There being no porridge oats left for breakfast, I ate 3 tasteless rolls left from Earls Barton, with the last of my peanut butter. It was satisfying to be using up ‘bits’ on this last day of the trip. I packed a malt loaf, that had been with me since Wales, in my jersey pocket for lunch. My friend arrived and we loaded the trailer and gear into his car. Raisin jumped in too, and would not be moved.
Whilst they headed off for Bury and broccoli stalls on the market, I rode south from Horningsea and soon picked up the cycle paths and quiet lanes of Route 51. The going was flat and easy, with a tailwind, and the villages, including Swaffham Prior with its round church tower, sped past. I saw napped flint walls for the first time since leaving Wales – a familiar sight in Suffolk, and fields of sugar beet.
The flatlands stopped around Burwell, with gentle undulations to Newmarket, where the wind pushed me up the long drag out of town over the gallops, and past the opulent gates and high hedges of its stud farms. I stopped at the medieval packhorse bridge in Moulton for a photo, and the suprising ease of pushing my bike, without the trailer, into position made me laugh out loud. Whilst there, a friend whose jazz octet I had left last year, before my ride to Aberdeen, rang. She had heard I was playing my trombone again and did I want to rejoin the band. I said yes.
After Moulton it was positively hilly. Anybody who tries to tell you Suffolk is flat, is thinking of Norfolk. The 33 miles I rode today had more feet of climbing than any of the other rides on the trip – by some margin. It would have been very hard with the trailer, but unencumbered as I was, and with the tailwind, it was pure joy. These were proper concentrate-and-push-hard hills, followed by swooping decents, on well-surfaced, quiet roads. Good hills.
Six miles from home, at Barrow, I spotted an old dog walking acquaintance, Meryl, who moved to the village a couple of years ago with her chihuahua Petra. “Hello love” she said when I pulled up beside them on the green, “you haven’t cycled all the way from Bury have you?” She asked abut the bats and I explained that I had to give up rescuing them because of my mealworm allergy, which reminded me that I still haven’t decided what to do with my life instead.
Walking the bike past the market, this being Wednesday, and down Abbeygate Street in Bury felt a little emotional. Home again. Decisions to make again: what to do next with my one precious life. Apart from trombone practice, and choir practice tomorrow.
Raisin greeted me in our little garden as if she hadn’t seen me for 3 weeks, not 3 hours. Friends brought cake, flowers, good wishes and welcome card with a painting highlighting elements of the trip. Nice to be reminded on the earwig incident (not).
We had a lovely time but it’s good to be home. Thanks for the support via emails, phone calls, texts, comments and ‘likes’. In life and in cycling, Raisin and I wish you tailwinds. And good hills x