Thursday, July 16, 2009

20 June 2009 - Day 21: Earnley (North Foreland?) to Selsey Bill and back

It rains in the night, but by morning the sun is out again.
My neighbours Jackie (Jacqui?) and Ross, offer me a cup of tea. Hot is cool, as it were, when you're travelling light; I have no cooking equipment so this is luxury.

1.45 a.m.
Temp: 18.9c, humidity: 46%, north-westerly wind, feels cold.
O.S. Explorer Map 120
Distance cycled: 17.5 miles

My mission today is to visit Selsey Bill, famous to World Service insomniacs in the U.K. through featuring in the Inland Waters Shipping Forecast. A calm cross country ride to the east smooths my mood and brings me to Sidlesham Quay at the edge of Pagham Harbour.

The tide is out. Riding out on the path through the mudflats, I have the place to myself. What appears to be shells along the tidal channels on closer inspection turn out to be small beached, bleached crabs.

Stopping off at the Visitor Centre I am confronted with my crime; twenty minutes ago someone has phoned to say that a person in a yellow vest was seen on the marsh riding a motor bike, and here I am in my yellow high-vis waistcoat. Hmmm ..... a nearby village is called Norton; perhaps this has gone to their heads. The woman volunteer at the VC seems only partly convinced when I show her my bicycle.

Besides information about the Harbour, the Centre has many other leaflets such as The Manhood Cycle Network (truly!), and Know Your Vole.

On down NCR 88, past benches comemorating lives, along a fearsome road til I am finally at the tip of Selsey Bill. I had a sneaking feeling it would be an anti-climax, and so it turns out to be. There's nothing there.

The drama comes a few minutes later, and right by that road!

A man who earlier gave me directions to the shops steps out a couple of yards in front of me, keen to indicate where the road is, and braking suddenly to avoid him I crash to the ground. At least as agitated as me, he tries to pull me up but I'm trapped beneath the bike which prevents this being possible. Another person has a go, and finally there are three of them, the third hooking his elbow under my left armpit and heaving me up.

Later in the Riviera I assess my wounds; lots of bruises - wrist, elbow and head - plus shock, but seemingly nothing broken. A statue of Lara Croft presides over the restaurant while I eat a giant roast chicken dinner to make me feel better. On the long journey home, I pass Pagham Harbour again and get back to the campsite around 7.15 p.m.