The Thetford Challenge

Our second event of the year! That’s the same as last year and its only July!

We had checked the weather forecast and found it to be mercifully over cast and cooler than it has been. We found the car parking and went to register, collected our numbers, wristbands for the food stop and then returned to the bikes to get sorted.

We got to the start for 10 to 9am – the blurb said that we could start any time between 8 and 10 am so we aimed for the middle. We were away for 8.55am and rolling down the hill through the gorgeous Thetford Forest and to the main road. I am not sure where we went as I am not familiar with the area in any way, shape for from. According to the map, we followed the B1107 to Santon Downham and then the country road to the A34, which was a lovely fast bit of riding (for us) as the road was pretty smooth. We followed this road to Mundford where we turned right and headed for Ickburgh on the Swaffham Road. Then we turned left towards Foulden, where there is a nice village sign with a carved pheasant on it, and followed the road 6 miles or so to Cockley Cley – where I used to do events when I was a kid, on my pony.

Another 3 miles on the Cley Road saw us riding through Swaffham and a lot of bemused shoppers staring at us as we rode though. We caught up with another group and followed them through the town, before they shot off once the traffic was not longer an issue.  We followed the West Acre road out of town and at the 22 mile spot, we stopped at the food stop.

We topped our water up, added an electolite fizzy thing into the water. We had a jam buttie (bloomin’ lovely), some jelly babies and some very nice cake. We were about 5 or 6 minutes stopped there, chatting with the other riders. This was the split point in the ride. Riders who were going on the 45 mile route, like us, went left while the 75 or 110 mile lot went to the right. The riders who we had been following disappeared to the right. We waved. Before leaving, I put some jelly babies into my pocket for the journey.

We followed the road another couple of miles to Narford Lakes where we turned left, crossed the A47 for the second time – the first being just as we went out of Swaffham, we crossed it on the bridge over.  Down Chalk Lane, past Marham an RAF base where I pointed out bits and bobs to Kenn, and carried on along country lanes through places with names like Nut Wood, Fen Wood and Caldecot Wood.  Then past Oxborough and into the last 10 mile stretch. Kenn was starting to suffer a bit so I held out a jelly baby (he had stuffed all his by then) and enticed him to catch up with the promise of a yellow one. I must love him very much to offer a yellow jelly baby to him.  We rode through Foulden proper, we just skirted it on the way out, through Little Oak Covert and then Oak Covert and onwards towards Weeting and then to Brandon, beyond it.

At Brandon we had to wait at the railway crossing gates, in a queue. For a while – nobody was moving even though the gates were up again – we queued politely then followed a couple of other riders down the left hand lane of traffic and turned right, going around the line of traffic. A bit naughty but we felt better about it as there was a dozen or so others no it wasn’t just us.

That was the 45 mile mark of an alleged 45 mile ride. Kenn was suffering more now. I had run out of jelly babies to lure him up the road with. Now I think about it, it does sound a bit odd. Luring men to follow me with the promise of a sweetie. It must be alright as it was my man that I was luring, not some random stranger. My legs were starting to let me know that I had ridden 45 miles by now, on a gently undulating course. The last bit was uphill, of course but the 2.72 miles went reasonably well. When we were back on the access road to the Visitors Centre at Thetford Forest, we had a queue of cars behind us. I think that we were expected to pull over and let them pass. By the car drivers, not the event organisers, so we pushed on and on and finally got up the hill to the barriers pushing the cars to the overflow car parks. We went straight on, through the barriers – there were bike sized gaps for us – and then we could see the inflatable start/finish line and headed to it. Kenn beat me by a second! So much for crossing the line together, last time I give him a yellow jelly baby.

Our riding time was 3:28:31, our gps time (we didn’t pause it) was 3:51:12 so quite chuffed.

We topped our water up and got our free tee shirt and headed back to the car via a camper van with a pair of Huskies that were in need of a fuss. The bloke was astonished that we had ridden, on bikes, for 47 miles. He asked if we meant kilometers, we assured him that it was miles. He said that he would love to go bike riding but he couldn’t. As he was stuffing a massive bit of cake we didn’t think he was overly serious.

We got home for 2pm and settled down to watch the last stage of the Tour de France, only to find it was on at 4.30pm. Snoozing on the sofa seemed a plan.

Not sure what the next event is going to be but our August needs an event!

The rides    :47.72

Ave speed      : 13.8

Top Speed:   34.4mph

Total Climb: 708.66 feet

Total miles    : 640.96

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About RosieRosie

RosieRosie is a woman of a 'certain age' - whatever the hell that is supposed to mean, known. I feel about 26. I have no idea what I look like as some older woman keeps getting in the way when I look in the mirror. Separated from husband but dating a nice chap at the moment. I have a proper wanderlust and have finally moved - using the housing exchange system from - where I started in Inverness, down to Cornwall and back up to the Flatlands and Big Sky Country. It's taken since September 2011, when I left Inverness until May 2017 to get to somewhere that I really like. That's not too shoddy with a swap here and a swap there, saving up again for each move. Not ruling out going home to Norfolk if necessary. Time will tell. For now my mates are just a 90 minute or so, drive down the road. I love my bikes, I love my dog and I love guitars. They all keep my busy.
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