Eastern departure, Norfolk at its best, Fens characteristically windy and Ambulance excitement!
Well what a day! So long that I won't be writing much this evening as I must get to bed. However, here are some of the highlights.
Though there might be a fancy circle on the sea front, and a plaque to mark the spot, England's most Easterly point is out the back of a very unassuming industrial estate, complete with Gas tank and wind turbine.
We took the required photos, but as it was already 7:45am and we had 133 miles ahead of us, we were keen to get going. Initially the journey was uneventful apart from one missed turning because we were too busy admiring a round-towered flint church 10 miles out of Lowestoft! We arrived in good time at our first stop in Wymondham after 35 miles.
There we were met by Rog, our fantastic support driver for the day and his assistant Hector. We had plentiful scrambled eggs on toast at a local cafe. There we met another chap currently living with Prostate Cancer and he told us just how gruelling the treatment is. We also met a lovely lady called Chris who on hearing about our journey gave us a donation to add to the growing fund.
We continued through beautiful rural Norfolk scenes. We saw Wheat, Barley and Oats - East Anglia truly the bread basket of the UK. We also saw crops of turnips, potatoes, broad beans, rape seed and maize. We really have no reason to buy fresh produce from anywhere other than our own country! Another highlight was passing the M.O.D. camp at Swaffham which was in full preparation mode for receiving the Household Cavalry for their summer training visit. Rob told me that they do public displays and exercises which are a real treat to go and watch.
Our lunch stop was in Downham Market. Rog had found a park for us to have a picnic and had set up seats and a rug up in the shade of a tree and a table loaded with food. Highlights obviously being Crich Butcher's pork pies and sausages! Fueled and refreshed, and already more than half way at 71 miles, we headed for the fens. That's where the trouble began!
Anyone who has cycled in England's flatlands will know just how important wind direction is. The wind today has been a brisk South Westerly. Just about the worst possible direction for us! Out in the open fen land there is nowhere to hide. Heads down and battle on was the order of the afternoon. We reached the market town of March at around 4pm and it was there that the drama really happened...
As we headed through a busy town centre, just ahead of Rob I suddenly heard a crash. I turned to see Rob on the deck in the road and not getting up in a hurry. The good people of March swung into action and helped me get his bike and gear out of the traffic while I tended to my brother. He was on his back but assured me he thought he was fine. Not in a hurry to get up though. Eeek. Within less than a minute a passing ambulance had pulled in and I was helped by two very friendly ambulance drivers. Though they were a local transportation ambulance and weren't able to give urgent care, they helped make sure Rob had nothing critically wrong before helping me get him up and off the road. They also immediately called in an emergency ambulance. They wouldn't leave us until their colleagues had arrived in less than 20 minutes, blue lights all the way from King's Lynn.
While we were waiting, we ascertained that Rob had no broken bones or serious broken skin, but he said he though he had cracked his head quite hard on the tarmac. Inspection of the back of his helmet revealed that it had a 10 cm crack, right through. If there was ever a need to demonstrate the need to wear a helmet at all times when cycling, this was a clear example. Rob hadn't been knocked off, he had just nudged a parked van as he glanced down while cycling through a busy high street.
When the emergency ambulance arrived, because of the blow to the head and his back, they were very keen to get him in to the ambulance to check him over. Their verdict was that his heart rate, blood pressure and general condition where that of a very healthy and fit man. "Good job" said Rob "I've got 510 miles still to cycle of the next five days!" True words of a gritty Cumbrian.
While chatting to one of the paramedics, Graham, conversation turned to the purpose of our ride. Graham shared that his Father-in-law has just been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. He was understandably very supporting of the goals of our challenge. Yet another example of just how many men are affected.
After buying another helmet at a local bike shop, assisted by ever present support driver Rog, we were back on our way towards Oakham. Thankfully, our journey through Peterborough and beyond was then uneventful. We were very relieved to get into more undulating terrain...both more familiar, and also more likely to offer some intermittant shelter from the head wind.
Rutland Water finally hove into view, rather later than planned, and we arrived at our AirBnB home for the night at 8:45pm, 13 hours after leaving Ness Point.
Stats for the day:
Mileage: 133 plus 2 mile prologue
Time in the saddle: 8 hours 40 mins
Average speed: 15.3mph
Water consumed: approx. 12 litres each
and so to bed!