2005 RIDE REPORTS 

TUESDAY DECEMBER 27th "XMAS WOBBLIES PUB CRAWL"

                                                           

Plenty of riders for this one strangely enough, the day after Boxing Day. The first group assembled at the "New Queen" car park at Avon, on a beautifully sunny, if  somewhat icy cold day (still icy patches on the minor roads). Graham Rendell was the "Belle of the Ride" outdoing everyone else in the fancy dress stakes, by turning up on his "Wobbly Wheelers" festooned butchers bike, Graham complete with period costume. Only the flat cap was missing. Assembled at the car park were Dave and Karen Mullard, along with Lakhbir Sadra ("LB") who had cycled from Broadstone, Lynne, Andy & James Willcocks. New "Wobblies" rider Young Joo, Gilbeys wife was on her new Xmas pressie, a shiny silver Claude Butler hybrid, sporting a fetching pair of snowmen ear muffs. After the late arrival from Andy Young Joo & Gilbey, who'd stopped along the old railway line to retrieve some sausage rolls, which had bounced out of Grahams butchers bike earlier, the group set off via Ripley and Sandford for the first port of call, the "Elm Tree" on the outskirts of Poulner. After a warm up here (literally) on the toasty radiators in the bar, the group were joined by the second wave of "Wobblies", Hayley, Roy & Helen George, plus Kevin Lane who astounded the group with tales of his half a mile ride from Poulner! Onwards from the Elm Tree to the London Tavern, via "Chav ville" estate and a small hilly off road section, which Kev added in, just to see how the hybrids and butchers bikes would cope...From the London Tavern it was onwards to the Alice Lisle, Andy Willcocks suffering a devastating collision with a wall on the way!!

                                                                                                      

From the Alice, a run to the "Furlong" then to the "Lamb", where Mr Sutts joined the merry throng. A group decision was made here to cycle up the main B3347 back to the "New Queen" rather than take the quiet back roads as it would be quicker. In hindsight, this decision nearly proved fatal as the slightly more wobbly than usual "Wobbly wheelers" headed back in the dusk to the sixth hostelry of the day. Mr Mullard looked decidedly worse for wear leaving the "New Queen", and made slow weavy progress to the last port of call, the "Avon Causeway". He was banished to a pint of water here by Mrs M. All in all a great turn out with all 14 riders living to ride another day. Graham was awarded the "Acorn of achievement" for the effort made with the "in flight refuelling" butchers bike and period costume. Next year he just needs to secure those bouncing sausage rolls.......

SUNDAY DECEMBER 18th "PURBECK LOOP"

Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure map: OS Map Outdoor Leisure OL15: Purbeck & South Dorset

Length: 21.49 miles

Terrain: Muddy (and frozen) tracks, road

Riders: Gilbey, Roy George, “Sutts”, John the tri-athlete, Dave Mullard, Andy Willcocks, Mike Wisken.

Weather: Sunny at times, very cold (-3), warming up later

Minimum Height:  0 metres (Sandbanks Ferry)

Maximum Height:  191 metres (Godlingstone Hill, Nine Barrow Down)

Height ascended:  729 metres 

A satisfactory seven turned out for the last regular "Wobblies" of 2005.  Assembled at the Sandbanks Ferry, after huddling in the cafe for a few minutes over warm mugs of coffee to warm up. Quite a cold start on the run from the ferry to Rempstone Forest, with fingers and heads particularly suffering. 

           

The toll booth was looking particularly festive, with tinsel wrapped around the barriers. Even saw Santas booted legs sticking out of the gorse bush next to the booth. Must have done an "over the Sleigh" on a tight turn over Poole Bay. Mike had the first flat of the day at Bushey, which was to reoccur through the rest of the ride. However as his flat  tyre seemed to be reeking of "doggie do's" most of the group seemed to offer only vocal advise and not "hands on help". Andy and Roy went on to the radio mast on the hill overlooking Corfe, to keep moving and to try and stay warm. However the tearful reunion was late coming as Mike's tyre emitted another hiss whilst being inflated. So tyre off again, for a 2nd attempt at fixing. We regrouped at the radio mast, encountering an unusually friendly bunch of ramblers. must be the "Christmas cheer" in their hip flasks doing some magic. 

