After last year’s Amberley ride back along the South downs Way we had the idea of catching the train the other way to ride westerly end of the SDW.
On Friday 15th November I set of on my bike to meet Paul in Southwick, I jumped in to Paul’s car and we both went to Havant Train station, this would be the rides ‘official’ start and finish. We caught the train which took us down to Fratton and changed for a train that went directly to Winchester, Chris, Greg and Si jumped on the train in Cosham,
|Greg, Si and Chris waiting for a train...|
At Winchester we made our way through the city to the start of the South Downs Way, here the green ribbon stretches all the way to Eastbourne 99 miles away!
|I got 99 problems, but the SDW isn't one...|
After crossing the road bridge you are presented with two SDW signs, one for walkers, one for bike, although we plotted our route on the walking path we took the cycle path. This led us around the road eventually getting off road for the climb all the way to Cheesefoot head. We crossed the A272 on to familiar ground, as we have ridden this section many times but always the other way.
We follow the track to the bottom and turn right, after the first decent there was a mud bath, Simon loses the front and takes a tumble, he is fine apart from his muddy left side!
Not 100 yards later I have the first puncture of the day in my rear tyre. Frustratingly it was the tube I fixed the previous night (puncture on the seam), so a simple tube swap gets us going again.
|first puncture of the day goes to....|
From here the Downs are undulating and we cross fields, back across the A272, then climb up to the Millburys Pub, where we elect to have a food stop by Wind Farm.
|from the left, Chris, Greg, Si and Paul|
After some photo’s and some home-made chocolate brownies (thanks Mrs J!) we sent off for the nature reserve at Beacon Hill. Here we have a decision to make, follow the SDW down to Exton and brave possible mud or do the Nature Reserve downhill and do the climb of Old Winchester Hill on the road. Everybody votes for the SDW to Exton.
|the view from Beacon Hill is stunning|
The down hill was fine but leads out to the road for a long tarmac decent, Greg and I have fun slipstreaming, gravity style! At the bottom you cross the A32 then jump on the old Alton train line to the start the climb of Old Winchester Hill.
Here the famous mud (more like clay) took hold and the bikes soon became un-ridable and the wheels stopped turning…. We push them out of the mud, and try our best to clear them. From here it’s a spin up to the top, electing to stay on the bridleway and after a slight de-tour we make the road.
|Simon's clay wheel|
|Gregs San An, not looking happy|
Another food stop and we press on along the road only for Simon to get's his first puncture… After the fix we press on to Butser Hill, then hammer down the grass slope to the café at Queen Elizabeth Country Park. We all have lunch and a cup of coffee and Simon has to repair yet another puncture...
|Butser Hill with the A3 was blocked|
We take the Staunton way to Charlton with the intention of following this to Finchdean. Here it is elected to road it to Finchdean to save time and pick the off road up from there, however we are not sure of the route due to a battery out on the sat nav, so we road it to Rowlands Castle. Here we pick the cycle path up which takes us back to the train station.
Chris, Greg and Simon head off on their bikes for home, I jump in with Paul who drops me of at the top of Pidgeon House Lane and I cycle home.
It was a long day, but good day, my knee’s are feeling worse for wear and I have a little cramp, but the whole team made it even if the end of the ride didn't go to plan. We started as five and we ended as five, job done.
Max Speed: 42.5mi/h
Avg Speed: 8.7mi/h
Distance: 33 miles