun 10:00-5:00
Highly Recommended
Cafe Cycle rides have proved thin on the ground in the last few weeks with Ironman training, a lack of willing cycling guests and some inclement weather all getting in the way. However yesterday I was pleased to have gathered 5 other riders for a Cake Crusader sportive. As always competitors congregated at race HQ for pre ride faffing about which then overran by 10 minutes due to too much chatting and not enough faffing.
Today's group eventually ready to set off
When the ride did eventually set off I foolishly informed the peleton that I had pulled a muscle at the top of my leg during that mornings parkrun. Sniffing a potential weakness several of the riders decided they would be attacking on all the hills to test me out and hopefully see me (or my leg) crack, which they attempted to do all the way to our cafe stop, Cafe Jungle at Costessay. I just managed to hang on and was pleased that my fellow riders had decided to dish out this treatment as I would have certainly done the same and thought less of them if they had not.

I had visited Cafe Jungle with Mrs Crusader just before Christmas but it was about to shut for some refurbishments so cake was in short supply that day (see lets go fly a kite). I felt a proper visit was now long over due.
Outside Cafe Jungle
The cafe is the only jungle based venue I have been to and has seating spread out amongst the tropical plants in a large green house type structure. My punters all liked the set up so, along with the friendliness of the staff, a high atmoshpere and ambiance score was awarded
Seating in tropical setting
I checked out the cakes at the counter of the newly refurbished kitchen (although I couldn't spot the difference) which featured three good looking big sponge cakes. Although not the biggest cake selection it was very effective as they all looked tempting so I awarded a good effective cake selection (ECS) score.
An effective cake selection
On the drinks front the coffee drinkers get to choose the bean that they want their cafetiere to be filled with. Apparently Ecuadorian beans go well with sausage rolls and brownie (which was lucky as that is what Dom and Ali had gone for) and Guatemalan is good with a toastie or strawberry sponge cake (which were Jodie and Andy's picks). So it would be the right Coffee/cake combinations all round.
My Hot Chocolate and Mrs Crusaders Mocha with some strawberry cake
When the drinks arrived I was very impressed with the chocolatiness of my drink so thumbs up on the chocolate part. However it was only warm so not so good on the hot bit which stopped it getting the really high mark it deserved.

Everyone else was very impressed with their different coffees and a high guest hot drink quality (GHDQ) mark resulted. The cakes were all very nice too with the chocolate brownie coming in for particular praise.

Cafe Jungle had proved to be an excellent stop and,after yesterdays proper rating visit, it has moved right up my cafe table. I would highly recommend a visit unless of course you are a celebrity as you would probably want to get out of there..

It was now just a short ride home although not with out incident as again their was too much chatting and not enough cycling causing Andy to loose concentration and ride straight into some street furniture before having a quick lie down in the road. Hopefully this will act as a reminder to other cycling guest on future rides to leave the chat at home or in the cafe and not bring it out on the road.

Scores based on 2 visits
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.875
7.50
5.75
7.25
8.007
7.08
Route

Click here to download 31 mile Norwich Weston Longville loop gpx file for your gps


Friday, 6 May 2016

Comfort Break. (Dunes Cafe, Winterton)

Dunes cafe,
Winterton,
Opening times Mon-Sun 09:00-17:00,
(March-Nov) and every weekend
Recommended 
After what seemed to have been the longest Winter ever it was great to wake up to blue sky's and sunshine this morning. To celebrate I decided it was the perfect day for a cafe cycle ride to the sea side. I agreed with cycling guest Big George that we would head off to our favourite beach at Winterton.

With bucket and spade packed we headed off into the wind. After a while Big George declared that he needed a comfort break. After a short while I thought I had found him an ideal spot for comfort, with some trees available for cover. He was obviously in a hurry as he dumped his bike by the side of the road and headed for the trees. I took the opportunity to check the new voice mail message on my phone (apparently I had been in a recent accident which must have effected my memory as I couldn't remember it). Just then two little old ladies pulled up in a car. I was worried that we would be in for a good telling off for Big George's anti social actions but having seen the bike laying on the side of the road and me on the phone they thought there had been an accident and wanted to know how they could help. I said there nearly was a little accident but that I thought Big George had got to the tree just in time, so with everyone relived they drove off happy.

With no more drama we arrived at Winterton and found the Dune cafe at the end of the road to the beach. 
Outside Dune cafe which was busy in the sunshine
I have sometimes found that beach and park cafes are not always the best as they don't have to try too hard because the punters have mainly come for the park or beach element rather than the cafe. I was therefore pleased to see this establishment had proper coffee and cooked fresh food.

I checked out the cake selection so as to award the effective cake selection (ECS) mark. It was a bit different with some excellent looking cream cakes and pastries but not much in the way of traditional sponge cake (only carrot) but as I like cream cakes and pastries I still found it to be quite effective and scored the ECS appropriately.
Cake selection majoring on cream based cakes
I ordered a hot chocolate and a Norfolk shortcake (which I didn't even know it was a thing) cream slice while Big George went for a filter coffee and a Belgium bun. We decided to sit in the outside seating area over looking the beach leading to a high atmosphere and ambience (AAA) score.
Lovely view of beach and sea from outdoor seating area
Our drinks were nice and solid examples of type. I enjoyed my Norfolk shortcake (which is just normal shortcake with raisins in it) cream slice and then helped Big George finish his enormous bun leading to a good cake quality taste (CTQ) mark.
Good drinks and cakes

All in all the Dunes cafe had proved you can have a decent beach cafe and was worth the long ride out there.

