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P & L #1 To Brother In The Wild 2017

We've been sat on this for a while unsure of what to do with it, so instead of it sat gathering dust we decided to upload it. At the end of 2017 Bother Cycles announced that they would be hosting another Brother In The Wild event so if you missed it first time round you have been granted a second chance to get involved. L & P would like to thank Brother Cycles for putting on the event and also would like to thank The Woods Cyclery for organising the wicked routes. I have added some hot links below :)

P & L #1

Words by Verity Nichols of Nichols Frame Works

L & P #1 was organised to coincide with the Brother in the Wild Camping Weekend that took place in the New Forest.

We set out from Lewisham Way in New Cross, the birthplace of L & P. It was a warm cloudy morning, perfect cycling weather, not too hot, a cool breeze to keep you temperate. We grabbed coffee from a shop decorated like your Nan’s living room and checked out each other’s bikes and our chosen camping set up. A broad range was displayed, from ultimate dad-level with fully loaded front and rear racks, to super light bike packing seat post packs and neat bar bags.

After securing the last bits and pieces with zip ties and bungees we were ready and rode out through Brixton as a convoy, the road was ours and we were gonna ride it hard. Immediately we got split up at lights, took a wrong turn and one of us lost a pannier but that wasn’t gonna stop us.

I’ve learnt that you get to know people well in a very short time by riding together, so much so I’ve been able to provide each of my companions with an endearing nickname. On the front-line we had Chief Navigator Tom Addison leading the way all the way- he had the map(it’s hard work being on the front for 70 miles). Behind him Private Candy- forever smiling and never complaining, followed by Steely Jo- this girl can ride all day and night. Next in the troop was Big Fraser- he’s no facking quitter, then there’s me- I like to call myself the Straggler. Behind me was Boheme Matt, cruising on his Ted James. Playing back stop was Scout Leader Ben- quiet, contemplative, always there. Filtering throughout the line up was Eager Beaver Matt, sometimes even sprinting past us up the hill to capture our hallow faces on camera as we reached the peak. It’s safe to say we all enjoy a mid week pint so we weren’t aiming to set any records for speed, only for FUN.

Before we knew it we were out of the city and rolling on to our first destination; Watercress Lodge.

The views were beautiful, the company was perfect and we laughed our way to lunch on the green surrounding a British Heritage site that wanted to charge us to go in to the cafe, so we just sat on the grass and ate flapjack and bananas - fuel that came into great use later on as we pedalled up long and winding roads.

By the early evening our bodies were beginning to tire and our thoughts were on food for the night ahead- we needed to refuel for tomorrow’s ride and replenish the energy we’d used up today. Google said there was a Tesco 3 miles away and the campsite was a further 2 from there. We made our way through residential back ally trails trying make the most direct route to the precious food. Being loaded up and having never done any off-roading, my glutes were trembling, trying to keep myself upright whilst negotiating an overgrown rhododendron. I’ll never forget the sweet relief I felt when my tired eyes fell up on the soft red and blue script of the Tesco Metro.

Stocked up to the high heavens with carbs, we flew down a dual carriage way and took a right onto Bighton Hill. A street name like that can only ever mean one thing- one last climb of the day. Creeping into the campsite car park, totally exhausted, we were greeted with a breath-taking view of the South Downs. On top of that, Watercress lodge boasts hot showers, BBQ areas, oh and a working Steam Railway featuring Thomas the Tank Engine! Sploosh!

The campsite was idyllic. We begun to set up our respective tents. Eager Beaver Matt and I were intimidated by the size of Commander in Chief Tom and Private Candy’s berth. Our Sainsbury’s 2 man tent palled in comparison. I can only imagine how Big Fraser and Steely Jo must of felt in their 2-man hiking tent.What they saved in weight they sacrificed in size.

We got out the Trangias and set about cooking a delicious supper of noodles, vegetables and pasta. After a day in the saddle everything tasted gourmet. We had a few beers, shared a few stories and felt the sun’s warmth fade as it dipped behind the hills. Eventually it was time to hit the hay.

In the morning, the sky was clear and the sun, bright. Thomas was steaming and an egg bap for breakfast put us in good stead for the last 30 to the New Forest. We set out again. Most of the route was along quiet country lanes and rolling hills, our bikes greedily ate up the tarmac through villages with ducklings. Soon we were in urban territory again as we passed through Southampton. We happened upon a kids Cycle Speed Way event and stopped to see them pedal around a dirt track fearlessly, with no brakes! Back in the saddle, we were on the final stretch, pedalling hard down the cycle lanes in Southampton. In the early afternoon we rolled into the New Forest to find horses and donkeys being petted by visitors. The animals roamed the land freely, stopping in the middle of the road if they wished, which they often did.

Being a long way from London felt great and we were able to relax and take stock. We’d travelled far and sometimes it was difficult to keep pedalling. My legs hurt, but after that would come a fun decent or wild scene, or a building I would never have known about, had I not come out that day on my bike. If you keep pedalling through the pain to the other side, you’re rewarded with a sense of accomplishment, then on to the next challenge.

As the troop wound round to Brother in the Wild's camping field, Will and James greeted us with open arms. There were masses of tents and bikes and lovely people all enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Brother had made a huge effort and supplied us with everything for a Rad night- music, beers, iced coffee, warm fires and a hog roast. We talked and danced into the cold night.

L & P #1 certainly lived up to its name.

Camping is great fun. If you’re travelling near or far, grab your bike, buddy and bivvy and get out there this Bank Holiday weekend! Verity’s Top Tips for Camping!

- Wear Sun screen, yeah like the song - Take zip ties - Mascarpone is a great addition to Pasta dishes - Despite what Tom Addison will tell you, you can make coffee in a percolator using a Trangia (if you use the right method!) - Find a nice pub- don’t settle for a petrol station sarni.

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