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Piers and Points

Bournemouth to Weymouth Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

I left 7am sharp the following morning. By 0715 I was at the coast and my first Pier, Boscombe. Dawn had broke and I took this arty photo.

I posted it on Instagram with a web fact about Joan Collins filming there in the summer. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, it was hashtag free. I was also free, free to turn back. In that cold morning light there was no send off party, no expectations, just me and the bike and 3825 miles.

“Have you seen two guys on mountain bikes come by?” It was a cyclist my age who had arranged to meet a couple of mates for a ride, but he wasn’t a bumbler. This guy had his shit together.

“Er, no.” I said. “Weather’s a bit crap, maybe they stayed in bed?” He looked at me, clearly regretting asking the question and what happened next was biblical.

“You going somewhere with all those bags?” With wind and sea spray in the air, both of us wanted to be on our way and this guy didn’t want to be seen with a dude who looked like he was about to burst into tears.

“Er, I’m cycling around the UK coast visiting piers on the way, this is my first pier.”

He looked me up and down, half processed what I had said, smiled and although he didn’t say it a neon sign above his head lit up and read. “You’ll be home by lunch time, all the gear and no idea.”

“Better make a start.” I said not out of bravery, more embarrassment, and set off along the promenade to my next pier. Four minutes later I was at Bournemouth Pier.

At the time of taking this picture I had noticed the gent in swimming trunks along the shore and had assumed that he was a hard core man of the sea, disappointingly now at home I’ve been able to zoom in on his pecs, which are in fact moobs. The poor man just looks lost and frightened.

One of the reasons for not stopping to take a closer look at the time was that I still had 3824 miles to go, the other was that I needed a wee. This will be the only time that I refer to bodily functions in this story so please do not think that I have some sort of fetish. I only mention it because I became a little frustrated too. I was frustrated because Bournemouth Council had closed its public lavs for the winter and I wanted a wee, now! Frustration turned to anger and my bladder screamed a little louder. Don’t judge me. It was of course the fear working its magic, bringing to the fore damn good reasons for turning back and abandoning the expedition in exchange for a hot chocolate and a good book.

I did go for a wee (sorry, mentioned it again). Poole Council have a bigger budget and had kept their facilities open.

Moving on, The Sandbanks Chain Ferry marks the psychological start of the journey. It's a car and foot passenger ferry that crosses Poole Harbour and takes you into the heart of Dorset and Studland. When I cycle out this way I always ask for a return. It takes you into some lovely countryside owned by the National Trust and is the epitome of a nice cycle. When I stopped at the ticket booth I asked for “A Single, please.” I was on my way and there was no turning back.