24 February 2018
When Charlie told me that Paul Martin was unable to lead this ride I was happy to take it over as I know the roads well. With the route planned in my mind to take advantage of the promised sunny day, the east wind and the spectacular snowdrops around Pythouse, I phoned the Boot at Tisbury on Friday Lunchtime just to complete the plan. Bad news -no food on Saturday as all his staff were away on a skiing holiday! A frantic bit of internet searching and unanswered phone calls led me to the conclusion that Tisbury was not going to make a good lunch stop. From previous experience I knew that the lunches served other pubs in that area were not suited to a cyclist’s budget or calorific requirement, there had to be a plan B. I chose Blandford! Not the most exciting destination, but we hadn’t been there for a long time and I knew there were plenty of places to find lunch.
When I arrived at the Udder Farm shop the group had already filled the table for 12 that I had reserved, but the latecomers were easily accommodated. Breaking the news of our change of destination did not go down well, especially with Jim who (once he realised it was not a wind-up) threatened not to come. Joan, (Jim’s wife) put her foot down and told him that he had to ride with us -I think she wanted a few hours of peace!!
So 12 cyclists eventually set off on a meandering route through Margaret Marsh, Hinton St Mary, Sturminster Newton and on the Okeford Fitzpaine on familiar lanes made spectacular by the amazing weather. At Okeford Fitzpaine we took the “new” section of trailway towards Child Okeford. Apparently a grant of £60,000 had been obtained to establish this route, unfortunately this only stretched to a covering of very loose scalping’s, not ideal for road tyres, I’ll use the road route next time. We continued along the trailway, leaving it at Durweston to enjoy the climb up through the grounds of Bryanston School.
Café 65 proved to be an excellent choice with a table for 10 ready and waiting for us as if I’d booked it in advance! (we’d lost Jim and Ron somewhere back on the route) There was an extensive menu of sensibly priced food and it was served reasonably quickly.
For the ride home we split into two groups, with some using “back in time for the rugby” as an excuse to take the flat route back along the trailway. The rest of us headed up and over to Winterborne Stickland and on to Bullbarrow with wind assisted climbs. At the top, 4 went straight on heading for home via Hazelbury Bryan whilst I turned left to ride down the ridge back to Okeford Fitzpaine with fantastic views over the Blackmore Vale.
Thanks to all who followed me -it couldn’t have been a better ride if I’d planned it!