Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Group ride: Winchester and back 2015

Our Autumn ride was a little late this year, we set the date of the 4th December and had are fingers crossed for fine weather.

The bike of choice was the Transition Smuggler 29, the more I ride this bike the more I am convinced a short travel 29'r is the way to go for a trail bike, and as such a perfect bike for the South Downs Way.
weapon of choice
I headed over Portsdown Hill to meet up with Chris, Greg and Simon at Cosham train station in time to catch the 8.20 (ish) train to Winchester.Well that was the plan and like all good plans they get scuppered by Chris going to Costa.

When we got to Winchester after an amusing train journey where we we told by South West Trains employee that each train can now only take 3 bikes (seriously, WTF SWT?), we headed through the town to hook up with the South Downs Way.

You cross the M3 on a foot bridge and follow the signs that that take you along side the A31 then cut off to ride through Chilcomb village. The road climb gives way to the South Downs Way proper all the way up to Cheesefoot Head. We crossed the A272 and headed down to the farm (with the massive dung heap) and turned right on to the SDW.

Chris, Greg and Si
From here is a few ups and downs via a few gates until we come back to the A272. The tracks were actually pretty dry and fast rolling and the sky was crystal clear and sky blue, a perfect day to be riding a bike!

We cross the 272 through Holden farm and past some 'country types' to a chorus of 'mourning', very civilised! We stop at the end of the track where it meets the road for some photos in this amazing clear sky.
Greg and his San Andreas
A climb up the road to the Millburys pub and folow the SDW to Wind Farm where we stop for nibbles in the sunshine.

Greg and I spot a Red Kite soaring in the sky, you see loads of these on the M6 and A34 but never one this far south.
Red Kite
We press, on and head up to the nature reserve on top of Beacon Hill, we head left and take the down hill route to Droxford. This change of route was a massive improvement over the road or the grassy knoll routes.

At Droxford we head up Old Winchester Hill on the road. Previous years we have struggled with the mud on the off road climb, so much so it was an off road push.

We stayed on the top of the hill all the way to the old HMS Mercury, from here we took the tried and tested route of the 'Speeder Path'

I have never ridden the Speeder Path is such muddy conditions, so we were of the pace a little, however we still caught another MTB rider who was also descending probably at 2 or 3 times his speed. I get past him and push on to the top of Murder Mile.

Murder mile was tough, again not as bad as it has been but the top section was definitely challenging with he mud.  At the end we cut back up the road to Harrowgate Lane, this was in to a headwind now and we lost the sunshine, really grinding and tiring. At the end of the lane we head south on the road back to Denmead.

Once back in the 'Mead' I say good bye to the guys as the ride back to Cosham. All in it was about 30 miles, not to bad especially considering the mud, but a massively brilliant ride and a fantastic day out. Better think of something new for 2016!

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