Hello from Shetland!

Hello everyone. Thank you for coming back to my website and checking out my blog. Although I have finished the Coast to Strength challenge I plan to keep updating the site and writing blog posts on some of the interesting things I have been up to.

As some of you may know I had to finish my challenge before 5th June as I was booked on a cruise to Iceland with my grandma and mum. At one point when I was lying in my hospital bed at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle I thought I wasn’t going to make it back. Despite everyone telling my it was fine to take a break and finish the last parts after the cruise I just couldn’t allow that to happen – I had to be back and I had to have completed the journey! I upped my mileage and made it home with days to spare, and even in time to go to the Tour of Cambridgeshire with Danny!

On Wednesday 6th June we set sail from Tilbury in Essex (somewhere I cycled through the previous Tuesday) and got the holiday underway. First stop was Amsterdam where we spent the day before sailing throughout the night and next day before arriving in at the Shetland Islands this morning.

I am having a fantastic time on the cruise with mum and grandma, today we saw a rare Arctic Bearded seal, puffins, Shetland ponies and local Shetland thoroughbred sheep (which look like goats). We have had a fantastic local tour guide just to ourselves and have been told many stories. It’s a wonderful place and just makes me want to be back cycling in Scotland. The roads here are very smooth!

I am managing to rest and recover although I have just purchased a book about travelling in the Outer Hebrides, and another titled ‘Greatest bike rides of the world’! Perhaps I am looking for another adventure. Tomorrow we go to the Faroe Islands where my cousin lives, I doubt anyone else will have family greeting them off the ship, and then on to Iceland!

Once were in Iceland I am hoping to add whales to my list of animals – I’ll do my best to capture it on my phone and post the photos on here!

Keep checking back and follow my facebook page www.facebook.com/cyclingzebra/ to hear about any updates.

Day 97 – New Romney to Brighton

I was so excited when I set off this morning but knew that I had a tough day ahead. I wanted to get as many miles done as possible before the rain started. I cycled through the Camber Sands with holiday parks lining the road, there was a cycle path next to the sea defences so i cycled up and stopped to take some photos, there were wooden walkways leading from this level to the beach. In the background you can see the very ominous looking dark sky.

The road then took me towards Rye, to avoid a main road section I took a cycle path that lead to the bridge to cross the river, this was going quite well until it went through a field of sheep, there was lots of sheep poo, I was quite close to it on my trike – I tried to cycle as slowly as possible so it didn’t flick up.

These two didn’t seem too bothered by me

From Rye harbour there is a fantastic pedestrianised route alongside the beach and through the nature reserve. This is one of the nicest cycle routes I have been on, a fantastic place for scenery and wildlife with a smooth tarmac path! There were lots of yellow poppies dotted along the whole route, so I stopped to take a quick photograph.

The path joined the road again and it started spitting, the rain started falling from the sky heavier and heavier, I knew there was a village (Pett) around the corner and hoped I would find shelter whilst I sorted myself out. None of the buildings had overhangs and when I was about to give up I spotted a small church with a covered porch area: I cycled up to it, there was a step so my trike would have to stay outside. I took off the seat cushion and headed for cover. I had to go back out in the rain to find my waterproof jacket and make sure everything was packed away in dry bags.

After a short time someone came to open up the church and told me I would find everything I needed to make a cup of tea inside. A real symbol of my entire journey; it pours with rain but a small local community are there to welcome you (welcome everyone) and let you take shelter. I had a cup of tea and the rain started getting a bit lighter. It was set to be bad weather for the next few hours and I had too many miles to do to sit it out.

What I hadn’t realised is that after Pett there is a very steep 15 percent gradient hill that was not short and just kept climbing. As I got to the steepest part the rain was gushing down again and the road was like a river, not only was I having to turn the pedals against the steepness of the hill but against the strong current of water intent on pushing me back down. To make it ever worse it was foggy, the cars were not as visible as I would have liked them to be which meant I wasn’t very visible to the cars. They were all seeing me and carefully driving round so obviously my high-vis flag was doing its job.

