2010: West Bay (June)

For some reason, I’d always managed to miss the previous ride outs to West Bay, but this time I was determined to make it. We had decided to meet in the Top of Town car park in Dorchester and the ride there from Shaftesbury was pleasant considering it was rush hour, which, for this part of the world, means there are a few other vehicles on the road. I arrived just before 6:30 and Andy, Nige, Ted and Dave were already there. JC was unable to make it as he needed to get some tyres sorted.

We set off, heading down the B3150 through Martinsdown, joining the B3157 coast road at Abbotsbury. Lyme Bay was to our left as we rode through Swyre and Burton Bradstock towards West Bay. Most of the coast road is 50mph although the road surface is quite twisty and bumpy in places. The bay was a lovely blue and the sun shimmered on the surface, we were heading North West and so had to cope with riding towards the low sun on some occasions.

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I hadn’t been to this part of Dorset for many years. Clare and I had holidayed in a cottage near Golden Cap, near Chideock, about 20 years ago. The cottage had been owned by one of Clare’s uncles and we got to use it out of season if we did some chores and thus we always ended up going during the autumn equinox even though you could only guarantee bad weather. It was a little thatched cottage with uneven wooden floors and walls and poor heating. Taking a shower in the morning was a bracing experience. We were pretty much always cold, nevertheless we loved it’s quiet remoteness and valued the opportunity of a break when we had no money. On one particular holiday we visited Lyme Regis and the sea was grey and rough. As Clare was getting Francesca out of the car I crossed the road and went over to the sea wall to take a closer look at sea being spectacular in the high winds. It was a mistake. Clare later said that she had looked on in disbelief at my total stupidity. As I humped myself up onto the top of the wall to look over it I saw the entire sea surging up towards me. I don’t mean a huge wave, I mean the sea -all of it. The swell was already only a foot away from the top of the wall and I was barely able to get down in time as it poured over the wall. I was convinced that I’d be sucked back over, it was horribly cold and the soaking seemed to go on forever. When I turned back to Clare, she was nearly wetting herself with laughter. I was completely drenched and made embarrassing slop-slop sounds while we visited the local fossil shops and hoped that no one else had noticed what happened.

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After we arrived at West Bay we parked the bikes in a raised motorcycle parking area near the George pub, settled ourselves in the beer garden and enjoyed a natter.

Les joined us on his new bike – meaning the bike was a recent purchase; not that it is a brand new bike. An old Yamaha Virago which sounds like a tumble dryer full of nails, but serves as cheap transport whilst he’s working on his trike project. The intention is that it will make do for the outing to Germany next month. Meanwhile, next to us a family had finished eating and almost immediately they’d left, their table was visited by seagulls who let nothing get in the way of scraps, they shoved plates, knives and forks to get at what remained and I watched one deftly kick out at a glass which got knocked off onto the grass and another pick up a glass and toss it off a plate.   

We eventually set off for home at 9pm as the sun was setting. Rather than heading back on the coast road we took the faster A35 back towards Dorchester where we parted company. It probably took me a hour in total to get home and after the sun had gone it was cold and I was glad to have thought of putting on some thermals under the leathers before starting off.


The Moon and Venus guided this weary traveller towards home and bed.

Tony Kirk, June 2010.

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