29.08.2011 - 01.09.2011
Left Camber and headed West for the first time with the sun on my back in the morning. East Sussex is quite hilly, which surprised me, there is a steep descent into Hastings and went passed a Your Speed display it read 35 mph in a 30 zone, then I saw a speed camera. I pedalled hard and coasted past the sign whilst popping the bird at the camera. I don't know if I got flashed, but I like to think that there is a photo giving someone a chuckle.
As I went through Bexhill I caught the end of a group of cyclist out on a day ride, its nice to get a tow in the slipstream, they didn't even realise I was there. The group broke up and one man from Lewes cycling club said it looked like I was on a world tour. He was quite impressed when I told him that it was only a UK one. We parted company at Eastbourne as I needed some food. Sat on the beach front and contemplated the slope up to Beachy Head. It was not actually that bad and the views were amazing, that's the thing about cycling up hills it might seem like a daunting task but the rewards are so worth it. Couldn't help thinking about the end of Quadrophenia, didn't help with all the mods riding around either.
On the road towards Brighton I got overtaken by a man on a mountain bike, I then cruised past him down a hill (simple physics, with all that weight). He then overtook me again, but to his surprise and mine I passed him going up hill. He said "bloody hell you must be fit." We stopped the macho bullshit of racing one another and cycled together, it turned out he was a archivist, I then started talking about the riots and what he thought about them and if he had been involved. "No an archivist not an anarchist." We departed in Hove and I carried on as far as Littlehampton that day. I stopped at the Cob and Pen pub because they were having a BBQ, only it had just finished but the chef had chucked the last few bits of meat onto the charcoal. Some bits didn't have very much ash on at all a little brush off and it was fine for a hungry cyclist. The locals were very welcoming and a couple of them even brought me a drink, when I asked for a good place to camp they arranged that I could stay in the beer garden, result, so I stayed for a couple more pints.
One of the best ways to get over a slight hangover is to jump on a bike and pedal for a few miles, had to stop for breakfast pretty quick though. I carried along the coast, followed it right down to Selsy along to Whittering and back to Chichester then into Portsmouth. Caught the ferry to Gosport and headed into Southampton, up the Solent down the other side and camped at Calshot (As you can tell it was not the most interesting of days) Did over 100 miles again, sort of getting good at this cycling lark now.
I left Calshot and cycled through the New Forest, never been here before and its really nice. There was some nice coastal paths and a good view of the Isle of Wight for most of my morning. The seafront in Bournemouth was good to cruise down, although bikes are not allowed, no one stopped me. I went on to Sandbanks and caught the chain ferry across the opening of Poole harbour, this saved e many miles and I met up with another cyclist. We rode on together for about five miles, then the hills kicked in. I rode onto Swanage and then Corfe Castle, then through the lanes towards Lulworth. Luckily for me the Army were not doing playing with their toys so the way was clear, I didn't fancy being target practice. I realised that a friend lived nearby so phoned Tom up and arranged to meet him in a pub in Broadmayne near Dorchester. I had a couple of pints and a good chat, then cycled back towards the coast to camp near Weymouth.
I left Weymouth with the two goals for the day, the first was to reach Exeter by five o'clock so I could go to a friends shop to say hi. The second was to reach my parents house in Dawlish. But first I had to cycle through Dorset and East Devon, it was a hot day and the Jurassic Coast is lumpy. The first big climb gave a huge reward, looking back along the length of Chisel Beach, what an outstanding natural phenomena. Sorry too busy enjoying the moment and getting my breath back, forgot to take a photo.
There were three more very big hills that day, going out of Lyme Regis, Seaton and Sidmouth. I can't remember which was the worst but they were all quite steep and very long. People have asked if I had to get off and push, its not really an option as it would be more difficult to push the bike than to ride it.
I made it to Exeter at about 4 o'clock, found my friends shop only to find out he had left about half an hour before. The man who was working there asked me about my trip, when I said I was doing this after my Dad had a stroke he told me he was training as a physiotherapist and worked on a stroke ward at Newton Abbot. My father was there at the same time and Luke remembered him, I love these random coincidences.
I left Exeter and went down the canal path past the Double Locks and onto Turf Locks, it was a lovely day and I was near to where I grew up. I know the canal path very well and decided to stop off at the Turf hotel to have a pint, I realised the journey was coming to an end and was trying to slow myself down and take in every moment. I met some more cyclists at the hotel and they even gave me £5 for the charity. I carried on and cycled through Dawlish Warren, passed the place where I grew up and took a little time to contemplate things by the sea. Then on to see my Mum and Dad who have moved to Dawlish since retiring and some well needed home cooking.