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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Eton Dorney - Quick Note

Hi folks.

Have had a fantastic day

Thanks to Eton Wick C.E First School - amazing reception, incredibly generous £110 donation and wonderful time.

Thanks Eton Dorney, very thrilled to see Venue 7 and had fab time with great host, Andrew.

Thanks to bike shop in Windsor for fixing Jake's cleat.

Thanks to NHS Walk in Centre, Slough for removing Jake's stitches and patching him up with steri-strips.

Have spent evening planning tricky route Slough to Lea Valley will give full report with photos tomorrow.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Winchester to Slough (nearly)

After a night spent in a drying room the team woke to ... rain!

A very depressing sight and the bag packing and delaying tactics were to have a big impact later in the day.  At least we left with £10 sponsorship from a couple on a coach outing to Winchester.

Not far down the road we hit another milestone - 1000 miles cycled.
If it hadn't been for the heavy drizzle (rain), the whole journey would have been great as we sped through picturesque villages alongside the river Itchen, wooded areas, past the watercress beds and along unexplored bits of Hampshire.  We hit the edge of a real storm and were left to negotiate a lot of flooding and loose chippings washed onto the road - puncture!
Sedately does it

Jake detected some uncalled for bubbles
under his rear tyre - nice hole.

20 minute repair - good team work
Nic - replace inner tube
Jake - tools man and putting on wheel
Philip - puncture repair on damaged tube

More flood water

We made it to Basingstoke (NOT Nic's favourite place!). Fuelled up and got Jake's tyre pressure checked. Off to Reading and Slough.

The decision had been made to use cycle routes to get us to our destination.  Certainly quieter but also meandering to the point of distraction at times.

Reading was simple to negotiate and comes highly praised from a cyclist's point of view, the unfortunate bit was that Jake's cleat (the clip bit) in his shoe broke off in his new pedal - probably irrepairable.  The weather was closing in.  It was now 6:00pm, we were cycling like demons, it just felt like a very long day.

We tracked NCR4 into some back lanes and forests - it was very dark, big clouds above and now 7:45pm, Jake's cycling glasses went missing through the woods.  Just 10 miles from our destination (according to a local history group out for an evening tour) more bubbles under a tyre, this time Philip's front wheel.
More repairs completed
It threw it down with rain as Nic replaced the tube and the boys sorted all the necessary stuff out.  Enough was enough - the history group caught up with us again and told us of a local pub.  The team decided to find a local hotel which we did, just outside Maidenhead.  Lewis at Riders Country Hotel was a star and we are camped out in a room munching peanuts and consuming complimentary biscuits at some unfashionable hour.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Milford on Sea to Winchester

The team woke to drizzle but the clothes and shoes and bikes were clean and dry.  Sleep had not been good for any of us for a variety of reasons so off we went slightly bleary eyed.

Before long, spirits were lifted by the clocking up of an incredible 1500km.  It really is quite an achievement for a 12 year old.
A 'milestone' because 'kilometrestone' just doesn't quite cut it!
Then off we trolled through the forest, past the cattle, past the ponies, over some incredibly poor road surfaces (great for toning those flabby arms) and out towards the ferry.
Lush surroundings - must be the weather for greenery.
Hythe Ferry was incredibly busy and they very kindly offered us free passage.  So what was all the fuss?  Southampton was bursting with the entire P&O fleet of cruise ships for a 175th anniversary and people had braved the drizzle to see them all in port at the same time.
Large cruise ship, one of 7 P & O
vessels in port.

Out of the weather but still a water theme - on it not under it

As for us, interesting though this was, we were trying to make contact with the Birmingham Mail for an interview with Jake.  Tricky manoeuvring around Southampton trying to track down NCR23 and then towards Winchester.
Spitfire at Southampton Airport

Threatening to dry up ...
We made it as far as Lakeside Cafe just north of the airport when the deluge began.  Within minutes we were drenched, water was pouring down the roads and we had 5 miles of horrid, very busy roads travelling into Winchester.  We resorted to paths to avoid the large puddles and then had to negotiate Winchester.  By the way, Winchester without the traffic and the tipping it down rain is probably a lovely town.

