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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

July 13th: Hindhead to Staines Upon Thames

In the morning, I was happy to discover that the tingling from stinging nettles were gone! I cheerfuly made breakfast at the AirBnB, and as soon as we were ready, we started with a ride up back over to Gibbet Hill, where we found someone to take pictures of the two of us. Then following the directions, we rode down the other side. Once again, my GPS tried to take us off-road, but a query to a hiker corrected us and happily rode down the hill on pavement.
Near Thursley, we ran into a friendly cyclist who offered to take picture of the two of us while we were riding, which was great of him. He confirmed that we were on the right route, and we had a great time just rolling along and chatting. In Elstead we found a playground but Bowen didn't want to stop. But there was a major milestone: Bowen complained that his seat was too low! I raised it by 10mm, and he was much happier. He'd grown overnight!
The climb over the motorway was stiff and busy, but since most of the traffic was headed for the motorway, once we got over the hill the traffic magically disappeared. We still followed the recommended track and ended up on a single track hiking path that nevertheless did not devolve into mud or stinging needles. Past the bike path, we rode on a series of A roads that had traffic but were slow enough that we could keep up. Just passt Worplesdon, we found a bakery that had a line leading out the door. That was a sure sign that it was good, so we stopped the bike and got into line. The line moved surprisingly fast for such a small shop. After we got lunch I asked about a place to have a picnic, and the staff suggested the place right around the roundabout which turned out to be Fox Corner.
It was a great place for a picnic, with no picnic benches but logs to sit on and no one seemed to use it, so it was super clean. We'd been lucky on every picnic so far on this trip, and today was no exception. It was the last picnic of the trip.
Past Fox's corner the road climbed a bit and wound through some suburban bits. Then I heard a clatter and Bowen said: "My pedal fell off!" Indeed it had. I stopped the bike, had Bowen get off, and then walked back to get his pedal, which had landed in the middle of the road where no cars had run over it. With the small pedal wrench we brought from home (as part of the S&S coupler wrench), I hadn't dared to over tighten the pedals for fear I couldn't get them off, but I had obviously not tightened one of the pedals enough!  Now I was happy we had a pedal wrench in the bag. After a bit of tightening we were done and rode on, landing onto the Basingstoke Canal Towpath. Like the other towpaths we'd had the fortune to ride next to, it was quiet, narrow, had random grade changes which caused Bowen to scream in delight, and nicely quiet, though still more traffic'd than the one in Worcester. In the town of Woking, the Canal path went right next to the town playground, which had a zipline.
The towpath ended a couple of miles after the playground, but rather than terminating in a road, it terminated in the middle of the River Wey navigation path! The transition was not smooth, with a ramp that was not bikeable on the tandem
The River Wey path was clearly not as well maintained as the Basingstoke Canal, but we weren't on it for long anyway, since we meant to exit so as to ride alongside the Thames for our entry into Staines. All along the canals, I'd explained to Bowen what the canal locks were, so when we came along the Thames canal lock in operation we stopped the bike and watched 3 boats traverse the canal locks!
The entire process from end to end took about 20 minutes, and Bowen got bored towards the end as nothing seemed to happen whenever water was draining from the canal locks, but he could at least see what a Canal lock was for. Boating along a canal didn't seem very much fun to me --- the boats have to be narrow, and you had restricted maneuverability and couldn't go wherever you wanted. But if the canal happened to go where you wanted to go anyway, I could see that it was a bit like having an RV.
The ride into Staines felt like entering a resort: the bike path was finally wide and paved without traffic, and we saw plenty of walkers and cyclists. We exited the bike path past a church and rode to the train station. Confusing 55B with 558, we fumbled around looking for our AirBnB until I called our host and he magically appeared from the house we were right in front of!
Staines was a full service town and it was about 3:30pm when we arrived. We settled in, then walked downtown to the Mark & Spencer and bought dinner (Pizza, salad, and fruit) to cook and eat at the AirBnB, which had a great kitchen. It was still early when we were done, so we walked 10 minutes to the community swimming pool and went swimming! Unfortunately, after the session I tore my swim suit by accident, but it was the end of the trip so I just dumped it and lightened our load for our last couple of days of riding. This truly was the "tour of the things left behind."

We did laundry in the evening. It was the last time we'd need to do laundry on the trip, so that was a milestone for me as well!

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