Episode 15:- Popping Out For Some Crisp Sea Air

06:01 on Wednesday, 27 July 2022 London, England

  • Distance:- 184.43km
  • Moving Time:- 7:26:28
  • Elevation:- 1,318m
  • Weighted Avg Power:- 159W
  • Energy Output:- 3,981kJ

The plan

The plan was to get to bed by 9pm. Of course, if you’re like me, plans are meant to be broken. Well, this time I was determined! I’d prepped the bike and ensured all my stuff was ready for a fast, I mean absolutely no faffing, get-away. I even managed to pop some ‘overnight oats’ in the fridge ready to help me get away from the house by 5:30 at the latest… After all, this was a century bike ride with an extra 15 miles added on.

The story that led to the plan

3 months earlier, the whole family were driving to the grandparents on the South Coast when, on the M3, the gearbox gave up the ghost. I wasn’t travelling with them at the time. Instead, I was taking the opportunity to ride the distance (Like you do! – I know…). The poor fam had to spend hours on the side of the motorway waiting for the RAC to arrive. Thankfully, it was reasonable weather. The costly emergency rescue eventually delivered both the family and the car to their destination, where I found them when I eventually arrived. The next morning, I drove the car directly to the nearest local garage.

It took those 3 months to source a suitable replacement gearbox and fit it. After getting the call that it was finally ready, I needed no excuse to hop on my bike and tap out a century ride to retrieve it.

Getting away

The 4:50am alarm actually managed to wake me up this time! Although I went to bed an hour or more later than intended the night before, my sleep had been shallow and broken, so I was mostly awake anyway. The ‘early’ plan nearly ran like clockwork, until I decided to wear my contact lenses for the day. That sucked up an hour, as I struggled sussing out if I’d managed to put them in the right way. On the third attempt, I was finally able to see. I threw on the kit I’d left out ready the night before, shut the door behind me and stepped into the balmy, bright, 20-degree Celsius morning.

Heading South

The all too familiar start through Battersea Park, then Richmond and out to Hampton Court was lovely. However, I was now running late! I’d arranged to collect the car in Poole between 2 and 3pm and then planned to quickly say hi to the grandparents and have two new tyres fitted since they were worn out, before driving back to London.

I took the obligatory stop for a coffee and a snack at Starbucks in Farnham, jumped back on the bike and hit the lanes across the top of the South Downs on towards Winchester.

I didn’t want to smash myself, as I needed to do more than simply completing this century bike ride. On the other hand I couldn’t hang about. So, I settled in and tapped out 80 or 90 rpm at a comfortable endurance pace. Fortunately, I was slightly ahead of the work traffic, which meant the trip through Richmond went smoothly. In fact, I was in a zen-like state as I pushed through Woking and out to Farnham.

Familiar lanes

The route was all too familiar, having done it countless times. These days, I’m keen to mix it up a bit and find different roads south, but this was more a case of getting to a place at a certain time. I needed to know I wasn’t going to blow it by naffing about. I took the obligatory stop for a coffee and a snack at Starbucks in Farnham, jumped back on the bike and hit the lanes across the top of the South Downs on towards Winchester.

That section of the ride was glorious, aside from the truly horrendous road surface around Bagmore through Preston Oak Hills and Cannon Wood. Most of the ‘climbing’, if you could call the few bumps in the road climbing, also comes in this section. These lanes are virtually traffic free and the villages postcard-perfect.

A short stop in Winchester at the garage with its Tesco shop that I know stocks a vegan magnum ice cream preceded me making my way to Romsey and then onto The New Forest.

The New Forest - well more of a heath in this pic!
The New Forest – well more of a heath in this pic!

Despite what was otherwise perfect weather for riding, it rained on me! Thankfully the cloudbursts were short, sparing me a complete soaking.

Shortly after the small sleepy town of Ringwood, there’s a nasty stretch of the A35 dual carriageway. Ordinarily, I ride this section of road at night when it’s far less busy. However, today I had to grin and bear it. I joined the traffic and rolled into the outskirts of Pool and eventually to the Garage.

Getting reunited

Being reunited with the car was a double edged sword. On the one hand, it was great to have it back. On the other was the issue of getting the tyres fitted, driving it back home, whilst contemplating how much more effort and money it’ll take to keep it on the road. Brushing aside my misgivings, I threw my bike in the boot and slipped on my very pack-able martial arts shoes – I take these with me when I need to ditch the road bike shoes. Feeling more comfy, I headed off to say a quick hello to the folks. After a cuppa and a snack, I left them and drove home via the tyre bar and several service stations.

Mission accomplished.

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