Flat Out in the Fens (LGD -301 Days)
Sunday 16 July 2017, 105 Miles
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With the prospect of dry weather and a wind that should be in the ‘right’ direction (i.e. tailwind home) I decided to head out on to the Fens. My route took me through part of Thetford Forest and to Brandon and then north to Stoke Ferry where I then headed for Denver and the Fens. Turning south I rode along Ten Mile Bank. I still haven’t been able to find out the reason for the name. (Note to self: must try harder.) From the hamlet of Ten Mile Bank (no clues there) I headed deeper into the Fens bound for Welney, Pyemoor and Little Downham.
I decided to ring the changes and head for Littleport via Ely as I haven’t ever ridden on the minor road by the River Ouse. I had one minor moment of excitement along this stretch though. Leaving Ely, I was riding along quite happily, soaking up the atmosphere (the pungent smell of onions being harvested) when another rider pulled alongside me. With a cheery “Good morning. It would be rude to draught you for too long.” the other rider upped the pace and overtook me. A reasonable gap of about one quarter mile opened up fairly quickly. I definitely wasn’t up for any sprinting or chasing and instead just carried on riding at my usual sustainable pace.
Within anther quarter mile I realised that I was no gaining on ‘the speedy cyclist’ and pretty quickly too. I could see him ahead of me, shoulders rolling and struggling to push a big gear. I just carried on doing my own thing, turning the cranks round between 85 and 90rpm. The gap continued to close. My satisfaction and the other rider’s self-esteem was saved by a set of temporary traffic lights on the edge of Littleport. He passed them before they turned to red. I was about 50 yards back and had to stop. I then turned back south for Queen Adelaide; the other fella carried on northwards. From Queen Adelaide I completed the ride by heading for Red Lodge, with a refreshment stop at the Co-op in Isleham, and then back home through West Stow and Great Barton. The promised tailwind was a big help too.
Following my little chase I found myself thinking about the Froomedog and his way of responding to attacks on the steep climbs of the Tour. It’s a bit like mine! Basically he sets a pace that he can sustain and (usually) with the help of his team mates he gradually closes down any escapees who might challenge him for the General Classification. And most times this works in his favour. But not always. On Thursday's stage to Peyragudes he ran out of gas on the final, viscous short ascent to the finish. The sight of him weaving from side to side across the road just to keep moving phill over the final 500 metres was a measure of how tired he was. Fabio Aru capitalised on this and nabbed the Yellow Jersey from the Froomedog with a lead of 6 seconds. That all changed today though as Fabio rather seemed to lose the plot and drifted backwards towards the back of the lead group instead of staying glued to the Froomedog’s rear wheel. At the finish, the Froomedog was back in yellow with Aru 18 seconds in arrears. Along the way there was some really exciting racing with quite a few incidents. This tour is certainly shaping up to be extremely exciting. It even seems to raise my pulse rate – rather more than a gentle pootle round the Fens does!