Well that was a terrible night’s sleep. I think choosing the first campsite after Southampton was my big mistake. Groups of lads started turning up around 9pm, laughing uncontrollably at the noise their foot pump was making, laughing even more at the sound the mascerator made when they flushed the campsite loo, and generally enjoying themselves in every way they could. Nothing worse than the enjoyment of others for keeping you awake. At least their air beds leaked in the night. Followed by more hysterical laughter as they pumped them up. Do I sound bitter? Good.
When I up-zipped the tent this morning I was greeted by the sight of a group of wild ponies cruising through the camp.
After my exchange with John Mills yesterday (see”Comments” after Friday’s blog) I’ve got a feeling that this one might be related to “Tricksy”, who stole John’s Minstrels all those years ago. Actually, I think he should form a new chamber ensemble, John’s Minstrels. Suggestions for repertoire in the comments section please. Packet of Minstrels (if they still exist) for the best suggestions.
After having breakfast and packing up, I set off for Dorset, through the beautiful New Forest. The sun was shining and the Gorse was smelling of coconut, as it should, and all the cars were fast asleep in their garages.
As you approach the seaside in the car, all children sense it’s arrival ages before you get there. I had the same experience today, and when I finally rolled down to the seafront I was ridiculously glad to have reached the surf. Next up was a long cruise around the bay on the wide prom, as far as Poole.
I had a great tip for breakfast near Sandbanks from my friend Robb Tooley in the BSO (Rockets & Rascals) but sailed straight past it like an idiot. Instead I stopped at the Quay in Poole and passed a very enjoyable 45 minutes sampling the full grill.
In a previous incarnation of this blog there was a section called “Signs That Are Funny”. I saw a possible relaunch today in Wareham. I’m not totally sure, linguistically, why this is funny, but I think it is.
There’s a great cycling Sportive in this part of Dorset, called The Jurassic Beast. I’ve taken part n it a couple of times and can vouch for the brutality of the hills. Today I accidentally joined the ride as I made way from Poole to Dorchester. I passed a feed station, after which the roads were crammed with heavy bike traffic, or rather very light carbon bike traffic. I got passed a few times, as usual, with a few “That’s a heavy load you’ve got there!” chuckle chuckle. I’ve been passed by every road bike for the last 3 months, and today something snapped. I saw a nice group of three chaps coming up and shouted “Lads, can I have a tow?” “Sure, jump on!” shouted the leading rider, so off we went.
If you were to dig down into the stats of my day’s cycling (here) you would find a sudden spike around 50 miles in, faster speed, heart rate, cadence. In other words, I put in a bit of an effort. Clinging to the back wheel of the group, I buried myself for couple of miles as we hurtled past rider after rider, trying not to clip them with my panniers and big bendy flag-pole as I passed. When my 3 riders finally turned off to follow their arrow-marked route, I thanked them profusely and we laughed like idiots. I will never know their names, but I’ll take my gratitude to the grave.
Next stop Dorchester, where Susie and I met up for a pot of tea and a tea cake. She then set off for Litton Cheney whilst I prepared to face the biggest hill of the trip, Hardy’s Monument. First obstacle was an unexpected one; 2 miles of gravel and potholes, or Cycle Route No.2.
If anyone reading this has yet to sponsor me, could I humbly suggest that you take the next few miles of cycling that followed as an act of faith, and take the plunge? It was hell. The sun went in, my legs started fading, the hill went up, and up, and up. Should we have a cliff hanger? Did I make it? Well, I very nearly didn’t. Just as the last and steepest stretch came into view, I felt the tank empty. I’ve talked about this experience with Robb T (mentioned above) and he had the same reaction to get the very last bit of effort: you say to yourself “I’m NOT bloody stopping”.
Once again, there was the problem of where to go after supper. So glad that Susie could join me at The Crown in Puncknowle for a pint of Lime & Soda.