More of the Alphabet on a nice Monday

I rarely have a Monday off. I have a busy job so days like this are an oasis of loveliness in my world. Working in the summer time is dreadful. I can see the lovely weather outside while I am cooped up indoors, tapping away at my works computer and dreaming of nice bike rides. Work is a necessary evil that allows me to buy nice bikes. This is the way that I chose to look at things. Today’s day off was due to chappy going away for a wee while, on a course thing, so I took the day off to spend time with him. Then he got called in to work for a meeting. Well, stuff it. I’m going out on my bike while he is bored to tears in a meeting.

I grabbed my trusty steel steed, my beautiful Genesis gravel bike with his road tyres on that seem to run so smoothly that I feel like I am flying. I don’t get this feeling on my blue roadie. The very expensive Carbon Fibre job that I saved forever to get. Three times, I saved, and was thwarted each time by unexpected bills. I’ve had the carbon bike since 2014 and it’s great. Over 50 miles it is not comfy. The steel Genesis is as comfy as a comfy thing and I can ride him for hours with no ill effects. Sure, the saddle helps and it’s been on the Carbon Roadie but it’s not the same. I thought that I might try for some more letters for my alphabet challenge.

R is for Runcton Holme.
Not far from mine and a pretty enough village. I ride through it often so don’t take that much notice of it. As I was riding very locally and on quiet roads, I turned on the app that I like to listen to. It’s called Zombies! Run, and is a running app. However, my Achilles is not up to much and I now have a problem with my right foot that my doctor cannot decide what the hell is up with it. It hurts, I can tell you that much. Anyway, cycling doesn’t hurt and I like the app. It was a nice afternoon for being chased by zombies.

 

 

S is for Stradsett
I suppose that I could have gone to South Runcton for my S, or Shouldham even. I fancied a hill so went to Stradsett. It’s on a main road, the Downham to Swaffham road so a bit of a pain but then I get to ride up Marham Hill and then zoom down the other side and then back on to a bit of road that I’d already ridden on. I suppose that I could have gone to Swaffham but I had no idea how long himself’s meeting was going to last for and I wanted to get back in time for tea.

T is for Tottenhill
After leaving Stradsett, whipping up Marham Hill and heading to the A134 I had a fast bit of riding to get to the by road that I needed to take. The lorries on that road seem to be worse than the ones on the A10. The A134 is not quite as wide or as straight. Tractors everywhere, so I was glad to get off it as quickly as I could.
I like the by road, I’ve used it often but this time I took a side road off the by road. I thought it a dirt track but it wasn’t. Into Tottenhill and I saw a whole bunch of the geese that the village is known for. I was considering taking a picture but they were hissing at me. Being advanced on by hissing geese was not on my daily agenda. I decided that retreat was a far better idea. I did like the village sign though.

From there, I decided to push on home and managed a nice 50km ride for the day. Oh, I also saw a nice bee.
I might well take a trip to Upwell later in the week and collect the U. I have a plan for the V, there are a ton of Ws around here. I’ll have to bend the rules a bit for X as there are no Xs in the UK directory of place names. Poetic licence for Z too. I know a good old Y that will need a car trip but I will have the challenge wrapped up pretty soon.

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Pee and Queue

4.45am start. It’s the snoring that keeps me awake. I am not sure if it’s walrus like as I’ve never slept with a walrus. He’s not that whiskery and hasn’t got tusks. However, he rattles the window with his racket.

Bike ride or smack him repeatedly with a pillow. I checked out of the window and the weather was lovely so I whizzed the dog around the block for a pre-ride wee and got the bike out of the living room and cleared off. I wasn’t sure where I fancied so just rode.

I headed out on the A10. I felt that at 4.45am on a Sunday morning, that it was likely to be quite quiet. I saw this as I crossed the road bridge on the A10 over the Ouse. It was very pretty with that mist on the water and the sun rising.

I decided to head for Prickwillow. It begins with P and I figured that now was as good a time as any to do the ride.

I made good time, up the A10. I only saw 5 other cars and 2 of them were close passes despite the road being otherwise empty. Heigh ho. Once off the main road, the surface wasn’t as good but I did feel somewhat safer.  It took me an hour and 20 minutes to do the 20 and a bit miles to Prickwillow and to take a quick snap of Thor, my bike, hiding, hub deep, in the grass. Sadly, at the time, I failed to notice the dead and mangled road cone. Never mind. D- must try harder.

