Not all adventures have to be epic. You don’t need to scale a mountain or spend days in a jungle to have an adventure worth sharing. Sometimes it’s the little ones, the weekenders that bring the biggest smile to your face.
Ever since a friend of mine moved to just outside of Bristol, I’ve wanted to ride there from Portsmouth. So when we planned a ride in a local woods, I took the opportunity to do it! Saturday would be spent cruising to Bristol, Sunday would be spent in the woods taking in trails and feasting (visually) on oak trees.
I started off by planning my route for Saturday, Sunday was always going to be a ‘go with the flow’ day. A perfect mix of quiet country lanes, canal tow paths and dedicated cycle paths would get me to Bristol. I couldn’t wait.
With my Restrap Rando bag packed with the necessities (fig rolls), I was off. The first part to Winchester was roads I knew well and the first 30 miles flew by. A delightful mix of country lanes with views for miles in all directions. When I got to Winchester I was into the unknown. Nothing beats that feeling of new roads, new things to see that you only really get on a bike. I continued to cruise along, taking it all in, stopping for coffees, bananas and conversations with locals. Once you’re out of the city, the friendliness factor of people goes right up to 11.
After another 40 miles of winding roads, river crossings and beautiful countryside I was in Devizes. This was the bit I was looking forward to the most. For it was here that I’d pick up the Canal path to Bath. 20 miles or gravel. Perfectly flat. Heaven. The miles flew by, my bell almost constantly ringing in some sections, always met with a cheery hello from walkers and fellow cyclists out enjoying the day.
All good things come to an end, and eventually I was nearly in Bath, ticking upto 90 miles now. It was just before Bath that the biggest surprise of the ride hit me. A total sensory overload. The Combe Down Tunnel. As you approach it you feel the temperature drop instantly to a chill. Its dark inside. There is classical music coming from the walls. I’ve never experienced anything like it on my bike before. It blew my mind. The sort of thing you only ever experience on a bike.
Leaving the tunnel (and the next one!) I was now on the famous Bath to Bristol Cycle Path which did not disappoint! Just before I got to Bristol I joined the cycling network ring road heading north to my final stop for the day, a tasty 110 miles in the bag. A day like this though, you feel you want to go forever.
After a good nights kip and a delicious dinner it was Sunday. One fine day for a jolly in the woods. I bagged a lift with the friend I was staying with to the woods, where we met up with two more colleagues from Wiggle for a troop around an ancient Oak Forest, which did not disappoint. We played on a rope swing, we climbed trees, we got lost, we found another canal, we had lunch, we had an ice cream. Miles or MPH were never discussed. It was all about the smiles. The joy of bikes.
In the car on the way home, bikes on the roof, I thought of my long solo ride Saturday. The things I saw, the people I met. The being in nature of Sundays ride. It was a great weekends adventure. Two very different days on the same bike. Bikes are great. Remember that.