Ian Tallamy gives us the From S to N inside story. Day 1, Southampton to Marlborough...
What started as a really wet and damp dreary ended up as a warm and sunny Summer’s afternoon. An enthusiastic group of 15 cyclists gathered outside the Smiths News depot in
Southampton. First up was the team briefing from Mark Charlton outlining the events that were to going to happen that day, the hotel arrangements for the night and an introduction to the guides who would be cycling with us.
At this stage, everyone is wondering who’s going to be the next legendary Chris Atherton ready to fall off their bike and nervous glances passed between the cyclists*, each wondering whether it would be them. Fortunately as the day progressed, it seemed that today wasn’t going to be the day when anyone fell off.
Anyway – back to the start – the cyclists lined up for the customary photo shoot. The photographer thought it would be better if a few of the cyclist leaned over their bikes – whether this was so they could get used to flying off the handlebars, or whether it was for a more aesthetically pleasing photograph, no-one knows. The photo session was mercifully brief, by this stage all the cyclists were ready to go. We were going to be divided into two separate groups – a lead group and a following group. To save the clamour of everyone heading for the lead group (not), Mark Charlton unilaterally decided on who was going where – no arguments, job done.
The ride took us through Romsey and Stockbridge, crossing over the Kennet and Avon canal and ascending to have some beautiful views of the countryside south of Marlborough.
Mark was very proud of his hi tech trip computer (like the one shown below) and showed it off to anyone who had the time to look it. The only problem was, it was recording a negative mileage, so starting off on 0000 miles, by the end of the journey Mark was able to show he had completed 955 miles on the clock – not bad for a Sunday afternoon’s cycling. Back in the real world, the rest of us were hoping to achieve about 45 miles.
Brett Hanley managed to break his trip computer and also managed to get a puncture an hour or so afterwards.
Hugh McGill managed to shred his rear tyre and had to have a replacement tyre and inner tube.
One of the support riders also got a puncture – so that’s three punctures on the first day. Ian Evans hired a super strong titanium bike for the week, which gave up after 41 miles and needed some emergency repairs.
Fortunately there were no accidents or injuries.
The intrepid cyclists headed off for an evening meal (not very conveniently timed to coincide with the England game against Italy). Then get set for day 2.
* = I might be able to give you a hot tip for who that might be, if you ask nicely ;)