Tired of trains and cars, Noel Hernandez explores seaside villages with a battered city bike
Whoever said Norfolk was quite flat hasn't ever cycled between Weybourne and Sheringham. Obviously. That stretch of road is not precisely the Alps, but - after a lavish lunch of smoked salmon and prawns, washed down with two pints of Nelson's Revenge at nearby Cley-next-Sea - it may as well be.
These are my thoughts whilst I'm pedalling my way up the steepest hill I've found during my cycling trip to North Norfolk - with a piercing pain on my stomach and a lump of thick saliva in my mouth. Surely this is the most physically demanding part of my journey, but not the worst.
The worst bits always come when a car overtakes and passes at just two inches of your right arm - I thought the streets of London were bad but give me them instead of country roads any day.
But let's start from the beginning: day one, the train to Sheringham. After arriving from Norwich to this seaside destination, I discover the town's main tourist attraction: an old steam train that goes to nowhere and then comes back to the departure point just for the sake of the journey. I see the black metallic machine advancing alongside the road while I'm still testing my bike on my way to Blakeney, and I like it. I think I'm cycling faster than it. A single-gear city bicycle is not ideal for those roads - you need to change gears basically - but being quite light, my blue three-year-old Create does the trick.
After half an hour through no bicycle-friendly roads I get to Salthouse, a place I only knew for its mythical seafood joint, Cookies. In fact, I don't think there is even a village and it all revolves around this kind of DIY eatery that is more like a shop with tables than a proper restaurant. But the food is what matters, and I have the best smoked fish selection I could dream of. Ten out of ten.
Here I go again, full and extremely cold after lunching alfresco. The couple of miles to Cley-Next-To-Sea - that picturesque town famous for its smoke house and perpetual traffic jams during weekends and bank holidays - seem longer than they should, and I start to stop feeling my fingers. No problem, my destination Blakeney is just down the road. A hot bath in the B&B and I don't feel the pain any more. Tomorrow will be a great day for more cycling in North Norfolk.
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