I was absolutely soaked, you would have filled a bath with water if you wrung me out. I was very pleased when I reached Pevensey and a friendly face was stiff in the rain waiting to usher me into a cafe. I wrapped myself in my towel, reluctant to change clothes and I only have one other set and I didn’t want them soaked too.

I was treated to lunch in the form of a full English breakfast by Les and Vicky. They were some of the first people I had met and spoke to on the road when I was in Hayling Island. They were leaving the hotel early to avoid the bad weather whilst I was cycling into it. They have followed my journey the whole way round and waited to meet me in their home village on my way into Brighton. It rained very heavily whilst I ate and then seemed to die down almost completely. I still had a fair distance to cycle so I got on my way.

The next hurdle, once I passed along the front at Eastbourne, was to cycle up Beachy Head, the winding road wasn’t too steep and was reasonably easy, I felt quite proud when I saw some German cycle tourers walking to the top! It was a fantastic piece of road with a fast windy downhill section. What I hadn’t appreciated was that there was another climb after this which was much steeper and once it dipped down to the main road got steeper again. I had been told that once I had descended into Seaford the road was a lot flatter. It might have been flatter but it definitely wasn’t flat and there were some small hills all the way towards Brighton, luckily most of these could be climbed in the cycle lane.

There it was, Brighton Pier in the distance, I was now on familiar roads, roads that James and I had run in the half marathon over three months ago. I was running early so I stopped to have a drink, clean some of the mud off my trike and change my clothes. I had 2 miles left to go along the cycle path to the pier, I wanted company so I asked a guy with a fully loaded bike to cycle with me to the end. He took lots of photos of me and the press arrived. I feel rather bad that we didn’t get a photo together and I can’t remember his name. I hope he gets in touch and enjoys the rest of his cycle touring. I was elated I had completed the loop. I spoke to the local press and had some photos taken before finding my hotel next to the pier.

I made a video for you all to say thank you, I’m a little self conscious in front of the camera, especially when I had skin peeling from my nose and the most ridiculous panda eyes, so I didn’t watch it back and sent it to Danny instead.

It wasn’t time to celebrate yet so I had a bath, found some dinner and had a quiet drink. I had been invited to a local pub on Twitter, the owner is a very keen cyclist, she wasn’t around but I was welcomed in with open arms and it felt special to have found a pub in such a touristy place that is visited by the locals.

So a massive achievement today, I am the first female to have cycled around the coastline of GB on a trike, let alone with my medical conditions and the fact I have done it alone, self supported with a tent (I’m not sure another able bodied female has done that either). Tomorrow I will complete my challenge and cycle 70 miles back home. I was adamant that I wanted my journey to start and finish in the home town of Wokingham despite it not being on the coast.

It is a hard day’s cycle as it goes over quite a few rolling hills but I can’t wait to see everyone so hopefully that will make it easier!

Tomorrow may be the end of this challenge, but it is not the end! I want to continue to give out my messages about disability cycling and continue raising awareness of EDS. Continue following me as I am going to reflect and recap what I have done as well as decide how to take it forward. I am excited about finishing, excited about the future and excited that I have 100’s of new friends!

Day 96 – Faversham to New Romney

Wednesday 30th May

I woke up at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep so I thought I would use my time productively. Up until this point there has been a link on my website to my Just Giving page but I haven’t asked for any sponsorship. I am raising money for EDS-UK the charity that supports others with my conditions, I volunteer for this charity as an area coordinator and have done for a number of years, I feel very passionate about equipping others with knowledge and support to help manage what can be complex conditions. Sometimes just having a good chat about anything to someone who truly understands how hard everyday life can be is very powerful. So I wrote a post on social media asking for sponsorship hoping that my last 95 days on the road and the few more that I’ve got to go are deserving of it.

