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Cycle hardcore

June 2, 2010
by

so.. we made it… what a journey! 200 miles, 56 hills, 20 dead animals, 10 eggs, 8 maps, 5 wrong turnings, 4 sandwiches, 3 kronenbourgs, 3 dual carraigeways, 2 days, 0 punctures (shocking) and we finally arrived at Salway Ash. Heres the account of how it panned out…

Day 1 – Saturday morning

So we were up bright an early at 630, getting ready to leave after a hearty breakfast of eggs and beans. The night before we went to Julians to pick up his bike and the rest of the gear – I dont have my bike yet so Julian was laden with all the stuff in his two panniers, much to his displeasure. left Stokey around 715 and headed straight for Guildford.

The roads were quiet and the weather was warm (ish) and it hadnt started raining. We maintained a steady smooth pace to begin with, though I kept ending up way ahead of Julian (The London cycling attitude was hard to shake, plus I was carrying a considerably lighter load!) We got to Guildford to hear the town hall bell ring for 11am. 35 miles in 2 and a half hours was a great start.

We stopped for Cappucinos and checked out the homemade maps I had created. Due to my tight arsed nature, I decided to utilise the office plotters and made google map tile maps of our journey. 3 hours, 91 screengrabs and 8 photoshopcrashes later, I eventually produced a botched set of 8 maps that gave us enough coverage to be able to plan our route as we went. we didnt account for rain though and the quickly disintegrated – not ideal!

We ambled around in Guildford for a bit, checking out what Costswolds had to offer (everything) and picking up some camping gas. We attempted to find a decent bike shop to check over Julians faulting derailleurs but there are no decent bike shops in guildford, much to our surprise.

We stopped for 6 bananas before hitting the road out of Guildford towards Farnham. This is where the fun began…

The road out of Guildford is deceptive, in that it is almost impossible to miss the A3. We headed up a mammoth hill to find ourselves instantly converging with the dual carraigeway. Its no place for cyclists, particularly in the rain, where 8 tonne lorries pass you by at 60 mpg and totally drown your vision in a torrent of spray.

We quickly found our way off the A3 down one of the many small private lanes that come off this part of the road. there were some beautiful houses literally on the roadside round here, I cant help but feel that it was a beautiful place for a small country cottage before they decided to lay the road on the doorstep.

We found our way back on track down a tiny, incredibly steep footpath and straight onto a golf course. Julian joked about being hit by a golf ball when I came round a corner and nearly got twatted by someguys teeing off over the footpath.

It was great to be off the motorway. We ambled down picturesque country lanes towards Puttenham, through tiny Surrey backwater villages and tidy little pubs. We stopped for a muffin at around 1pm to check themaps, andrealised we were rather behind. We had some serious miles to cover if we were to get to the New Forest that night… the weather was plotting against us and our food stops were becoming more and more frequent – not helped by the piss poor lunch selection in Farnham shortly after. never eat cheese and onion sandwiches from Aldi.

Julian slowly realised I spiked his muffin

We left Farnham and pushed on towards Basingstoke, heading into another Surrey backwater. We made good time in the quiet country lanes, with short steep ascents and long winding decents in the hampshire countryside. We stopped for lunch at the aptly named ‘Well’ which was just a filled in hole in the middle of a junction.

loner.

loner.

we were still behind. The next section we had to hammer it as it was getting on into the afternoon and we were way out of schedule. we pounded it down to Lasham, which had immaculate hedge rows. Hampshire is a beautiful county, but people spend too much time pruning and perfecting their shrubbery. We took a wrong turn and headed into an airfield with some passenger jets casually parked upinside.

he just couldnt help himself

We had some of the best cycling of the day bombing through Lasham, downhill all the way along roads that just opened up infront of you. No traffic and beautiful hedgerows kept us entertained as we ate up the miles to New Forest. We stopped for more shit sandwiches and haribo outide a the driveway of someones house, collpased on the forecourt. Julian went in to ask if he could get some fresh water from their taps and met the lady of the house as she was leaving. She said ‘sure, just help yourself’ Julian cautiously wandered in, perplexed by her amazing trust in a complete stranger to fulfill his promise to take only water. He came across the man of the house slumped in his armchair, the lack of bemusment at seeing a stranger on his property was endearing as he ushered a cheery ‘hello!’ if a little odd. guess thats the difference between Londonites and country folk – the warmness and trust in strangers was a great surprise!

wheres honeywell on the map?

wheres honeywell on the map?

It was 4pm and we were still 30 odd miles outside of winchester. we decided to go for broke and get on the A33 that runs parallel to the M3 straight into Kings Worthy. We were heading off the homemade map I had prepared, as we were originally intending to go towards Stockbridge where my Grandparents live. They were not in that day, so the maps were foiled. we were stepping into the unknown somewhat, down a somewhat more treacherous road. Doubts were rising that we would make it to New Forest by nightfall…

under the M3

We stopped in a pub to refill and got directions into Winchester. From here we were told we could take the A road all the way to Romsey, which would see us about half an hour from the New Forest. This seemed as close as we were going to get, and we were told of good fish and chips there. We tore it up all the way (fortunately all down hill, except Winchester itself which was excrutiating) and found the chip shop. damn what a meal.

Cod and chips twice you slag

Now the best part of the day – where to sleep? The feeling of not knowing where youre going to lay your head is as exciting as it is scary. We started scouting for opportunities to duck out of sight into the surrounding overgrowth, but the majority of the best land in the neighbouring area is taken up by Lord Romseys private estate. We stumbled across an unlocked gate which led to a gorgeous pasture by the river Test – it looked idyllic beyond our wildest sleeping fantasies. There was an old gatehouse that looked as if it was out of a horror movie – plant pots spilled over the front porch as if they had been feverishly arranged and rearranged over several decades, with al sorts of creepers and wilderness eminating from in and around them. the whole house took on an ever eerie demeanour as we spotted the barbed wire coiled haphazardly around the top of the gate. all it needed was thunder and an old lady to appear from behind the window and it would have been like walking straight into a horror movie.

Lo and behold (minus the thunder) Grace appeared. ‘What are you doing here boy?’ her dog rolled out and inspected our crotches as we sheepishly asked her if we could sleep in her field. ‘dont you know your history? this belongs to Lord Romsey!’ Although initally a little stunned by her appearance, she turned out to be the sweetest old lady, who was as equally curious about what we were doing as her dog. She suggested we camp in the woods up the hill, though she stressed ‘it aint so safe up there, but youre big lads, you should be fine. do you want some eggs? how about some curry?’ Result! we kindly refused then she dissappeared only to return with some tins and four eggs. what a legend. We thanked her and headed on up the hill to the forest, and sure enough found the spot she was talking about. it was perfect!

bedtime

thats all for now, the rest will come tomorrow

x

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Barnaby permalink
    June 14, 2010 1:45 pm

    Well done guys – fascinating blog – looking forward to any more updates and news of the trip!

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