There is this ride in the New Forest that I do every few years, and it is called the Grid Iron. You have cattle grids around the New Forest to keep the cattle in. The ride gets its name because the route takes you over these grid irons as you meander in and out of the Forest. Couple of usual riding partners and one Of my Customers- "Tiger Tim". He gets his riding name because he has a few accessories to his riding gear- a pair of Tigers ears on his helmet, and a tigers tail on his saddle. This was going to be his first ride of any length and is a "Metric Century". Started fine with a bit of wind and sunny skies. The sun never left us all day but the wind stayed along with a slighly cool temp that meant I was in long sleeve top all day.
Started at 10 and the first thing I noted was that I had the front wheel in back to front so no computer. Whoops so "I'll catch you up" and I got it changed round. First of all let me say that tis ride is noted for its scenery- no BIG hills and just open heath land that always seems to be on a long uphill drag with a strengthening wind into your face. Today was no exception.
For some reason the route was reversed this year which cut out the two hills that I thought Tim would walk. In fact one of them I thought I would walk but the chance to stretch my legs never occured. It makes for a better ride to be honest- but It is still a hard ride for a Novice. I would love to be able to show you the scenery- but photo opportunuties were not there. I thought that I would be able to shoot off ahead, and take a few shots of the groups- but that only occured up to the first stop at 35Kms. After that- The other two got their own ride in and Tim and I took a leisurely ride to enjoy the scenery. But Descriptions- The wooded areas are fantastic. Big dense Oak woods but this has caused a problem this year. To get rid of the Acorns- Extra pigs have been enroled to clear them up and they roam free along with the usual wild Ponies and Cattle and a new comer that I have never seen before- Donkeys. Did not see many of the extra pigs and not much of the natural wildlife- Except for Buzzards. These are big- but the two hammerheads did not see them. Tim and I at our more leisurely pace saw quite a few, and some of them from very close range. Route to the 2nd stop at 70kms. was on some of the open Heathland and Tim found it tough. He is not used to head wind of that strength, and although I tried to lead- I still managed to drop him on too many occasions to say he had an easy ride. Now the route to the finish was unbelievable. The tourist trade has got hold of anything of interest but we passed by lots of converted cottages for the rich and some of these are a bit extravagant. Nice to look at but to give you idea of the status of the "Locals" now- We only saw two Franchised Car sales garages- one was for Bentley- and the other for Maserati. Every house had a beemer or two in the Yard or a Mercedes, but the Bentleys were in evidence too. The route took us to BUcklers hard- Big tourist area and is on the river that runs down to Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. This is where the ships were Built from the 15th century but due to a high admission fee to get in we did not bother to see it.
Back to the finish and Tim did the ride in 5 hours 45 minutes. I obviously did my Turning the legs over in the same time- but the two hammerheads that we started with finsihed 20 minutes ahead of us. Not enough time difference for what Tim and I agreed was an enjoyable ride.
Still a few pictures, but Not as many as I had hoped. The Old boy on the cart was fantastic. had a friendly word for all and I chatted to him and this cart is one of his families modes of transport and was bought by his family at the turn of the Century- Obviously around 1900, but he had just had it renovated by his workers on the estate- Not your common local then. The picture is in front of one of the style of cottages taht are on the forest. The old Ruin is the remains of an old barn- or what is left of it- The New building with it is the renovation work that will carry on in the next few years.
So We might get a new reader shortly in Tim but he admits to not being 50 yet. He enjoyed the ride- but I can tell you that by the end he was suffereing. What wasn't though was his enjoyment- Now if we can get a new set of legs and a saddle that fits better and possibly a new bike for him- Then it might be a fulll century next year, for when he joins us.