(these four days have been written up by memory and are a combination of mine and Gary’s diaries – may we suggest you start at the bottom and work your way to the top)
first day of the adventure
a better nights sleep last night, I used the liner for the sleeping bag as a cover for the air bed and used the sleeping bag as a quilt. I still kept falling off of the air bed but I am sure with time I will get used to this.
Didn’t think we had lots left to do but spent 2 hectic hours finishing off some last minute cleaning/clearing jobs.
9.00am quickly came round and it was time to hand in our keys and say goodbye to the family home.
I thought I would have felt excited, nervous, scared but I simply felt a little detached from the situation. I am sure the emotions will kick in later.
I had to laugh as we set off Hayley and Gary mounted their bikes and crossed the road, whilst I wobbled and struggled to get on the bike. I called for help, Gary explained the bikes were a little less stable because we now had the top boxes attached. I walked my bike across the road and gingerly mounted it. Once on the bike I felt a little more confident.
Arrived at the Ring O Bells just after 9.00am lots of people had already arrived. Claire and Steve had kindly put together a quiz to keep people amused. We bought the bikes into the pub so that everyone could see them and guess the weight.
Gary’s bike with all the panniers weighs approx 47kg mine weights 35kg
We were surprised how many people had got up to see us off some had come as far as London.
A big thank you to all who came to see us and those that sent us messages of support, they will keep us going when the going gets tough.
After a hearty breakfast we set off with Stuart, Hayley, Gary, Russell, Dave, Pam, Roy and Anthony
Russell left us at Yatton Railway station (it must have been really hard for him to ride so slowly, we joked that we would use Strava to map our ride. The plan is to cover approx 300 miles a week, a little more than your average bike mileage per week.
Gary, Hayley and Dave left us at Axbridge, I thought it would be emotional saying goodbye to Hayley but she was really chilled and simply said I will be seeing you in 7 weeks (it constantly amazes me how grown up she has become)
Roy, Pam and Anthony left us at Wells, it had been a challenging ride (set by Stuart). I struggled with one of the hills and walked my bike up it, this was a real struggle as the bike was so heavy. I felt a little down hearted, walking a hill on the first day, but felt a little reprieved when Stuart pulled up along side me and told me Pam’s crew were also walking up the hill (in fairness it was a 20%)
The afternoon ride was much easier although it was still a bit lumpy especially the hill into Yeovil it was a more pleasant ride. My cycling legs seemed to be waking up.
Stuarts parents had kindly agreed to feed us and put us up for the night. They’re really lovely, generous people. We were made to feel at home from the out set and shared a lovely roast with them. Stuarts brother in law came over in the evening to hear about our adventure, I was flagging, the lack of sleep was definitely catching up on me. We were in bed by 10.30pm
I had a really bad nights sleep, I have been struggling to shake off a cold for sometime and spent the night coughing and running a temperature.
As Des (Stu’s dad) was picking Stuart up from Studland, Gary kindly arranged for Des to transport my panniers. The boys also made a few minor changes to my seating position as I had sore knees and crutch. This should have made for an easier ride but I really struggled during the morning ride, the lack of training and the extra weight (my weight) did not help. I had to dig really deep to try and get into a positive frame of mind. Not helped by the fact that I started my period, you would have thought at 46 years of age it would give me a year off for good behaviour.
By lunch time I was in a better frame of mind and was riding stronger by the hour.
We arrived at the camp site at about 4.00pm and set up camp, Stuart helped before his parents arrived with our panniers.
We met our out rigging friends on the camp site and arranged to go out for dinner, we had a lovely evening and said our last goodbyes and returned to camp for my first night under cover. I hated it, I was cold, the camp site was really noisy and light, to top it off I kept falling off my air bed.
Woke up crying and frustrated
I didn’t sleep well at all, I woke with very puffy eyes, irritable and tearful. Gary was brilliant, we made a plan to ensure my next night would be more comfortable.
We were late setting off, I wanted a poo but every time I went to the toilet someone I knew was in there and I got poo shy, at least in the wild I won’t have this issue.
Once everyone had gone and I’d done my ablutions we packed up and set off for the New Forest. It was a lovely sunny day, which helped my mood lots.
We stopped in Bournemouth and purchased some thermals so that I would be warm even when my quilt came off in the night (they kind of work, but are not perfect). We had some lunch by the park and cycled to find a camp site. A light days riding only 34 miles but it was perfect for my aching body.
We stayed at the Holland’s camp site which was so much better than the previous camp site, it was set in woodlands, clean, quiet and complete with wild horses. I think Gary is trying to slowly acclimatise me to wild camping. First he took me to a loud, messy site which we paid £12 for and tonight we paid £14 to sleep in a wood with wild horses. His strategy is not working though, I would still pay £14 for the luxury of clean showers and toilets. We had a lovely walk down to Brockenhurst for dinner and a pint or two before ambling pack to the campsite.
Slept a lot better, but it was a very broken nights sleep, I woke with period pains and needed the loo.
Gary and I woke about the same time but I felt knackered so went back to bed for an hour. I look like I have done 10 rounds with Bruno my eyes are so puffy from lack of sleep. I have to put my sun glasses on so that I don’t frighten the locals.
Another beautiful sunny day, riding was easy we made our way to Southampton and then on to Portsmouth. Most of the time we were on cycle paths, but the route followed the road so not so pleasant but it made it easy to navigate and cycle.
Arrived in Portsmouth in plenty of time to do a little more shopping (sports bra for me, vodaphone shop for Gary) and then onto the ferry.
It is surprising how quickly a very small box room with a shower can seem like luxury, I quickly stripped off and jumped into the shower with all of our dirty clothes, once nice and clean it suddenly dawned on me that I had brought my bedding bag up and not my clothes bag. I thought I was going to have to wear Gary’s clothes for the next 24 hours but Gary rescued me by retrieving my bag from the car parking lot in the ferry.
Very few cyclists are on the ferry, entertainment pants and the wifi connection is very slow.