After a great weekend in Bristol, where a gang of us enjoyed the delights of Bristol’s premier BBQ festival GrillStock (yeah we know it’s a strange place for a couple of aspiring vegans to go but hay-ho we still had a great time), it was soon Monday morning and time to head 121 miles home.
I had planned a different route to normal and it was due to be our longest ride ever! In traditional Southsea Fixed Gear style we (some more than others) had abused the club motto of “uno mas” the night before and we set off late and hungover!
By we I mean myself (Andy) and Ben as Alex had had to head home by train the night before due to work commitments.
After finally managing to locate a key to our friend Ian’s garage, where we had stashed our bikes the day before, we finally got going. We cruised through the city center and quickly jumped on the now familiar Bristol to Bath railway path. 15 or so miles later we entered Bath and depite a short diversion easily found the relatively new Two Tunnels Greenway.
This is another great and relatively new Sustrans rail to trail cycle route that lives up to its name by including two amazing tunnels.
While navigating a short detour we were informed by some local old boys that the first tunnel was a quarter of a mile long, while the second was a full mile in length (making it the longest bike tunnel in the country!).
Both were immaculate and set out in the same way with a two way cycle path flanked by a foot or so or gravel.
The walls had regular lights, although we would recommend using your own bike lights as well, and then every so often there would be lights glowing in different colors while serenading riders with classical music!
After re emerging from the cool of the tunnel into the heat of the hottest day of the year so far the tarmac also gave way to a dirt track for the next short but bumpy section before finally kicking us back on to a road.
After the flat rail to trail routes we now found ourselves on the very rolling and in parts steep national cycle route 24. This is actually one of the nicest routes I have been on and with very light Monday traffic we were treated to mile after mile of empty country roads!
After some much needed hydration at the very quaint George Inn, Wadworth we continued east following closely to the railway line.
We saw the Westbury White Horse off the the north and eventually made it to Warminster.
By this time I was starving, no surprise there, and after getting some useless advice from a chap in the one stop we stumbled upon a very new looking Waitrose. I know what your thinking and we thought the same ‘when did Warminster get so posh?’ I helped myself to quite the picnic, including my favorite vegan hot dog.
Ben on the other hand was still full from all his sampling of the treats on offer at GrillStock the day before.
After a late start, slow cycle paths, lots of hills the the lack of sleep and hangovers had made us slower then expected and we knew we would have to get a riggle on to have any chance of making it home before dark.
We pushed on through more picturesque villages and ancient countryside before finally rolling to a stop in Sailsbury for just long enough to grab a quick drink and refill my bottle.
The next leg we knew, after riding it in reverse for the first time just two days previously. This was not as good news as it could have been though as despite the route being very idyllic we also new Farley Mount stood between use and the cathedral city of Winchester. With the thought of the climb to come Ben finally broke and we sat in the drizzle outside a corner shop while he devoured some much needed food.
By the time we started the climb up to Farly Mount it was raining steadily and continued to do so as we turned south from Winchester. Some might have call this a baptism, but we couldn’t possibly comment.
We stopped for more bananas and a top up of water in Bishop’s Waltham and celebrated hitting the 100 mile mark. Although with 21 miles still to go we didn’t get carried away.
As the rain gave way to a sunny evening the only thing between us and home was Portsdown Hill. With the last of our strength and a war cry of ‘Fuck you Portsdown Hill’ we powered to the top and could see Portsmouth laid out below us. We eased the last few miles home, even taking in a bit of the seafront to ensure we went over the 120 mile mark.
Although this is our longest ride to date the record may not stand for long as we have a sunrise to sunset ride planed to celebrate summer solstice on the 21st of June…! Check back to see how we get on.