As i'm currently in full Ironman training I had planned the route back on some faster straight roads in order to practice going quicker. I wouldn't recommend the route back if you want some nice quiet country lanes, like you will find in most of the routes in my useful routes facility. However I was very pleased with the fast stretches we put in which ticked today's training box but it did mean I needed an afternoon kip once I got back to Crusader towers. 

Scores
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
6.0
6.5
5.5
7.0
8.0
6.60
route

The route went down a busy road so take care

Click here to download 50 mile Norwich Winterton GPX file for your GPS

Monday, 2 May 2016

Suffolk Spring Sportive day 2. (Earsham Street Cafe, Bungay)

Earsham Street Cafe,
Bungay,
Opening times Mon-Sun 10:00-16:00,
Highly Recommended 
I was slightly worried that my cycling guests wouldn't be up bright and early for day two of the Cake Crusader Cycling Adventure (CCCA). I needn't have worried as I was met at Breakfast by a series of smiling faces and then, soon after, by a row of cyclists eager to go and right on schedule. Little did I know that the smiling happy faces would be turned upside down when we had a cafe bombshell later in the day.
Eager for day 2 to begin only delayed by me tweeting the photo
The wind that had helped us for most of yesterday had amazingly turned round overnight and now planned to push us all the way home as well. This is unheard of wind behaviour and I knew nothing could now go wrong as luck was clearly on our side. However I had forgotten my physics that says we must have balance in our universe so if you have a huge amount of wind based luck then there must be an equal amount of cafe cycling bad luck or we will be swallowed up by a crack in the fabric of space and luck time. 

To avoid a crack in the fabric of space and luck time we were first delayed by back to back punctures from Jodie and Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please). Not for the first time, as I stood by the road side photographing Andrew at work, he commented on how he really must get some new tyres as his were getting a bit worn. No shit Sherlock.
Andrew examining his thread bare tyres
Now running behind me meticulously planned schedule we set off again to our first cafe stop in Eye. On arrival we were met by a sign that said the target cafe wasn't open on the 1st or 3rd Sunday of the month. As luck, that was no longer on our side, would have it today was the 1st Sunday of the month so no cafe here or anywhere in the local vicinity. Damn you Ying and Yang.
Cafe sign bombshell
I was reluctantly persuaded to go to the nearby pub so a plan b could be formulated. In protest I ordered a glass of water as a pub isn't a cafe nor does it sell cake. The happy smiling faces of this morning were now sad and morale was very low as sugar levels continued to fall.
Unhappy punters
I never carry a plan b or give my cycling guests options as they might start to get ideas and become difficult to control, so I told them to drink up, get some sweeties from the local shop and we would press on to stop two which, after all, was Earsham Street Cafe in Bungay my current number 1 rated cafe. Secretly I was worried that with luck now against us Earsham Street cafe may not live up to it's billing but I needn't have worried.
On route to Bungay
With everyone eager for proper refreshments and the wind speed picking up we raced to Bungay in record time and headed straight for Earsham Street. Things started very well with a friendly welcome and my cycling guests being impressed that we could wheel our bikes through the indoor area to the cycle storage facility at the back, which we quickly filled up
filling up the Earsham street cafe cycle storage facility
Despite me telling them that I have never had a bad visit to Earsham Street Cafe my cycling guests insisted on performing a full audit to make sure they were happy it really should be my number 1 rated cafe.

Sitting outside in the sunshine knowing that our bikes were safe and with exceptionally friendly service many of my cycling guests wanted to give a 10 for Atmosphere and Ambiance (AAA) so we were off to a good start.

As always the cake selection wasn't the biggest but everyone of them was tempting making it extremely effective and therefore a good effective cake selection (ECS) rating. I was also pleased to see flapjack on offer so I could test it as part of my search for flapjack of the year 2016.
Very effective cake selection
Despite 3 people ordering Egyptian mint tea (you could tell it was Egyptian as the tea bags were pyramid shaped) the drink and cake quality was also up to it's usual high standard.
Excellent drinks (with mini flapjack)
Great cakes
At the end of the cycling guest's audit they had rated the cafe even higher than me and thus confirmed it's place as my number one cafe. Morale was restored and I was relived that not only were the cycling guests now happy and ready for the final push home but my credentials as the self appointed number one cycle cafe reviewer (in the Norfolk area) were in tact.
.
Once again we sped along incident free until returning to Norwich where we went past Dr Hans and Frau Dr Hans's house where I insisted they finished their ride rather than return to Crusader Towers. This was not because of an uncharacteristic act of kindness from me but if they had done the extra bit to the end they would have done more miles than me which would have forced me to cycle back to their house with them before returning home as I can never be in mileage deficit to cycling guests.

All in all the first CCCA was seen as a success with plans already afoot for next year although I'm not sure if I can ever pull off the wind behind both ways (WBBW) trick again.

Scores based on last 3 visits
Hot Choc Quality
Guest Hot Drink Quality
Effective Cake Selection
Cake Quality
Ambiance and Atmosphere
Café Rating
8.33
8.33
8.17
9.00
8.50
8.47

Route

Click here to down load 64 mile Ipswich to Norwich route gpx file for your gps