Earlier in the blog we described the SPOT GPS Messenger we are carrying with us. It is this device that has enabled the 'Track Us' feature on our website and this is how David Piper tracked us down!
A few weeks ago in Clive Mitchell Cycles, Truro, we were introduced to David as he dropped into the shop at the same time we were there. David has already cycled the world, crossing 32 countries and chewing through over 16,000 miles on two wheels. David has documented his trip at www.tra-velo-gue.co.uk
Excited to hear about our upcoming adventure, David invited us for an evening of drinks and maps at his house a few nights later. With a shared enthusiasm for the simple life, we hit it off immediately.
So we had slipped off the end of the Promenade at Bournemouth and picked up the little blue Sustrans signs for Christchurch. Piper had messaged us during the day and we agreed to meet at the gates to the New Forest. Our meeting point would only be a few easy miles further, but with the lack of cash points along route 2 country lanes and the limited choice of pricey fast food along Bournmouth seafront, we were still running off the gummy bears from breakfast at Lidl.
Ravenous, we had to eat before we went any further. Knowing what happens when hungry man is let loose into a supermarket, David thought it best he wait with the bikes and send sensible woman to do the shopping. Wandering around in a semi state of delirium, everything just looked SO good! A general rule of thumb when shopping on a bicycle tour; you should be able to carry your newly acquired items by hand to your bike. I had to ask for a cardboard box!
I returned to hungry man with a whole chicken, loaf of bread, crackers, crisps, fruit, salad, juice and a box of ice creams and we had absolutely nowhere to put it! So there we were, gorging ourselves like a pair of starving kids, in the supermarket car park, laughing until it hurt at the ridiculousness of what I had just done.
Refuelled and with a bag of bread squashed under the bungee chord holding down the spare tyre on the back of my bike, off we went to meet Piper.
The New Forest
"..Yeah, but what is the name of the road?"
"Forest road, we are half way along Forest road." Clearly, Piper thought we were a pair of jokers.
The confusion over the directions went on for a fair few minutes, when Piper suddenly realised that he, along with his Sat Nav was already sitting on Forest road!
You can see the pitch we scored in the top two photos. We strategically erected our tents to keep ourselves stealth for the night, yet basked in sunshine at dawn, it worked a treat.
After a feast of chicken sandwiches from the previous days shopping spree and a morning cuppa, we hit the road. Piper dedicates much of his spare time to helping improve the National Cycle Routes around the UK, so with a vast knowledge of the Sustrans cycle routes, he came armed with some great ideas to entertain us for the ride to Eastbourne.
Cutting through the New Forest there is a fabulous track that once hosted a steam railway. The line has since been dismantled and now provides a flat and wide route through the enchanting woodland from Burley to Brockenhurst to Beaulieu. Ambling through the forest, it was great to ride 3 people wide, no vehicles chasing your tale, merely giving way occasionally to the wild New Forest ponies.
If you were following us on the tracker at the time, this will be why it appeared we were in the middle of the Southampton channel!
We hitched a ride to Southampton port then snaked our way through the shoppers and market stalls of Southampton high street, looking for Route 23. Personally, I would have given up trying to find the often missing or tattered blue route signs and gone with a much simpler navigating tool of keeping the sea on our right. However, Piper seemed to have an impressive radar programmed into him to find the little blue directions and managed to successfully lead us out of the city and onto route 23 toward the South Down Way.
South Down Way
5am and we awoke to movement in the camp, Piper was up re-stoking the fire. We could glimpse the beginnings of a beautiful sunrise through the low laying, dewy haze, the day felt good already. One of the 'luxury' items we have bought on tour is an Ortlieb folding bowl and purely for the novelty factor of being able to do so, I was keen to get a hot bath on the go using the stream water, cooking pot and smouldering log. Self-sufficiency at it's best!
After cleaning our hands and faces, we went about breakfast. We had flame grilled toasted sandwiches and porridge with a piping hot coffee, brewed using fresh stream water (it was a bit chalky!).
The incline continued and eventually we peaked onto Beacon Hill at 201M. There was a stiff breeze blowing and it was getting damp but we had an awesome panoramic view across the downs. On an even clearer day, you are able to see the Isle of Wight from this position. It would have been a stunning ride had we continued along the way, but the pace along this terrain was slow going and bumpy and we were unsure if it would get better or worse. We decided to exit the track and pick out an alternative route through the lane ways, staying as close to the South Down Way as possible. It has been jotted in the memory book to come back to this one in the future.
The Partridge Inn
The rural countryside continued to offer delightful scenery and charming English villages, including The Partridge Inn in Singleton, where we stopped for a very tasty lunch. David of course tried to find out if he could have been related to anyone at the Inn, but the Partridges had already flown the coup! The British weather offered us yet another glorious day of sunshine and Piper was on form, offering light entertainment all the way to our destination of Ashington.
We would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Sarah, Simon, Jack and baby Matilda Hewitt who have been incredibly kind and offered us an amazing display of hospitality and friendship the last few days.
David had unfortunately injured his knee whilst twisting his foot out the cleat in an emergency stop and had been biting his tongue until
we got to Eastbourne, where we planned to stop at the Enigma factory to make some alterations to our bikes. Just 6 miles before the Hewitt's house in Ashington and David could not push the crank an inch further. Without any hesitation, Simon and his friend Graham came to help us and collected Dave and bike. They also took the panniers from Piper and I, which meant we had the opportunity to crank up the pace and fly the final few miles to Ashington!
We had a fabulous evening with the Hewitt's at the Crown Inn and it was a brilliant end to a really fun few days with David Piper.
We are already looking forward to Piper joining us for more antics on the road!
We have been staying with the Hewitt's for the last few days whilst David repairs his knee and we wrap up a few other bits and pieces before we sail away from the White Cliffs of Dover and head to the continent where the real adventure begins....
In the meantime, David will entertain you with his attempt at making a tin can camp stove.. keep your eye out!!