I also spent a while trying to repair the slash in my tyre that cuts all the way through, glue wasn’t holding it together so I have patched the inside of it in the hope that nothing sharp managed to fill the gap and pierce the inner tube – new tyres will arrive on Thursday if I need them! I laughed at my dedication, at 6am I was sitting on the hotel bed pumping up a tyre.

I got on the road to retrace some of my last few miles the night before to get back to the coastal roads, it was spitting but today I could appreciate the Oast houses and the vineyard I cycled past. Yesterday’s flooding seemed to have subsided significantly. I felt under a lot of pressure as my short mileage day yesterday (although harder work than a long day on the road) has left me with two 80 mile days to get to Brighton and the miles just have to be done.

Once I reached the coast there was pretty much a cycle path all along the front, I passed Whitstable and Herne Bay before I headed out into country lanes before rejoining it again at Reculver. The path was mainly concrete slabs so there was a bump at every join, this made it a little slow going but the beauty of the sea and the marsh land made up for it. I think this is the longest stretch of bike path along a sea wall I have done and I enjoyed every moment. The collective mix of beach huts above the beaches was provided interesting viewing, although it appears that some have been damaged in our recent storms.

I had planned to meet Christina and Ellen (who has EDS) at a cafe in Birchington. We enjoyed breakfast and chatted for quite a while, Ellen has found ways to adapt and do things, she is on her university swim team! Inspirational! Ellen had a go on my trike and loved it. I hope we meet again as we really aren’t too far away! Thank you for coming to meet me and for breakfast!

Back on the road I had to get these miles done, the Sponsorship money was coming in quicker than I could have hoped for and was making me a little emotional, it was making everything I have done seem real. I continued pedalling around all the seaside towns, there are some beautiful stretches of coastline here, lined with a mix of wooden houses, modern architecture and grand hotels amidst castles and ruins.

I knew than once I reached Deal my reasonably flat ride would turn reasonably hilly for 15 miles with the steep climbs either side of Dover. I stopped to view the cliffs at the top but everything was shrouded in sea mist and the photo isn’t even worth sharing. There have been pockets of thick sea mist all morning, however I wasn’t complaining as when the sun had broken though it was very hot, so more comfortable to cycle in the mist. I cycled up the hill out of Dover, it was arduous and never ending, however when I reached the top to descend a 14% gradient I saw a group of cyclists working very hard to get up the other side. I grinned knowing I’d completed the hard sections of my day!

I stopped quickly in Folkestone, the cycle route took me over the cobbles in the old part of the harbour. I had wanted to cycle up Remembrance Hill (the soldiers were marched down here to the boats waiting to take them to war). There was a flat route through a park and my heavy legs didn’t fancy another hill, I feel slightly guilty that I couldn’t make the effort up to see the remembrance memorial but I saw the arch standing at the top of the cliff above me!

I had a flat easy run now it was along a road in the mist so not very scenic, I just churned out the last few miles and reached my hotel.

Tomorrow there are thunderstorms forecast in the middle of the day so I’ll try and get off early so I can take a break!

TO BRIGHTON I GO! I just hope I don’t get there looking like a drowned rat, I’m not sure that would be a good look in the newspapers!

A sincere thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way and who has sponsored me today. You have all been a massive part of my journey and I will cherish memories of meeting you even if that was only virtually. Your messages of support and help have gotten me through. I will be reaching Brighton tomorrow for all of us and will imagine you all behind pushing me along that last little stretch as you did up every single steep hill I have conquered!

Day 95 – Orsett to Faversham

Tuesday 29th May

I packed up the tent and travelled the 5 miles to the Tilbury Ferry. It started raining just as i got inside the Ferry, what a great little crossing, it meant that I could avoid cycling all the way into London and back out again.

It was absolutely pouring down, the weather forecast showed that this was going to stay for an hour so I took shelter in a cafe. When it stopped I followed national cycle route 1 towards Cliffe, it was awful and absolutely covered in litter, I think that is what has cut all the way through my new tyre! At one point I got to a gate I couldn’t get through, luckily I was next to an unmanned level crossing out onto the road, there were some national rail workers who opened up the gates and help me across.

