Home Again, Home Again …

Home Again, Home Again ...You know there feeling, you’ve got a closer look at a possible problem, and the closer you look, the more nerve wracking the challenge becomes. So it was with my ride back to Poole today. Having done the journey hundreds of times in the car, I got an ‘up close and personal’ look at all the hills on my way up to Bristol on Friday, so I knew what was now in store for me on my way home.

I had wondered about taking a slightly different route back, going via Salisbury instead of Shaftsbury and Blandford Forum. But upon reflection, that seemed a bit like cheating. I had enjoyed flying down the hills on the way there, so I would repay the ‘debt’ by cycling up them on the way back.

The more I thought about the route, the more I seemed to focus on the difficult sections on the ride ahead. But with my confidence buoyed by the ride on Friday I said my goodbyes to Hannah and Stanley and set off just before 8:00am.

The morning air was rather fresh, particularly on the downhill stretches, but the Bristol area is anything but flat, and soon I was nicely warmed by some pretty steep inclines into Keynesham. The ride through Saltford was busy but easy, then I came to Pennyquick Hill, leading up to Haycombe Cemetery.

Although it has a cycle path, the surface is rough and loose in places, and as Rob had mentioned, it is really rather steep. But I dug in, concentrated on the next meter, then the next, then the one after that, and pretty soon I was at the top.

Haycombe CemetryThe ride down the other side is a real treat, but then you hit Whiteway Road, and in trying to negotiate a grotty surface I lost all my momentum. The walk up to the cemetery, to a point where I could safely get myself going again was a real disappointment.

But, blowing my own trumpet a bit here, that was the only time I walked with the bike. Some of the hills on the A350 were really tough, but I was determined and my legs were working well. Even Midford Hill and the twisty lane through Kingsettle Wood leading into Shaftsbury were conquered.

Shaftsbury Bus StopEntering Shaftsbury I decided I deserved a short rest, so I made use of the bus stop I had sat in on the outward journey. A few swigs of isotonic drink, to replenish the salts I had lost, a post on Facebook to let people know I was still OK, then an Orange energy sachet, a couple more swigs to wash it down and I was off again.

Apart from a short shower at Blandford Forum, which was actually rather refreshing, the rest of the journey was rather uneventful. Anyone seeing me ride through Upton and into Hamworthy must have thought that I was some escaped lunatic, the grin on my face was from ear to ear.

The trip had taken me just over five and a quarter hours, three quarters of an hour less than Friday and although I am nicely tired, I am non the worse for the experience. Another example of defeating the doubts that The Dark Passenger puts in my head, and maybe another step further along the path.

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