Sunday 9 July 2017, 54 Miles
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Rather like Lou Reed used to sing, today was just a perfect day. Dry conditions, hot sunshine and a gently cooling breeze were just the perfect ingredients for a perfect ride. Add a good helping of Bianchi classics (XR4, Specalissima, Infinito, Intenso, XR1) and a few family relatives and maximum enjoyment was guaranteed. Today Daren (Nairo) Morgan and I were hosting a BOCUK iRide in South West Norfolk. We were joined by our cousins - Guy from Ipswich, Rick from Rayleigh and Steve from Portsmouth. A small but excusive group.
The route we followed was carefully designed to show off the very best of Norfolk’s countryside – heaths, fens, forests and lovely small villages that almost made us feel that time stands still hereabouts. Apart from the traverse of Swaffham, the only thing missing was traffic and we certainly weren’t complaining about that.
Riding at a relaxed pace, as this was a social ride, there was plenty of time to chat and exchange some banter. None of the cousins had ridden here before so there were lots of new sights to enjoy. In seemingly no time at all we reached the halfway point at Swaffham where the team at CoCoes Café Deli were waiting to tempt us with a selection of fresh homemade cakes – the pear, almond and chocolate sponge served with a dollop of crème fraiche was simply divine. The temptation to linger in the balmy sunshine was almost too hard to resist. But as we’d laid on a small competition we had to head off.
‘Competition!’ I hear you say readers. ‘This is supposed to be a social ride.’ Well you can relax. As this is Norfolk we are not talking King of the Mountains and Polka Dot Jerseys. Nor are we talking sprints and Green Jerseys. In these parts we follow a rather different route. What we had laid on was a freewheeling contest. For those readers who know the area, West Acre Road heads north-west out of Swaffham. Apart from one kink it’s arrow straight for over two miles and the last mile and a half is all gently downhill. So we lined up at the summit and set off to see which bike and wheel combination would be the fastest. And the result? Well, that’s still being reviewed by the Commissaires. But do remember – this a social ride and it’s the taking part that matters. But I was first to cross the line (that’s going to get the cousins chuntering ......). I’m thinking of sending an email to Christian Prudhomme, head honcho of the Tour de France, to suggest that he includes a freewheeling contest in future events. It could just be the next big thing to hit the pro cycling world.
After we had managed to raise our respective pulse rates back to more conventional levels we turned south westwards towards the Fens and home with two bits of business to conclude the day’s enjoyment. First was a photocall (for the bikes) at an impressive log pile. Cousin Steve was less than impressed with this and went off to examine a life-sized wooden iguana carved onto the trunk of a nearby tree (you'll have to imagine this readers). Despite a lot of encouragement and cries of wimp and wuzz, Nairo declined to perch on the top of the log pile with the Intenso.
The next and last delight was the infamous Southery straight. This is 3.7 miles long, starts at 0 feet above sea level and rises to the dizzy heights of 10 feet above sea level. There is one bit which is actually at 4 feet below sea level. It’s what cycling commentators call a technical section! All too soon for most of us we were back in Hockwold and it was time to celebrate our achievements with a beer at the village pub.
As always I really enjoy riding with my Bianchi cousins. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a tendency to (try and) wax lyrical about our special family relationship. Well not this time. Lou Reed has captured the spirit of today much, much better than I could so with a final shout of “Passione Celeste” I’ll leave the last words to him.
Just a perfect day
Problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own
It's such fun
Just a perfect day
You made me forget myself
I thought I was
Someone else, someone good
Oh, it's such a perfect day
I'm glad I spent it with you
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