Sunday, 31 May 2015

North Dorset Cycle Route

31st May 
North Dorset Cycle route
Another   good week for cycling as the weather was good most of the week.    Bank Holiday Monday came and went, with a stay at home day as the roads around the area and the coast are/is manic. We seem to get more and more invaded each school holiday, making it difficult to either go anywhere or so unpleasant as it’s so busy its best to stay at home anyway. This was confirmed this morning as we drove down to Seaton for morning coffee on the front in the camper, convoy after convoy of caravans and large motorhomes were coming the other way, heading towards the M5  it had been a very wet night though!!
Anyway back to the week, Tuesday saw my eldest son Rich come across for a cycle ride and visit the local bike shop with his ‘vintage wheels’ which needed some urgent TLC, more later!! It was a nice sunny day, so we managed to get 45 miles in, same route as Sunday, but who cares, it’s always enjoyable. So a good ride and miles in the bank for his 100miler in a few weeks’ time.
Wednesday dawned glorious so I couldn’t resist another ride out, particularly as MrsB and daughter were in Bath for the day at the spa. So kit on early and a ride over the Dorset hills around Pilsden Pen, one of the four hillforts in South Dorset, the roads were very busy, and the Pilsden Pen carpark was full [it never is mid-week!!] a stunning view over Charmouth and Lyme Regis, the sea glinting in the morning sun, a great descent down the other side of Pilsden was fast and furious, real alpine descent stuff [in my head anyway!!!] before the climb back through Thorncombe and past Forde Abby and home 25 miles this morning but lots of climbing.
Spinning once this week, but a hard one that had my heart rate up above 92% with the sit/stand sprint session. 
The weekend came, Saturday was forecast to be the best day, and I had agreed with Rich that we would do a big ride this week to get miles in so we settled on the North Dorset Cycle way, which is not far from Wimborne where Rich lives.
I was down the local bike shop early to pick up a reconstructed front wheel and a ‘borrowed rear wheel’ from Andy as Richie’s rear wheel rim had to be consigned to the skip!!
I then drove down to Wimborne in the van in brilliant sunshine, fortunately still a little early for the holiday traffic to be on the road, so made good time. Rich then decided to give his vintage bike an outing, so after swapping wheels, tyres, pedals and making adjustments we were ready to go!! I had downloaded the route from the internet to my Garmin GPS, but we had to cycle the 3 miles to Witchhampton to Pick up the route, it said it was 71 miles, so with the extra we would hit nearly 80 miles and a considerable amount of climbing, as North Dorset does have some very big hills, the final one being Bullbarrow Hill.
The information on the route is given on the website below, along with some description and photos, I can fully recommend the route, but warning it’s a long hard route, more stats later!!
As we headed over to Witchhampton, we found ourselves riding some of the Wiggle Bournmouth Sportive route, in reverse so lots of cyclists heading towards us in the opposite direction, much to the annoyance of the motorists. Each of these riders had paid £33 to ride around a similar route [as we found out later ] to us. The ride through the pretty villages of Gussage All Saints Farnham etc.  were followed by a long steady climb up to Ashmore provided them with a good long descent but a long climb for us.   
Their route seemed to split just before Fontwell Magna and we found ourselves on the ‘Epic’ route which was 99 miles! Just before Fontwell there was a hill of about 10 -12% and several riders were walking, we said a cheery morning! As we rode past, we didn’t understand why they were walking as they had only done 40 miles and the worst hills were yet to come! 
We left them as were turned towards Shaftsbury and a huge climb up to the town, very steep, but the clue was on the town sign ‘A Saxon Hill fort’ we had to stop on the hill as it was narrow and we met a B&Q lorry coming the other way, getting started again was hard. We still headed North West and the next destination was Gillingham, the countryside was wonderful, the roads very rural, and lots of very pretty villages, very sleep in the Saturday sunshine. We stopped and had a bun or two as breakfast was some time ago and consulted the map alongside the GPS. Gillingham was very busy and we had an error on the GPS and had difficulty finding the way out to find Kingston Magna, then discovered the route should have started from Gillingham, so when we got there the GPS decided it had finished!! I had to reload and it picked up the route once again, phew! 
The ride down through to Sturminster Newton was very quiet and rural, I then decided it was quiet because it was FA cup afternoon and all were at home watching that.
After Sturminster it started to get ‘lumpy’ and we started to climb steeply after Oakford Fitzpaine  up to Ibberton Hill, a 3-4 mile climb, steep at the bottom with about 16% the views from the top over Blackmore vale were worth the hard work as we stopped to take a breather and a snack to top up the energy cells. We crossed the top of Bulbarrow, past the radio masts before swooping down to Milton Abby, which was a stunning building and well worth a visit sometime, though much is a private school, on to the village of Milton Abbas and strange place of a main street with Thatched cottages either side, built for workers and peasants, now occupied by BMW and Ranger Rover owning residents!! It was a stiff climb out of Milton but this was compensated by the 4 mile descent to Blandford Forum, we were quiet chilled by the time we reached the bottom. All that was left was a steady 10milish ride back to Witchhampton along the valley, we now were feeling the miles in legs so another food stop was needed. We had the pleasure of following the Wiggle van for the last ten miles removing the route signs for the event, he would pass us, we would pass him etc!! It did get irritating after a while so we were pleased to reach Witchhampton, the GPS showed 71Miles for the cycle route,  we had another 3 to get home and a welcome cup of tea, the hill at Hinton Martell the last big hill of the day.
It was a superb route, along country lanes, a tough ride though with 5492ft of climbing!!  The GPS said I had used 4799 calories, it felt like it as well, but the really good news was that we had cycled 78.58 miles so a good day out, cracking weather[ that had now decided to break, getting chilly and rain in the air]. 
We both agreed we didn't feel too bad and could have done more - easy to say when you know you haven't!!
A busy week ahead with 4 days Bikeability, so little chance to get out for big miles this week. A 140 km[82 miles]  Audax in 2 weeks’ time near Hungerford should be a good final run before the Eroica.

