Setting off this morning I had a horrible sense of déja vu. As had happened on Day 1, I thought I've got far too much weight on the bike today and this trailer idea is going to go horribly wrong. With the BOB Yak almost fully loaded up and the panniers back on the bike for the next leg of the journey, as soon as I started moving something felt horribly wrong - the whole front end was wobbling so much that I thought something had broken! A quick glance around revealed nothing wrong thankfully, so I got going.
The first few kilometres were horrible! I could barely control the front end and it felt like a constant battle just to keep the bike upright. What was I doing here? I thought that getting the trailer would solve all the weight problems but here I was struggling again. As I cycled on though I soon realised that I just needed to get used to towing a loaded trailer. I had made sure that the panniers were not overloaded (as they had been on that first day) and that the weight distribution was better. The trailer of course was carrying the bulk of the load with the panniers being used for more even weight distribution. Initially I had considered losing the front panniers entirely but the main justification for getting the trailer in the first place was to get that more even distribution over the entire set up, rather than to just fully load up the trailer itself.
After 90 minutes or so I stopped for some lunch and still being concerned with the handling, I considered repacking everything by the side of the road, but I thought that maybe I just needed more practice. After a 15 minute break, I wobbled on. The first 40km today were very flat but I knew there were hills ahead. If I was still having difficulties at that stage things were going to go horribly wrong. Over the course of the next hour though, things began to settle down and I began to relax finally. I realised that at low speeds the front end wobbles a lot but once moving and up to speed everything is fine - I even had to keep checking behind every now and then (which is difficult enough) to make sure the trailer was still there as I couldn't really feel it at times.
When I did eventually reach the hills everything was fine and my initial concerns were soon forgotten. Even with a full load, the trailer wasn't as hard to pull up the hills as I had imagined it would be, albeit only to a maximum elevation of 111m today. Admittedly I was in first gear too but I was able to keep a steady pace and unlike on the climbs in Wales last week, as the front end was not overloaded, I was not swerving all over the road as I had been then.
As my early pace today had been so high (an average of over 20kmh for the first 40km), even getting slowed by the hills later on in the ride, my average pace for the day was over 18kmh - my highest of the tour so far - I covered the 87km today in 4 hours and 45 minutes - a blistering pace fully loaded I think. I even reached a top speed of 53.8kmh - the maximum advised speed is 40kmh. That showed 'em!
If anyone knows the road (A29 / B2139) between Slindon and Storrington, you will know how delightful a road it is. It's quite up and down, but the views (as you can glimpse below) are simply stunning in places.