Throughout this trip I've been staying in a combination of Premier Inn hotels, Airbnb's and with some friends. Last nights Airbnb, masquerading as a boutique hotel, was the first night I have slept badly and started the day tired. The bed was so small that even sleeping diagonally I was touching both the head and footboards simultaneously. The bed was positively massive compared to the bathroom which was so cramped I could only go to the toilet sitting sideways with one foot up on a bin. Don't try to imagine this as it will put you off your next meal and possibly give you nightmares.
This morning I thought I'd cheer myself with a nice breakfast, but was charged £18 for poached egg and avocado on toast with a coffee: do I look like I come from London? I know, I sound like an old man.
Still I can be confident that the only thing that will stick in mind about today when I recall it in the future will be that my younger daughter Caroline chose to ride with me for the day. The route itself was instantly forgettable. Not that it was terrible, just that it was flat and pretty easy. As easy as 84km can be a week into a ride. But the company was not forgettable and I make no apologies for being a soppy Dad. As it's my blog and only three men and a dog are reading it, I can allow myself the indulgence of being soppy about my kids.
This morning when I turned up to collect Caroline she declared that she had decided to ride the whole way with me today because she wanted to see her brother at the end of the ride (I'm staying with him overnight in Chelmsford). This came as a huge surprise given that she rarely rides more than 10km and only once ridden 90km. I had mentioned the idea of riding together at dinner last night, but thought I'd get her to ride as far as the edge of the city. But like her mum, she loves a challenge. I was delighted we would get to share the day together on bikes. We haven't done that since we rode together on a holiday in San Francisco five years ago when we had to get a ferry back to city because she couldn't go any further. She's a different woman today though and coped with the whole ride brilliantly. So much so that couldn't believe me when we stopped at 60km for a drink and I told her there was only an hour left.
Today's route was supposed to start with an easy 10km on more of Cambridge's segregated cycle lanes, but within 800m Caroline had a near miss when a woman riding the other way clipped her coming around a blind corner. The other woman was cycling in the middle of the lane and panicked when she came around the corner hitting Caroline's right arm with her handlebars. Caroline stayed upright but will have a nasty bruise to show off tomorrow. I half thought she would give up but she's obviously cut from her mother's cloth rather than her father's.
Once out of the cycle lanes we seemed to spend the next two hours riding only through farm land and tiny hamlets and villages. I honestly can't recall any of it. There were a couple of climbs, the usual Garmin misdirections but nothing memorable - other than the company. I've always considered myself fortunate that my wife shares my passion for cycling and to have my children ride with me too is really special. The fact my family are so supportive of my adventures really is amazing. I can easily imagine other families where at best there is disinterest in Dad's hobby or disdain at worst. So I truly treasure the time I have with them.
The only cycling point of note today was that I reached 833km and 8,881m of climbing so far. That means I've climbed over the height of Everest, which is a nice little milestone.
Tomorrow is going to be a much tougher test. It should be 135km and 1,000 meters of climbing, but based on Komoot's accuracy to date, both of those numbers will be short. In any case the tough part of tomorrow will be navigating across the whole of London where my Garmin will really have chance mess with me. After that I just have to climb over the Sussex downs to collect some more points in the one-man King of the Mountains competition I imagine myself in. Time to stretch.....for the cold beer my eldest son Danny has just poured me.
*correction - today was National Hedge Trimming day apparently, based on the sheer numbers of blokes out this morning with with bloody great big clippers