My next stop was to visit my uncle at Gillingham football stadium. I met everyone and had some photos taken! I felt like a celebrity! (Photos to come later).

This is when the day took a turn for the worse, the thunderstorms started and the rain was absolutely pelting down! This wasn’t forecast! Cycling was not possible so I had some lunch and then a nap on the sofa in his office. The rain stopped at about half 3 so I went back out on to the road. There was no way I was going to reach my end point for the day so I had some help finding a hotel another 20 miles along the road.

I headed out of Gillingham, immediately my white top was splattered in mud, it got everywhere! The roads were very wet but I was making good progress until I hit the country lanes, there was no other diversion as the only other route is the A2. I sat stuck behind traffic on nearly every turn, when there was a path I went up on to it. When the traffic stopped the flooding started.

This is a bike path come river!

I kept having to divert my route and it was taking me such a long time, would I ever get this 20 miles done. I then came across a piece of road where the water was very deep, cars that had tried to get through had been waiting 5 plus hours for rescue vehicles with flooded engines and damaged cars! Luckily the locals told me that there was a footpath cut-through round the back of the houses, fantastic!

Not much further along the road it was flooded again. I sat and watched the cars go through it and it looked about manageable but hard to judge. A kind driver said he would watch me go though and rescue me if I got stuck! So I gave it a try and got through with just some wet ankles!

A while later and covered in mud I managed to reach the hotel. I’m pretty disappointed that I’ve only managed 40 miles today, it’s been one of my hardest days on the road. I’ve now got some catching up to do!

 DAY 94 – South Woodham Ferrers to Orsett

We spent the morning organising my final few days and working out when I could get home. I’m pleased to say that, barring any further issues, I will be cycling back into Wokingham on Friday 1st June! It’s an odd feeling as I’m so happy and proud of myself for actually being able to complete this challenge, but at the same time it’s been so fantastic that I don’t want it to end!

The roads were quiet today (maybe something to do with everyone’s bank holiday celebrations the night before) and for the first few miles we saw more cyclists than cars. A group of three riders passed us heading towards Battlesbridge and slowed down for a chat. I told them about my journey and we discussed riding in general – it was great to meet such nice people and for me the interaction and ability to spread awareness was enough. So when we finished for the day and I checked my Justgiving page I was shocked to see a generous donation from Martyn sitting there – thank you so much!

Nadjie, the local breeze champion who we rode with yesterday, had put us in contact with another lady who was excited to ride with us today. Sue is another breeze champion for the area and we met her in Battlesbridge – she has been following my journey and keeping up with the blog posts since day 1 so she was very exited to meet me, as I was her! It was getting warmer by the minute so we quickly got going along the picturesque country lanes.

Sue was a terrific rider and very confident riding alongside me so we just chatted and chatted all morning. Sue had planned to ride a couple of hours with us before heading back and by 10:30am we had made it all the way to Southend on Sea – further than Sue had expected to get. I think warm weather and good company makes me faster! We stopped for breakfast at one of Southend’s many, many cafes and to our delight we lucked out and chose a great venue right on the sea front with views of the pier – the longest in the world at 2160 meters!

We cycled another 500m down the promenade together for a photo op in front of the beach before saying our goodbyes to Sue. Thank you for joining me this morning it was so lovely to have your company.

We continued east along the segregated cycle path, occasionally having to put on the breaks as oblivious pedestrians stepped out into the path without looking! Coming towards us was a man on a hand cycle who turned out to be Jonathan Walters – a bit of a celebrity in the disability sport world – so it was a pleasure to meet him. We chatted for a while about touring and riding before continuing on and up the hill out of Southend.

