Day 2 of the CHECT South Coast Spectacular – 13-06-2011

Day 2 – CHECT South Coast Spectacular

A tentative look through the crack in the curtains from my room in the Mercure hotel puts a smile on my face. Monday morning is bright, the sky looks clear and, what I was really looking to see, best of all Southampton is dry.

Most of the riders looked bright enough yesterday evening over dinner but I’m sure there was a lot of bravado involved. Diner last night had been almost a party as a large number of friends and family joined us at the hotel in Southampton. This year’s South Coast Spectacular is being taken on by the team who are involved because of very difficult personal experience for rider Dave and his family. The rest of the riders are friends and family and a lot have links to Southampton so the dining room was filled to the brim with people. Thanks to all of you for coming to see us, and boost the morale of an already exhausted team.

A word about CHECT – the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust. It is a small but vital charity working with children affected by Retinoblastoma. They offer support and information, fund research and raise public awareness of this rare cancer. For more information on CHECT visit their website at www.chect.org.uk.

Back to bravado. Riders were quite physically drained after the ride yesterday. The relentless rain and driving wind had taken quite a toll. Dinner with family and friends was lovely, and – with the exception of Duncan – all stayed up chatting and socialising until quite late. Most would happily have been in bed, asleep. As mentioned yesterday it had been the toughest day of cycling most would ever experience.

As well as the toll on the riders, most of the bikes had also taken a bit of a battering on day one. Over dinner a few niggling problems were reported so Jules and myself were up early and working on the bikes from 6:45 in the morning. Gear adjustments were made to the two bikes we’d been told about, brakes were serviced and as much of the road dirt which had accumulated yesterday as possible was cleaned off. Where we could we wanted the guys to feel like they were riding clean and fully serviced bikes. It’s not that practical to service eight bikes in the hotel lobby at 7 in the morning but we did the best we could then joined the rest of the team for breakfast at 7:30.

Breakfast was perfect. Plenty of excellent fuel for riders and support crew. Faces were stuffed, camaraderie was great, jokes and light hearted insults were flying and there were smiling and enthusiastic faces everywhere. Plenty of new bike niggles came to light over breakfast so plenty more gear and brake adjustments were made. Slightly over exuberant use of the tyre pump meant the first inner tube had to be replaced before a wheel had turned but the riders were ready to set off for day 2 a little after the scheduled 9:30am start time.

Roads were busy out of Southampton, and not particularly nice for the riders but after a while we peeled off the main road and onto narrow country lanes through Lyndhurst and the beautiful surroundings of the New Forest. The scenery here is stunning and, with the bright and clear skies and even some warm sunshine on their backs the riders are happy. The team attract some fellow cyclists on to the back of the group for part of the ride through the forest. This is clearly a popular area for cycling and it’s easy to see why. We pass a couple of farmer’s wives on horseback walking dogs on very long leads who greet us with a pleasant, warm smile and a welcoming wave from their weather beaten and creased faces. This was the first experience of some amazingly friendly and helpful people in this part of the country. Everyone we met today was extremely friendly and couldn’t do enough to help us.

We stopped briefly in Thorney Heath for a snack after a couple of minor and unplanned route deviations. Slight adjustment was made to one bike and off we went again. We stayed fairly close to the riders through this part of the ride. Sometimes the support crew need to head off and leave the riders to it while we re-stock the spares box or pick up items the riders need later in the day, but we were fully stocked and enjoying the ride through the New Forest, and offering some protection to the riders from approaching traffic, although the roads were pleasantly quiet.

Through Ripley on more single track roads and the ride was going well. This was, however, time for the latest in an unfortunate series of punctures for Matt. Although the ride team are careful to warn each other of possible dangers on the road it is sometimes impossible to avoid them and Matt, riding near the back of the group, had caught a pothole with his rear wheel and the tube had burst immediately.

As we were right behind them on the road we pulled over and I took on the tube replacement. Now as much as we all know that roadside puncture repairs are part of cycling, personally, I don’t much like repairing other people’s. A pinched tube or a not fully checked tyre can mean another puncture in a few hundred yards if you’re not careful so I’m always a bit nervous after a repair like this. Even though this was now Matt’s fourth (or is it fifth..?) puncture of the ride I didn’t want to feel responsible for another stop after my first puncture repair so I took extra care to ensure no pinching of the new tube.

