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Cycle hardcore pt 2 – The county valleys

June 3, 2010

We pushed the bikes into our new home, which was also home to a mobile network mast. the previous entrants kindly left the gate unlocked as we moved out of sight of the road. We moved in a bit and found a nice flat spot away from the mast and with enough room to pitch the tent. we didnt realise until we stopped that the entire site is riddled with prickly vines – it was a miracle we didnt get any heart sinking hissing noises from our tyres!

we were content with the previous meal of fish and chips so saved the curry for the day ahead. we set up camp, poured over some maps, had some cheeky beers that julian had stashed in his roll matt from hackney, even a cheeky fag (all that hard work!) then hit the hay (well, moss).

The best night sleep ive had in a tent followed. the ground was soft and the woods were quiet, we slept right through the 530 alarm (ambitious) to 9am. two hours behind schedule, but the sleep was well needed.

call that elastic?

We cooked up the bacon we bought from waitrose (the onlysupermarket in romsey – even the waitrose essentials was expensive) with the eggs from Grace and had another breakfast of champions before packing up and heading out. we wrote a little thankyou note to grace to leave on her scary looking gate as we headed back into romsey. hopefully she found it OK

grace's place

We flew right on out of romsey and hit up the dual carraige way towards the New Forest. We reached the fringe at about 1030 – we were making good time. hopefully the new forest wasnt too hilly and we could cross it quickly. ideally we wanted to be in BlandfordForum for midday. Some serious miles to cover!

wild horses!

Julian was beginning to feel the strain of carrying the laden bike up the hills, so we decided to swap. Little did I know this was just before a huge ascent that would take us up to the altiplano of the New Forest, a large exposed expanse of heathland that we batlled through the constant headwinds and steep short valleys. the bastard.

Contrary to what I thought, riding a laden bike is pretty easy. A lot of it is down to the bike itself – Julians Surly (minus faulty derailleurs) is a dream to ride, making the weight on the back almost negligable. you only really notice it when you stop / try to get off, where an often hilarious situation of failing to get your leg over and the back tmbling down on top of you usually occurs.

We came out of the other side of new forest, having been overtaken by several groups of lycra clad day bikers. We took a lot of enjoyment in flying past a couple of stragglers on the descent off the altiplano towards the end of the new forest, overtaking them in a boy racer london cyclist manner.

we continued south along a fairly busy B road waiting for the cut in to head towards Blandford Forum. It was at this point we met Harry, another day trip cyclist from the states ( i think) on his weekend cycle about dorset. We caught up with him and a cheery hello turned into a conversation about directions to blandford (quite enforced by yours truly) he stopped and pointed us the way, showing us on our home made maps. the route was fairly convoluted, but as he was heading that way anyway, he decided to show us some of the way. We followed him through several small villages, then he turned a corner and a huge hill lay before us, and vroom, he was off. Clearly quite keen to show us young london boys how its down, he dropped down a gear and darted off at light speed up the hill, leaving me panting and chugging up the hill in agony. Hold up mate!

eventually we reached the top to find him waiting patiently. he carried on with us to the turning he had mentioned  earlier, until he decided we would probably get lost so he took us all the way to blandford! again more hospitality. we made it there in good time thanks to him, cutting across some nice quiet lanes and out onto the main road into blandford. we parted ways about half an hour before the town, where he warned us that ‘this is where the dorset hills begin’. We were starting to get really hungry as we ebbed up the double hill. eventually it came to a head and we could see the town laid before us.we flew down only to be greeted by yet another hill – this time it climaxed with the first signpost to dorchester! we were getting close.

barely able to keep pushing on, we had to stop asap for supplies. A small convenience shop appeared, as we cleared them out of all their pork pies, nuts, starmix, and lucozade. lunch of champions.

Blandford by name, blandford definately by nature. this was not a pretty lunch stop, and finding a secluded spot to cook up some curry proved a challenge. in the light of dizzying hunger however, anything will do, as we stopped on the road side and whipped out the stove

nothing to see here

onwards and upwards, as we packed up the lunch and hit the road again towards piddle trenthide. Harry warned us that beyond blandford would be the hardest cycling of the weekend – and whatever we do, avoid milton abbas. It was 330, and milton abbas was right in the way. beter get on with it!

we hit the first ascent as we could feel the extra weight of the curry in our limbs pushing us harder up the hill. we minced the first one and rolled down into the curiously named Stickland – so far so good. turn right to cut around milton abbas and there was the mother of all hills. it started sharply and didnt stop until it rose above the valley and we could see right into dorset to what lay ahead. milton abbas was unavoidable now, as we hurtled down the other side and into the village. What a curious place, like something out of a quaint british version of desperate housewives – lines of thatched houses immaculately spaced apart with once again immaculate hedge work – flowing down through the steep valley like it was switzerland. you could be anywhere in the world in this bizarre little village

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