Our next stop would be Canvey Island on the Thames estuary. This was a very built up place and definitely geared towards tourism – and it was especially busy as it was a sunny Bank Holiday Monday. We rode along the front and on a short section of the gravel path on the sea wall before stopping to get sugar doughnuts and a drink. It was quite a juxtaposition to the majority of my trip and I think there was probably more people in this one place than I saw in the whole of my time in Scotland!

I was intending to ride to Tilbury and get the ferry over to Kent at the end of today, however the ferry doesn’t run on bank holidays! Therefore I would be camping in Orsett which is five miles away from Tilbury and crossing early tomorrow morning. Danny cycled with me to the campsite before riding another 20 miles back to Chelmsford to pick up his car (much easier and quicker than trying to get the train). He drove back to me and we had dinner at a local pub before saying goodbye. It wasn’t difficult this time as I knew I’d be seeing him again at the end of the week!

I’ve posted my schedule to the Facebook page so please take a look at that if you are interested as to where I will be for this final week.  For those of you who don’t use Facebook, here it is:

MY FINAL WEEK SCHEDULE

Tuesday 29th May- Orsett, across the Thames (Tilbury Ferry) to Herne Bay/ Birchington

Wednesday 30th May – Herne Bay/ Birchington to Rye

Thursday 31st May – Rye to Brighton (approx finish time 5pm)

Friday 1st June – Brighton to The Two Poplars Pub Wokingham, finish time approx 5pm, I will have dinner there and stay around for a few hours please come down after work and have some drinks.

If you would like to join me on the final leg into Wokingham, you can find me at the Manor Farm Tea room, Wood Lane, Seale, GU10 1HR at 2:30pm. We can have a cup of tea, and cycle the last 20 miles! I’ve got route files for some Wokingham loops of varying distances so please ask.

Day 93 – Ramsey to South Woodham Ferrers

Sunday 27th May

I am going to start todays blog with Danny’s review of the campsite, you will see why:

“I stayed on your campsite at the back of the beer garden for one night over the bank holiday weekend. On waking to her alarm at 6am the first thing I said to my wife was “where did I put my iPad last night?.

“I must explain the 6am alarm: my wife is cycling 5000 miles around the coastline of Great Britain to raise awareness of her medical conditions, she started 3 months ago and is in her last week. I have joined her for the bank holiday weekend for the final bit of support. She has a well set routine of getting up early and getting on the road – this morning I disrupted that!

“We’d had such a good night at the Castle Inn eating, drinking and listening to the live acoustic music that I had a few drinks and was getting forgetful. I’d taken all my belongings to the campsite toilet before brushing my teeth and duly left them on the side. Happy that I’d remembered to sort myself out I trotted off to bed for a night under the stars … duly leaving all of my belongings on the side (including my iPad, phone and car keys along with some expensive cycling gadgets!)

“After an hour and a half of searching and praying I hadn’t been such an idiot and left it on the side for anyone to find, the realisation dawned on me that yes indeed I was that stupid. By this point the look on my wife’s face could have turned men to stone like Medusa and I could feel her anger growing! By this point I was desperate and clutching at straws, I called the pub in the distant hope that someone would answer. To my delight the landlady jadedly picked up the phone – step one complete. Now my fate was in the hands of kind strangers who I hoped had found my stuff and handed it in. My luck was in – I’d been dealt a pair of aces – and everything was present and correct and locked safely behind the bar! I couldn’t have been happier when the blurry eyed landlady came downstairs in her PJ’s and handed me back everything.

“Now off the kill list we could pack up our tent and get on with the 80 mile ride we had planned!

“A big thank you to whoever handed my stuff in and also a huge thank you to the Castle Inn for such a great night and a trouble free stay!”

So on the road 2 hours later than planned we had to rearrange our meeting times with others along the way and press on as much as possible so when I cycled over a drain and had a pinch flat less than 200 meters into the route this had not got off to a good start.

We reached Clacton on Sea and pulled over to use the public toilets, we were waved at rather excitedly by a local resident. He came over and asked us if we would join their local awareness cycle ride of the National Cycle route that runs along the promenade, they want to secure funding to make the cycle track more user friendly and accessible. We had a quick bacon sandwich and joined them along the front. We chatted to all of the riders and had some absolutely fantastic photos taken, I think you’ll agree.

