Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

Cake Crusader Book

There is now a Cake Crusader book available where you can follow my journey from humble local trips to world record attempts and near-death experiences. How did a simple method of keeping track of decent cycling café pit stops turn my life upside down? Track my adventures into Europe, up mountains and right across Great Britain as I become a 'rising star' on social media. Will I prove my critics wrong? Should cheese scones be served hot or cold? Do I really have nothing better to do with his time? A must read for lovers of cycling and cake or anyone wanting to make it big in the virtual world

Available on Amazon

Sunday, 15 March 2015

So much to learn (calorie neutral bike ride world record attempt fact find)

Calorie Neutral bike ride
World record attempt fact find
90 miles 10 cafes (ish) 

Despite it being Friday 13th, I took my preparation for the world record attempt for a calorie neutral bike ride to the next level with a planned (see Calorie neutral bike ride world record update) attempt to visit 10 cafes in one day. The purpose was to learn more about calorie neutral bike riding in order to plan the best route, gather data on timings and see if I could eat a lot of cake when cycling a long way without being sick. 

For those new to the concept then the 7 rules of calorie neutral bike ride world record attempts are at the end of the post.

First apologies for length of post but there were a lot of stops to cover. So if you would rather just look at pictures the summary is:
Got lost, still went to 9 cafes, had 7 pieces cake, 2 cheese scones, 7 cups of tea and 2 hot chocolates. Several things didn't go to plan but I learnt a lot and wasn't ill.

Here is the full story. I set off at 8:30 for my first cafe stop, an old favourite, the imaginatively named The Cafe at Brooke. It was a hard start to the day as I had to climb the mountainous ridge over Poringland before hurtling down the Bungay Road to Brooke. I burnt 42 more calories than necessary which as per rule 7 was wasted effort.

When I arrived at The Cafe there was no one about so I decided to save time and not lock the bike before dashing inside to order my first cake and drink of the day. I was wearing my bright yellow hi viz safety gilet and stood patiently at the counter waiting to be servered by the lady in the kitchen. After a couple of minutes she came over to serve me apologising 'oh sorry I didn't see you there'. I made a note to write to the manufacturers pointing out their bright yellow hi viz safety gilet clearly didn't live up to the 'make sure you are always seen' slogan which they had promised me in their advertising literature. 

With precious minutes lost I went out side to eat my brownie and drink my hot chocolate (which were both very good) and see where I was against the printed schedule I had prepared for the ride. This led to the first learning of the day which was not to leave the printed schedule you had prepared for the ride on your desk at home. Without it I would have no idea if I would get to all my stops on time so I would just need to go as fast as possible. To cheer me up I decided to take my evidential photos of venue, drink and cake that I wanted from each stop. To my horror, despite charging my phone yesterday evening, it was already showing low battery. My plans for regular twitter updates were now not going to happen as I turned off any battery draining  feature to save it for photos and future emergencies. 

I gulped down the rest of my hot chocolate and with a burnt mouth I paid the lady who commented that I had been quick (yes less than 12 and a half minutes I proudly thought) but I didn't have time to explain and thanked her for the lovely brownie and cake and set off for Loddon. 

Unfortunately things didn't go to plan. As per rule 6 more than 300 calories need to be burnt between cafes. To make sure I obey this rule it is sometime necessary to put extra loops in before arriving at my next destination. To speed things up and avoid the time consuming need to refer to maps I had pre loaded the route on to my bike sat nav. However as I arrived at one junction the sat nav showed the route going both ways but with no clues as to which was the right direction. Unfortunately I guessed wrong and a couple of miles later I realised I had missed cafe number 2 (Spoon cake in Loddon) altogether. There was no time to turn round so I pressed on to cafe number 3, Every Days a Picnic (EDAP) at Hedenham.

As it was still early I was quickly served and had a lovely piece of apple cake and tea. You may remember that when I did my 5 cafe practice last September I discovered it was not possible to drink more than 4 hot chocolates in one day without feeling ill so I planned to have a hot chocolate on every 5th cafe and drink tea the rest of the time. My first tea of the day was provided in a nice pot with cup and saucer. As I was not used to tea drinking I wasn't sure if I was meant to drink just a cups worth or the full pot. To avoid future issues and the need for arbitration I decided to add a subsection to calorie neutral bike ride rule 5 that in these circumstances you only had to drink a single cups worth of tea and not the full pot.

