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.