Instead of taking the usual A3, A272 route, I needed to head past Box Hill so my plan was to take the A24 South to the start of the A272, ride west all the way along this great British biking route, pick up the A31 at Alton and head on into Poole via the M27 and the A31 through the New Forest as per usual. Well that was the plan anyway.
I picked up the A272 and headed west, but by the time I reached it, my shoulders and hands were shot. I'd already worked a full eight hour shift starting before 05:00 as usual and having to ride out of London through Wandsworth just sealed it. I was knackered.
It was when heading through Petworth when my plan got altered thou. I basically missed my turn as I wasn't paying attention to the road signs as I was making my way through the queues, so instead of heading West to Midhurst, I was headed South for Goodwood and Chichester. I realised this pretty soon, but couldn't be bothered to turn around, thinking that I'd spot a sign leading me to Petersfield or Midhurst, but they didn't come; mainly as they were rapidly disappearing behind me.
As I got near the little village of Duncton (I only know this now as I've just looked it up on Google Maps) my fuel light came on and by this time I realised I could head West along the A27 and M27 to get back onto the A31. I'm midway through a self run fuel test, so I wanted to find a Shell garage to be able to continue. Don't ask me why I'm being stubborn about it thou. Anyway, previously I had worked out that I get through roughly a litre of fuel for every nine miles I ride, yeah I know its rubbish, so with four litres in 'reserve' I have a theoretical limit of thirty six miles. I entered Chichester at the start of rush hour in absolute agony, but couldn't find a Shell garage on the A27, so I pushed my luck and kept on going.
The miles were ticking by and the fuel kept getting lower and lower. I passed a Shell garage on the opposite carriageway just after the A3(M) and felt positive as these stations are often built in pairs. However, the station on my site seemed notable by its absence. Finally, as my trip meter pushed past the thirty mile mark, I spotted a sign for some services just off the A2030 on the North side of Portsmouth. Thankfully it was the right petrol station and I can remember saying to myself, if they have a loo and a Costa, I'll be a happy man. Well, one out of two ain't bad I guess and I could always get some tea when I get home.
So fuelled and emptied at the same time, I made the final push for Poole and pretty much just nailed it down the M27. I briefly stopped at Conquest Carbon in Wimbourne to say hi to Steve, but he'd already left for the day, so I changed visors and headed off, quickly and safely reaching my future inlaws.
We were in Poole/Bournemouth so Sarah could run the Supersonic 10k race as part of Bournemouth's Marathon weekend and she managed the course in just over an hour and in the process raised £350 for Invest in M.E. I was so proud of her as she did the run carrying an injury and was very nervous about her ability to finish at all. If you want to donate, have a look here www.justgiving.com/Sarah-Tilley3
So finally it was 14:00 on the Sunday and time to head home. I wasn't too sure if I wanted to simply fly up the M3, or weather I wanted to go back onto the part of the A272 I missed out on on Friday and pick up the A3 past Guildford instead. Now I could sit here and say that I chose the M3 to see how good the fuel economy was using Shell V Power on the motorway, but to be honest, I just wanted to get home. I find I get very nervous about two hours before a long ride and its always a very emotional time parting ways with Sarah as she heads North up to Birmingham and I head East to London. This time she stayed later that usual which freed me up to go at my own pace on the start of the ride back.
Allowing the wind to take the weight of my upper body, I reached Fleet services feeling fairly fresh. I didn't really need or want to stop, but I stopped anyway to ensure that I didn't suffer when fighting through the crappy traffic that was waiting for me 45mins up the road.
Whilst sat drinking my decaf I noticed loads of people wearing the celebratory T shirt that were handed out to each and every finisher of all the Bournemouth races at the weekend and heard a few people talking about my bike, which I parked away from the cars, up next to a wall by the entrance.
Finally, a few hours after leaving Poole I was back inside London and joining the A406. When passing the Ace cafe a rider in street gear (jeans and trainers) riding a Suzuki GSXR joined the carriageway and we followed each other up and out of London on the A41 fighting our way through the traffic. It was a nice way to end a long ride, almost like a welcome home.
So here I sit, happy, tired and very content. I had a great weekend and it was probably the last real opportunity to have a great biking weekend before things get a lot colder. I fear its going to be another longish winter thou, but thats not all bad as it will give me loads of time to make sure the Ducati is ready for those first few days of Spring.