This weekend was our first trip carrying all our camping equipment. Adie arrived first thing on Saturday morning, we were meeting Phil and John at the campsite near Bath that evening. Phil has done a lot of bike touring so we were keen to pick his brains to gather tips for our trip. John is riding from Ludgershalll to Italy later this year, unfortunatley he has been poorly all week and will just be doing the camping bit this weekend. We set off at 08:30 and again we were really lucky with the weather. We climbed up to the causeway towards Hungerford, before taking the back roads towards Swindon. We passed through lots of beautiful villages on quiet roads. We stopped for lunch at a little cafe in Wootton Basset, I was amazed when the bill arrived and was only £7 for both of us. I was using the Garmin to navigate for the first time and it took a while to understand how to set it so that I could clearly see when to turn. It was doing quite well until we got to Bath and then the screen had far too much information on it to make any sense. Fortunately I had had the foresight to make a note of the postcode. After entering it in the Garmin, things started to become clearer, until it decided to take us round and round a park. We finally forced it to work by sticking to the roads and ignoring all attempts to take us off road. We finally arrived at the campsite about 15:30 having ridden 75 miles. Phil was already there so we pitched our tents down in the meadow.
The campsite was lovely and the shower block was excellant. After a shower and a change of clothes, we popped back to the meadow, where lots of other cyclists from Bristol CTC had arrived for a weekend camping trip. There was a lot of talk about Adie's tent, comments like "thats's the smallest tent I've ever seen" and " I have one of those but I wouldn't use it for more than one night" are among some of the more useable comments. I must say that it does pack down well and for under 1kg of weight it doesn't take up much bike space.
At 18.00 we headed to the bar for something to eat and a beer. John arrived just in time for dinner, he had driven over, but had still brought his bike and touring gear. We spent a few hours talking about bikes, touring and camping, getting loads of good advice from Phil, before retiring to our tents for the night. This was the first time I have ever slept on a self inflating mat and I must say that it was the most comfortable night I have ever spent in a tent. I was woken by heavy rain in the middle of the night, this put a smile on my face, at least in the morning we would get an idea of how the tents coped. I woke around 5:30, went for a shower and started to pack my gear. Adie surfaced about 6.00 and by 7:30 we were ready to go. We had both had a good night sleep and were raring to get back on the bikes. Sitting on the saddle was initially painful, but after a short time the aches disappeared. We headed West into a strong head wind and up some steep hills, before turning South then East again to gain the advantage of the wind behind us. By 10.00 we had reached Melksham and stopped for breakfast, it was Sunday and there were no cafes open, so McDonalds provided breakfast (we will need to remember about Sunday hours on our trip). We carried on towards Calne and then Malborough, where we were lucky enough to stop for coffee and cake, missing a really heavy shower. The rain passed quite quickly and we managed to get all the way home without getting caught in any of the heavy showers, Phil however, who had taken a different route home, later told me that he got soaked on the way back. We arrived home about 14:30 having completed 65 miles and our first camping trip. We had carried everything we would need to our End to End without any problems, we're ready now and I can't wait to start our tour.