Monday, 25 May 2015

A strange week

A 4 day working week this week, 5 if I count my volunteer day at the school! And I am supposed to be retired?
Monday and Tuesday's Bikeability weather was a contrast to Wednesday and Thursday being wet and very windy followed by hot and light winds, thermals and waterproofs followed by shorts and tee shirt. I did manage to cycle the 15 miles to The Bikeability on Thursday in the hot weather. 
Saturday saw us taking the Camper over to Dorchester, which was bustling with a food market, brass band and lots of visitors, even an event at the skate park complete with loud music.
Sunday was a 42 mile ride with Jason and Mike, so lots of chat, and coffee and cake at Langport, cake was very expensive at £2.50 for a small Brownie. The weather was chilly with the threat of rain with dark clouds looming, it did rain just as we got home :-)
Monday dawned a lovely day, but chores in the garden kept me busy, even painting the shed! But!! Hopefully a day out tomorrow on the bike with my son, as he needs the miles for the 100 mile  'Eroica' in a couple of weeks.
Sorry posts are boring at the moment, not a lot happening at the moment!!

As the title it has been a strange week with all the work and changeable weather, June is a busy work month but July should see us able to spend more time doing as we please:-)

Sunday, 17 May 2015


Sunday 17th May
I didn't manage to get to the Coast to Coast yesterday, we had a very emotional day on Friday at a family member funeral and got home late evening, although it was a lovely day and the person was well remembered, the end of the day was fish and chips on the terrace, back at the house.We decided a light relief day on Saturday, ( didn't fancy a 100 mile cycle after a day like that) so drove up and spent the day with the Grand Daughter and had a lovely day at the Pittville pump rooms park in Cheltenham. It's a lovely park, and was very busy, but! We did get an ice cream in the sunshine. Ducks fed, slides slid! And back to a game of hide the eggs in the garden again which GDaugter loves😄 
This morning, I managed a solo 45 mile ride around the levels again, the weather was changeable, sunshine followed by thick dark cloud and chilly temperatures.
The afternoon was spent lawn mowing!!
A hard week ahead, and poor weather forecast , 4 days Bikeability!

Shame I didn't make the Coast to Coast, it will be there next year, next event is an Audax near Hungerford, an 80 mile route. This is in several weeks time, so must  keep up the riding and get the miles in.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Lovely day out

Thursday 14th May

Wednesday was a beautiful day with clear blue skies and a light wind! a good day for a longer ride.
The biggest problem was what to wear, after winter clothing over the past week or so, it was a gamble  - 3/4 tights and short sleeve jersey with arm warmers.
My intention was a 60 + mile ride, so sorted a couple of cheese and pickle rolls, and cereal bars along with two bottles of drink.It was a Billy No Mates ride as everyone is at work!
My planned route was over through West Chinnock and Chiselborough to Stoke Sub Hambdon, on to Martock, Long Sutton, Somerston and then dropping down through Park, Low ham and through Langport to pick up the Athelney route. At Slough Green I dropped down to hatch Beauchamp and went past Merryfield and Ilton before the 3 climbs home through Crock street.

