Dan had found yesterday tough and fell ill overnight, so today it was just Chris and I. After an extremely comfortable stay in Wolferton (near King’s Lynn), a long breakfast, and the realisation that Dan wasn’t going to be making it, it was 11am before we set off. It would be tricky to make London before dark starting this late, but more importantly, the forecast had an ominous detail – a strong southerly wind. As we were due to travel pretty much directly south, across the open and windswept Fenland, this was not a good thing.
So it proved to be – once we entered the vast and flat area south of King’s Lynn, much of it at or below sea level, the headwind was tough to bear. Despite trying hard, our pace was around half of yesterday’s blistering performance. It was a struggle to get to Downham Market, another struggle to get to Ely (where we stopped for calzones in a restaurant with a great view of the cathedral), and a struggle to get to Cambridge – everytime the road swung south, we felt the full force of the wind and it felt like we were almost going backwards.
At Cambridge, it started to rain, and it was 6pm – not looking good. We had gone around 95km by this stage, but it felt like we had done 150km, thanks to the headwind. So we decided to call it a day – but to shorten the second part of the stage (which I’m hoping to do tomorrow) we went a further 15km south, passing the ‘DNA tiles’ sculpture that is more than a kilometre long and is quite a sight on a cycle path. Ironically, the wind died away, the rain never really got going, and I felt pretty good, with plenty of energy, but we were hurting after battling our way down, and the train into London was a welcome sight.
Today was 117.5km, in 5h43 moving time, and 3h45 breaks – an average speed of 20.5kph, which was way down on yesterday’s but still higher than I was expecting. The distance includes a “bonus” 7km home from the station in London.
Tomorrow, the final section is from near Cambridge, down through the Lea Valley and into London. As I have the whole day to do this short (80km) section, I will hopefully finish with a cycle down The Mall – unless the forecast rain has sapped all my energy and I just stop at the house!