Another puncture in my front tyre! I haven’t had any since before I entered into Scotland over 6 weeks ago! So I’ve no idea why I am being so unlucky this weekend. We couldn’t figure out what had caused it so just changed the tube.

The roads were quite busy as we assumed everyone was headed to the seaside for the day, but the majority of the traffic was very considerate.

Next stop was to meet David, another trike rider, on the road into Maldon. He had warned us that he might be a little slow but this was far from the truth and once we had met him the 5 miles into Maldon flew by! I managed to persuade him that we could get up the super steep windy hill to the high street so we could have some lunch (a very late 3pm lunch!) David is an absolute super star, he himself is disabled and finds it quite difficult to walk however on a trike he just whizzes along and made light work of the hill. Yet another true inspiration and proof of the enrichment cycling can have on people’s lives!

Nadjie, a local female Breeze Champion who has also recently done some coaching qualifications, a champion in every way in my eyes, also came to meet us as we came into town. I’m not sure she realised that we would have to go back up the hill she had just descended and had a nervous smile on her face when this became apparent.

We found somewhere for our late lunch, David treated us to drinks whilst Nadjie bought us all lunch. Such kindness! We chatted about all sorts and it was a great break after a pretty hectic day.

We still had a bit more cycling to do so after waving goodbye to David the three of us set off towards South Woodham Ferrers, again the roads were quite busy but they were very smooth and I motored along. Nadjie told us about all the rides she does including night rides! She has been avidly following my journey since the beginning sending messages of support and I am so glad we got to meet up, she is so full of life and bubbly it was a real boost.

And then… we turned up at our hotel and there was a live band playing outside, the street was full of drunk people and there was a man climbing out of a window onto the roof. Yes, Danny booked it! When I googled the hotel it appears it has been on “The hotel inspectors”! Typical! We were lied to about breakfast when we checked in and I’m not going to say any more. Our room however was clean and we managed to have a good night’s sleep.

(Next Morning) Danny and I have spent the morning planning the last week of my route. I am now not going to write any more blog posts until the end as I am going to focus on publicity. I will release a press release, if you could help me share this as much as possible over the next few days I would be extremely grateful.

(It’s ok he’s forgiven! Hopefully tomorrow will be less eventful!)

Day 92 – Leiston to Ramsey

Saturday 26th May

We had planned a later start so that I could wash my hair (I was too tired last night) and sort out the belongings I have left. Since it has gotten warmer and I am nearing the end I keep culling everything I am carrying, I am now carrying the bare minimals I need to cycle, fix my trike and camp as well as all my medication. If it was up to me I would be carrying nothing but Danny said I would be too smelly and I wouldn’t survive.

We had breakfast and Wendy arrived to cycle with us for the first part of the day. Wendy is friends with Paula who I enjoyed cycling with a couple of days ago. After breakfast I went outside to load up my trike and it was raining, this prompted me to look at the weather forecast which was for rain for the next few hours, but a weather map on another service showed that we would skirt the edge of the heavy downpour. After some deliberating we decided to risk starting and this paid off, as apart from a couple of rain drops, the morning stayed dry.

We headed out of Leiston and along country lanes which were often covered in sand. Every break in the hedgerow saw the road covered. We reached Snape Maltings and Wendy told us that it was now a concert Hall but was originally where local Barley was malted. The collection of old buildings was pretty interesting, I didn’t get a photograph as we were chatting and avoiding sandy patches!

It wasn’t long until the sandy roads took its toll on one of our bikes…and unfortunately for me it was mine! I suffered the first of two punctures at around 15 miles which happily coincided with a short spell of rain. But having two pairs of hands we made light work of the repair and were back on our way.

