Monday, 17 September 2012

Day 7&8 Destination Sark!

Thursday 13th September - Day 7                  Daily Mileage 316 – Total 1433

Actually I travelled a further 246 miles to Guernsey plus 9 miles on to Sark bringing the round trip by sea to an impressive 510 miles. Add that to the 669 I rode on Mr T the grand total comes to 1179 miles. Not shabby by any means in a cool 37 & a half hours. No wonder it’s taken me three days to sort my head out sufficiently to put pen to paper. 

Looking at the map I figured I could visit 8 Gold Post Boxes on the ride down to Poole before catching the ferry to Guernsey & then on to Sark for that elusive Gold Post Box to celebrate Carl Hester’s Gold Medal win in the Equestrian Team Dressage. So with my £30 return ticket to Guernsey booked. Parking all sorted thanks’ to Dave Avery kind offer, taxi booked for 7.00am to take me down to the port all I needed to do was not have a drink on our Wednesday night out, great!

Still if a jobs worth doing its worth doing right as they say, still not sure who “they” are but you get my drift. Arriving home at a little after 11.00pm I started to get myself ready for my midnight departure so as to only use two of my 22 day allocation. 

Stratford-upon-Avon. Jeannie stayed up to wave me off which was nice. Rolling off down the drive as quietly as possible so as not to disturb anyone I headed into town to fill up at ASDA as it’s a self-service pay at the pump, meaning no getting off Mr T. The ride down to Stratford-upon-Avon was great, the roads clear of anything other than trucks. M62, M60, M62, M6, M42, M40 and finally A439 straight into the town centre. Riding very slowly through the town centre I soon spotted the twin boxes on the other side of the street. As the road is split by a path it was a quick nip to the mini roundabout and back to take the picture. That done I was tempted to just ride over the path but with a long night ahead thought better of it and went round. Just as well really as there was a police man in his car parked up just down the road & he’d was watching what I’d been doing the whole time. Well that was number one in the bag, onwards and southwards Raymondo.

Bridge Street Stratford upon Avon
James Roe - Gold medal Rowing: Mixed Coxed Four (LTAMix4+)

Alcester. This is where the riding would become very interesting as from Stratford-upon-Avon all the way into Poole I would be riding purely on A & B roads. Something I was really looking forward to doing, even at night. There was not a single vehicle of any kind on the road to Alcester. Arriving at the coordinates I’d taken from Wikipedia I rode down High Street to find the post box was red! After riding up and down the street for 5 minutes and watching my arrival time diminish from 6.35am to 6.40am then 6.45am. I knew something was wrong but what? There was not a soul in sight in this sleepy village of what I thought was Alcester. No time to waste I photographed the red box and the post office so I could check later.

Wrong Box Raymondo
Try again! 

Cheltenham. Although the ride from Stratford to Alcester had only been just over 8 miles I’d lost 15 valuable minutes and worse still not photographed the Gold Post Box. I was gutted. Cheltenham was 27 miles away and took a good 40 minutes to get there due to it being pitch black on very nice twisty A46. As soon as I arrived in though the Garmin 660 started to route me to my next stop leaving me slap bang in the centre of town. Now one good thing I’ve realised right then was the town centre is closed off to traffic during the day but not at night. Just as well as I would never have been able to find the twin Gold Post Boxes so quickly. Plus I’d like to thank the two slightly inebriated chaps who tried there hardest to introduce me to two Olympic Competitors who were refusing to take their heads away from the cash machine. Nice try chaps and thank you for the directions, I found the twin square Gold Post Boxes took the photo and was away in minutes.

Upper High Street Cheltenham
Alex Gregory - Gold medal Men's Four Rowing

Ampney St Peter. Now as far as roads go I have just got to say, the A416 is a great stretch of road. Not a single car in sight and a steady 50mph dropping to 30 here and there I was in Ampney St Peter without a problem. Until I arrived that was, where is the Gold Post Box? Riding down a dead end lane to a few very nice houses all of which lit up like the Houses of Parliament as I rode past I was treated to a fantastic display of beautiful British architecture but no Gold Post Box. That was until I turned Mr T around to head back and just caught the glint of something in the wall tucked back from the path. There is was most possibly the country’s smallest Gold Post Box. Photo taken and I slipped away as quietly as I could, brilliant.

Ampney St Peter Gloucestershire
Laura Bechtolsheimer - Gold medal Equestrian Team Dressage

Stroud. The weather was being kind to me by not raining, my Gerbing Heated Jacket was taking care of the 8 degrees centigrade temperature. The A419 is brilliant, loads of twists and turns to keep both mind and body alert. It’s a shame its only 17 miles point to point but fun all the same. The twin Gold Post Boxes were a doddle to spot and within minutes I was off again.