With Queen Adelaide about 2 miles away, it seemed rude not to collect a Q while I was in the right area. Thor decided to be shy and lurking behind the cow parsley and just peeped out to appear in the photo. It was shaping up to be a nice day so I decided to go home a different way than the way that I’d come.

I put Littleport in the GPS and headed that way and then headed for Ten Mile Bank and back home via Denver. Off the main road, the other side of the Ouse and then considered adding the Bexwell loop on but decided to head to breakfast instead as my legs decided that enough was enough. 38 miles, fasted, was possibly not my best idea.

Later in the day, I did ride again. I got a lovely 13 more miles in to make myself a nice 50+ mile day.

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N and O. Finally.

I was due to do a nice 100km on Sunday but my car and my swollen foot had other ideas.

I spent the morning watching rubbish on catch-up TV with an icepack on my foot. Doc says that it’s Morton’s Neuroma. I think it’s unlikely as the pain is a post infection thing and MN isn’t post infection.

Anyway. Lunchtime I got on the bike and cleared off for a ride. To Northwold.

Here we see the fabulous steel bike lounging about by a sign. We had already been through Oxborough to get here but rules are rules. We collected the O on the return journey.

Lovely Oxborough Hall where the lemon drizzle cake sells out in moments. I didn’t stop for cake, just stopped for pics and got back.

Boringly, I had to do some collecting from Denver of chap and then, onwards 15 miles up the road, to collect a new car.

Getting a bike in this will be fun. Still, I got a bike in a Smart car. As long as it’s just me and the bike, all will be well.

I adore the new bike. Just saying.

I will post properly when I go after P and Q at the weekend.

R

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The Cambridge 100 ride

6.30am: Milton Park and ride.

Manhandling the bike out of the back of a Vauxhall Astra was quite interesting. Lots of cycling chap types about, they stood and watched as I struggled. I did get my bike out, in the end, and didn’t have to take a wheel off to do it. Once that was done I headed off, to the start venue, to meet up with Rachel. A lass from work who talked me in to this madness in the first place. Last time I decide to be nice to the ‘new girl’ at the kettle facilities at work 🙂

 

I was early, Rachel was on time, so naturally I was worrying that I was on my own for this one. Never mind, my mate Blossom was due any moment. Aha, Rachel arrives and what a nice bike. A Beautiful Black Specialized, carbon roadie with disc brakes 8kg tops!. Very nice indeed and feeling slightly envious as my carbon roadie is plain blue, light as a feather, rim brakes and altogether dull in comparison. Of course, I wasn’t on my roadie, so that’s OK then. I was on my Steel Gravel bike, fitted with slick road tyres. 12kg so not as light as a feather. Brand spanking new and my present to myself for putting up with the nonsense that I have to put up with in various area of my life.

 

7.10am: Impington College Car Park, Cambridgshire.

Off we went, through the start tape and away and following the yellow arrows. Rachel, being a lot more practical than I am, had downloaded the route onto her GPS unit. I am more of a ‘wing it and hope’ sort of girl and hadn’t downloaded the route at all. The sportive company are well known for their excellent signage anyway, but that doesn’t take into consideration disgruntled locals who might move the signs or point them in other directions. This was not the case on this ride, but it is not unheard of. The cycle path that we were routed down was brilliant though. All around the outskirts of Cambridge was just a joyous experience. We could ride side by side and put the world to rights in the sunshine. Me in short sleeves shivering like a whippet in the cold morning air. It seemed a plan as the forecast had predicted lovely warm weather but it was still a smidge on the cool side then. 6 degrees isn’t wildly warm. We had decided that we were aiming for 8 hours riding time today.

