Tempting you to Tour Part II

 

In blog #1 ex-pro cyclist Emma Silversides told us about a cycle tour in exotic Morocco while this one is much closer to home and she hopes to inspire some first timers to give it a go.

 

Have you read blog #1?  Have I convinced you to try touring? Or are you still a little nervous about the practicalities and logistics of it all?  My second of three blogs will hopefully go some way to convincing you that it’s easier than you might think but like trying anything new, it’s all about gaining some experience.

 

Only a few months ago, I loaded up the bike and headed off from my own front door for a tour through south Wales.  This is a great way to build confidence, learn from mistakes and, as a bonus, you get to discover our very own amazing island!

 

I am going to briefly tell you where I went just over a month ago to perhaps give you some ideas.  I drove to a friend’s house about 45 miles south of where I live, this was to avoid touring on roads that I am extremely familiar with and tend to associate with my old training days for road racing.  Doing this also enabled me to return from the coast in one day on the last day, which was a real bonus.  

 

So from north Bristol, on the lower edge of the Cotswolds, I toured south west between Bath and Bristol, heading into the Mendips.  Following these lumpy roads, I toured over the Somerset levels for some time before finishing in Crewkerne, on the northern edge of Dorset.  I had hoped to get further south into Dorset but a lack of available accommodation prevented this. 

 

Somerset’s fruit orchards basking in the sunshine

Somerset’s fruit orchards basking in the sunshine

 

 

For this first day I was blessed with sunny and mild weather, however this was certainly not the case on day two – a massive deluge greeted me as I headed eastwards to Southampton.  Although I started out in dry conditions the majority of the day’s riding was done in the rain. That said I was most grateful of the dry 90 minutes I had while I crossed the New Forest.

 

My most vivid memory of this day is the doorstep cheese and pickle sandwich, with chips which was followed by an indulgent session in a Jacuzzi, pool and sauna that I rewarded myself with.  This did not cost an arm and a leg like you might think, many hotels reduce the prices of rooms if they are not booked out.

 

Most road surfaces were good; if they were bad the views always made up for it!

Most road surfaces were good; if they were bad the views always made up for it!

 

On the third day saw I rode into the port in Southampton and took the ferry to the Isle of Wight for a tour of the Island.  The Island is easily a day’s riding, though I guess two day’s might have allowed for more exploring.  On the last (long) day I took the ferry back to Southampton and navigated my way back to my car.  This was a testing day since it was mainly into a headwind.  I was however determined to get from the east side to the west in order to see The Needles and it was mission accomplished!

 

Reaching the west of the Island and getting a view of the Needles, the lighting was stunning

Reaching the west of the Island and getting a view of the Needles, the lighting was stunning.

 

The last day saw me riding into the wind again, a relentless battle under cloudy skies that was rightfully rewarded with a glass or two of wine and pizza.

 

The sun shone initially as I approached Wiltshire and Salisbury Plain

The sun shone initially as I approached Wiltshire and Salisbury Plain but…

 

The sun retreated as I got onto the Plain and faced the wind

…it soon retreated as I got onto the Plain and faced the wind.

 

Maybe my account hasn’t sold you on touring from a weather front but it must be said that the summer in England this year has not been at all conducive to stringing together three or four days of perfect touring weather.  This is not always the case and often choosing to tour in spring or autumn is actually a more favourable option, as the traffic on the roads is often lighter during the school summer holidays.

 

In any case I hope that I have convinced you to give it go.  The last blog in the series will cover a seven day touring adventure from Belgium into France, taking in Luxembourg and Germany.

 

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