From One Pub To Another (August 3)

Cambridge to Colchester

Just like yesterday’s ride, today’s journey began with an escort out of the city. Hmmmm … I really hope the intent of these guided rides out of cities is intended to be helpful and not a means to usher me out of town as quickly as possible!

Thanks Geoff for hosting and your GPS efforts!

Thanks Geoff for hosting and your GPS efforts!

After being guided by Geoff through and out of Cambridge, I turned my navigation responsibilities to the track that Geoff installed on my GPS unit and I have to say it worked out very well. As did the makeshift handlebar mount that I made for said GPS unit. I actually had a proper handlebar mount that I bought before I began this journey but it would seem I left it on the handlebars of my original bike which is now back in Canada. Oops. Anyway, not having to stop constantly to confirm turns was a joy. A pure joy. I’ll have to track down some map files for the Netherlands at some point but that’s something for another day.

The biggest dilemma of the day was accommodation. As in, I didn’t have any. As a result, I also didn’t have a destination for the day. Essentially, I had decided upon two options. There was the town of Colchester which is about 40 km from Harwich. Or, I could just continue onto to Harwich and stay at the campground there. As mentioned before, there was no need to get to Harwich today since I wasn’t booked to get on the ferry until tomorrow night. That said, I hadn’t heard from any Warm Showers hosts in the Colchester area.

WiFi stop #1.

WiFi stop #1.

The uncertainty of my destination meant it was another day of seeking out WiFi connections along my route. My first WiFi stop was more than a little random. For no real reason I stopped outside The Red Lion, a roadside pub. As it happens, they had WiFi. It required a password but the woman cleaning the tables on the patio at that moment was happy to offer said password. We had a very nice chat about my trip, cycling, running, swimming … all sorts of such topics. She returned inside and I was getting ready to leave when I received a text from my friend Moritz in Germany. As you may recall, I met Moritz as we each cycled our way across Canada last year. Anyway, we had a great chat before I needed to move on again. The sun was shining and I didn’t want to waste it. That said, it was a very well timed WiFi stop.

My second attempt was in the town of Clare (Completely random side note: I kind of like the name Clare). I stopped in Clare for lunch which consisted of sitting on a bench and eating sandwiches. And it was a bench without any WiFi in the vicinity. Clearly a flawed bench choice! I have no doubt there was WiFi access to be had in Clare but I wasn’t too concerned at that point as a knew there were other towns along the way. I finished lunch and continued down the road.

My next stop was in Sudbury – yet another familiar city name from Ontario. In Sudbury I found WiFi but not a Warm Showers response. I pedalled on.

Sunny day in England.

It’s Sometimes Sunny in England.

The next stop was the most critical and it was in the small town of Bures. It was critical because it was essentially the fork in the road. At this point I would either turn my route to go to Colchester or Harwich. As I made my way through (and nearly out of) town, I passed The Three Horseshoes Inn. I checked my map to confirm my position and search for WiFi. The latter wasn’t very successful. At first. As I reviewed my map, an older gentleman came out of the aforementioned pub and asked if everything was alright. We chatted for a bit and in doing so I learned that the pub had a WiFi connection but I would need to go inside to get the password. No problem. Side note: the gentleman in question was Irish and he definitely lived up to the reputation I’ve heard several times on this trip about how friendly and helpful Irish people are. Hopefully I’ll get to cycle there some day.

Inside the pub were several locals (and I’m guessing regular visitors to the pub) who were bantering as one might expect. I chatted with them briefly and they were more than a little entertaining. As we were chatting I received another timely email, this time from Pam. Pam was a Warm Showers host in Colchester and could offer me a place to stay if I didn’t mind sleeping on a sofa. Needless to say, I didn’t mind.

I continued chatting with the locals for a bit and they inquired where I was staying tonight. I informed them that I just found out I had a place to stay in Colchester. They not only seemed to approve of that plan but when I told them where in Colchester I would be staying (near the castle) they said, “Oh, you should check out The Foresters Arms pub.” – and they were rather enthusiastic about their recommendation. They were also somewhat helpful on directions on getting to Colchester – there may have been a couple of different opinions on the “best” route to take. Anyway, I thanked them for their help and headed off again. This time to Colchester.

P3710732_EnglishFieldsThe ride to Colchester was easy and much shorter than I expected. Less than 20 km. With a little effort I worked my though town towards Pam’s place. As I did, I passed by the previously recommended Foresters Arms. It was literally around the corner from Pam’s house. I’m not going to lie, that made me pretty happy. That said, I continued around said corner and moments later met Pam, Sara, and Ellie the dog. They were all great and very welcoming. Hardly surprising at this point.

I moved my stuff inside and got settled and chatted with Pam for a bit. However, it was a brief chat as she had to go out to a meeting. It turns out her meeting was at The Foresters Arms. Meetings in pubs, now that’s the way to do it.

Fast-forward a bit and I found myself sitting at a table at The Foresters Arms enjoying a chat with one of the locals. Moments after that I was enjoying a burger and a pint of Lancaster Bomber. That pint turned into three when Pam joined me after her meeting had concluded. The rest of the evening was spent sitting outside of the pub with Pam and a bevy of locals chatting about a wide variety of things. It was a great atmosphere. Very casual and a lot of fun. This was clearly a local pub and not part of the tourist scene. It was a great way to end yet another great day.

Tomorrow I’ll head to Harwich to catch the ferry to Hook of Holland. From there I’ll be cycling to Amsterdam. I still don’t know where I’ll be staying in Amsterdam but searching for accommodation has become a normal daily activity. I’m sure I’ll find something.

Today’s totals:
Distance travelled: 87.28 km
Ride time: 4:02:55
Average speed: 20.07 km/h
Maximum speed: 45.12 km/h

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