Surrey Road Trip
by IronjediMay 22nd 2013
I found myself on Saturday night cycling from Devon to Somerset to work 23 miles. Working all night and then in the morning at 0630 setting off for a road trip to Surrey to visit my brother at a location not too far from Dorking. The sun was shining but it was little chilly so I started the day wrapped up. The first 5 or 6 miles were certainly the hardest of the day. My legs felt like lead and I was wondering if this was such a good idea. Still there was no turning back, I could have cried. I kept telling myself this was good training for the Brutal and being able to manage some distance with sleep deprivation and fatigue would be a good test for me. There was so far still to go. Having no panniers I opted for a rucksack. I packed as light as I could, but I would be away for three days, I would pay for this later that evening.
Traffic was almost non-existent, so to start with I chose the main A30 and after waking my legs up I began to zoom (well that¬'s what I kept telling myself) along through Shaftsbury and into Dorset. Stayed on the A30 and headed towards Salisbury. I passed into Wiltshire and stopped at Fovant, to check out the regimental chalk badges and to learn a little about their history. The setting was Beautiful with the sun shining down on the Wiltshire downs. I thought this stretch of road would be boring, however to my surprise; it was fast rolling road with the downs to the right and fields of rapeseed, beautiful. My mood changed from feeling sorry for myself and tired to being quite excited about what the day may bring.
I passed through Salisbury checking out the cathedral which seemed to dominate the skyline. I was making good progress and was feeling remarkably jolly. I then headed towards Winchester, this section would require a little bit more navigation as I would now move onto smaller quieter roads and traffic was getting busier. I made my first mistake and missed my turn, ended up on the A26 heading towards Southampton on the dual carriageway. I was then stuck on it for a very scary 15 minutes with no escape off. I had to plough on; this was effectively like riding on a motorway and I was relieved to get off it.
Once off I basically followed the river towards Mottisfont Abbey, again these roads were beautiful, long flowing fields which were peaceful and quiet. My speed slowed as I had to keep stopping to look at my map working out the different twists and turns. After I passed the Abbey I found my route blocked with a series of road closures and active road dressing. Things had definitely slowed and eventually I made it to Winchester. I stopped Just outside Winchester for a quick lunch and then pushed on heading towards Liphook. I must have been getting tired as I made another mistake as I reached the A3 and again did a little Dual carriageway section until I found the cycle path which runs alongside the A3, taking me into Liphook. Traffic was now much heavier and with only about 25 miles to go I was keen to push on through Haselmere, Chiddingford and Cranleigh. This section of the route was undulating and seemed to go on for some time. Eventually at 1430 I rolled down the drive into my brothers, checked out the time, I had a ride time of 6 hours 42 minutes with about another 1 hour 15 minutes of stoppage and navigation time. Really pleased with what I had achieved today. I was rewarded by my family with a large lunch and then an even bigger roast dinner that evening. My neck was in bits from the rucksack, swollen and bruised.
The following day I set off at 0815, this was going to be a very short day in comparison with some hill work through surrey including a Box Hill Recon. I set off straight into the Surry Downs and up Leith Hill, Surrey¬'s highest point. This was a relatively short steep/steady climb which gave great views across Surrey. I then dropped into Dorking to check out Box Hill. I was a little disappointed to be honest. I thought it would be steeper and had built it up in my mind as such. Box Hill was a steady climb which slowly weaves its way to the top. I was overtaken by a cyclist on the way up. I wasn¬'t too bothered by this as he was clearly local and certainly wasn¬'t carrying a rucksack with a sore neck. I did at first start to chase him but thought better of this. After Box Hill I flew onto my destination of Caterham. I stayed there overnight with a friend, who decided it would be a good idea to go and pick up my Godchildren up dressed in Skins and Flip Flops! Needless to say I was ridiculed at both schools. Thanks Nick.
Severe Weather Warnings for rain and wind were forecast for Tuesday for my trip back to Devon and were to be at their worst in the West Country. Due to this and the pain in my neck I decided to alter my plans and catch the train home. I was really torn between whether to ride or not. So I got up had breakfast and set off up to Clapham Junction. These 16 miles were the most dangerous of my trip. I certainly don¬'t miss riding in London! Jumped on the train to Honiton and as the rain hammered down on the train windows, I kept telling myself I had made the right decision. Arriving in Honiton in the pouring rain I cycled the 8 miles up onto the Blackdown Hills and home. In those 8 miles I was soaked through. I got in the house and was satisfied that I had definitely made the right decision to train it home.
A really successful trip with 200 miles covered. The sense of freedom was immense, the feeling that I could get anywhere I wanted on my bike was exciting and opens all sorts of possibilities. Definitely going to want to do Lands End to John O Groats at some point!!!