The roads were surprisingly quiet, the hills round Chiselborough were short and sharp but through some lovely  hilly tracks, even the road over to Somerton was quiet before turning off to drop to Park with its well manacured roadsides. The sun now getting warmer and enough to take off the arm warmers.  I stopped for a short lunch of my cheese roll as I was on the levels near Athelney, it was very peaceful as I gazed out over the flat lands, cows, quietly grazing, the fresh green of the new growth on the trees making everywhere look fresh.
It was really pleasant not riding into a head wind, the climb up to Slough Green now showing in my legs after 50 miles.
I stopped for a second lunch at Merryfield and watched the helicopters practicing landing and taking off, a bit like a huge dragon fly.
The final climbs were at a slower pace, but not too slow, the spin classes are working I think!

It was 5 hours and 65 miles with 3000ft of climbing  as I arrived home to sit in the sun to a welcome mug of tea!
A good day out :-) except my Hamstring tendontitus is still a niggling pain in my backside, I was hoping stopping running would cure it, but it doesant seem to be the case.

Monday, 11 May 2015

New Forest Audax

11th May 2015

The weather last week was poor with rain and high winds as well as being chilly,especially in the evenings. I did manage my 2 spin classes, working hard to keep my heart rate up to 80% for the 45 mins.
I also managed a 24 mile cycle ride down through Broadwindsor and back over Pilsden Pen [ one of the 5 Dorset hill forts near here] it was a nice ride, even though I was still in winter gear, the big climb up Pilsden (nearest thing to an alpine climb round here) was made harder by the head wind and then over the top which is normally a fast descent with nice snoopy bends, I was struggling to get any speed because of the head wind.

Back near Thorncombe the hedgerows were full of Blue bells which cast a purple blue sheen along the banks and in the woods, also giving off a wonderful aroma.

Saturday saw us in Sidmouth for lunch in the white horse cafe, clearly the best chips in Devon/Somerset.

A late phone call from my eldest son had me heading down to Lymington again on Sunday morning for the New Forest 100km Audax ride. I have done this before and can recommend the ride, a really nice route through the New Forest up to Breamore Gardens  through Burly, Fording bridge etc and back round through Nomans Land and Brockenhurst a total of 64 miles, we managed under 5 hours so pleased with the time, even though as usual there was a stiff headwind over the exposed parts of the Forest. there were quite a few entries for the event. There seemed to be a lot of traffic out and lots of families picnicking, even though it wasn't that warm.
The food at the end is usually worth the ride as they put on a good spread.
We both felt we went well, and kept up a good pace,and were some of the early finishers. the day turned into a very pleasant afternoon, I finally unzipped my arms off my Gore windproof top!
sorry no pictures as my phone was wrapped up and I forgot my camera [message to self to take a camera and show the stunning scenery].

Only working 1 day this week so should find sometime to cycle,[although I do have some decorating to get sorted] there is a 100 mile Audax on Saturday, I am trying to convince myself I can do it!! its called the coast to coast and starts from Uffculme in Devon, goes to Blue Anchor near Minehead then comes back down to the South coast to visit Budleigh Salterton, I know there are a few hills as you cross Exmoor and you have to climb back to Uffculme from sea level at Budleigh Salterton as Uffculme nestles on the Blackdown Hills. we shall see!!!!

Information about next years Grizzly also came in the post today - I will enter the Cub run amd then build up to Ex Ax again !! the full Grizzly I think wil be beyond me at the start of the year.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Isle of Wight Randonee

Monday 4th May 2015-05-04

Isle of Wight Randonee

Apologies for no photos, I thought it too wet to take a camera and my phone was tucked away to keep dry.

I was staying at my sons house near  Wimborne overnight to avoid the two and half hour  drive down to Lymington on Sunday morning for the start of the Isle of Wight Randonee [] at 9:00 am. This is an annual event that is free to enter, the route is following the round the island cycle route, it usually attracts over 2000 riders from the mainland. It is extermly well organised and gives a good opportunity and reason to go across to The IOW.
I awoke at about 5:00 am to the sound of drumming rain on the roof and in the trees outside. I kept telling myself that the forecast said it would clear by 11am, that was the BBC and the met office, surely they can’t both be wrong!!!
We were both up by 6:30, porridge and large mugs of tea, whilst an impatient brown Labrador sat at my feet with his ball ready for a play!! Not this morning though.

