#5000colo Day 20: The Croxton Cake

Distance travelled: 34.10 miles
Cumulative distance: 419.76 miles
Distance remaining: 4580.24 miles
Percentage complete: 8.40
Villages visited: Croxton, East Wretham, Great Hockham, Breckles, Thompson, Merton, Watton, Threxton, Little Cressingham, Ickburgh, Mundford, Lynford.

After yesterday’s miserable aborted ride, today was certainly an opportunity to stack up some miles. First stop was Bicycle Links, where Rob very gave my bike a once-over and got me ready to roll again.

Then it was off to Croxton near Thetford, to meet a lady called Melinda, who is the patron of a charity called YANA (You Are Not Alone). YANA offers mental health support to people in rural and agricultural settings via a dedicated phone line, email support and online resources.

Melinda had not only baked a delicious lemon drizzle cake for the occasion, but had even assembled a small army of people to come and meet me and see me off. I was also inundated with banknotes from generous villagers, which will be transferred into my online fund in due course.

The ride itself was largely good today; I managed to avoid most of the forecast rain, catching a couple of light showers along the way but nothing too serious. I covered 34.1 miles, which is the longest ride of my campaign so far, as I circumnavigated the Stanford Training Area (STANTA).

This large area spans a great deal of the land between Thetford and Watton, and contained several villages that were forcibly evicted during the Second World War to allow for armed forces training (including Stanford, from which the area gets its name).

At the conclusion of the conflict, the villagers were not allowed back to their homes, and the villages have since become derelict. There’s something quite sad about these once-proud Norfolk village communities that were extinguished overnight. I’d love to go in there and cycle through these ‘ghost villages’; if anyone happens to know a high-ranking MOD official with a charitable streak, don’t hesitate to put them in touch! 🙂

It was also great to have my first experience of cycling through parts of Thetford Forest. I really enjoy cycling through forested areas, and I’m looking forward to exploring more of this area in due course.

There was a bit too much ‘big road’ riding today, as most of the route was on ‘A’ or ‘B’ roads. It was generally okay, although the run from Mundford along the A147 back towards Thetford near the end was really hairy. One impatient lorry driver nearly gave me a heart attack as he squeezed past me despite a stream of oncoming traffic and me being a good two feet out from the roadside.

My final observation today is that I really need to try a different saddle. I’ve been saying this for a while, but the soreness is becoming a constant barrier to increasing my mileage.

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