Saturday 8 December 2018
I always look forward to those Saturday rides that start from Dikes Supermarket, meaning that I can enjoy my dog walk, read the papers and still have time for a leisurely breakfast. I met Roger on arriving at Dikes and we both agreed that the day’s ride could be quite challenging as a gusting south westerly wind and afternoon showers were forecast.
On Thursday I had completed a recce of the ride in similar conditions to check the route for road closures and to book our lunch stop in Dorchester. The only concern was that I needed to make our lunch stop for 12:30pm, that gave us a 2 hour window to complete the ride which was a bit tight if head winds and punctures were an issue.
On the day there were 10 possible intrepid riders up for the challenge : Roger, Jill, Mary, Richard, Paul, Ron, Ben, Keith, Charlie and myself. Disappointingly, by the time we had passed Stock Gaylard Deer Park and passed through Kings Stag there were only 3 riders willing to follow me Mary, Ben & Charlie! Our pace slowed somewhat at this point as we were heading directly into the prevailing wind. I was beginning to think that allowing only 2 hours to Dorchester was a bit optimistic in these conditions when one of Charlie’s famed 700×32 size tyres decided to go flat on him meaning we had even less time to our stop. Next concern was the ROAD CLOSED sign in the centre of Buckland Newton, we continued with fingers crossed only to be greeted by roadmen working on clearing a large fallen tree just before Piddlehinton. We managed to clear this obstacle after practically bribing one of the workmen. Still all was not lost, the wind seemed to be more in our favour at last, so I stepped on the gas a bit! We made good time on to Puddletown where we made a right through the Puddletown Forest, we crossed a former Roman Road and passed quite close to Thomas Hardy’s cottage.
After turning right at the next junction the route became distinctly more undulating heading towards Stinsford, we now had the head wind back again to contend with. We crossed the roundabout just outside Stinsford and battled onto the Sun Inn at Lower Burton on the Old Sherborne road. We arrived at 12:50pm only 20 minutes late, not bad considering everything.
The Sun Inn is an old 17th century pub which has an excellent carvery and always seems to have an open log fire burning away to greet you. The Inn looked very festive with all its Xmas decorations. We all enjoyed a good meal and were counting our selves lucky as we could hear the rain hammering away on the windows. During our meal (as he usually does) Charlie kept ribbing me that I was going to be in serious trouble because I had set too high a pace and had dropped Paul early on in the ride and that as he is the Club Chairman it did not look good for me! Anyway, Charlie insisted that I ring him (we all knew that he had turned off in Kings Stag) to ask what his ETA was likely to be at the Pub, as we were all waiting for him before we order. I still don’t know why I agreed. In the event I’m glad Paul saw the funny side.
The return route was a lot easier going with a very acceptable tail wind at times, yet we still had a few heavy showers to contend with. Ben turned left to pick up the Cerne Abbas road for his route back to Yeovil, whilst the 3 of us turned left at the top of the Charlton Down towards Piddle Hinton and picked up our original outward bound route towards home.
Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Mike A. following his sad news.