Loading up the car saw us getting very wet as the rainfall  seemed to be increasing, another check on the internet, yep! Its says by 11:am?? [which day though!] we agreed that we would drive down anyway, as ferry tickets were booked, get across to the IOW and then decide whether to catch the next ferry back. A very wet drive down to Lymington, getting there very early and giving us an opportunity to park on a street in the town avoiding the £6:20 parking fees at the ferry terminal. As we unloaded the bikes, the rain continued to shower, then downpour, then shower etc, helped by the wind, and determined to get us wet before we started.

We checked everything, both of us in winter gear, tights, thermal vests, wind proof jackets with waterproofs over the top, and winter gloves, overshoes were essential. We were off, cycling down to the ferry, a large queue for the 9:15 ferry [there was no ferry at 8:15 so we would be an hour late starting, along with many others] we were herded aboard, and given a whole, car deck to ourselves, it was very busy, most dressed for wet weather, some not so, in shorts and thin jerseys! Did they know something we didn’t??

After a 40 minute ferry ride we all exited at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, amazingly it was not raining! Very low cloud and a brisk south westerly blowing, but not actual raining. We checked in after what seemed like ages in a big queue.

We were off following the signs for the clockwise route around the island allegedly, 100 k [62miles] we were in a large pelaton of riders of all shapes and sizes on differing bikes, expensive road bikes, cheap road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrids, some riders rushing to get to the front of the group, some being very slow and causing hold ups, the car drivers behind must have been cursing, trying to overtake what was estimated at about 100 + cyclists is a nightmare.

We settled into the ride, I soon took off my waterproof and stashed in my bag, we were setting a good pace as we had a tail wind for much of the section to Cowes, riders were coming and going from the front, we overtook some to be re-overtaken later. We were soon at the ‘floating bridge’ at Cowes where we had a 10 minute wait for the ferry, there again was a huge queue of riders, we crammed on, bike to bike, shoulder to shoulder for the short crossing. At the other side there was a stiff climb out of Cowes which caught many of the riders out in the wrong gear, we had done about 20 miles so we stopped for a snack of Hot Cross buns and jam[my staple diet when cycling distance at  192 calories each + jam and nicely filling].

After a quite undulating and busy section we reached Bembridge which was supposed to be about half way round at approximately 30 miles. Here was a chance to sample cakes and goodies on sale by the local school, a chance to top up water bottles etc. It was here that the sun shone for a very short while and it was a little warmer.

On leaving Bembridge we then realised that the next 30 miles we would have a head wind!! We managed to stop and get a mug of tea at the checkpoint in Whitwell, which was welcome along with some flapjack and more HCBs, As we climbed out of Whitwell, there followed a steep sharp descent into Blackgang Chine before another long climb up onto the cliffs, we  were setting a good pace up here [surprising!!] and overtook many others and few overtook us, we took it in turns to take the lead, so each of us had some respite from the fierce wind. At the top we were treated to the coast and sea line peeping out of the mist below, before descending and turning inland once more towards Yafford, the landscape here was very Normandy like, open fields.

We then turned back onto the coast, and once again found our selves on a long climb on the military road, we adopted a pace we could stick at and plodded on, again overtaking many cyclists, and many of whom had started from Cowes so had further to go that us. It was a tough climb to the top, then the sun came out, the surf showing white and the Needles cliffs just appearing round the corner, again a rapid descent, only spoiled by the fierce headwind, that kept our speed down and kept catching the front wheel, causing moments of panic as you were forced to keep the bike in a straight line.

The final section was along the old railway track, a gravel section with lots of walkers to dodge and dogs on extended leads that needed to be avoided at all costs. As we exited back into Yarmouth we had just missed the 4:15 ferry so had to wait for the 5:15, luckily the sun came out and there was some warmth as we waited on the Quay for the ferry to arrive. We had taken about 5 hours, my computer said we had cycled 65.6miles climbed 5900 feet and I had used 4000 + calories, we both agreed it had been a good day out and we both agreed we didn’t feel too bad even after the climbs into the wind.

The ferry back was very busy and all seats taken, arriving in Lymington, the rain started once again, and as we drove back towards Wimborne there were some heavy showers. A repeat of the start to the day!!!