Sunday 3 July 2016

The Tour De Brecks (C#18)
Saturday 2 July, 100 Miles

It’s been nearly four weeks since my last century ride. Maybe you’re wondering why the gap? Well, two reasons. First the weather has been pretty lousy and this coupled with a heavy cold that I’ve been struggling to shake off has clipped my riding somewhat. I've actually ridden about 600 miles in the interim, but sadly no centuries. The other reason is that I have been away walking – some of my more full-on cycling mates describe this as a betrayal and a crossing over to the dark side. Well, everyone is entitled to their view.

The walking is long-term thing. Together with a close friend, who I first met 40 years ago at uni, we are trying to walk the whole South West Coast Path from Minehead to Poole, some 630 miles. We started in 2004 and have walked for one week each year, with a couple of gaps. We have now completed just over 500 miles and have reached a few miles east of Exmouth. Speed of travel is not a consideration. Instead it is much more about a series of strolls, sometimes over some pretty testing terrain, during which we try to soak up the local landscapes and lifestyles, and enjoy a few beers and currys. And I can report that we certainly done a lot of ‘soaking’ and had vast quantities of ‘enjoyment’. Anyway, enough of this walking malarkey, back to the bike.

Today was the first stage of the 2016 Tour de France so it seemed entirely appropriate to go on my own tour – a Tour de Brecks. So with the sun shining at last and a rather strong wind which made me wonder if this really was a good day for a century ride, I was off and riding. The route I followed took me west initially and then I turned north through Thetford Forest (tailwind – yippee) before skirting the edge of the fens and into Norfolk – a few miles south east of Kings Lynn.

I rode through Methwold and Northwold. Quite a few place names hereabouts end in ‘wold’ which made me wonder why. Now this might sound a bit sad, but I possess a dictionary of British Place Names. Methwold is ‘Middle Forest’ and Northwold – well you don’t need me to tell you. Intriguingly, the road I followed out of Northwold was called ‘Little London Road’. Google tells me that Little London is a village in Hampshire so it’s anyone’s guess why there should be a road to it from here. Answers, as always, on a postcard please.

From Northwold it was a pleasant, if unremarkable ride through the heathy Brecks back into Suffolk and then a gentle meander round the lanes to clock up the necessary miles and complete the century. Oh, and the final highlight? Mark Cavendish won Stage 1 of the Tour de France and the right to wear the famed yellow jersey. Yaay!

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