Last Saturday I took a ferry. I had travelled a long way to get there, and not to get my bike across a bay: but sometimes doing the right thing isn’t obvious.
The Sandbanks Ferry is a chain-driven car ferry across Poole Harbour, creating a shortcut between Poole and Swanage. I didn’t use it much when I was growing up, living just along the coast in Bournemouth. It is part of the Dorset Coast 200km, the first full length audax I rode, and one of my clearest memories of it is crossing over and prat-falling on a fully-laden touring bike at the start of what would turn out to be the wettest holiday I’ve ever had.
I didn’t mean to go there on Saturday – I set off from my hotel in Poole after breakfast without a plan. I just wanted to make best use of the weather and see where the road guided me.
I cannot really capture the beauty of the ride in words. The sound of water and radar whilst waiting for the ferry back; the views of Brownsea Island; the emptiness of my head: none of these translate well. Neither can they be captured on film or audio, although the sounds and sights have a value in themselves. Like Jacobus Coetzee I felt like a huge eye, absorbing all that was around me. I was ‘in’ my surroundings in a way that isn’t always the case.
I wanted to keep riding, past Swanage and beyond. But I didn’t, because it wasn’t why I was there.