The forecast for Saturday was looking good, despite being sandwiched between days of heavy rain there was a big yellow sunshine symbol sitting at the start of the weekend. Having knocked out a 60 mile loop of Belvoir the previous week Jon had made the suggestion of getting a decent 100 mile ride in before the end of Summer. I happily agreed on the condition that we end up cycling to the coast, I like the idea of cycling so far that the road runs out.
With no parental responsibility for the day I met Jon in Nottingham just after 08:00 for the first of many coffee stops. There was a wintry chill in the air and I was glad to have packed an extra layer though I still had numb fingers and chattering teeth for the first hour.
We spent a small fortune on bars and gels from Freewheel before heading up to Newark, a stop off at Bleasby gave chance to snap the icicles off my nose and steal Jon’ s spare clothes. Neither of us had pedalled 100 miles before so we adopted the strategy of taking things slow, eating lots, drinking lots and generally being a bit lazy.
By the time we dropped down to Orston the sun was doing its job nicely and it felt more like a summers day, as the morning progressed more and more cyclists dotted around the vale. Just before noon, some noodle in a Ferarri shot past us and made the road smell like burning oil.
A snail like climb out of Woolsthorpe led us into Denton and Little Ponton. By chance we met a pair of cyclists who were doing the reverse of our route from Boston to Nottingham, they kindly donated some photocopies of their maps and pointed us in the direction of a secluded valley that took us to Boothby Pagnell.
As we reached 50 miles we were treated to long stretches of narrow but desolate lanes, the odd climb threw a bit of work in but the relaxed pace gave a constant sense that we’d been riding for just half an hour.
We stopped in the village of Folkingham which much to my endless delight is pronounced Fuckingham. A twee little tea room which had more than a passing resemblance to the one from ‘Withnail and I’ gave us the chance to enjoy the classic combination of lycra and cream tea.
At Billingborough we took a turn onto a lane that crosses the fen to Gosberton, here the roads are essentially channels that separate the surrounding damp marsh. We cycled for 20 minutes in a straight line and passed no other vehicle.
At Gosberton we were just under 80 miles and heading straight to Boston would have left us about 15 miles short of the target. we elected to make up the remainder by heading out to The Wash amongst the empty zig zag lanes to the east of the A16. I got my wish fulfilled of riding along a road that simply ends because the land runs out.
As the sun sank out of the sky it took the warmth with it, this gave us a good excuse to pelt it during the last stretch to Boston and we kept it over 20mph, though we were partially aided by a dog that chased us.
Neither of us had been to Boston before and whilst we weren’t expecting a heroes welcome at Champs Elysees it was a bit of a shock to the system. I’ve spent many a night turning the pages of ‘The Wild Places’ by Robert Macfarlane, a celebration of the last remaining wildernesses of Great Britain. The book describes all manner of remote places, many of them inhospitable, largely inaccessible and void of civilisation. He should have done a chapter on Boston. Everyone was drinking Special Brew and looked like they wanted to stab us.
We did by some stroke of luck manage to find a decent pub near the train station where we met some lovely pissed locals who did Boston proud by giving us drinks on the house and chatted away until the Skegness train whisked us back to Nottingham where we were collected by the delightful Majella who ferried us on to another pub.
Our first 100 miler had been surprisingly manageable, the tactic of holding back and constantly fuelling worked a treat, obviously this sets the stage for a 150 miler in the next month…..not to Boston though.