Friday, May 22, 2009

Wednesday – On the Road Again.

As I thought, today I am hurting.

A long day ensues as we head north to Wilcot, about 26 miles from Salisbury. Once again, downhill and up (did I mention the up part?)

Well, let me also tell you that the bike handles a lot differently when it is loaded down with paniers (bike bags... Heidi take note). Together, they weigh close to 50 pounds. Oi vey, I have got to cut back! After only 3 minutes, I take a tumble. Some shopkeepers rush out and ask if I am hurt?, “Only my pride,” says I. The woman smiles and understands as she goes back inside.

There are several other spills during the day. The slightest bit of being off-balance sets me on the pavement. We have to stay as close to the left edge of the road (remember I said they were narrow) and at very slow speeds (the granny gear) it is more difficult to steer the bike. Several times I over correct and find myself on the road bank in the reeds. Other times I take the easier (not easy) route and walk up the hill.

We stop in Amesbury at the bike shop and I get a tune up as the gears need adjustment. Then it's back on the road, twisty, turney, narrow and steep.

The countryside is beautiful, looks a bit like Pennsylvania or Virginia. Rolling hills (did I mention the hills?). Cows and sheep abound. The cows are quite large. I have never seen ones so big. Some horses too. Two black beauties come to the fence to say hello.

It's still hard to get used to riding on the left side of the road. Turning is quite dangerous as one forgets which way to look. So I try to wait until there is no traffic from either direction. I looked the wrong way once, and a woman came from the other direction with a quite disturbed look on her face. I am sure she was thinking, “Bloody American Cyclist.” I think she actually gave me the Betty look. For the uninformed, this is a look that is “world famous” and carries with it anger, disdain, and the unspoken message, “Don't you EVER do that again!”

After five hours of biking, and an hour and a half of stops, a few tumbles, lots of walks, and a total elevation climb of 1200 feet, we arrive at our destination; a small 150 year-old wayside pub and restaurant with a field in back for campers. The Golden Swan is an extremely pleasant place to stop. Carl knows this as he has been here before. We pitch our tents and go to the pub for a proper dinner. The menu boasts a “Barnsley Chop.” I inquire of Peter, the owner, and am informed that is is a cut of lamb. Done, says I... but add that I would like it medium rare.

Me behind the bar.

Peter, the owner

We meet Sandra, her daughter and grandson. The daughter owns a dairy farm with her husband in New Zealand. Sandra was on holiday there to visit, and now the daughter has flown back to be on holiday here. An eighteen hour flight with a 16 month-old. Hmmm.

The meal comes and is wonderful. Medium rare was just right! I noticed earlier that Sandra's hamburger was like mine at the King's Head, DEAD. How do these Brits tolerate their well done meat? Shall we have desert? We are on holiday, why not? There are several “puddings” listed on a blackboard. Sandra suggest the Treacle, “It's quite sweet, if you like sweet things.” I do. Shall I have it with cream or custard? How about both? Mmmmmm. I finish off the whole meal with a large pot of tea as we begin to write our blogs.

My body is hurting and I am fading, so it's off to sleep. We have pitched our tents in the field behind the pub, but there are also cars parked nearby. I only hope that as patrons leave to drive home, they will not take my tent along with them!

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