Good blast down to the road outside Corfe, most of the riders eyes freezing over on the way down, then turned left along the road towards Little Woolgarston. After a slight hiccup in the navigation we picked up a BW through muddy and also frozen farm fields, to the A351 at Woodyhyde Farm. We ignored the Beware of the Bull sign on one of the gates as we reckoned he'd be too cold to give chase. Then a steep climb up the rocky track, passing Afflington Farm, onto the Corfe-Worth Matravers road. Great clear views over Corfe and out across Poole Bay to the sunny Isle of Wight. No time for sightseeing as there was a treat in store. During the summer Graham Rendell and Gilbey discovered a new BW, however they had ridden up it...............this time, the group, more sensibly, were to be riding down it! 

          

Quite rocky, steep and windy single track. Part of the the trail was blocked by some fallen branches, but Roy cleared the way using a slightly worrying "King Kong" approach, accompanied by all the right grunts and roars. However he was soon to be silenced as half way down he was over the bars, followed by some impressive rolls, before coming to a halt. Not sure what caused it but it looked impressive. Gilbey had a flat, emerging from this section, just by Woodyhyde Farm, so Mike took this opportunity to try and repair his tube again. The decision was taken upon rejoining the road to get to Knitson Farm via tarmac, rather than the original intended route climbing up onto the ridge, from Corfe, on time concerns. Images of the "Banks Arms" being shut on our arrival, prempted this decision. So a tarmac section through Harmans Cross then a steepish climb up to Woolgarston, and the past Ailwood Farm to the Knitson Farm turning. Delights of glee and whoops of joy accompanied the riders as they ascended to the top. Great descent, as usual down Godlingstone Hill, however there were a lot of cars parked near the bottom, and a BMW nearly wiped out a couple of the lads turning around on the track.  John had to leave us at the base of the climb up to the Monument, so the rest puffed up to the top. 

Mike gave his rear tube another life saving puff or two then we headed off for Studland, using a different route to normal, turning left at the stone seat and following the BW down a steep track onto tarmac for a fast downhill to the Bankes Arms. This is a good fast shortcut, leaving out the "Old Harry" section if "last orders" are looming. We stopped to give 2 riders a hand as one was carrying his bike on his back(???). Turned out that they'd encountered rather a lot of hawthorns and he had about 6 punctures in one tube, so we gave him a tube as an early Xmas pressie. On arrival at the pub Mike had a serious attack of cramp in the legs, so we decided what he needed was a warm fire, a nice pint of "Fossil" and a bag of salty crisps. Sorted then! After a few pints we escorted the lumbering Mike back to the ferry in stricken Lancaster bomber style, coaxing him for a belly landing onto the ferry...........................

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 20th STONEHENGE LOOP    

Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure map: Salisbury and the Plain

Length: 18 miles

Terrain: Muddy (and frozen) tracks, road

Riders: Gilbey, Melissa O’Kane, Roy George, Graham Seage, Steve Shepard, “Sutts”

Weather: Freezing fog, sunny at times, very, very cold (-3 degrees!)

Minimum Height:  53 metres (River Avon crossing, Lower Woodford)

Maximum Height:  146 metres (Chain Hill, Stapleford Down)

Height ascended:  351 metres 

Turned up in the car park of "Black Horse" car park at Great Durnford. The temperature was well below freezing with -3 degrees being the general consensus. By the time we all reached the the A345 road, after a climb up through the woods from the village,  the lungs were struggling against the freezing temperatures, making breathing somewhat difficult. However the scenery was great, with every bush, blade of grass and tree looking like a film set for the "The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe".  Any similarity between Melissa and the White Witch, or Sutts and the Wardrobe were purely coincidental, and not the views of the website editor! Steve had to borrow some spare gloves from Gilbey as he'd turned up with fingerless mitts.  

       

Bit of brisk rubbing of fingers and other body parts at Stockport Junction trying to get the circulation going again.  The group followed the bridleway down into Amesbury. We then crossed over the busy A303 roundabout onto A345, after a speedy circuit of the large roundabout, passing at least 70 4.W.D. owners and their vehicles parked up, obviously off to trawl the "green lanes" of Salisbury plain. After passing the picturesque army families housing estate near Larkhill, we headed off in search of the elusive Stonehenge, hidden somewhere in the freezing fog.  After passing The Cursus we knew we were close, but it was only when we nearly knocked down 300 Japanese tourists, looming small out of the fog, wrapped up to the nines, that we realised we were riding through Stonehenge car park. Paused for the regulation "here we are at Stonehenge" photos, then sped off into the freezing fog, leaving behind some slightly bemused tourists who probably thought "mad bastards" as they also looked as cold as we felt.  