Repair done and we’re off again through Sopley, Hurn, past Bournemouth Airport. The pleasant scenery of the New Forest is long gone and we plod on through Parley Green, Dudsbury… pleasant enough sounding towns but all fairly dull. Wimbourne is nice and the difference is obvious. It is very busy, not with road traffic so much but there are lots of people around. May be a good place to stop on a future ride. We head on a little further and stop on a large grassy area outside a petrol station. Perfect for the riders to be able to use the toilet and relax over the Mercure Hotel-supplied packed lunch.

Jules had been a little concerned about parking the Land Rover support vehicle on the grass verge. I’d insisted on it as I wanted it to be prominent and noticeable both to the riders as they came up the hill towards us and to other traffic on the road. Some free advertising if you like. For a moment it looked like Jules may have had a point as a man in a high-vis jacket approached us with a rusty axe… but he just used the back of it to knock a sign into the ground advertising next Saturday’s farmer’s market and off he went, leaving us relaxing under trees in the shade with the riders. Lunchtime’s support team task – on top of the usual dishing out of lunches and sweets, accessing personal belongings in the back of the car, topping up drinks bottles and so on – was to make minor adjustment to the cleats on Duncan’s shoes. Thanks to years of knee, hip and ankle problems, Ride manager Richard carries vast knowledge, and a book, to help with any niggling pains caused by cycling. In addition, rider Owen is a trainee physiotherapist so a course of action was agreed to adjust the cleats so Duncan’s heels would be slightly turned in to improve the situation with a small knee pain he was experiencing.

Lunch finished and the target now is Weymouth, our overnight stop, with a break for ice creams planned for somewhere near East Lulworth.

It’s a fairly uneventful afternoon’s ride. Even Matt can’t manage another puncture! Team work is good on the ride, with each rider taking a turn at the front, pulling along the other riders in his slipstream, and at the back benefitting from the same. We travel through the lovely riverside area of Wareham and head south to Lulworth.

Best find of the day is the Weld Arms in East Lulworth. Not only is it a lovely country pub with a beer garden, but the people are incredibly welcoming, friendly and helpful and, best of all, the pub has an ice cream hut and they will open up especially for us! Cornettos and Magnums are greatly appreciated by the riders. It seems like it’s the best thing that’s happened to them all day.

Paul Turner, a local eating outside the pub asks us about the ride, and what CHECT are all about and then forces some money into our hands. Diane, the boss of the pub, offers us a meal for two to raffle for the cause. It’s been a short stop at the Weld Arms but we’ve enjoyed it here and we’ll make this a regular stop on the South Coast spectacular. See the Weld Arms website HERE.

Leaving East Lulworth the terrain is tougher for the riders. Jules and I head straight to Weymouth, just 15 miles away, but we still experience some of the spectacular views the riders will see, particularly from Durdle Door. There are some fairly serious hills on this part of the ride and the team are going to have a tough end to the day.

In Weymouth we learn that the pace of life is slow, hotel owners like to talk… and talk… – not least about the changes being made in the area in preparation for the Olympic sailing events which will take place in 2012 – but once again the welcome is fantastic and we meet possibly the happiest man in the world in Rob Cole, the owner of The Esplanade on Weymouth seafront, and the very helpful and accommodating Lorraine in the Richmoor a few doors down. Riders and crew are split between these two typical and perfectly comfortable seaside hotels for the night. We meet for a quieter dinner tonight and I don’t know about everyone else but I’m exhausted and get my head down early for a good night’s sleep.

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CLICK HERE for Day 3 diary of the

CHECT South Coast Spectacular

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3 Responses to “Day 2 of the CHECT South Coast Spectacular – 13-06-2011”

  1. Susie Valentine-Pyle Says:

    Amazing guys. I’m amazed at the conditions you’ve had and what you are doing is awesome. X

  2. Day 3 of the CHECT South Coast Spectacular – 14-06-2011 « Ride2Raise Says:

    […] Day 2 – CHECT South Coast Spectacular […]

  3. Day 1 of the CHECT South Coast Spectacular – 12-06-2011 « Ride2Raise Says:

    […] CLICK HERE for Day 2 diary of the CHECT South Coast Spectacular […]

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