After several thousand miles on our Orbit tandem and with the experience we had gained from a couple of 600 mile tours, we decided we would get a new bike that would be perfect for the more adventurous trips we have planned in India, Asia and Africa.
The new tandem would have SS couplings so it could be split in two, for ease of air travel, and have Rohloff hub gears. In January we visited Thorn Cycles, Bridgewater, Somerset, for a 3 hour meeting with Steve to come up with the specification of the new bike. Our measurements were taken, and a similar bike was put together for us to trial and test, to get the gears and set up just right for us. Our bike was then built and we arranged to collect it on 13 April.
With our red Ortleib panniers packed with our new lightweight camping kit we took the train to Bridgwater and planned to cycle a scenic route back to Chichester via Wareham and Brighstone(Isle of Wight), both places that we had had great family holidays.
Fine weather and a refreshing spring look; wild flowers, vibrant bluebells, and golden yellow gorse, made for a very pleasant ride through the countryside.
Camping on the Somerset Levels at Thorny, by the river Frome at Wareham , and on the cliff top at Brighstone, gave us a good chance to test our new kit. Night temperatures were similar to what we will experience in Nepal in January at the altitude we will be cycling, so it was great that we stayed warm.
The new bike was great too, particularly the hub gears which worked well on the hilly lanes of Dorset. We passed through quiet pretty villages, with stone houses and thatched roofs.
Travelling by tandem, you get to meet all sorts of characters and it brings a smile to peoples faces as you cycle by. Cars let you out at junctions, people wave, and folk just start chatting to you.
The old guy sat on a bench in Bridgwater, passing the time of day, told us how he used to ride a tandem 80 years ago. The farm worker we met outside a village shop was fascinated by our bike, impressed by the Brooks saddles, disc brakes and hub dynamo. It was also wonderful seeing the campsite owners at Redcliffe Farm, Wareham, where we had had so many fun holidays, taking our Drascombe lugger sailboat on adventures round Poole. I was rather flattered that there nick name for us was Robinson Crusoe. At Grange Farm, Brighstone, another favourite place of ours, we were met with a big hug from Maggie the Polish lady that has worked there for many many years. These were great encounters with people we had on this trip.