I had earmarked a cafe at 20 miles where Wendy would turn around and retrace her steps (pedal strokes?) back to her car at Leiston. The cafe proved a welcome break and we had a nice rest before allowing the sun to come out. Wendy was so kind and insisted on paying at the cafe – so if we didn’t say it enough at the time, thank you!

Minutes after leaving the cafe I said to Danny “I’ve developed another rattle” to which he replied “your back tyre is flat!”. Wendy was heading back to her car at the end of this road so we told her to get going and said our goodbyes before setting about fixing the flat.

Back on the road and with no more set backs to come today we were making good progress. The sun was shining as the miles ticked by and we were soon in Ipswich and about to cross the border into Essex. We allowed ourselves an afternoon drink in a local pub before embarking on the last stretch to our overnight stop…it is bank holiday weekend after all!

We arrived at the Castle Inn at Ramsey which handily had a large beer garden which doubled as a campsite. Upon arrival we were the only tent here so pitched up in the best spot.

We had a fantastic dinner in the pub and were treated later to a great acoustic set by a local musician before retiring to our tent. At this point we had all our possessions…but more on that in tomorrow’s blog!

Day 91 – Cromer to Leiston

Friday 25th May

Day 91, the day I had estimated I would be back in Brighton and that would have been the case if it wasn’t for my mouth problems in Newcastle. Nevertheless I’m feeling stronger than ever and I had Jason, another trike rider, join me for the morning.

We started off a little later than normal to avoid the rain, this meant that I had some time to stretch my legs and have a proper breakfast.

Jason turned up on his ‘winter trike’ (hint, hint Danny) donning mudguards, very sensible; mine have now been taken off! Jason is a keen cyclist and like me loves being out on the road, he has a degenerative neurological condition and his trike is invaluable to him!

I enjoyed cycling on NC30 yesterday so followed this again, it took me quite a long time to realise that this was a mistake, it was quiet and we could chat but the night’s rain had washed everything into the road, it was slow going as we avoided potholes, mud, puddles and piles of grit and twigs. It took me quite a while (15 miles) to give in and head back to the not so main ‘B’ road. There was a sign for a cafe so we stopped for tea and cake. I was umming and ahhing about taking a small coastal road to the main road but when a group of cyclists, who looked like they knew what they were doing, passed we followed them down it. It turns out we were all wrong, they were on a short 4 day tour along the coastline themselves and didn’t know anymore than we did! The tarmac turned into grit with craters in, they asked me if it was the worst road I had been on and it wasn’t…yet. The grit and craters came to an end and the sand started, there was a piece of grass in the middle so I thought that if I could keep my back wheel on that I would get through, after a while my front wheel got caught in the sand and I got pushed out!

We took the first tarmac road we came across and had to head back on ourselves to get to the main road. We chatted with the group of cyclists for a while before they headed off to a cafe, really nice group of guys and I hope they enjoy the rest of their trip. Jason and I carried on into the mist, the visibility was fine but there was certainly no view to be had.

We reached Horsey Windpump, this is a windmill and pump built in 1912 to help drain the water from the land into a higher level system. This fell into disrepair but is excitingly currently being restored. Jason and I spent some time taking photos before it was time for Jason to head back. It was great meeting another trike rider today and made me feel even more passionate that anyone can find a way or means to get out into the countryside and cycle.

I continued on towards Great Yarmouth, I didn’t want to stop as I was only halfway through my mileage and it was after 2pm, but my stomach was rumbling and I needed the energy. I stopped in Gorleston-on-sea at a restaurant that looked out over the sea. I sat outside, despite the mist it was humid and warm with no wind, so quite pleasant to sit outside and look at the very limited view. The owner of the restaurant even gave me some pieces of cake to take away with me.

(My lunchtime sea view)

Danny sent me a message this morning to tell me I had to go to Ness point, luckily NC 1 signposted it so I followed that along the front. I had Britain’s most Easterly Point to myself, the last compass point of my route!