                           

Crossed the very busy A303 crossroads onto open frozen twin-track, over Normanton Down, then into woods before emerging at the A360 at Druids Lodge.  Paused here for arctic solid malt loaf and frozen penguin choccy bars, and a session of foot stamping and finger rubbing. The sun made an effort at this point to shine, but it again disappeared as we TL after a farm for a climb on wide dirt road, passing the Witches wood (honest!, I saw her sleigh) on the crest of hill. It was at this point that Roy decided to fall off, however the actual cause was not established, although most of the puddles on the track were frozen over with ice, so 99% probability that Jack Frost was to blame. The last muddy, rutted, and very slippery stretch before rejoining A360 claimed Mr Seage, who was seen to fly over the handlebars at one point.  When I say seen, I didn't see it, but I know a man who did. A cold headwind greeted us for the downhill to Middle Woodford, Sutts and Roy crouching low on their steeds to see who could get the furthest without pedalling, only a car coming the other way spoiling their fun. Most peoples toes and fingers were getting pretty cold by now, so the last few miles back to the pub seemed to be ridden with renewed vigor.  Cycled over the three bridges crossing the River Avon at Lower Woodford, through the village of Netton to the "Black Horse". We all changed out of the muddy clothes just in time for opening time. We admired the red double decker London bus which the landlord had bought and keeps out the back of the pub. Still has Trafalgar Square and Picadilly Circus on the route indicator, however I think Great Durnford is pushing it a bit for travel zones. ......Anyway one of the coldest "Wobblies" rides yet, as it was still -3 degrees when we got back to the pub.....!!

                                            

                                                                                                            Anybody seen Cliff?........

SUNDAY 16th OCTOBER "NOMANSLAND MAGICAL MUSHROOMS" 

Length: 19 miles

OS Landranger maps: OS Map Outdoor Leisure OL22: New Forest  or  Landranger 184: Salisbury & the Plain, Amesbury

Riders: 8 at the start - "Sutts", "Loggo", John the tri-athlete, Dave Simon, Michael Simon, Graham Seage, Steve Shepard, Melissa O’Kane

Weather: Sunny with a few clouds.

Minimum Height:  44 metres (Ogdens Farm).

Maximum Height:  123 metres (Longcross Plain).

Height ascended:  458 metres 

8 “wobblies” arrived in good time for the start of the ride, outside The Lamb at Nomansland. There were some veterans of last December’s ride who recounted tales of extreme sogginess and opened fresh debate about how much rain there had been lately and what to expect this time (wet feet all round – probably). The weather was perfect for riding today, not too hot, not too cold and the sun emerged from behind the clouds for most of the ride – bonus! The usual starting group photo was taken with The Lamb as the backdrop and then we were off.

The ride started with the downhill road section from the back of The Lamb and continued on road for a while before we spied our first off-road section and headed off towards Hamptworth Lodge. The tracks here were just as deeply ridged as those that had done the ride last time remembered but had somewhat less water and mud in them (phew! – although Steve ploughed into one deceptively shallow looking puddle which came up to his bottom bracket). Just before the Lodge we took a breather and turned the map over which was a fatal mistake as we managed to miss out the left turn into Loosehanger Copse (the turn was right on the crease – honest!). Anyhow we had an “interesting” tarmac detour through Bohemia before getting back on course, climbing up an off-road track to the B3080. Just before our “detour”, Dave and Michael decided to continue the ride at their own pace so the group was down to six now.

There was a fast hack along the B3080 to the Golden Cross car park, then off road again towards Turf Hill inclosure. As we cycled through the woods, Loggo spotted some toadstools (bright red with white spots = toadstool = poisonous ok!) – this was to set the theme for the rest of the ride. We emerged from the woods into Millersford Bottom, Sutts’ keen hearing noticed the tell-tale hissing sound and sure enough when I investigated I found a large thorn embedded in my front tyre. While I fixed the puncture (first and last on this ride), Loggo gave the first of his lectures on edible fungi and he, Melissa and Steve all went on a quick mushroom survey of the immediate area – Loggo discovered some Cep’s, which were collected for later consumption (Loggo’s evening meal).

