For the past year I’ve been meaning to get out and ride new paths and dream under the stars, but never quite got it together apart from one overnighter last summer. A note to ones self. Make the intention and go for it come rain or shine….
So it was an overcast damp morning in Surrey as I took those first peddle strokes from my front door. Fingers crossed hoping the weather would improve I headed in a south-westerly direction and within 15 minutes I was on the first of many quiet picturesque cycle paths. The simple pleasure of cruising along through the english countryside filled me with so much satisfaction that I really wondered why I’d left it so long.
Before I left home I’d put my destination into a journey planner just telling it to use bicycle paths etc then loaded it on my gps without really looking at it. Hoping for a bit of adventure without knowing what was coming. I wasn’t disappointed as the miles just disappeared beneath my wheels and the excitement grew with each new bridleway and country lane discovered, littered with stalls of plants and fresh free range eggs, honesty boxes asking for small donations, reminding me of rural Devon.
The skies cleared and the sun came out adding to the increasing pleasure of being out on the bike. By midday things had really warmed up at about which time I came upon Bignor hill, at the bottom I passed a motorist who gave me a knowing glance. All I could see was the little lane disappear among the trees but I had a feeling it was going to be painful. And up it went. A ridiculous gradient, it put some of the steepest in Devon to shame. Just over half way I was a mess, sweat pouring out and legs like jelly, even pushing was hard work, I was just thankful for the shade. The lane came out at a car park on the South Downs way surrounded by beautiful views. I lay down in the grass recovering …
After some lunch it was back on the bridleways and an old roman road took to the outskirts of Chichester where I stopped off for a coffee. I then headed on NCN 2 making my way through Portsmouth before boarding the ferry for the Isle Of Wight.
After the 20 minute crossing I followed the signs the around the island cycle routine an easterly direction keeping an eye open for a place to camp. After lifting the bike over a stile and pushing it up a ridiculously steep hill through nettles and thistles, I found the perfect place with great views to fall asleep counting stars.
Come morning I was up with the larks and back down the hill in search of breakfast. Two hours later I was on the south coast of the Island enjoying fry up and coffee, looking forward to what the day had to offer. The cycle route is very well sign posted and considerately guides you around the island.
The 63 miles around the island is an enjoyable roller coaster ride easily done in a day or if you want to string it out for two, there is plenty of campsites and wild camping opportunities. I got the evening ferry back to the mainland, hunted down some fish ‘n’chips and went in search of a quiet spot to rest under the stars.
Picking a slightly different route home I found new cycle paths and did a section of the South Downs way, something I’d like to explore further. Also riding a new bike with a different riding style was fun though I’d wish I’d remembered sunscreen in all my excitement to get out…..