Farewell, goodbye, safe travels… This was our absolute final farewell to Len and Pauline, Steve’s parents, as they headed towards Manchester and then their flight home to Tassie. It’s been wonderful to have been able to catch up with them three times now, in three different countries – France, Scotland and England. We have rendezvoused in Paris, Edinburgh and…Swineshead! Well, the last location may not be in quite the same league as the first two, but the village of Swineshead, near Boston, was a nice enough little place! After saying our goodbyes, we pedalled off south and Len and Pauline hit the road, drove past us for a final wave and then we were all off in different directions to our respective destinations.
The sun shone! I was in a t-shirt early on in the ride and was able to ride like that all day. FANTABULOUS!! We had a little bit of busy road riding, but for the most part we were on quiet back roads, with long, open fields either side of us. This was lovely for the scenery, but the downside was the wind. It did blow on us quite fiercely, with nothing but open space all around us. It was bearable though and just gave the legs a little extra work to do.
About 20km into the ride, we hit a slight glitch when Steve broke a spoke. We stopped for elevenses on a bench beside the road near Holbeach St. Matthew and Steve had a look at the wheel. It wasn’t going to be a quick fix and it was going to need a bike shop. We continued on, hoping it would hold out until we could reach a biggish town with a bike shop to get some replacements.
Oh, it was during elevenses that we had another problem arise…we ran out of Vegemite! Disaster! We’d found Vegemite in just a regular ol’ Tesco supermarket some time ago and have been using it sparingly. Well, when I say sparingly, I mean every so often so it would last, because I don’t use it sparingly when I spread it. I spread Vegemite like most people would spread butter or jam or peanut butter. I pile that thick, edible tar like substance, an inch thick on my rice cakes! Today, after Steve had some on his bread and I scraped the last of it onto my rice cakes, that was it! It was gone! We will be through the door of the next Tesco we come across and hoping this good ol’ Aussie icon is on the shelf in all stores!
Suitably fuelled up on yeast and salt, thanks to the final scraping of Vegemite, we pedalled off. Incidentally, am I the only one who finds Vegemite sweet? I think it’s more sweet than salty. Must be my weird palate perhaps! On we went, along the back roads and even with the wind, it felt like a leisurely ride. Then…ROOOOAAAARRRR…ROOOOAAARRRRR…RRRROOOOAAARRRR… we had this noise come up behind us a few times during the ride. Pea harvesters! On narrow country roads, having an enormous great pea harvester, or a huge tractor pulling a huge trailer full of peas, was a little disconcerting! We pulled over each time to let them pass, but there wasn’t much room between us and them!
We stopped for lunch in a “something” beside a country road. I say “something” because we weren’t quite sure what it was, other than a big open green space. It had brick pillars around the edge, so it must have had a fence at one time, but we couldn’t work out quite what it was or what it would be used for, because it was almost in the middle of nowhere. It was nicely looked after though. We sat under a tree and had lunch and then off we went again.
We rode towards March, where Steve had located a bike shop that would provide him with new spokes. We ended up on the NCN Route #63 and were following it, until it took us off the main road and along a bumpy farm track. That was OK, it was just some grass and some holes, but we’ve had that plenty of times before. Then we approached a route marker, pointing to Route 63 up an even narrower track. We started up it, then decided this bike-width track, surrounded by bushes and stinging nettles was not the optimum route for us! We decided to go back and take our chances on the main road. We had some zipping and zooming traffic and trucks beside us for a while and the only slight hazard we encountered came from a police officer! As we rode into March, two unmarked police cars, with lights flashing and sirens blaring, came speeding along towards us. Then, they began to overtake cars in their haste to get to the emergency they were obviously attending. The only trouble was, we were on the other side of the road, that they were now driving on. They came towards us and then swerved back into their lane, just before they collided with the two Tasmanian cyclists. One of them gave us a wave, as if to say ‘thanks’ or ‘sorry’ as he swung the speeding car back into the left lane. I’m so glad they have tactical driving skills and 20/20 vision, so they could see us and dodge us at the last minute!
We found the bike shop in March, pulled over to the side of the street, Steve unloaded the bike and dismantled it to take the wheel off, then went in to find his spokes. As I waited outside I noticed how many cyclists there were. They were everywhere, which was great because they were every age, shape and size. From young fellas on their road bikes, to elderly people with their bikes and baskets, dozens of people were riding the streets of the town. Terrific! Steve returned, put his bike back together, then we popped into Sainsbury’s to pick up something for supper, then pedalled off to find our pit stop campsite.
We are camping in Wimblington, in a small but very busy little family run site. I have a horse in a paddock beside me and when I checked us in, I was roundly jumped upon and licked by the owners’ little dog. So at least I’ve had some animal company. We rode 74km today and what a difference the sun makes! It’s not our longest ride, but it’s one of the longer ones we’ve done and I felt relaxed the whole way. I wasn’t worried about arriving late, or getting through the distance, it was just a nice leisurely ride in the sunshine. Sun really does lift the mood!
Another terrific day. I chatted to some locals again along the way, we had sunshine and warmth and scenery. Oh, we also passed another solar farm, which I think just shows how Britain manages to thumb her nose at the inclement weather and decide to harness the sun no matter what! We really could learn a thing or two from these people, we really could!
So, tomorrow is another day on this adventure, off we ride into another chapter of our story!