Shakedown Ride, Day 4 – home leg Ashurst to Chipperfield

If you get google cycling directions from Ashurst to Chipperfield, you’ll see straight away that the entire journey heads northeast. Unfortunately, and despite the glorious sunshine for which I was very grateful, the wind blew southwest towards me all day, for pretty much every mile of my ride. I tried a slightly different route (which included a stretch following the Thames towpath) to get the occasional break from it, but cycling with my head and panniers into the wind for over 90 miles was gruelling, especially for the last 40 miles.

  • Today’s Distance (miles/km): 95 / 153
  • Time in saddle: 9 h 32
  • Max/min temp – in sun (°c): 31°/9°
  • Climb/descend (feet) : 4,576 / 4,117
  • Calories used: 6,603
  • Cafe time: 2h 26
Leaving Ashurst campsite at around 6.30am, gates still closed.

For the fourth time on this trip, I got my wheels turning nice and early, feeling much more positive than I had expected to the night before. Ashurst was a ghost town and things were very quiet up until getting into Southampton. Even there it was much more chilled and peaceful than normal, being so early on a sunday.

In Ontario, about 60 miles north of Toronto, I was once given a gift by my neighbour in the campsite, Tom. He was a keen Harley-Davidson motorbike owner, and he gave me a very special little Harley bell, which he told me he had kept to pass on to a fellow traveller, for good luck. He had several attached to his own bike from other riders.

The bell has lived on my bike ever since.

My bell must get homesick from time to time, so this morning as I followed the cycle paths through Southampton I saw an opportunity too good to pass up:

(strange snow-like effect. Still trying to work out what happened here!)

Just in case you were all thinking that I’m only showing film clips of rural settings (ponies and campsites mostly) here’s something a bit different. I spotted this bijou houseboat just after the deserted Harley dealership. It was tucked away on the River Test just outside Southampton. I haven’t had a chance to check on Air BnB for its availability, but I expect it to get booked up pretty fast once word gets out.

For those of you who are reading this in another part of the world (and the stats for the blog tell me that’s quite a few of you – welcome!), and who may not have visited the beautiful cathedral city of Winchester, I thought I’d include a couple more pictures of how it looked as I cycled into town today.

I arrived here on the old cobbled High Street at about 8.45am, for a cappuccino and croissant in Cafe Nero, accompanied by Brahms Second Piano Concerto and a noisy refrigerator. Outside there was a very unexpected procession taking place, and I stepped onto the street to grab a shot just as they turned down a side street.

I made a short lunch stop in Hook, where the whole town seemed to either running a half marathon, or supporting someone who was. For once I didn’t stand out in my grubby sports gear. The stewards stopped clapping as I cycled through their cordon to get to the Budgens, but I said ‘Don’t I get a clap too then? I am quite tired’ They all clapped and cheered (perhaps a tiny bit ironically?) as I narrowly avoided crashing into their traffic cones, mounted the kerb, swung my leg off the bike, and went in to buy food, waving my thanks to them like a celeb at a film premiere. More chocolate milk and a banana malt loaf were the stand-out purchases. I was anticipating a very long afternoon.

After that, things got a bit intense with the wind, and the urge to take interesting photos completely deserted me. I did stop when I reached the Thames in Reading, and got into a conversation with a lovely lad out with his mum and dad who saw my flags wanted to know if I’d cycled all the way there from Canada. We chatted about the impossibility of this for a while, and pausing gave me the sense to grab a pic, but once I began picking my way along the crowed river path, I was back to intense/exhausted mode again.

I gave Susie an update on my progress, which was painfully slow and threatening to derail her plans of going to a concert in the village church that evening, and she asked me if I needed picking up. I took a deep breath, and said, ‘Er…no.’ “I thought you’d say that,’ she said. The temptation to accept was enormous, but I thought I needed to prove to myself that just the wind wasn’t going to be enough to defeat me. The sun was shining, for goodness sake, what more do you want?

A very welcome moment
And another…home!

I may have some more cogent thoughts about today in the near future, but for now I’m truly done! If this four day excursion hasn’t prepared me for several weeks on the road in America (and Canada!), I don’t know what will. Thanks so much for coming along for the ride everybody, and don’t forget if you would like to sponsor me for my trip, I leave for Halifax, Nova Scotia on 28th June! JustGiving

6 thoughts on “Shakedown Ride, Day 4 – home leg Ashurst to Chipperfield

  1. When I asked you if you wanted me to pick you up, it was a kind of test. You passed : well done! ‘No’ was the correct answer. It’s good to have you home again though! That was a gruelling day and your determination got you through. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done, Ben! Sounds exhausting 😴
    That was a great preview to your Canadian/American trip, which I’m looking forward to following! 😀 xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like a good test of mental strength! Great job Dad and so nice to see all those amazing places along the way in the merry month of May! (Rhyme unintentional – okay?) xx

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s