So with some training under my belt (30 miles of empty roads on the morning of the Royal Wedding was nice), we decided to do a practice camping trip to see how things went, and also to see if anything important had been forgotten.
I loaded up the bike with the back panniers on (clothes in one, camping stuff in the other) and my tent strapped to the back, and set off down the A30 from Woking to Wellington country park. Located just off the main road between Reading and Basingstoke, it was somewhere I went to many times as a kid, and even camped there with the Scouts once many years ago.
The extra weight on the bike was noticeable, and meant that the high gears weren’t really able to be used even on flat roads. The route was reasonably flat, with no proper hills, so I was able to maintain a reasonable average speed of around 14mph. At that pace, 50miles could be done in around 4 hours, so hopefully it should be attainable. Quite how I will cope when faced with a climb up a proper mountain is anyone’s guess though!
I met Clare at the campsite (she drove), and we put the tent up reasonably quickly. Our tiny tent was dwarfed by all the others on the site, and our cooking facilities of one small solid fuel stove was slightly more primitive than many others, but overall we did pretty well.
One thing I definitely learnt was that some sort of sleeping mat was essential. I wasn’t sure whether to take one due to the size of them, but thankfully technology has moved on and you can now get self inflating ones which roll up very small.
Possibly the most disturbing aspect of the weekend occurred once we were back home in Bromley. I was having a shower the next morning and noticed a tick had attached itself to my hip. After getting a bit freaked out, I removed (hopefully all of) it! Probably have to get used to that sort of thing really!