April BaM (Bivvy-a-Month) — Fenlandia — flat-flat-flat and win-dee! Nettles everywhere. Moonlit all the way. Plus 32 Explorer Squares bagged
[Note: this is a rewrite of my Strava post; the date has been changed to reflect the ride date; posted 28 April 2018.]
I had a large chunk of the map empty around the fens between the A10, Wicken and Lode, so I plotted a route to bag a load. As the route took shape, I kept adding in outliers, since I'd be just down the road on my mountain bike, and it became a bit of a monster.
I started off quite late, packed as if going to Wales for three days (more or less). A strong tailwind blew me all the way to the north of the course, but then I had to winch home again. It was a three-quarter-moonlit night with clear skies, so I had plenty of light to see by, coupled with my meagre, but still very useful, £12 bike light.
I had planned on bivvying (BaM = bivvy-a-month) at about 75km, but slow going through huuuuge patches of nettles and having to walk across fields that were coated in a thick layer of really fine black sand, and lots of diversions around bird-nesting areas, meant I bivvied sooner distance-wise, but much later time-wise, at White Fen near Lode.
At one point the mud and sand choked up the V-brake on the back wheel and the only thing I could do was release the brake for the rest of the ride (about 50km) — I even washed the entire wheel and brakes at Wicken Fen, but I just couldn't get everything clean enough for the wheel to rotate without grinding — my rims are very clean now, but also noticeably thinner! Hmm, possibly time to switch to disc brakes and retire my 22-year-old classic full-susser …
I was trying out my new, down sleeping bag — it's MUCH warmer than my old synthetic one, and yet weighs less I was also testing a fancy and somewhat expensive new pillow, which is super comfy, and super easy to pack compared to the old cheap ones I was used to using.
As I'd Hunka'ed down quite a bit later than I had hoped, I was woken to people riding past shouting out a cheery "morning!" Nothing in Fenlandia is particularly remote, although I was surprised that this bit of the map was quite so popular, as it's bounded by the River Cam, and so thru-destinations are limited.
I managed to forget any cutlery, so when I boiled up some noodles, I had to eat them with a piece of tin foil shaped into a spoon
Fenlandia is unbelievably flat — my Garmin recorded less than 293m climbed in 93km, so about 3m per kilometre — Strava rounded the numbers and gave just over half that!!
I had planned on bagging a few more Explorer Squares and that's why the route seemed to enter a lot of dead-ends and the like. At various points I had to walk off up footpaths for a few hundred metres and then walk back again, just for fun (and to definitively get inside the square). I think that was 32 Explorer Squares bagged — that should take my big square from 10 to 13