Report by ride organiser Eric Reed.
The second 2005 ride from a start at Hedge End railway station on the east side of Southampton started well with a good turnout of 26 riders. Moultoneers, plus a few other folders and big wheeled riders assembled ready for the 10:30 start. With such a good gathering, the designated “official photographer” for the day, Chris Eley, gathered all into the corner of the car park whilst he took a few snaps from the station footbridge.
Machines turned out on this occasion included several F Frames with Mark 1, 2 and 3 represented; five FX8s and variants; three NS; three AMs; an APB; plus non Moultons including a Birdy, Bike Friday and SP Brompton; as well as the five big wheelers ridden by local Southampton Cycling Campaign members who joined in for this ride. One special machine was an end of production Pashley APB with seven speed hub gears put together by Brian Perkins (who now works at Pashley) for his brother Geoff Perkins who currently lives in Southampton area and joined in the ride.
After pictures, we were ready to roll.
The first part of the trip took the group around parts of the comprehensive footpath/cycleway network built in to the massive housing area of the 1990s that gave rise to the building of Hedge End station. These well surfaced smooth off road routes totally free of cars are always a delight to ride. All went well until our venerable MBC Technical Expert Arthur Smith became a victim of clipless peddle syndrome and his arm and body hit the ground before his feet were unclipped. This brought a halt as Arthur was given a bit of a shock and painful injury, so we waited and proceeded slowly with Arthur walking.
After a while he was able to remount, but then punctures in the group resulted in more stoppage time. With these dealt with, it was on to to Manor Farm museum run by Hampshire County council where there is a pleasant the coffee stop with tables inside and wooden benches and tables outside. This museum specialises in giving an insight into country farm life in times past and our path led past the farmyard pond complete with all types of ducks and waterfowl.
After refreshments the ensemble headed east through Botley and Burridge on road before entering in another major new housing area at Whiteley, adjacent to the M27, where again the town planners have thoughtfully designed in long stretches of lovely off road footpaths and cycle routes. Following these through the development, we passed the commercial business park area on the east side of the growth area where many new firms have established themselves – one new very important company just completing their national administration headquarters being National Air Traffic Services who have the national air traffic control centre nearby at Swanwick.
On reaching the south east side, a rain shower brought a brief stop to consider donning wet weather gear, but it was all blown over in a minute. Restarting a turn southwards led on several miles past open farmland on the coastal plains around Titchfield, until the Solent coastline was reached at Meon shore where the River Meon estuary enters the Solent.
A stop alongside the beach for more group photos was made and to admire the views of the Isle of Wight across the water. Then it was on a half mile to our lunch time stop at the Osborne View pub, so named due to its position on the cliff edge looking over The Solent across towards Osborne House near East Cowes on the Isle of Wight, which was the seaside home of Queen Victoria and where she lived for many years before her death.
To get to the pub rear garden to park our bikes, which has no access from the road, it was necessary to push our machines along the shingle beach and lift over the small sea wall separating the pub garden from the beach. With all the group in the garden, a few chose to eat their own food outside whilst over 20 made themselves comfortable in the room that had been pre booked and reserved for us. This was a very nice stop off point with a good range of food, all well served and at around the same time which is often not the case when catering for larger groups.
After we had finished our food, it was back over on to the beach with the bikes, and more pictures before we remounted on the start of the return leg.
The route back involved travel over lanes and tracks that are due to become part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network Route 2. This section was easy riding between large open fields that were not too breezy on this day, but often can be when the wind blows in off the sea.
The group arrived at Warsash on the east bank of the River Hamble, where the original intention had been for everyone to travel over the river to Hamble-le-Rice on the small ferry boat. But as this can only take 6 bikes at a time, and time was running out, this idea was abandoned. Local riders going home to Southampton city took the ferry, while the majority of Moultoneers from further afield who were parked at Hedge End followed the riverside gravel path alongside the eastern bank of the River Hamble. This section of the river is a mecca for yachting, with multi-millions worth of boats moored up at the numerous marinas along the river frontage.
At the north end of the river path, it was over the river on the “free” bridge opened in 1932 to replace the previous toll bridge. Then northwards along roads in Bursledon and Hedge End, to the station and the end of a very enjoyable ride.