Leiston, my end point of the day, still looked a long way away so I had to crack on, my detour down a mud track didn’t help progress but it was signed as a cycling short cut and was quite enjoyable and provided another view of a waterway.

The rest of the day provided some fantastic lanes to cycle along and I felt stronger as the day went on. My leg muscles are incredibly stiff and sore you, would think after so long on the road they would be used to the abuse I’m putting them under every day, but I think I’ve just got better at ignoring them!

I was very pleased to reach the pub/hotel an hour before Danny, because we had a bath in our room. The first bath I’ve had since leaving Newcastle.

Tomorrow we will cycle 60 miles to Harwich where we have managed to find a campsite with availability, I’m really pleased I’ve got Danny’s company again for the bank holiday weekend!

Day 90 – King’s Lynn to Cromer – A go-slow day of being a cycle tourist after my mammoth ride yesterday, I still clocked up 70 miles today though, but more importantly I made another new friend

Thursday 24th May

I made my way out of King’s Lynn up a hill which seemed a little alien compared to my completely flat day yesterday. I got to a roundabout and the coastal road looked like a minor turning, exactly how it looks on a map, however the reality was very different and I found myself on the hard shoulder and cars and lorries whizzing past. I got to Castle Rising where I met a local lady, Paula, who was ready to cycle with me for the morning. The route was supposed to be on the A road all day and without a clear alternative I had to ring Danny for help. This is where technology is fantastic he created me a new route and I could remotely upload that to my Garmin!

The new route was fantastic, we followed National Cycle route 1 for a bit and followed empty, well surfaced country lanes through the fields. Paula and I got on fantastically and were chatting away. After yesterday my body and legs were extremely tired so today I was in go slow mode and the miles were taking quite a while. Norfolk, as I have always been led to believe, is not flat and I think our new route was probably a bit hillier than the original!

We stopped off in a deli for breakfast (I had pasta!) it was quite chilly when we left but not long after the sun came out, I was not expecting to see the sun today so it was a very welcome site. This brightened up the countryside we were cycling through even more, this really was a fantastic route, we cycled through some old villages, the houses and their walled boundaries made with flint.

We had followed one of these large walls for quite a long time and were very intrigued as to what was inside so when we reached the gates we stopped to explore. I really fancied ice cream so we asked some other cyclists who were going through the gates who told us that the stable yard had a cafe! The stable yard was part of Holkham Hall, a very impressive stately home. To reach it we cycled 2 miles along a straight path with a pillar in the middle, our ride had got even better and become car-less! We knew that we would have to retrace our detour but it didn’t matter at all that we were adding on 4 miles to the route because Cycling was just an absolute pleasure in this scenery.

We were stunned by the view of the house as we descended the hill. We had ice cream and I found another vehicle to sit on in my zebra gear! I’m not sure this would be a particularly efficient method of transport though.

We headed back along the same way and then Paula and I said our goodbyes and she headed back towards the start point. Thanks for joining me Paula and for taking it slowly with me! Today was a day for exploration and enjoyment and enjoy it I did!

It was when I was on my own that the tiredness really set in. I had overdone it a bit yesterday but it really was such an achievement so I don’t regret it. The route was quite winding and it was continually tempting just to go on the main road for speed however, despite being tired and having very heavy legs, I was still enjoying the country lanes even if they were longer and hillier.

(Look what I found!)

I got to about 6 miles from my end point and I needed a break! I found a pub and scoffed down some crisps and some sweets for a bit of energy and felt a lot better when I got back into the road into Cromer. As I entered I could see the place I was staying and headed straight there. I’m avoiding camping this evening as heavy rain is forecast.

Hopefully I’ll get to see the seafront in the morning as I’m too tired tonight and it is now raining.

We have had to adapt my route again for tomorrow, it now follows the same NC30 that I have been following this afternoon. It is billed at the Norfolk Coast cycle route so, although it doesn’t run alongside the sea, it’s obvious that this is the best route to cycle and I hope it is as enjoyable as today even if it is in the rain!