#5000colo Day 56: Fireworks!

Distance travelled: 30.95 miles
Cumulative distance: 1050.25 miles
Distance remaining: 3949.75 miles
Percentage complete: 21.01
Villages visited: Wells-next-the-Sea, Warham, Wighton, Binham, Stiffkey, Morston, Langham, Blakeney, Wiveton, Cley-next-the-Sea, Salthouse, Kelling, Weybourne, Sheringham, Beeston Regis, West Runton, East Runton, Cromer.

That was an eventful one! Katie had the day off today, which meant that going to the seaside was a no-brainer. I was going to ride from Cromer to Wells, but Katie suggested that the setting sun might be less problematic if I rode west to east; a quick check of the wind showed that it was also going in the same direction, so I reversed the route and we headed to Wells instead.

I set off from Wells just before 4pm, which meant another ‘setting sun’ ride; although the distance meant that I’d definitely be finishing in darkness today.

My first stop was at Binham Priory; this ruined monastery was originally built in 1091. It’s always strange to reflect on how monks would have been wandering around here more than 900 years ago, looking at the same windows and walls.

Then there was a fantastic long downhill run into Stiffkey, which was really exhilarating; the uphill that followed was relatively straightforward, and I was doing my best to stay in the 15mph zone as usual. Then there was a long slog up into Langham, only a very minor incline but enough to sap my strength.

As I travelled from Langham back towards the coast at Blakeney, I tried to take my cycling glasses off as they didn’t seem to be helping in the fading light. However, it was really fiddly trying to get them into my back jersey pockets, and they fell onto the road so I had to go back for them.

I decided to stop for a couple of minutes and eat my energy bar, but I’d left it in the car like an idiot. Still, there was another great downhill into Blakeney, and then yet another into Wiveton. I briefly took the wrong route in Wiveton, but the Komoot sat nav soon set me straight.

I reached Cley-next-the-Sea just as the last light was fading, knowing that from here onwards it was straight along the A149 for the last 12 miles. Usually it would be a crazy idea to ride along a main road in rush hour, but I figured that now we’re back in lockdown the traffic wouldn’t be too bad.

In fact, it was almost eerily quiet; there were long stretches where I couldn’t see any headlights other than my own, and it was incredibly uplifting being able to look out across the marshes to the distant sea in the near-darkness.

While my eyes readily adjusted to the darkness, my nose became acutely aware of the acrid smell of bonfire smoke hanging in the air; it seemed to follow me all the way back to Cromer. There were a few distant bangs and sparkles, but this was always going to be an unusually quiet Bonfire Night.

I had forgotten quite how hilly the coast road was between Blakeney and Cromer; it was a massive test of my mental and physical stamina, and I dropped into my lower gearset for longer than I have done on any other ride. There was a really tricky climb between Salthouse and Kelling that had me on the brink of stopping, but I managed to get up there with some very loud self-encouragement!

From there on, it was just a case of racing the clock; I wanted to maintain my 15mph pace and get to Cromer before 6pm, and I arrived four minutes early with an average speed bang on 15mph.

Then, there was only one thing left to do: get fish and chips!

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