 

Once out of the city area, and it’s wonderful cycling infrastructure, the next 35km were a bit of a slog. Who knew that Cambridgeshire was so hilly? Rachel was right on my back wheel, chasing me up the hills so I thought that I’d better make a bit of effort, riding with someone 12 years younger. I am not a climber at all and the hills really caught me out, as did the front brake binding, as we discovered 10km from the first coffee & cake stop at Ashley. The nice mechanic chap sorted out the brake binding and gave my gears a bit of a tickle to smooth them out. The niggles of a new bike as the cables are bedding in. There was excellent cake, although a little on the expensive side. 2 massive dogs to cuddle though. They didn’t get cake. Not at £1 for a very small bit. Then away we went again. Heading for Suffolk. Grovelling up hills at 7mph and flying down them between 23 – 33mph depending on how far ahead we could see. By this time we said we would be happy with 8 hrs 30 minutes riding time as we were well behind where we wanted to be. Still, the sun was shining and it was a great day all round.

Number 2 cake stop, at Sapiston, was upon us where it would just have been rude not to have partaken of good coffee and lovely bacon rolls – brown sauce of course. Very reasonably priced too. We had a longer break here and my pal Blossom caught us up and we all rode out together. Bit of fettling of Rachels saddle that had decided not to cooperate and needed to be adjusted, but better to sort it there and then than to be uncomfortable IMO. Nothing worse than a saddle that is slightly too high. Very painful.

 

It was only a short, 20km, hop to Brandon RSPB café. We rode via the old and charming village Elvedon and along the forest B road and through Brandon itself and into Norfolk (yay). Once into Norfolk we turned for the Café and were drinking coffee and found flapjacks. Blossom arrived just behind telling us off for saying that we were slow. We weren’t fast but we were not doing badly. We had caught some time up and were hopeful of 7 hours 30 minutes and were very impressed with ourselves. Blossom had a quick stop and was off like a shot. I knew that we’d catch her later so Rachel and I had a more leisurely coffee break before heading back to Suffolk and Hockwold, Lakenheath and past the back of our works. We might have started looking for Ely Cathedral on the horizon rather too early.

 

The Brandon Café was at the 100km mark. This is as far as Rachel has ever cycled so she was in ‘great adventure’ territory with 63 miles in her legs. Naturally, now we were on the flat, we sped up a bit. As you do. Rachel was in full charge of keeping a look out for the Cathedral, I took charge of hunting down riders that were ahead of us to chase down and overtake. Pulling someone in and passing them is quite encouraging. I like to ride longer distances so I was bang in the middle of my comfort zone so we just tapped out around 18mph, nice and steady. We saw a lady who left a good 5 minutes before us first and passed her quite quickly, waving as we went. Blossom next. I was determined to catch that woman as she is a distance girl, like me. Result, we saw her about ¾ mile ahead – pink cycling tops are good and obvious on a straight, clear road in the sun. Rachel and I decided to give chase. It took us over 2 miles to catch her, but we did, on the outskirts of Ely. Just in time for coffee and Rocky Road cake in the shadow of the cathedral. Only 16 miles to go and 6 hours ridden.

Checking with Rachel that she was OK to try for 17 miles in an hour, to get home and have a bit of a rest, we took off out of Ely in our ‘Kier Train’ sort of fashion. I thought that I had better check, she may have been tired. Turns out that she was in excellent shape. The miles flew by and we just sat down and got on with it. Seeing the ‘finish’ inflatable was a surprise, we got there faster than we thought and nearly missed it. Just turned in time and got wee medals for our efforts. We visited 3 counties; Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk (back through Suffolk and on to finish in Cambridgeshire), had a range of road types, gradients and scenery. All in all, a brilliant day.

100 miles in 6 hours and 57 minutes riding time. Not too shoddy. The final 2 miles back to the car were a breeze. I might have had an early night.

As for the bike. It’s fabulous and I will certainly be happy to do another sportive on it.

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M is for Magdalen

I ride past here all the time, so had pretty much forgotten about it. So familiar is it.

Pretty little village, a stones throw from my front door.

I took my roadie out yesterday, as the wind had dropped it wasn’t freezing like it was on Saturday. Like it is today too. I had a nice time and took my Zombies Run! App. I know it’s for running but my Achilles is rubbish again so using my subscription to ride with.

While collecting the M, I did my May 50km Challenge ride too. Next weekend, I’m taking this bike on the Cambridge 100, with a work colleague. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Seriously considering a Cycle to Work bike. Nice Genesis Croix de Fer or something. More relaxed geometry as I am suddenly feeling my age in the cold weather.

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J,K and L

More on the alphabet challenge.

J villages, around here, are a little scarce. Jordan Green is on the map but has no village sign but there is a farm and a Garmin trail so that is good enough for me.