Puncture fixed, we were off again towards the challenge of Deadman hill. The stream that claimed several victims last time around was a mere trickle this time despite some heavy downpours in the preceding week. Despite several good attempts at the hill nobody quite managed to get to the summit without resorting to a bit of the ol’ get off and push tactic – oh well there’s always next time. From the top of Deadman hill we joined the B3078 for a short sprint towards Godshill before a sharp left turn onto the gravel track which took us through Pitts Wood enclosure followed by a right turn at the junction with the Fritham to Frogham cycle track along Hampton ridge. Loggo was now consistently spotting wayside mushrooms with every turn of his pedals – Chanterelles and Blewits were added to the collection. We got a good speed up along the ridge and down the hill to Abbots Well. At the bottom Loggo reminisced about breaking his seat rail in this exact same spot last December and how much more difficult the riding was afterwards.

A short descent down to the bridge across Latchmore Brook and again comments were forthcoming from the ride veterans about the lack of water under (and over) the bridge this time – dry feet all round again. As the group started off again towards Hasley inclosure, past Ogdens we were brought to an abrupt halt by a very excited Loggo. He’d spotted some large Beefsteak fungi in a tree at the trackside and hastily whipped out his camera for a photograph using Steve in the frame to gauge the size of the fungi. Steve had offered to whip out something of his own for the photo but that would have made the Beefsteak’s look disproportionately large. Dragging a drooling Loggo away from his find (he vowed to return later with his brother, tooled up for fungus removal) we rode up through Hasley inclosure and on to Slodden inclosure. We carried on to Fritham across Fritham Plain, there were plenty of people out walking now, enjoying some remarkably mild late October weather. Down the hill to Eyeworth Pond, we lingered a while before taking on the long uphill slog to the B3078. The reward came in the form of the fast road descent back into Nomansland.

Back at the Lamb we met up again with Dave and Michael who had made up their own route to get back there. Frothing pints of the native nut-brown ale were quaffed as we reflected on the ride and Loggo debated how best to cook the day’s haul (let’s hope he’s still around for the next ride) while Sutts put forward his suggestion for next month’s ride – Stonehenge, another wobbly favorite!

Graham S

SUNDAY 18th SEPTEMBER 2005 "RED SHOOT LOOP"

OS Maps: Explorer 22 (Orange cover)  New Forest   or Landranger 195 (Pink cover) Bournemouth & Purbeck, Wimborne Minster & Ringwood

Length: 17.09 miles

Riders: 16!!   Clive / Roy George / Gilbey / Kevin Lane / Paul Jewell / Dave Mullard / Melissa O'Kane / Graham Rendell / Pete Robinson / Graham Seage / Steve Shephard / Dave Simon / Michael Simon / Christopher "Sutts" Sutton / Mike Whisken / Andy Willcocks

Weather: Sunny, with a cool breeze in places

Minimum height:  40 metres (Burley, Outer Rails Inclosure)

Maximum height: 105 metres (Canadian War Memorial, Bratley)

Height ascended: 353 metres

A suprising turn out for the September ride, 16 riders including Melissa and Steve on their shiny new bikes, fresh out of the boxes. Dave Simon brought his lad, Michael along too, so good to see some new faces. After a group shot on the grass opposite the "Red Shoot" the long line set off through Roe Inclosure. However, Mr Sutts was keen to get the first puncture stop in some 5 minutes after starting, maybe a record?  Mr Jewell followed soon after with a flat in Bratley Inclosure. We'd agreed to ride this well known route in reverse so we passed under the A31 at Bratley Arch and regrouped at the Canadian War Memorial. After a good run through Oakley Inclosure, as we rejoined tarmac for the run into Burley village, Mike Whisken had the third puncture. Excuse for a food stop and a breather then, the battenburg cake going down  well. Andy Willcocks came a cropper doing stunts, whilst passing Burley Church, but there was more to come later from someone else...........                                       

We then headed up Castle Hill Lane for some great views across the moors towards Poole & Bournemouth, then we headed by road towards Crow Hill, turning off onto the old Smugglers Road towards Picket Post. The group got a bit separated at this point, but with the help of Dave Simon's walkie talkies, order was restored. Whilst waiting by the road from the A31 to Burley, Gilbey attempted to pull a wheelie....fine apart from the SPuD's were having none of this and kept his feet firmly clipped in. Hence the rather heavy landing on his back, still attached to the bike....twat!!   Onwards to the bog crossing on Ridley Plain. A few wet feet, however Kev Lane was having none of this and did a rather impressive Evil Kinevel (?) jump across the stream, after an impressive run up, much to the dismay of all the budding photographers waiting for Kev to mess up bad!

