FNRttC FNRttC Cambridge to Kings Lynn August 30th


vintage Mercian 2012
Here's that "All up" shout again and some day light clips

View: https://www.facebook.com/david.falconer.7311/videos/1499214536897815/


Silencing his legs regularly
I needed the day off work to do this one, which seasoned readers of my posts might just imagine will result in a report about my second-ever imperial 200. Not quite. I did consider it, did plan a route to Cambridge- it's only 136 miles after all- but it would have been awkward. Lots, and lots, of Greater London. Before, during and after rush hour. That would have been much more difficult than the 157 miles to Cardiff was. Oh, and I'd have to set off by about 9am as well in order to give myself the desired time buffer, so no time for anything else that needed doing. And, as it happened, other things that did need doing, with bikes with engines, needed doing in the morning. A train it was…but I still wanted another ton…

So, I plotted routes from Letchworth (25 miles or so) and Stevenage (30 ish) to Cambridge on RWGPS. As it turned out, not precisely enough. First day of the umpteenth, ineffectual but nonetheless inconvenient SWR strike complicated the options for getting to the smoke slightly, as did the various bike restrictions on routes out of Kings Cross. The best (well, least worst) option turned out to be a Southern service to Three Bridges, and a Thameslink service from there to Stevenage. Reasonably quick, less faff than riding & transferring through London, no bike restrictions. A minute or two late into Three Bridges, but more than enough time to get to the platform for the connection, also a minute late. Thameslink train was light and airy and modern, but with an inexplicably stupid bike space- about a foot too short for anything with 700C wheels to fit in neatly. Into beautiful downtown Stevenage bang on time, a minute or two before seven.

Stevenage may have an extraordinary level of cycle route provision (which is extraordinarily under-used, didn't see a single other bike on it), but as I well know from previous visits, it's nowhere near the level of the good Dutch or Belgian stuff. More like the usual 1960s UK urban planning rubbish, and more about getting you pesky cyclists out of the way of the precious metal boxes than helping you get where you want to go in an efficient manner. But better than tangling with the many, many Roads of Death in the vicinity. Cue much back and forth and low-speed awkwardness before getting out of town, and onto a remarkably (as in remarkably not ****) straightforward Sustrans path, of the very mild off-road kind. Until I got NE of Baldock, and a serious navigation fail, thanks to good old OSM routing and failure to check it sufficiently. On nice straightforward road, get instruction to go into a field. Little grey cells forget golden rule of not following Garmin instructions to go into a field, and then keep trying to move forward rather than turning back. Silly grey cells. One marked 'path' that's just a field, leads to another. One hour of trudging around later, get back onto an actual road. The same road that the one I turned off was leading to. Typical. Fortunately, once I got back on tarmac, the routing was thankfully direct and accurate, and the speed picked up massively. Roads were fast but quiet, which was nice. Into the city before ten, despite the in-field adventures. Time enough to stop off at the Sainsburys in Sidney Street for many much needed calories, before getting round to the station just after eleven.

Initial speed was a bit sluggish, positively glacial at times, but in a stark contrast to Stevenage, the off-road paths into and out of Cambridge are excellent. No ifs or buts, just excellent. We did have one slightly odd bit of waymarking- the chap marking the right turn onto Park Street did so with his position suggesting we were going straight on- but no harm done. @LucretiaMyReflection excelled as All-up person. Ely saw the obligatory abusive chav incident, and what seemed like a very, very long wait indeed waymarking a roundabout. Followed by a further wait as a loo stop turned into a coffee stop for some. Then onto Welney, and an absolutely top-notch halfway stop. Fine work again in getting it sorted by our all-upper. Most excellent flapjack, very reasonable price, very nice people. Then, off in to twilight's last gleaming.

Friday Bridge positively required a photo op, and got one. Another loo stop in Wisbech- thankfully no repeat of earlier faff- and then onward to Clenchwarton. There, Nick knowing I never knowingly choose a boat trip over perfectly good roads, I had been deputised to lead Team Bikes Not Suitable For A Tiny Ferry (tandem and recumbents) route via the nearest bridge. I'd already loaded the alternate route. A couple of little niggles- I decided to take the more direct route instead of following the others onto Ferry Road as intended, then we missed the turn off Clenchwarton Road onto, er, Clenchwarton Road (hence probable GPS confusion), for the bridge, but no harm done. As @srw has posted, the last stretch was most pleasant, and unlike most of the others we found the back gate into Wetherspoons open (credit due to @fuboab, good to see you again BTW). Hence we ended up at the back when most of the ride was at the front…106.3 miles done.

After many calories, round with multiple others for the 1013 train south. Bike tetris won by Kim, who found a perfectly Baron-shaped niche. If the train was into Kings Cross on time and I made reasonable progress, the one-an-hour (for strike days) fast train home was within reach. It wasn't on time, and it wasn't in reach. So the slow service from Waterloo at 1245 it was, which at least stopped at the nearest station to home. Back just before two, and after one last errand, a nap....

Great work @Nick Saddlesore @robjh and @LucretiaMyReflection and thanks everyone else.

Brighton in a fortnight? Of course. Day off, so might well make a very long day of it…
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Bike tetris won by Kim, who found a perfectly Baron-shaped niche.

I was quite pleased with that: The bike fitted neatly in the space opposite the reveal-a-door toilet (better than most bikes do, on account of the narrow handlebars), but realising that I needed extra space for my knees if I were to occupy the traditional "is somebody in there?" seat, I undid the rearmost straps on the rack bag and slid the back of the bike neatly under the table, with half the rack bag resting above.

The Mordor Central-Stansted CrossCountry service has a bit more room but a lot more luggage/prams/etc, so it tends to be a game of Sokoban rather than Tetris. I've developed a kind of Teacher Voice for politely but sternly persuading people that if *you* stand in the vestibule for a moment, and *she* moves her luggage, then I can get the bike up *there* out of the way, and there'll be room to get *his* wheelchair in properly, before putting the luggage back in front of the bike, which is fine because I'm not getting off until Birmingham...


Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Kerthunk kerthunk kerthunk. Kerthunk kerthunk. This road surface is horrible, isn't it?
Yes. It's worth avoiding entirely unless you are going to Welney (not Walney), using Ten Mile Bank and Lynn Road instead.

Thank goodness we've just passed Norfolk's only streetlight which casts a white light over the whole road.
The ones on part of local cycle route 6 are so bright you don't really need lights (which is fortunate given some of the riders don't) but there seems to be an idea in some places that it's not a village if it's got streetlights.

Soloists - you may have had the glamour of landing craft to dock you in the King's port, but you missed what might well be the best approach to the town, from the south along the dyke protecting the land from the Great Ouse trying to create an estuary.
Yes, they did miss the best view IMO - it's tough to choose between that and the Sandringham/Walks route as the best entry. And the ferry, much as I love it but wish it had ramps, doesn't dock at the King's port, which I think was some metres south, at what's now King Staithe Square.

Glad you all enjoyed our humble town! Meanwhile, we enjoyed Spalding on Saturday ;)
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