First adventure by AWOL

Last weekend was a long weekend so I thought it was the perfect excuse to give my new bike a good test run. I strapped on a couple of (borrowed) panniers, strapped on my tent and set off. The first aim of the weekend was to visit some friends, Emma and Stuart, up in London. Setting off from mine I tried to find some quiet roads and a couple of bridleways to see what the AWOL is like with a bit of weight on it down some off roady type tracks. First impressions were good although I think on the tyres its on now with more weight up front might get a little sketchy…more riding needed me thinks!

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My route ended up going through Speldhurst, along to Chiddingstone and up to Ide Hill…which given the name I really should have realised a hill would most likely be involved but for some reason I was surprised when I got there. Very strange. Still it was good to get up it, have a little break and enjoy the view near the top.

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From Ide Hill I went over the M25 towards Knockholt aiming roughly for central London. A little naively I didn’t quite realise how much greenery there is inside the M25 so that was a nice surprise and lovely to cycle through. The final 10 miles was though the suburbs of London and at about 5 I reached Woolwich! A really good first ride!

The next day I ended up staying in Woolwich for most of the day so I decided instead of rushing down to Guildford which was my original aim for the day I’d instead cycle through London enjoying the Thames Path and jump on the train. It just meant a more relaxed day all round and I got into Guildford at about half 7. It was a dark and wet 5 mile ride to a little eco barn I’d found with the wonders of the internet. After a few lighting issues on my bike I found it, dried out and relaxed for the night.

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Having arrived in the dark the night before and accidentally trying to stay at the neighbours house after getting my barns muddled up this was what I awoke to. The Puttenham eco barn, a really nice little place. Theres a kitchen in one section and a sleeping area in another, you simply throw your sleeping bag on the mat and crash out. Brilliantly simple!

From Puttenham the aim was to head down to Portsmouth. Looking at the maps it looked like it could be a really nice ride through the south downs, hopefully with some nice quiet roads. The weather was a bit hit and miss so the day was spent one minuet enjoying lovely sunshine (remove waterproofs) followed by buckets of water (quickly put waterproof back on). Despite this it was actually a really great ride because the rain only ever lasted 20 minuets or so. All I did was jump behind a bush or building or hide in a bus shelter until it passed. Once the sun came out I dried out and carry on.

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I ended up going through Elstead then onto Churt. Trying my best to avoid the A3 I found a little route down to Liss before heading down over the A272 to Nyewood and along to Compton. I came across a mighty hill which comes up out of South Harting. My days the legs were screaming but once your at the top the road was lovely. Just a nice gentle road down into Compton with great views all around.

After getting a bit lost in the outskirts of Portsmouth I arrived at my final destination for the weekend. In total I did about 100 miles over the three days so while it wasn’t mega it did give me a good first impression of my AWOL. I need to change a few little things and play around with putting my bags on the front to see how it copes with a little more weight. Other than that nothing major really. A brilliant success in my books! Now onto the next adventure…buying my own panniers!

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