I am still drafting this blog
Arriving home from work at 5:30 I had planned to have 2 or 3 hours sleep before starting this ride. However, this did not happen, which is becoming a bit of a trend. I also realised that if I waited until 9 or 10 o’clock which was my original intention it would be very unlikely that I would start this ride. I had already packed the bike and charged up my lights, power pack and Wahoo Bolt so I was ready to go.
Setting off from home is actually really nice and knowing now when I finish the ride, I will be back at home make life easier, this is something I can get use to. The initial leg which took me from Stoke on Trent to Donington services is mainly downhill and for the most part quite pleasant, which surprised me as I had not cycled most of the roads before. I would definitely consider using these roads again especially between Uttoxeter and Kings Newton.
At Swarkestone there’s a lovely old stone bridge which crosses the river and leads onto a raised narrow road which continues across the flood plain I would imagine that there are some amazing photos to be had here but I was too busy competing with the cars. The last mile to Donington services is very heavy with traffic especially delivery vans and lorries going to and from the terminal. Also, the last roundabout which takes you onto Donington services is very fast and potentially dangerous if you get caught out. However, the services are just on the other side of the hedgerow and you can follow the grass verge around into the services and thereby bypassing the roundabout. (Greggs at the petrol station only serves cold food.)
The section between Donington Services and Stamford was completed in the dark but the roads where nice and the climbs were generally short. Along the way are some lovely stone houses and bridges. I stopped Texaco petrol station at Ockham for a meal deal and a small milk. Not the nicest of places but needs must. It was not long before I was accosted by two drink ladies and their partners. They were using my flashing lights as disco lights, I learned a long time ago to just go with it! They ask why I was riding at night and I said I was heading for Boston for breakfast. One asked if I was going to cycle across the sea and the other said that is two hours in the car. Then followed the usual questions but this time they want selfies. I had already started to make my escape than one of the ladies face-timed her friends and they waved me off…. only on an Audax!
Arriving at Stamford, there was a very different feel, much more light and much more money. Even the 24hr petrol station was open to customers! Sitting having a few minutes change this. Three teenage lads, very possibly still at school were walking down the street and one of them had, what looked like a scaffolding bar and was using it has a baseball bat. To be honest, I was not concerned with this, I have worked in an inner-city school! I was more concerned with the way they entered the petrol station. I initially through they were going to cause issues but they walked out with their purchases and continued down the road hitting things.
I was glad to get back on the road for the solitude and quietness! Stamford represented the descent into the Fens and the flat stage to Boston. It was still dark so it was hard to see the landscape. However, I did see an animal which looked like a baby dear, I did not realise that there were deer this high up. I did take a few photos along this stage but it was still too dark.
This overnight ride has been full of surprises even more surprising was the two security officer at McD’s. I thought I was in the middle of London or Manchester! I was politely told that I had to leave my bike outside, explained that I had just cycled from Stoke-on-Trent and I wanted to bring my bike in so that it was safe, no, it needs to stay outside. They did compromise by standing outside having a cigarette and chat watching my bike for me, which I had locked to the fence. The positive so far is that the cars do actually moved over into the other lane when they overtook, this was a new experience!
I was three hours in hand so I took 40minutes at McD’s before heading off to Lincoln. On the way out of Boston, I stopped to take photographs of St Botolph’s Church in the town center. It was during this stage that I realised that the Fens were not actually flat, between Boston and Lincoln the flat roads were actually very slightly inclined. This does make sense as I was climbing from sea level to Lincoln. This section reminded me of a moor but with rivers which had carved out straight river beds. To be honest, I was not inspired. On the overhand, I did see a Mink’s and a couple of white (barn) owls.
Arriving at Lincoln was another disappointment, but this was my own fault as I purposefully avoided going into the town center. Rather I stopped at a petrol station which had a Subway. Second breakfast! This also represented a major milestone in the ride as I was now heading home which was about 100miles away.
As I progressed I came across a local community event selling cakes and drinks but no cash which I found disappointing, maybe I was craving other people after cycling alone. Instead, I settle for a random cafe further up the road which accepted a bank card. They did a lovely sausage roll and a cup of tea, unfortunately, my stomach spent the rest of the ride trying to digest it! This resulted in stoping at small shops to buy milk to reduce the stomach acid feeling.
Arriving back at Donington was a welcome relief. I think I just became bored with the roads and fed up the stomach acid. A cup of tea, fizzy pop and a sandwich from Greggs in the petrol station and siting the afternoon sun was nice and I started to feel positive again. It is strange how little things can switch you off (stomach acid) and one (a cup of tea)! Only 40miles to home.
….. last section and conclusion