Old Market Stroud
Pete Reed - Nailsworth - Gold medal Men's Four Rowing

Bradford-on-Avon. 30 miles down the A46 just clipping the back of Bath then straight down into the village of Bradford-on-Avon which is an absolutely stunningly beautiful village. Finding the Gold Post Box turned into a little challenge with me passing it on my first ride in as the coordinates were wrong, again! Still after a frantic double take and a ride through the Shambles I found it and photo taken was off to my penultimate Gold Post Box.

The Shambles Bradford-on-Avon
Ed McKeever - Gold Medal Men’s Canoe Sprint Kayak Single 200m

Sherborne. Now I did mention that I’d not be seeing a motorway all the way South from Stratford-upon-Avon to Poole didn’t I? Well from Bradford-on-Avon to Sherborne I touch one A road, in fact it was 98% B roads  & back road at best and it was fantastic. Heading due South through a tiny village called Wingfield, past Rode, touching the A36 for all of 100 yards then it was village hopping again. The riding was brilliant the temperature had increased to 11 degrees centigrade making life very cosy indeed. Within the hour I was pulling up on Cheap Street in Sherborne to take the photo.

Cheap Street Sherborne
Peter Wilson - Gold medal Shooting Men's Double Trap

Now I should have been heading due South to the other side of Weymouth but sadly time was against me and without realising the Garmin 660 had re-routed me towards my parking destination in Pool at Dave’s. What I’ve not mentioned is the fact that although I’ve increased the size of Mr T ‘s Petrol tank to extend our traveling range to well over 350 miles I’d been acutely aware of the total lack of petrol stations on for the last 3 hours. Now there is a 2 litre backup can and rack sat on my bench in the garage for such occasions, fat load of use it was sat up there! I’d been on reserve now for a good while but Poole was only another 37 miles away. The longest 37 miles I have ever travelled by the way. Just 3.7 miles from Dave’s & with Mr T’s petrol gauge showing 59.7 miles on reserve the inevitable happened!

Drifting to a standstill on a very busy A35 I got off, laughed and started pushing Mr T towards Poole. Now I can here you all laughing your socks off as you read this and to be honest I deserve it but I just didn’t care it was 6.35am I had 25 minutes to catch my taxi to ensure I checked in for the 8.30am ferry to Guernsey and nothing was going to stop me making it. That is till the road started to go up hill and the sweat started to trickle down the back of my neck some 300 yards later.

First biker to pass me stopped. Mark you are “The Man” and he was on a Yamaha Genesis.

“What’s to do can I help” came the question.

“I’ve run out of petrol” I said ashamedly and almost cracking up at the thought of writing this up.

“The nearest petrol station is about a mile the other way”

“Typical I must have just missed it when I turned left” It was literally 300 yards in the opposite direction.

“I’ll nip home and get the car and fetch you some”

“You are an absolute life saver thank you so much. Do you want some cash?”

“Na, see you in a few minutes” and with that my “Knight in Shining leather jacket & jeans” was off like a rat up a drainpipe. Shit could that Genesis move.

I carried on pushing to the junction and stopped at the beginning of the barriers. I was there all of 3 minutes when biker number two stopped and offered assistance followed 5 minutes later by biker number 3.

Poole can I say here and now you have the best bunch of “bikers” I have ever met and I want to thank both the guys who stopped you were brilliant. Whilst I waited I called and delayed my taxi by 15 minutes and got changed out of my Dainese riding suit and put on my Kevlar Combat Jeans and Shoie Jacket ready for the trip to the Sark.

Mark was true to his word returning 10 minutes later with a brand new 5 Litre can of fuel which I dually used to top up, paid Mark for the fuel and the can and gave him the can back as a thank you.

Half a mile down the road I spotted a petrol station off to my right on the roundabout so did a full circle and filled Mr T up with 26.5 litres of petrol ready for my return trip (note to self, fit the spare can to panniers).

Mr T parked up on Dave’s drive at the side of the trailer and as close as I could get it in accordance with his instructions, I only had a 5 minute wait before the taxi driver picked me up and whisked me away to the ferry. 

Now I’m not a great fan of sea crossings but when the sun is out, the sea is like a duck pond and feeling as tired as I was the crossing just drifted away. I really nice cup of coffee and a snooze set me up for what can only be described as sheer lucky draw. The captain woke me with his announcement that there would be a slight delay as they had to enter the port very slowly as it was the Guernsey Air Show today! Bonus. I’ve heard of being a lucky get but never been one until now. The show was brilliant, the harbour area was buzzing and I got quite a few nice pictures of a Lancaster escorted by a Spitfire.

Not bad for a little Lumix Camera

Legging it back to the Sark Ferry after running across Guernsey port to buy a ticket I had quite a dab on when I settled down for the crossing sitting with my back against the cabin on the deck. Still I got another 20 minutes shut eye and a few more nice pictures. 

