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Five go mad in Norfolk. The sixth goes missing!

The sun was out, the sky blue, the conditions perfect for the sell-out 2017 Norfolk Sportive supporting Cyclists Fighting Cancer, which started and ended at Little Melton on Sunday (6 August).

Further had a team of six entered. Mark Hannant (Senior SEO Consultant) trying his first ever organised ride. Dan Coman (Head of Operations) stepping up to conquer his first 50-miler. Rob Welsby (Director of Search and Insight) with his straight-out-of-the-box Cannondale Thunderblaster.

One by one they arrived – Mark, then Dan, then Rob, me (Steve Jaggard, Founder) and Zak Ireson (Managing Director) – comparing set-ups, packing the caffeine, feeling good.

All was set fair for a great team riding session. But as they amassed across the start like a line of lycra-laden gunslingers at noon, something was amiss. Or rather missing?

Where was Duncan?

What a disaster. It was like Team Sky lining up without its Froome. It’s just not done. Granted he had to come from the other side of Cambridge, but Duncan Basford (Account Director) is never late. He’s organised and meticulous to a fault.

Except for on this occasion.

Not content with simply meeting up and doing a 50-mile jaunt, Mr Basford had decided to do a little warm-up ride – and got terribly lost. 64 miles lost to be exact – sadly, never actually making it to the real event. A lone gunslinger in the alien Norfolk desert with nothing but a dodgy Garmin to guide him!

So Team Further, having waited and waited, decided it could not wait any longer – and led by Zak ‘Wiggins’ Ireson, we headed off gingerly from the grassy start stretch and onto the potholed back roads.

An injured me – still recovering from medial ligament damage three weeks after throwing shapes a tad too violently at a Culture Club gig – and our Velo virgin, Mark, opted for the picturesque 25-mile route. Here they are celebrating post-race:

Zak, Rob and Dan, meanwhile, were already chasing the pack as they embarked the 50-miler.

Things we discovered from this momentous occasion?

One. Mark got a sore arse. Even with a very comfortable-looking saddle.

Two. Mark needn’t have taken half of the contents of his house around with him in a backpack adding more than his body weight to his exertions.

Three. Mark doesn’t like hills.  Hardly surprising on a mountain bike with all that extra weight and very dodgy gears. In fact, it was hard to decide at times whether the horrid crunching noise was coming from Mark’s cogs or my knackered knee.

Four. Dan gets cramp! Very easily. So much so that by the 10-mile point his nickname of Dantani (named after ex Tour de France legend, Pantani, for his climbing prowess), was soon replaced by ‘Crampani’ as he writhed in agony by the roadside. Having said that, he did really look the part on his new Cannondale Shinything when he was actually on it.

Five. Rob is already obsessed with his new Cannondale Thunderblaster. Yes, kid-in-sweet-shop went home only to go back out for another 25 miles later in the day.

Six. Zak needs more of a test. After 50 miles, plus a warm-up ride from the office, (note he didn’t get lost, Duncan!) he didn’t look as if he had ridden anywhere at all.

Seven. I need to seriously consider buying that new knee the specialist insists he needs.

And finally…

Eight. Duncan will not live this one down for many months to come. Even his young children joined in the ribbing on his return home, with their own crayoned version of events! (See Exhibit A below.)

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