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100 miles on the penny farthing in a day challenge

Peter had always wanted to challenge himself to cycling 100 miles in one day on a penny farthing.  Some months ago, the plan was born, nurtured and then – fully formed – was released into the Peter world.

Having selected the month and day with great care (June: it’s summer, avoid the England match and avoid the day my fourth grandchild would be putting in an appearance) we settled on 15th.  We will have glorious weather, we said.  We will need suncream, we opined.  We will get tans, we bragged.  What if it’s too hot, we worried.  Foolish us.

A group of ten of us left the Friston Chequers at 7.30am and we did, indeed, enjoy mild weather for the first couple of hours.  From that point, without wishing to sound like a meteorological boffin, we experienced a range of bizarre weather conditions.  It rained, it thundered, it hailed (really hard, pinging the flesh hard!), the sun came out, the roads steamed, we steamed, it rained again.  There was wind of King Lear proportions, there was thunder and more rain which would have shamed at least one of the three witches in Macbeth.  OK - you get the gist.

The first section of the ride went well, but we were met with our first crushing disappointment at our café stop in Henstead.  The thought of their waffles, granola and fruit had sustained us for 26 miles but they weren’t serving this today.  Stoically, we ate eggs proving our flexibility both gastronomically and in the face of adversity.

A shout out to our friend, Howard, who drove to Henstead to bid us a cheery hello, as is his wont, and to take some of the photos in this article. 

From Henstead, onto Loddon and to Rosy Lee’s tea shop, just in time to take shelter from the torrential rain.  The owner of the tea shop (you can see from one of the photos that she had a penny farthing in the window) handed out water bottles to warm us up.  Yes, that’s how cold it was.

Apart from a brief, but necessary shelter in the Tesco awnings in Beccles (and brief is probably all one wants in a Tesco awning), we cycled home without a break.  Fish and chips, beer/wine/water and that was the day done.

I want to thank the additional riders: Dom (get your bike fixed!), Gary and Jackie and, of course, Alan – who did the whole ride – and say a big congratulations to Teresa who, despite some reservations, cycled the distance on her single speed bike.  Huge kudos and respect to Mark and Nikki both of whom, I think it’s fair to say, were woefully under-trained for the 100 miles but both of whom completed it in more or less one piece.

And, of course, the biggest kudos must go to Peter who, despite cramping up at mile 55, finished the ride with his customary beam.  And, although the cramp made it faintly amusing to see him stand up and sit down, that was probably just the devil in me.

Peter continues to be the embodiment of living well and to challenge himself.  As Andy Gray once said “take a bow, son” (a useless reference for those for whom football means nothing) but that’s what Peter should do (if the cramp in his thighs permit him to do so.) 

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