Long Ride, Off Course, Cheeky Seagull

Even tho I wasn’t uncomfortable I didn’t get much sleep, at least until about 4:30 in the morning.  The last couple of dreams I had involved waking up right as we docked in Poole, and having to madly rush trying to get all my stuff together.  When I did wake up and they were getting things ready for breakfast in the cafe I looked at the time on my ipad and it said it was 6:30 – only ½ hour to docking!  

I rushed to the washroom and did a super-quick sponge bath, brushed my teeth and combed my hair (getting pretty long now – ha ha).  By the time I settled down and thought about it I realized that I was still going by France time, and the ferry was scheduled to dock at 7:00 am England time which is one hour behind – no need to panic after all.

There was quite a lineup at the cafe and since I only wanted coffee I plunked a pound coin into a machine – it took the coin but didn’t give me my coffee.  The lady at the cafe told me to go to the information desk so I did – the person that handles refunds wasn’t there yet so I went outside to take a couple of photos.

A7520AFA-BC85-4BC3-B25A-4F27D7565B80By the time I went back in the refund lady was there and didn’t ask any questions – I presume the machine eats a lot of coins.  I didn’t want to risk losing another battle with the machine so I stood in line at the cafe and got a large black coffee. I grabbed several little creams, then added the last packet of honey that I’d taken from the hotel breakfast yesterday.  I put the coffee in my metal water bottle to keep it hot and ate the package of dried bread that I’d also filched from the hotel in Mortain.

E4DD33FA-597E-4797-9D09-7F6D8D4532BBAfter my delicious breakfast (not!!) I went out on deck again – the coast as we neared Poole is very pretty, with white cliffs similar to Dover but not quite so high.  

ABDDAA24-753E-497D-857D-9545217C28D1I was the first passenger down to the car deck and got the bike loaded up. The older couple arrived shortly after, but the younger fellow that also had a bike hadn’t shown up by the time we disembarked.

My GPS led me rather well to the start of my programmed route but then seemed to lose me a couple of times.  I asked directions from a very nice man on a bike, and the GPS found me again – it led me out of the city along some very nice cycling/walking paths, then some quiet back roads to the town of Blandford.

5E48EFBA-72F2-40F3-85CD-82A36A164DB7As I was walking my bike across a pedestrian bridge an older gentleman said that he’d noticed my Cdn flag on my camera case and told me that his son and daughter-in-law live in Clearwater!  We chatted for a couple of minutes, then I continued on into the centre of town to get some cash from a machine and grab a cup of tea.

49FD60EC-92FE-42B6-A8EE-B6D4928E1DA3As I was finishing my tea the older gentleman passed by and we said hello again – I bought some nice cold water to fill up my other bottle, then was on my way again.  It took a couple of tries to get on the right road, and it was a pretty busy one. Most of the cars gave me a bit of room, or slowed down until it was safe to pass me, but a couple cut it pretty close – I could feel the breeze of their passing.

The GPS eventually led me onto a very quiet side road that went past fields with lots of sheep.  It started to rain, but wasn’t that cold unless I was going downhill. It almost seemed to be taking me in a circle, but did end up again on a more main road.  There was one point where the road diverged and one sign said Shaftsbury and the other Salisbury – the GPS didn’t seem too clear so I took the left road towards Shaftsbury.

After going down a fairly steep hill it suddenly indicated that I was ‘off course’ so I turned around and pedaled slowly back up and then took the right-hand road.  After going down that steep hill for a bit it indicated once again that I was off course! I ended up walking the bike back up to the junction, very frustrated, and took the left road again.

Of course, once I’d gone down a bit, I was – you guessed it – off course again!!  How can I be off course on both roads?? I turned the GPS off and just kept going, following the signs towards Shaftsbury.

After a bit I came across a pull-out with a couple of trucks and a car, and asked one fellow what the town I could see in the distance was.  He verified that it was Shaftsbury, but when I asked if there was a train station there he said no – I would have to go to Gillingham to get a train, but it wasn’t that much further.  He warned me to be careful on the way down ‘Zig Zag Hill’ and I’m glad I took his advice.

As it was almost all downhill the ride into Shaftsbury wasn’t too bad, and I followed the signs with no problem to the road that went to Gillingham.  I stopped at one point and asked for directions to the train station, which ended up being very easy to find.

The fellow at the station was very nice and checked out several different connections to find me the best and least expensive one.  I boarded only about 5 minutes later, and went to Salisbury, where I got on a second train after about 15 minutes going to Bristol. All of the train employees I encountered where extremely nice and helpful, which almost made up for how expensive the ticket was compared to the trains in Italy.

I had to wait a bit in Bristol for the next train so took the time to grab a sandwich – as I was sitting on a bench next to the train track a seagull landed near me and seemed to be eyeing my food.  I could believe it when the cheeky thing actually hopped on the bench beside me and tried to grab the wrapper and fly away with my lunch!  I grabbed it back and the bird just sat there waiting for me to let my attention wander so he could have another go at it.  

Luckily this train was the last one for me today, as I had to stand beside my bike the whole journey because the area wasn’t large enough to get the bike into properly.  A couple of hours later I was in Worcester – tired but almost ‘home’.

I asked a taxi driver outside the station how to get to Tolladine Road and he said to just follow the alley that was straight ahead and I’d be there – turn right to go north.  He neglected to mention that at the end of the alley there was a very steep staircase down to the road, but I managed it without too much trouble.

Once I reached Colin’s house – the key worked this time! – I unloaded the paniers and my camera and headed directly to the store to get some food.  When I was back from stocking up I cooked some fresh pasta and sauce, and made a nice greek salad and chowed down – so good.

I was really, really tired – I had ridden over 65 km in all, with a fair amount of baggage – not that far for a ‘serious’ rider, but for me it was pretty good.  I’m kind of disappointed in myself that I didn’t try to go another day or two before hopping on a train, but overall feel good about today’s ride, and it’s great to be back in Worcester.


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