Just as another aside, it's a strange rule of thumb that the rubbish weather makes the challenge harder but it also makes raising funds harder along the route as people keep their heads down and rush to get in the dry.

Made it to rather plush looking Holiday Inn and would love to report super sympathetic and helpful vibes...

Trying to dry out shoes, jackets and panniers etc
You should see the rest of the room!
Hoping for a better day tomorrow after about 45 mildly to very soggy miles today.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Bournemouth to Milford on Sea

A short day just 16 miles to pedal allowed us the luxury of spending time with Irene and delaying setting off until 1.30pm.
Philip and Irene in good spirits.
It was raining when we woke up and raining when we left Bournemouth hospital.  It was also blowing hard and if, at times it had been 'flaming awful June', then today was even worse July.

Just under 2 hours cycling was a real slog, wet from above, wet from the puddles and wet from passing cars and blowing hard along the sea-front.

Philip, rarely, lost all sense of humour and refused to allow photos to be taken of the non-existent view to the Isle of Wight and muttered something about charity bike rides and never again...  Nic, however, was plainly delirious and had decided it was so bad, as her shoes squelched with every turn of the pedals, that it was funny. Jake fretted about his very wet ankle.

We made it to Treetops, Milford on Sea, opened the garage door to store the bikes in the dry to find it blocked by a Fiat Punto.  Grrrr!
Philip off to the shops for the staples -
bread & milk

One load in two more to go.
Washing machine, what a lovely luxury

Within the hour clothes were in the washing machine, Philip was cleaning bikes, Nic was trying to remember how to cook and Jake was watching Wimbledon.  Humour was slowly restored and then massively restored as the team cheered Mark Cavendish to a Stage win in the Tour de France.

Apparently more rain for next 2 days - hard hats on readers, it could get nasty.

Weymouth to Bournemouth

Yes, oh you followers of our schedule, we have made another change.  The team by-passed Swanage in favour of Bournemouth.  Philip's mum is in Royal Bournemouth Hospital so it was decided to add the mileage in order to be able to spend some time with Irene in the evening and early the following day.

It was a lovely sunny day although incredibly windy again.  Jake's stitches and ankle were looking good and the ride was not going to be hilly.

Great  view back to Weymouth &
Portland at the top of the biggest
climb of the day heading to Dorchester
Thomas Hardy country...

The obligatory handing out of mints along a
tranquil Dorset road (flat & straight hooray!)

We were on a cycle route pretty much all day and we had great off-road sections and idyllic quiet country lanes - just what the team needed to ease us back into the routine.

A coffee stop at The Old Granary, Wareham (recommended) and then passing Corfe Castle in the distance as we tracked across the Heath to Studland and the ferry.

Heathland with Corfe Castle in the distance.
Team morale considerably higher than when last
pedalling this bit of road 2 years ago, we were even
greeted by a deer crossing the road just in front of Jake.

The serene surroundings of the first part of
the off-road NCR2

The less serene, more deep sand NCR2 further down
the line.  Not great for bikes, speed or keeping Jake's
cut clean.  

To Studland the ferry, a chance meeting with an enthusiastic triathlete, and along the sea front to Christchurch and the hospital.  Sounds easy doesn't it?  Would have been fabulously easy
but, it was July 1st.  On June 30th, it would have been easy, on July 1st it wasn't.  No Cycling alonbg the NCR2 along the length of the sea-front Poole to Hengistbury Head, July - August, 10am to 6pm.  It must be said that there were people to reiterate this message along the whole route - so we walked.  It is a safety issue but then provision of a safe diversion avoiding the main A35 should also be a safety issue?

Anyway, the hospital was located as was the ward and we were able to spend some time with Philip's mum which was completely unexpected and great for all.  

Just under 50 miles for Jake's first full day of cycling since the accident seemed to have done no harm and Jake was able to have a shower - phew!