A total of 16 riders were at the start for Alan’s ride to Barton-on-Sea. Marcus led a faster group whilst Alan took the rest, heading out through Eling, Marchwood to Dibden Purlieu. Then it was across the heath where we were buffeted by a stiff westerley wind which was with us all day. There was a brief respite as we dropped down Palace Lane passing through Beaulieu (ignoring any thoughts of the delights of the Old Bakehouse tearooms) and up Hatchet Lane.

Passing Hatchet Pond, we then felt the full force of the wind. We were grateful for the stronger riders who acted at wind breaks for others. Some of the fasted group were visible here and and caught up with a small group of them on the outskirts of Beaulieu where Phil was repairing his second puncture of the day. So we now had three groups on the road.

Passing through Brockenhurst, we headed out through the centre of Sway (passing just a few feet from the joys of the Sway Deli) and Tiptoe before going through the suburbs of New Milton.

The smell of the sea air (and bacon) drew us on to our cafe stop at the Beachcomber at Barton-on-Sea. The fast group group were there enjoying items from the breakfast menu but Alan’s group was dstraught to learn that the breakfast options had finished just a few minutes before their arrival. To compound their misery, they were too early for the lunch menu! Still no-one went hungry and those who had opted for the Christmas cake took some of it home as it was too much to eat at one go.

Marcus lead a faster group home whilst there was a quick photocall in the garden of the cafe for most of the Remainers with the backdrop of the crashing waves with plumes of spray and a clear view of the Needles.

Alan led the rest back through Downton, Hordle and the outskirts of Sway again before crossing the main Lymington to Brockenhurst road and passing through Boldre, Pilley, Norleywood and East Boldre, again feeling the effects of the very strong westerley wind.

There was an almost unanimous vote in confidence of the leader’s decision to stop at the Old Bakehouse in Beaulieu for a refuelling stop. Some enjoyed warm apple and cinnamon pie with ice cream which went down a treat whilst some of the others had Dorset apple cake – again recommended.

Then it was back on the bikes to enjoy (endure?) more buffeting from the unrelenting wind as we headed towards Ipley Cross and finally getting a little shelter from Wind once we got back to Marchwood.

Despite the wind, everyone appeared to enjoy the ride but also the company of others.

Lessons learnt: Start at 8.30am to ensure of getting to the Beachcomber cafe in time for breakfast!