August 25, 2016, by David Greenaway
Nottingham Life Cycle 6 – Day 6 Thetford to Dereham
If you search Google maps for directions from Thetford to Dereham, you get 24 miles. It took us 104 miles, four times as long. Why? Because we had to cycle to Lowestoft Ness, and then back to Dereham.
Today we had two milestones: 500 miles completed; and the second of our compass points visited, Lowestoft Ness, the furthest point east.
I was in an unusual situation, I had actually posted my blog before breakfast. That meant I could get away with the others, which in turn meant I would see them during the day rather than playing catch up.
I rode with Nick, Kate and Susan. We were second out, at 0800, after Karen, Marion, Steve and George; and before Doug, Sara and Andy, then Stefano, John and Tim.
The first 36 miles to Bungay were a real surprise, for me at any rate. I expected flat terrain. It was rolling, sufficiently so to get some recovery times on descents, even to the point of freewheeling up hills. And there is no finer thing in cycling than freewheeling up a hill. It was also quite heavily wooded, giving welcome shade from the sun (which was in front of us all day long).
It was also a really attractive part of the UK.
Anyone who lives in this area would no doubt say, ‘why are you surprised’ but it just reflects my ignorance. So much so that I was unprepared for the jewel of a town that is Bungay, where all of us ate at the Old Bank Tea Rooms; a fine establishment and lovely food. We also attracted a lot of attention from residents, who were generous with their donations.
Then on to Lowestoft, and eventually Ness Point.
Lowestoft was incredibly busy, but I realised that was because we were still in the holiday season. You lose track of time on these challenges.
At Ness Point, we had a lot of paddlers, and a number of full bathers: Susan, Kate, Sara, Doug, George and Stefano. Not for me. This is hard enough without: (a) riding in what must feel like a wet nappy for a couple of hours; and (b) salt water on pressure sores is not a good combination. But, each to their own. It certainly cooled them off in scorching temperatures.
We turned around at Lowestoft and set off west. Fairly soon we were on a food hunt, one of those where everywhere seems to be closed / stopped serving food. Until, Stefano flagged us down on the B1332 just after Hedenham. He had found ‘Every Day’s a Picnic’. What an oasis; superb food, wonderful hospitality, and extraordinarily generous guests. I will be visiting there again.
That set us up for the final 22 miles to Dereham. Not without incident. We crossed two fords, on the second of which Kate went over and had her second bathing experience of the day. Happily there were no injuries. I subsequently found out George also went over.
Gavin had again plotted a wonderful route, the only major roads we were on were in and out of Lowestoft. Mind you, there was another cross country stretch, though only for half a mile or so.
We arrived at The Romany Rye in Dereham at around 1900, after 11 hours out there and 104 miles cycled. It was a long day, but everyone made it in safe and relieved.
Our Support Team were again superb, on what was an even longer day for them. Today was the final one for Louise, who was a Life Cycle newbie. She joined the University from the CASE graduate programme a year ago, and we are very grateful she volunteered for this role. Louise will be replaced by Gavin Scott, a very experienced member of the Support Team, and himself a Life Cycler, having completed LC2.
On the visitor front, Tim, George, Susan and Jenni are still with us. George heads back to Thetford to pick up his car in the morning, but on the 24 mile route. Peter Gadsby joined us this evening and will ride for the next two days.
Now for some LC6 updates
Competition in the Megomnium was again suspended. The Stewards continue to probe Dr John. His case was not helped by a speeding violation in East Harling, followed by an evaluation of his drinks by the local PCSO, which proved inconclusive. I am told however that the Support Team have secured the equipment required to settle this once and for all.
Although we have had a suspension of activity, further points have been awarded.
In following Gavin’s route yesterday, Stefano created a cyclocross discipline through Thetford Forest, including carrying his bike through two miles of mud. That deserves 10 points. Well done. But Stefano, had you played a joker, you would now have been one point ahead of the leader. Bad call.
Kate also brought in an aquacycling discipline today. Now, although she fell off in the ford, it was with such elegance and grace that the judges awarded 10 points. Tomorrow’s update of the leader board will incorporate these changes.
We have two quotes of the day.
First, it was really hot again, with everyone lathering on sun cream. Steve to Karen: ‘Will you spray some on my bald patches’. Karen to Steve, ‘I do not think this (big Soltan) bottle is big enough. That will do wonders for his self-confidence Karen.
Second, on the way to her room last night, Kate overheard a conversation: Hotel Manager to Chef ‘We have 12 people who want porridge for breakfast’. Chef to Hotel Manager, ‘I don’t have that much porridge, I will have to find something to add’. The porridge did taste a bit odd.
Finally, today our Life Cycle miles were in honour of Kerry Law and Becky Hadfield. Kerry is our thirteenth rider and joined us this evening. She will be undertaking this on the eleventh anniversary of surgery for breast cancer. Becky is currently battling the disease, and dealing with the fact that it has spread to her bones, with incredible strength and fortitude.
Tomorrow we are under 100 miles, but at 96, only just as we head to Lincoln.
Professor Sir David Greenaway