                                 

Then a good uneventful run back to the "Red Shoot" where we all chewed the fat over a beer or ten. Good un'

SUNDAY 21st AUGUST 2005   "THE PASTY PUSH "

Start: “Square and Compass” Worth Matravers” 

OS Maps: Outdoor Leisure OL15: Purbeck & South Dorset 

About 18 miles minimum height ? metres, maximum height ? metres, height ascended  ?metres ……………who cares?????

Weather: Sunny, breezy and perfectly clear visibility……. Beeeuuoooootiful!

Riders:

Chris ” I like me pasties hot……aaarrghhhh  me mouth ! “ Gilbert-Norton

          Graham “ She’s got  me on short rations, give me a large one! “ Seage

          Sutts “ I only have a pastie when I’m on holiday ........ I’m sick of pasties! ”

          Pete “ Pasties are nice, but a bit of  waste of  drinking time ! ” Robinson

          Graham “skin the colour of a burnt pasty “ Rendell

         Apologies:

Dave “I’ve got trouble  with me waterworks,……..otherwise I’d love a pasty” Mullard

Andy “ A Pasty? , A  PASTY?…it’s not exactly show business is it darling?” Wilcocks

Paul “ You bas***d’s….you wait until I’m in Italy and then you have Pasties” Jewell

Dr Richard “ It was one too many pasties that did for me!........” Gears

Sherlock “I’m not too keen on pasties unless you cook ‘em until they turn to carbon”

Dave “ I don’t get out much anymore even though I doooo like a pasty!” Smith(y)

          Roy “ I prefer rock cakes ….pasties tend to break too easily ”  George

         Anyone who rides regularly in the Purbeck Hills will know that the “square and compass” only serves pasties. What you may not know however is      why?

The answer lies somewhere in the folklore of the old Dorset coast smugglers. Forget the Cornish miners explanation of keeping the coal dust off their meat and two veg, the truth is ………………………………“ the  3D Pasty Map”…………………………………………….Originally created to allow the wrecking crews to navigate their way from cove to cove as fast as possible, dependant upon the prevailing tide and weather conditions, in order to inflict maximum distraction (and destruction) to the unfortunate ships of the merchant fleet. It is you see, actually,  a 3D map of the area so detailed that even the priests way (or the 3rd pastry fold from the left ) can be navigated under the foggiest conditions and yet the evidence can be destroyed by the simple process of mastication (an added bonus eh lads!)   

 And so to the ride, only 2 keen souls arrived at the Square and Compass for the 8am start and the warm up loop. Well worth it though, an excellent rocky ascent (descent?) being newly discovered for future wobbly expeditions in these parts. Both Gilbey and Grendel were easily beaten by this tricky climb from Corfe back up to Worth known as “peas and carrots” in times gone by. We’ll be back!........ Be carefull though! as ‘tis rumoured that shortly after dark a ghostly northern figure can often be heard dragging two sobbing children up this trail t’ward the Inn,……. and then later at night they can be heard dragging him back !

Back at Worth  Sutts and Seagey have arrived and are raring to go. The weather is superb………. {pause to take it in}…….so after an impromptu change of plan we set off for a loop to St Albans Head to take in the scenery before the ride proper. Once at the coastguard station on the cliff the true beauty of our Dorset Coastline unfolded. The views on this day were simply stunning!…………………………… A friendly dog walker wished us good morning and then pointed out that this was as far as we could take the bikes. Thanks for that , and I hope you enjoyed your swim!     Those with a keen eye will notice that the chapel on the end of the cliff has no  windows whatsoever?????.......could this be to conceal the smell of the production of illicit pasty maps ? Back at Worth the group of four were joined by Pete “Lucky” Robinson who is gaining himself a reputation for turning up late on Purbeck rides. Good to have you back on board again! Down the Priests Way and the path is slowly but surely being restored to it’s original condition by the elements , a real gorge being carved by the natural stream that flows when the heavens open (and helped along by a few knobbly tyres!). Next stop / Cake stop…….. we’ve got the photo’s Mr Seage so pay up or the other half gets to see you choosing between “Dorset Apple cake or Coconut  Cherry cake?”