Even if I had had the printed schedule I had prepared for the ride and left on my desk at home, which I didn't, after missing out a cafe it would no longer have been of any use so after a brief (13.5 mins) and pleasant visit to EDAP I had no idea how I was doing. Undeterred I set off to Cake Crusdaer cafe of the year 2014, Earsham Street cafe in Bungay. It was a straight forward ride and again, as the cafe wasn't yet busy, service was quick. I sat out the back with my bike and enjoyed my cup of tea plus the most outstanding piece of cake of the day which was Pear and Almond with chocolate bits. With cake this good it could be my number one rated cafe for sometime to come.

After just under 14 mins of cake heaven it was once again time to get back on the bike and ride across to the Pennoyer centre in Pulham St Mary. With the wind directly behind this was the fastest leg of the trip but I decided for my world record attempt it would be better to add a stop in between, at Harleston, to optimise further my world record route.
At the Pennoyer Centre I had my first cheese scone of the day, which through force of habit, I foolishly asked to be warmed wasting valuable time. I was joined at my table by a local authour who had read about my trip via a tweet on the Pennoyer centre website. I was very excited to meet my first ever calorie neutral bike ride supporter. He told me about the political novel he was writing which sounded very interesting and I would have liked to stay for a longer chat as I had recently been on two politically based cycle rides and now considered myself to be a bit of a political expert. Fortunately he knew I was on a tight schedule so it didn't seem too rude when I said I had to dash even though this was my longest stop of the day at just over 15 mins. He promised to look out for me on my actual attempt at the end of the summer which was very nice especially if he makes a flag to wave.

Next it was a ride North up to the Tudor Bakehouse in Long Stratton where there was more calorie controversy.
Being a Bakery the Tudor Bakehouse has a good selection of bakery fare mainly in the form of muffins, biscuits, flapjacks and slices. Rule 4 clearly states that at each stop a cake or a scone must be consumed but no biscuits or flapjacks. I decided to go for the rather good looking toffee Tiffin but on eating it I rather felt it was more biscuit than cake. When I returned home I checked the Wikipedia definition which says that Tiffin is cake-like, composed of crushed biscuits and a layer of chocolate (or toffee) to hold it together and unlike regular cake it doesn't require baking. On reflection I fear Tiffin is not a cake or a scone so I broke rule 4. If today had been the world record attempt I would have been disqualified. To avoid any chance of this happening I have amended rule 4 to be clear that Tiffin is not allowed either.

It was now on to The Hen House in Wymondham, another top 5 rated cafe and winner of best atmosphere and ambiance 2014. Not only was owner Annabel expecting me, via my tweets about the practice ride, but she had her best atmosphere and ambiance 2014 winners certificate on display as well. 

As this was my 6th cafe of the day I was allowed my next hot chocolate which was very good as was the piece of excellent lemon cake. I sat in one of the sheds in the outdoor shed seating area and immediately felt calm like any man does when in his 'cave'. 
Sadly there was no time to soak up the atmosphere and ambiance for too long as it was straight back on the bike to Chalfonts at Hingham where I received some exciting news. 

However after I arrived and sat down I checked my heart rate watch and discovered I had only burnt 285 calories since the last cafe which broke rule 6 which clearly states 300 calories must be burnt between cafes. Despite the fact I was averaging well over 300 calories per stop rule 7 avoids any ambiguity stating that if this had been the real event I would have been disqualified, again. It was turning into calorie neutral cafe bike ride amateur night and all a bit embarrassing.
Chalfonts have a good selection of large cakes but it was against rule 4 to ask for a smaller slice which leaves no doubt that a standard portion must be consumed. I went for the carrot cake as that looked like the smallest but it was still a very generous slice. 

I have been here twice before but never managed to find out the opening times as they are not on display. Today I asked the lady and discovered they stayed open until 7.00pm on a Thursday and Friday. She also assured me they serve you right up to closing time, which as I would find out later is not always the case. This was the exciting news I mentioned, exciting as I had been struggling to find enough other cafes open past 5.00pm that I was going to need to be able to hit my world record target of 20 cafes in a day. The only problem was that the ride is currently planned for a Tuesday. I decided the date will have to change to make this most of this opportunity so to give myself the best chance of success the world record attempt will now be on Friday 11th September.

