The idea of this short tour was to extend our Lymington-based cycling range beyond one-day outings and to give some of the Tuesday Cyclists (TCs) who had not toured by bicycle before a chance to try it out.
The brief was to:
Three of these were possible, but as the TCs were to find, while cycling in the New Forest near to Lymington is remarkably easy, it is an inescapable geographic fact that, south of Lymington the Isle of Wight is lumpy and to the south-west are the Purbeck hills, to the west are the Dorset Downs, to the north west are Cranborne Chase and and the West Wiltshire Downs, to the north are the Marlborough Downs, Berkshire Downs and Hampshire Downs in a line and to the east are the South Downs. Any circular tour from Lymington, avoiding motorways and trunk roads, is likely to encounter at least two of these - and for the avoidance of doubt in the charmingly perverse way of the English language in this context the word "Down" means a grassy thing that is most definitely UP.
Sheila took on the role of route planner and and after extensive research devised the four-day tour:
"Coffee, lunch and tea stops through Wiltshire and Hampshire by bicycle", with scheduled stops in:
Burley, Damerham, Wilton, Warminster, Bradford-on-Avon, Yatton, Malmesbury, Wootton Bassett, Marlborough, Great Bedwyn, St Mary Bourne, Stockbridge and Bramshaw.
She provided detailed route sheets, tourist notes on interesting historic and geographic places to be encountered en-route and copious instructions; and negotiated an assortment of accommodation and feeding bookings.
Preparation, training and fitness check-up
Sheila issued her packing list as a sample guide as to what might be taken, but this was somewhat immediately undermined by Mike offering vehicle support and a daily bag-drop, thereby instantly removing difficult decisions such as whether to take one or two pairs of socks, or how much one can cut off a tooth brush to make it weigh less while still being fully functional. In a true spirit of independent travel David stuck to his intention to carry his own panniers.
For training, Judy kept up her daily cycling routine; Sheila, Mary and John cycled to Cranborne and back;
and Steve, David, Birgit, Sheila and John cycled around the Isle of Wight in possibly the slowest time ever.
Much as expected the medical parade revealed that Steve was still limping with her chronic foot problem; David was recovering from a general battering from sailing a boat with broken steering through a Bay of Biscay storm; Birgit was still recovering from a knee operation; John was still awaiting the X-ray results about his bad knee; and Sheila's bad shoulder was not too bad at present. So, apart from buying the Ibuprofen, we were fit and ready to go.
Day 1 Lymington to Wilton 62 km (39 miles)
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After several points
and careful consideration
by the judges the
Queen of the Mountain