As reported to my surprise in last week’s TT, I completed the Mark Philo™ Norfolk Village Signs Challenge© on Mon 6 Feb. Done mainly in 2021-22, this involved visiting 517 villages with signs, with the ‘rule’ for each sign being a pic with bike, sign, and rider. Since I’m totally hopeless at selfies, this meant finding at least one other person to accompany me on each sign-capture ride, making it a truly sociable effort. Thank you to the many Tri-Anglians who came on the rides, some of them on several occasions: Mark (the longest rides!), Paul Saunders, Penny Edwards (a frequent chief pic-taker), Rob Lines, Iain Johnson, Simon Edye, Graham & Anne Fish, Janice and Kev. A few non-club cycling mates assisted too.
Leaving aside the occasional out-and-back to retrieve just one or two signs, the challenge took 35 rides covering 1,550 miles, so on average about 45 miles and 15 villages per ride. Mark did his best to eliminate me at an early stage with an 80-mile ride from West Walton (near Wisbech) back to Norwich via Kings Lynn and Sandringham, resulting in the capture of 32 signs in one sweep. While in its aftermath I felt I never wanted to cycle to another village sign in my life, this devious plan must have had a peculiar opposing effect as a couple of weeks later with Penny we did a 70-mile sign grab from Great Yarmouth to Norwich taking in 27 villages.
The map shown here started with all villages coloured red, gradually turning blue as routes were plotted and blobs of village signs were seized. The few remaining red flags, 9 in total, represent signs visited but absent due to renovation or replacement. Some of those are already back and will be picked off in near future rides.
A few of my favourite sign pics are posted below. You certainly find out a lot about the history and myths of Norfolk villages from the depictions on their signs. You also find yourself on lanes less travelled in remote corners of the county. If anyone has the inclination to do the challenge for themselves, I will be very happy to assist with the setup. And a big shout out to Mark Philo™ for coming up with such a brilliant idea.