Top speed: 67.90km/h
Cycling time: 07:47:16
This should have been written yesterday, but I was pretty worn out from the ride and spent most of the evening drifting in and out of sleep on the sofa after a long soak in the bath, eventually waking up at midnight to the stark reality that I hadn’t yet got anything ready for work the next day, and my alarm would be going off at 05:15…
The ride was fantastic in just about every way, and it made a nice change to have someone to share it with. I really enjoy riding alone and just taking in all the scenery and spending time with my thoughts, but I whenever I turn a corner to find an amazing view, or pass through a picturesque village, I always think it would be nice to be able to share it.
By my standards (anything before 09:00 is prehistoric) it was an early start to the day, and I left the house at about 06:45 in order to make it to the start point of the ride, Nettleham High Street, for 07:00. I pulled up outside Bret’s right on time, and his mother said ‘You’ll kill him!’. I assured her this wasn’t my intention, but was well aware it was a distinct possibility.
We set off towards towards Scothern at a leisurely pace. The sun had been up for a good 40 minutes, and was starting to break through some thin cloud. The slight valley between Lincoln and the western edge of the Wolds was filled with patches of mist, which made for a nice fresh start to the day.
It wasn’t long before The Warmth Of The Sun (name that band) burned away the last of the mist, and we found ourselves facing our first climb up into the Wolds from South Willingham, up to Caistor High Street then down to Donington on Bain, followed by another climb to the Bluestone Heath Road (BHR). I like to attack hills, and have got used to them after this year’s riding, and I surprised Bret with the speed I climbed this one. It was nice to see that all the riding I’ve done recently has actually made a difference, and I can definitely remember even tiny hills being an effort in the past.
When we arrived at the BHR we were only five miles from Louth. This was the closest we’d get for a good few hours, and we headed off south-west along the top of the Wolds towards Spislby. The views both east and west were fantastic, and it made us both realise what a stunningly beautiful county Lincolnshire can be (in places…).
We dropped down off the Wolds at Tetford Wood, and followed some fairly flat, winding lanes through Aswardby, Sausthorpe, Raithby and Hundleby, before reaching Spislby. We stopped at a cafe in the town centre for a brew and bacon butty, before popping into a nearby shop for some liquids.
There was an unsigned petition on the counter, started by the parents of Ryan Smith, a 16 year old from Chapel St. Leonards who was recently knocked off his bike and is now in a coma in hospital. The petition is aimed at promoting the use of cycle helmets, as Ryan wasn’t wearing one when he was hit. We both signed.
Setting off from Spilsby after a half-hour rest, we headed towards Alford along more quiet, undulating roads. Having spent the majority of the ride on the western edge of the Wolds, we’d now crossed along the southern end and began heading back up along the eastern side towards Louth. The road all the way up to Little Cawthorpe was yet another tiny, middle-of-nowhere lane, and we hardly saw any traffic the whole way, arriving in Louth at around 12:30 at the 111km mark for a well earned pit-stop.
Mum had prepared the perfect carb-heavy cyclist’s lunch, and we stuffed ourselves with a delicious ricotta and vegetable pasta dish, some olive and red onion bread, and a big leafy salad.
We set off from Louth at around 13:30, climbing back up into the Wolds, initially along a short section of the A157 – far from ideal, but hard to avoid. We turned off as quickly as we could, starting one of the nicest sections of the whole ride. A tiny single track road too us up to the A631, followed by a long, gradual descent to Hatcliffe, which sits in a valley created by Waithe Beck.
From here there was a short, sharp climb up to Beelsby, and some more ups and downs through to Thoresway, which sits at the start of the most challenging climb of the whole ride. But this point we’d ridden just under 140km, and it took a huge effort to climb to the highest point in the Lincolnshire Wolds in just a few kilometers. It was well worth the effort though – we found a National Cycle Network sign at the top, and were then rewarded with a breathtaking downhill into Walesby. I set a new top speed on this section, reaching a slightly scary 67.90km/h! There was a slight headwind, so I’m sure I could have passed 70km/h if the conditions had been right…
After Market Rasen we were down to our final 25km or so, and before long I finally hit the magic 161km (100 mile) mark at Wickenby Wood, stopping to take a fairly pointless photo of the bike computer! 6km later (I’d done a little further as I’d set off from Lincoln) Bret reached 161, and celebrated in style, leaping off his bike, throwing down his cycling glasses and cartwheeling along the road to the cheers of an imaginary crowd. He was genuinely over the moon to have achieved a century ride, and it was a great moment! Fortunately, despite all the excitement, I remembered to get him to hold his bike aloft for the obligatory ‘I’ve just ridden 100 miles’ photo…
A few kilometers down the road we finally arrived back in Nettleham, thoroughly worn out, but happy at having achieved what we’d set out to do. Bret bought me a pint and a Mars Bar at the pub, before I rode a very weary 6km back home.
In need of a good soak in the bath, and armed with the knowledge that I had no bubble bath at home, I stopped off at the petrol station on Riseholme Road for a bottle. I leaned by bike up against the wall outside and clip-clopped into the shop on my cleats, dressed head to toe in Lyrca, cycling glasses, and a cycle helmet.
After picking up a bottle of Radox I headed over to the till. Considering my attire, the question I was greeted with struck me as somewhat odd.
This was followed by a rather embarrassed look as it dawned on the poor cashier’s face what she’d just asked. I left the shop, climbed onto my bike, and somehow resisted the temptation to kick start it before I left.