Well thrilled at the prospect of a weekend at home & not having to drive hundreds of miles, I planned absolutely not-much. Of course, a couple of rides figured in that not-much - it having been a month since my last adventures off road & that shoulder op getting closer. Saturday's was not at all ambitious - I headed to the diametrically opposite side of the Forest & followed some of the marked cycle trails (wide double track & some road, with plenty of walkers out). There were scruffy looking ponies in abundance as usual.
Just to prove that not all of the New Forest is beautiful, I think I stumbled on its secret ugly corner. It was bleak - low scrub, a dim day, sand, mud; I wonder why I didn't see many people out there. But I was out on my bike pushing the cranks around & it was good. With twenty clicks under the wheels, it was a pleasant hour & a bit out stretching the legs.
The local MTB club (New Force) had a fortnightly ride on Sunday, northeast of Winchester. So I dragged myself out of bed & went & joined dozens of others. We split into three groups & ours proceeded on a long anticlockwise circuit along bridleways through rolling farmland. While it was dry overhead, there was plenty of moisture in the ground to deal with - the mud was draining & a good technical challenge, especially on any long descents. In fact a bit of road was sometimes welcome for the respite it provided. I'm not sold on these club rides, I thought mountain-bikers were generally friendly. Perhaps the English are just over people from all over the world - four hours & I hardly got a word out of anyone, I miss riding in North America. That's beside the time when our group got split in two - who leads rides & doesn't wait at big intersections?
|Did see this good looking flag randomly down some country lane. Actually, I'd much prefer it were a silver fern on black.|
The day was salvaged by a big plate of cheesy chips (not quite poutine, but good enough), Somerset cider & then stumbling across a steam train near where I'd parked my car. I wandered up & down the platform a bit checking out the hissing engine & beautiful old carriages with the fascination one would expect of a history & engineering fiend. It occurred to me that I had no real reason to get home, so I paid my pounds & was issued with a quaint stiff cardboard ticket for the last return journey of the day. I had no idea where I was going, but that was just part of the fun.
|It was easy to see all the signal control wires running alongside the rails.|