#5000colo Day 94: The Hardest Yards

Distance travelled: 50.34 miles
Cumulative distance: 1476.07 miles
Distance remaining: 3523.93 miles
Percentage complete: 29.52
Villages visited: Gillingham, Geldeston, Kirby Cane, Ellingham, Broome, Ditchingham, Earsham, Denton, Alburgh, Wortwell, Topcroft, Woodton, Thwaite St Mary, Mundham, Seething, Brooke, Poringland, Upper Stoke, Stoke Holy Cross, Caistor St Edmund.

I decided that it was time to get another 50 under my belt; the miles aren’t going to ride themselves, and I fancied a challenge. The weather looked relatively benign before lunch, so Katie kindly agreed to drive me down to Gillingham (the one next to Beccles, not the one in Kent) so I could take a big step towards ‘completing’ the eastern half of the county.

I started the day in very positive mood, and decided to attach my furry antlers to my cycling helmet to try to spread a bit of Christmas cheer around the back lanes of South Norfolk.

The bike felt great after its recent service, and the first ten miles or so just breezed past. I then had to take a big loop around Bungay to avoid going out of Norfolk; there’s no reason why I shouldn’t leave the county, I guess, but the Norwich fan in me doesn’t like venturing south of the border and it adds another layer of intrigue to route planning!

I was planning to stop at around halfway for a little break, but couldn’t seem to find the right place. There was a bit of drizzle in places, but I still felt pretty sprightly so I decided to press on. Before I knew it I was over 35 miles and not far from Poringland; I toyed with the idea of stopping there but decided to keep going.

Then there was the unbridled joy of the big downhill run into Stoke Holy Cross; I’d ridden up that hill back in the summer without realising quite how much of a killer it was. It only seemed fair to allow myself the chance to cruise down it!

My final chance to stop was in Caistor St Edmund; I was planning to stop and have a look around the old Roman site of Venta Icenorum, which I’ve learnt a lot about recently as I’m reading a history of Norfolk. However, there were loads of cars there and the site was much bigger than I’d realised, so I thought I might as well press on and see if I could do a ‘non-stop 50’.

Although I had to stop briefly at junctions and traffic lights going back through Norwich, I made it back home about ten minutes after the rain started, utterly exhausted and in no small amount of pain, especially in my hamstrings and upper back. I won’t be trying that again in a hurry; 50-milers are definitely manageable, but I need to make sure I stop for at least one rest!

The rest of the day was spent doing very little other than watching sport on the sofa in my penguin lounge gear…

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