St Peter's Port - Guernsey

Sark is breath-taking, it’s as simple as that. Small, clean, compact, everything you want is in “The Ave” from posh hotel at one end to the post office with the one and only Gold Post Box at the other. My plan was to run up the hill, as my Dad had told me it was a good 8 minute walk as he’d been to the island diving. He was right, trouble was the post office is at the far end of the “The Ave”. I got a couple of visitors who were also taking a picture of the Gold Post Box to take a couple of pictures of me with the box, I then started rushing back to the port and thought, STOP! What the hell are you doing, Sark is just too beautiful to rush and so settle in for the 3 hour stay until the 4.00pm return ferry came. Best decision of the trip. Here’s a few pictures of this stunning island called Sark.

The Ave Sark
Carl Hester - Gold medal Equestrian Team Dressage

The Ave - Sark

Falkirk cast cannon cast between 1795 - 1798
Mounted in 1989

Toast Rack anyone?

Day Seven - 7 Gold Post Boxes

Friday 14th September   Day 8                           Daily Mileage 353 – Total 1786

Arriving back in Poole at 12.50am I found myself waiting for a taxi to arrive having been advised in the morning by the taxi driver there would be a few taxis at the rank. Wrong there was one and it was taken by a chap heading to Dorset! I Think the taxi driver almost thought he had won the lottery. I was charged £9.80 in the morning a £14.20 at night for the same trip. Not impressed at all!

Getting changed back into my Dainese gear at the side of the bike at 1.00am in the morning having had half an hours sleep on the dock and 2 hours on the ferry aided by a very tasty Ribeye Steak Diane before setting off back. I was all set for a good ride home via 2 more Gold Post Boxes on the South coast just 23 miles away.

Lymington. The Garmin told me I would be back in Rochdale for 6.35am perfect for starting to get Lilie Rose ready for school at 7.30am my usual start time. The ride was nice and steady tracking the South coast all the way, passing Bournemouth International Airport along the way. Heading though Poole I was soon onto a nice bit of dual carriageway, the first and last for the next 20 miles. I found the post box in Lymington straight away as its right at the side of the road not tucked away like so many have been on this journey. I plumbed in my next destination…..

High Street Lymington
Ben Ainsley - Gold medal Men's Finn Sailing
UPDATE: Gutted to Discover that this is a FAKE!
 No it is not for real, it was fly-painted by a local 

Hamble. Only 25 miles on but it was going to take 45 minutes. The ride was quick and easy until I inadvertently rode over the Itchen Toll Bridge. I now need to pass on yet another massive thank you to the kind toll bridge guy who paid my 20p toll as I had not got a single penny on me. Thank you very much and yes I know “I owe you 20p, Ok I know”. Picture taken, and back onto Mr T I plugged my head set back in. I was still bang on track 6.39am I set off and then I heard it.

High Street Hamble
Dani King - Gold medal Women's Team Pursuit

Crackling, distorted, and only in my right ear! Damn, I’d bent one of the prongs in the connection cable. It sounded horrendous! Still I was off home thinking the nice run up the A34 would be a dream and with a little luck I could also photograph the Gold Post Box in Oxford. Fat chance. A34 closed at M4………………

Tiredness was just starting to creep in but when you’re at “work” at 7.30am you have no option other than to press on. As soon as I got to the A34/M4 junction I got my head down and rode straight to the M25 and the up the M40 watching my arrival time change from 6.36am to 7.23am as I took the decision to stick to the motorway. By the time I got to the M42 I was suffering, not with any pain but just tiredness. I stopped for fuel and bought another iPhone charger as my mobile was flat. Charging the mobile as I headed around Birmingham I made one final stop at Keil Services on the M6 to text Jeannie and let her know it was going to be close but I would be back in time to take care of Lilie Rose. I had a 5 minute nap on the grass at the side of Mr T and woke refreshed and with the sun rising.

The last leg home and the heavens opened waking me up good and proper. Bathing Lilie Rose whilst still in my bike gear was not what I had planned but Jeannie had Ben to sort out and take to school, such is the slick system we have running at home.

I’m happy to say after a mammoth 1179 mile round trip in 37 and a half hours. Sark is in the Bag!

Day Eight - 2 Gold Post Boxes

Next stop, Wales. Happy travelling all you #GoldBoxJourney’s

PS. Star-Com Cable has been replaced. I’ve still to fit spare fuel can rack but that will happen soon and I now need to take the front end off again to replace another blown side light. Hay, Ho the joys of biking.

1 comment:

  1. Mark was true to his word returning 10 minutes later with a brand new 5 Litre can of fuel which I dually used to top up, paid Mark for the fuel and the can and gave him the can back as a thank you.
    Ben Almeer,
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