I parked up at Whitwell station as it has great cake and coffee, good parking and only a mile or two from the first village. I had Eric prepped and good to go in moments and pedalled off in the right direction. A hill, straight out of the gate, was a surprise but I am feeling fit so I just flew up it. Rather chuffed actually. I found a sign, pointing the way. It appears to have fallen off its post which I found rather charming.

All that I could find, was the farm sign, in the middle of the settlement, so went with that.

Finding Kerdiston took a while. I have been there before as, 30 years ago, I bought a couple of horses from a farm there, lousy memory though and Kerdiston is a bit spread out. I rode about in circles and asked directions too. In the end, having ascertained that there is no village sign at all, went with the farm thing again. For the record, Kerdiston Road seems not to lead there in either direction.

From there I headed to the Marriotts Way, that wonderful, 26 mile long, off road trail. I love it and is one of the few things that I miss about living in Norwich.

I carried on along The Marriotts and had coffee and a flapjack at the Bure Valley Railway cafe and then carried on along the Bure Valley trail to Coltishall and then headed for Little Hautbois for my L. Would you believe it, no village sign. Gt Hautbois for sure. 2 of them. I didn’t look for a farm but decided to hack across to Lenwade.

I saw this church, so stopping for pictures. A bit of road that I don’t know and I walked through the graveyard and looked at the church from various angles. It’s rather lovely.

I was in no hurry so exploring was definitely on the cards. A beautiful day, warm with a gentle breeze. Perfect day for riding. I stopped every so often as my foot was hurting and I needed to stop riding. I have since discovered that I have quite a nasty infection and now on antibiotics.

The doer upper

Lenwade, or Gt Witchingham if you like. 2 merged villages, famous for Bernard Matthews turkeys. Not much there really and I took the photo, whizzed through and up the road and back to some nice country lanes. I rode around on them for another 6 miles, just for fun and to give myself a lovely 50 mile ride.

No turkeys in sight.

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I is for Ickburgh

I finally got out to do this ride. I had been meaning to put a route in the gps but somehow things got in the way a bit. I couldn’t motivate myself mostly.

Yesterday was fresh and bright. A bit too fresh at 7am. My dog walk was very frosty and, even with gloves on, my right thumb and forefinger were numb so I had breakfast and thought that I would give it a couple of hours and let the day warm up a bit. I used the time to do housework and dull stuff that didn’t involve riding my bike. I did get my roadie nice and clean. I put a route in the gps and got on with getting on the bike.

It was still a bit fresh so had long finger gloves and not mitts on, my mitts were in my pocket though or I would boil. It’s always the way when you don’t take them. You know that you will have boil in the bag hands when you don’t have an alternative.

The first 5 miles were hard work, and I wondered if I should tick Ickburgh off another day, but I told myself not to be so stupid and got on with it. I turned on my Zombies, Run! App (running app that I use for riding) and let it motivate me for half an hour. Being chased by zombies does that.

I stopped to take photographs at Oxborough as it was so nice there.

I rode past a very big bull too, at Foulden -paused the zombie apocalypse as didn’t want to freak out bull while wearing a red jacket – as bovines have quite acute hearing and I really didn’t want to do anything to annoy him.

I was gratified to see the road sign pointing the way.

Finally came to the sign, to my left. Was expecting it to be to the right, but that was a village sign beginning with M.

I decided that this area was a good enough spot to half half my protein bar and some water and then headed on along the circular-ish route.

I knew some of the roads as soon as I got to the A134 roundabout and got to Methwold. I pass that village on m6 way to work. Could have whizzed straight home but didn’t fancy the road much. I went along a ‘closed road’ that wasn’t and then past the sugarbeet works and lime pile.

Opposite the lime was oilseed rape. Very pretty but makes me sneeze, so I pushed on home. I got back at 37.8 miles so a quick loop round the block sorted that. I was happy to have missed most of the rain. Apart from a few spots when going out and 5 minutes of drizzle near Methwold, it was all fine. Cold but fine.

Feet were cold and I was hungry, having eaten the other half of the bar at the lime pile place. Soup sorted that out. That and some yoghurt and later 50g of chocolate. There was more but had to share with blokey.

Looking for a J now. I have one in mind but suspicion of no village sign.

R

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