Sunday 7 May 2017

The Hundred Mile Whisky Ride (LGD - 370 Days)
Sunday 7 May 2017, 102 Miles

Click here for Route Flyby

Eagle-eyed readers, and I am assured such people exist, may have noticed that I’ve changed the name of my blog from ‘Lejog Mark’s Blog’ to ‘Captain Century’s Blog’. Well in case you’re wondering, let me explain the reason for this spot of reincarnation. I originally set up the blog shortly before I rode from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 2015. During that adventure when the so-called Elites, who morphed to become Team Super Six, formed, I acquired the nickname ‘Captain’. This was awarded in the spirit of pure banter and I am certain, not as a mark of my leadership qualities. Not that I have any doubts about those.

Well cutting to the chase, during last year’s Century Series my riding pal Daren (Nairo) Morgan began to refer to me as Captain Century. This was revenge for me tagging him as Nairo when he arrived for our Vuelta a Norfolk ride (C#36, 4 September 2016) to pay homage to the Vuelta de España. Daren pitched up wearing a red jersey reminiscent of the Vuelta leader’s jersey. And as it happened the official wearer of the official red jersey was Nairo Quintana. So that’s the connection. And for the avoidance of doubt, Nairo (Daren) has no aspirations to beat the real Nairo on a categorized hill climb, or indeed on any hill climb.

I can sense readers, that you’re rather wanting me to get to the point. Well patience people. The Captain Century moniker is part of a bigger, secret project, to reinvent myself for the great things that are still to come. I am making some marginal gains by adding Captain Century Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels so there will soon be no stopping me.

Well that’s all very well but what about today’s ride? It was one of those blustery spring days with a north-east wind that was more than enough to contend with. Nairo had suggested that we might ride a similar distance (70 miles) to last Monday’s Fenland Foray. I had planned a route starting and finishing at East Harling which was predominantly east/west and which would hopefully minimise the amount of headwind riding we had to do. As a warm up, I opted to ride the additional ten miles from home to East Harling.

We met as intended in the village square and Nairo, who seems to have taken Mrs Nairo and my comments last week to heart, was ready for the off without any hint of faffing. So much so that the merest hint of hesitation on my part, to tighten my shoe fasteners, caused Nairo to roll his eyes skywards. The cheeky blighter.  Much of the route was on roads Nairo wasn’t familiar with so I was able to take great delight in pointing out some of the local highlights such as those special Norfolk dialect road signs.

Passing through both Buckenham's we headed broadly eastwards before turning south for the Waveney Valley and the delightful South Elmham villages (C#36, 25 July 2016). We only faced one real challenge when the route I had plotted led down what appeared to be an unpaved track so we prudently chose to go the long way around. Leaving the South Elmham villages behind us we then headed westwards to Harleston and a welcome refuelling stop.

Harleston is a delightful small Waveney Valley town. Its full name is Redenhall with Harleston, an amalgamation of two smaller villages. The town has several narrow streets and alleys with some lovely old timber framed buildings some housing speciality shops, several of which are unique to the town adding to its sense of character. The town has a popular market on Wednesday’s which can trace its origins back to 1259 when the town was granted a Royal Charter. One other historical point of interest is that several members of the town’s Fuller family were pilgrims on board the Mayflower.

Suitably refreshed we continued westwards to Diss and then back to East Harling via Kenninghall. Feeling the efforts of our ride which wasn’t anything like as wind-free as I had hoped we decided to treat ourselves to an end of ride cake and coffee at St George’s distillery. Unlike our last attempt (1st April) to secure succour here when we were thwarted by a large posse of Harley Davidson enthusiasts, today we faced no such impediments. Nairo opted for a coke and a slice of Bakewell cake and I had a lovely, moist slice of lemon cake and a cappuccino.

The distillery, which started production in December 2006, is well worth a visit – guided tours are available. Its location reflects the purity of the local water which is drawn from the Breckland aquifer as well as the abundant supply of high quality locally grown barley. A word of warning though. The distillery has a shop which, in addition to stocking its own productions, sells whiskies from other places. I spotted a bottle of malt, described as “very rare” which had a price tag of £3,500. Yes, that’s right - £3,500. And did I taste anything – well how well do you know me?

So that was the end of another ride and we parted company where we had met at the village square. As I headed homeward I snuck in a few extra twists and turns to ensure that my total riding distance would be over the 100-mile threshold. Well, you wouldn’t expect anything less from Captain Century, would you?

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