On yer bike – for the YMCA…

You may remember that last year I took part in Tour de Y, a charity bike ride from Lake Windermere to London in aid of YMCA. This year, I’m excited to be able to support YMCA again (and I’m looking forward to meeting up with some of the fantastic people I met last year).

At the end of May, I did Tour de Y Norfolk, a small-scale 100 mile event with some of the same people who took part in last year’s event.

Kev Dynes from YMCA Norfolk organised the event route, which headed from Norwich to Great Yarmouth and then followed the coast around to Cley next the Sea before heading back to Norwich.

Tour de Y Norfolk route

I was a little concerned about the event as I’ve not been able to do as much cycling as I’d like this year and my longest ride before this was 50 miles with Roelie and Teri. I figured that as long as I kept myself fuelled and went at a steady pace then I’d be fine. I was also hoping that it wouldn’t be too slow for Stuart who has done lots of long (and fast!) rides in preparation for his Ironman.

Unfortunately, the event started before breakfast was served at our hotel, so we popped out to Greggs for something to eat before going over to meet Kev and Joe at the YMCA accommodation, which was just around the corner. As we were leaving the hotel, we were approached by another cyclist, who asked whether we were doing the YMCA ride – I guess my jersey was a bit of a clue!

I knew Kev had hoped to keep the event quite small, but I was surprised to find that there were only 9 of us… and I was the only woman.

Start of Tour de Y Norfolk
Before the start of the ride – I’m the small one in the centre with the SOAS kit and YMCA jersey. Graham is on my right; Stuart is on my left in yellow and Kev is next to him in the YMCA jersey.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the route. Everyone says that Norfolk is flat, so I wasn’t expecting to have an enormous climb straight out of Norwich. I had started at the front of the group and quickly lost ground on the hill as I need a really good warm up to get going. Luckily, Graham and Kev were true gents, so they stayed back and chatted to me.

Tour de Y Norfolk selfie
One of Kev’s many selfies – I think I was focussed on keeping moving at that point!
Half way to Great Yarmouth
This was half way to Great Yarmouth. I’m on the left, Graham is in the centre and Stu is on the right © Kevin Dynes

The first break was at a YMCA centre in Great Yarmouth. The staff there were very friendly and welcoming and they provided a great spread of fruit, biscuits, flapjacks, hot drinks and other snacks. I knew I hadn’t drunk enough on the first part of the journey, so I did the best I could to drink more whilst I was there.

Tour de Y first stop
Filling up at Great Yarmouth © Kevin Dynes

The second leg took us to the sea-side and the Kingfisher Cafe in Wallcott. By the time that Stuart and I got there, everyone was already tucking into sandwiches, pasta pots and various sweet treats. Joe had remembered that I preferred to have peanut butter rolls than most shop-bought sandwiches, so he had bought a multipack of rolls and a pot of PB just for me – thank you, Joe! After a couple of rolls and a warming cup of tea, I felt much better.

Walcot stop

Knowing that I was slower than the rest of the group, as soon as I had eaten, I asked Kev whether it was OK for me to set off again. That way I managed to get a slight head start, in the hope that the group wouldn’t have to wait too long for me at the third rest stop. It didn’t take them long to catch up with Stu and I. We were passed on a hill where I almost dropped my chain. Unfortunately, I had a moment of panic and ended up stopping as I didn’t want to crash.

As well as some ‘undulations’, I was also surprised by the strength of the wind during this ride. I guess I should have thought about picture postcard images of Norfolk:

Norfolk windmills
Norfolk windmills

There’s a reason why there are so many windmills here!

We travelled through some lovely little towns, but some of them really don’t cope well with sunny weekend traffic and were thoroughly blocked with traffic. I was glad that we were on bikes and could bypass most of the queues.I  wish I had taken some photos as the scenery was lovely.

The third leg of the ride ended at a lovely little YMCA shop that was tucked away in Holt. There was enough time for a comfort break and another peanut butter roll before we set off on the final stretch. I had found the third leg tough, whereas I found thsi section much easier. Perhaps it was because we didn’t have such strong winds, although I suspect that it was the feeling of relief that I knew I would be able to finish!

Kev and Joe in Holt

Finally, we regrouped just outside of Norwich, so that we could have a triumphant group finish. I was feeling a little tired, but pleased that I had completed the distance. I hoped that no-one minded that I had been the slowest in the group – if they did mind, no-one said 🙂

I had had a truly lovely day. Not only had I cycled with friends, but I also knew that I was supporting a great cause. My only frustration was that although I had followed the route on my Garmin, I had failed to record my progress, so I don’t have any Garmin evidence that I did it 🙁

If you’d like to sponsor me, please visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/TourdeYMCAN16


Oli is currently doing research into event photography. If you’d like to help with Oli’s research, please complete his short survey.

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