After leaving Hingham it was a straight forward loop out to the Kings Cafe in Shipdham for chocolate Brownie and cake.
Whilst there I decided to try and fit another cafe in to replace the one I missed in Loddon and decided to go back to Norwich via Wymondham. I still had enough battery on my phone to check my cafe cycle ratings and information spreadsheet which suggested that the recently opened Garden Tea rooms was my best bet. Unfortunately the remaining 20 miles of the route were going to be into the wind so I would have to work pretty hard to get two more stops in before closing time.
When I arrived at the Garden Tea rooms the whole of Wymondham was closing down so not surprisingly I was the only customer. I opted for a cheese scone with my pot of tea. Even though I knew it was very wrong I declined the offer of having my scone warmed and had it cold for the sake of time. Fortunately it was a very good cheese scone so it could carry off the lack of warmth. Despite having a nice chat with the owner as to if full English breakfast or roast dinner would be a bigger seller on a Sunday (I said the full English) this was my shortest stop at just over 11 minutes.

With 9 cafes down I still had 45 minutes to make it the 8 miles to Stephanie's coffee house in Eaton before their advertised 5.00pm closing time. Although directly into the Wind, feeling a little delicate after so much tea and cake, and having already done 88 miles I still managed a good speed and I arrived in Eaton with 10 mins to spare. Sadly I was greeted with the news that they had just stopped serving and it was drinking up time only now. This meant I was unable to get my 10th cafe of the day in.  

A little downhearted I rode the short distance home and slumped on the sofa. I decided not to have a nice cup of tea and piece of cake to relax with but sat back and thought about the day. Although I had failed to complete the ride as planned I was pleased that I had learnt many things and now had much data to analyse to help plan my final route and timings.

I also had an even cleared set of calorie neutral bike ride rules and regulations:
1. The holder of the record will have visited the highest number of different cafes during a single day.
2. All cafes must be independent and not part of national chains
3. All cafes must be visited within their normal opening hours and not open early or kept opened late for a record attempt
4. At each cafe a standard portion of cake or a scone (fruit or cheese) must be consumed. Biscuits, flapjacks, tiffin or anything pre-packaged will not count.
5. At each cafe a standard hot drink must be consumed. (Tea, coffee or hot chocolate). If served in pot or jug than one cups worth must be drunk.
6. From the time of arriving at the cafe 300 calories must be burnt off before the next cafe can be visited thus making the ride calorie neutral. (300 calories is based on in-depth internet research on average calories of cakes and scones plus average calories of a hot drink (Tea, coffee, hot chocolate). 
7. If extra calories have been used up between cafes then that is tough as they can not be credited against other legs of the ride.

Plus for all data fans here is the data from the ride
calories  time (min) miles av speed mph calories
Heart rate
To Brooke 342 42.6 10.5 14.8 32.57 8.03 111
The Café 22 12.6 1.75 74
To Hedenham 460 50.4 12.97 15.5 35.47 9.13 121
EDAP 29 13.5 2.15 84
To Bungay 301 37.4 8.9 14.3 33.82 8.05 117
Earsham Street 27 13.8 1.96 78
To Pulham St Mary 365 35.75 10.07 16.9 36.25 10.21 124
Pennoyer Centre 32 15 2.13 83
To Long Stratton 315 32.5 8.13 15 38.75 9.69 124
Tudor Bake House 29 13.4 2.16 86
To Wymondham 387 43 10.42 14.5 37.14 9.00 121
Hen House 22 11.5 1.91 78
To Hingham 263 27.5 7.72 16.8 34.07 9.56 122
Chalfonts 30 13.5 2.22 84
To Shipdham 281 33.6 7.92 14.1 35.48 8.36 116
Kings 26 14.9 1.74 78
To Wymondham 468 47.8 11.81 14.8 39.63 9.79 122
Garden Tea Rooms 23 11.1 2.07 82
To Stephanies 329 32 7.89 14.8 41.70 10.28 126
Totals 3751 501.85 96.33 15.11

In case you ever fancy a 10 cafe stop bike ride here is the route I meant to take 
Click here to download 10 cafe cycle route GPX file for your GPS

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