                                      

Knitson farm, how I hate you!!!! Exposed , Loose , Gates, and then once you think you’ve done it you turn the corner and UP! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgggghhhhhh!    And here we are , on top of the world (albeit shaped like a giant pasty), the views of Poole bay, Swanage and Corfe folding out before us. If you haven’t been up here …..do it! You won’t be sorry.   Wahhooooo! Downhill on the purbecks , haven’t  done this descent west towards Corfe for a long time. From Nine Barrow it’s down , down ,down , the final descent into Corfe having been re-styled by the local council, still good but where’s the gulleys and the jumps?? I’m sure I saw a “sponsored by Kerry Foods” banner on the way down. More of a Vegetarian “pseudo” pasty now as opposed to the Chilli Steak firebreather it used to be!   Carve through the traffic queue in Corfe and then climb up to Blashenwell Farm. This is only a small mid-morning pasty but the crusts are rock’ard. From here you get the best views of Corfe Castle so look over your shoulder and appreciate it. The vote was one sided , Swire Head it is then,    the long drag up was well worth the stunning views that presented themselves. Trust me , it don’t get no clearer than this. Poole harbour and the whole of the Isle of White to the east ,  Lulworth, Portland and more to the west.   Ok, ready for beer !  Charge down the hill from Swire head trying to avoid the families of walkers climbing up, through Kingston and back up the slog  to  Worth,  12:30ish and the first batch of pasties are ready. Glibey get’s the first one  and that’s pretty much where we started……. Toooooo  hot……..aaaaarghh!  

Where were you all? It’s Summer , you should be riding! No whingeing when the seasons over! 

Just get out and ride ……………now!………….see you next time!

Cheers,   Graham

SATURDAY JULY 23rd 2005 "SDWIAD” …..(The 100 mile arse!)

Start: Winchester YHA

Finish: Eastbourne B&B

OS Maps:  Several  

101.5 miles, minimum height 0 metres, maximum height 248 metres, height ascended 3885 metres.

Riders: Gilbey / Grendel / Pinocchio Wilcocks

Weather: Dry, still, cool (to start with)……….perfect!

  After all the talk , injuries , training, “can I? / can’t I?” deliberations and pure bullshit of the previous months 3 riders finally found themselves at Winchester YHA ready to tackle the longest recorded wobblies ride in the clubs history so far, 100 miles in one day over the undulating terrain of the South Downs Way! 

                               

At 03:30 the alarm went off followed by sighs of relief from Graham and Andy and a long “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” from Chris (I can sleep anywhere ) Gilbey. At exactly 04:00 overweight camelbacks packed with far too much food were donned and the pedal pushing began. 15 hours later we would be cruising along Eastbourne Prom checking out the blue rinse babes but it was too early to know that yet……………………….. This report aims to cover the physical (and mental) strains of the ride rather than the route itself (mainly because all my energy went into riding rather than taking in the views), if you want a description of the route check out last years 2 day south downs ride report. If you want to know how we suffered read on……………………………..  The preparations had been good with regular long routes to work and weekly after work purbeck loops to build up the endurance levels. Even a pre-planned strategy of 40 mins ride / 5 mins rest (and feed) was to be strictly adhered to in order to ensure riders energy levels were kept topped up. The first session was ridden in darkness which was fine on the road but once we were across the A272 and into the trees it was a case of point the bike and hope (pray) that’s where the trail is.  Unlike last years laughing and jostling start there was a quiet determination from all 3 riders to hit our agreed target of Truleigh Hill by midday. This was the overnight stop for last years 2 day ride and it would be a big boost to be there and still have 9 hours daylight left should any late disasters occur.  

                               

The forty minute ride sessions worked very well, long enough to initially cover about 8-10 miles per session, the 5 minute stops involving frenetic scoffing of various energy foods, dried fruit, fig rolls, bananas, malt loaf etc. Initially it was a chore to eat anything, the mind telling the body “you really ought to still be asleep” however as the miles progressed we found ourselves using the last 10 minutes of each riding session to plan the next interesting combination of nutritional snacks. 

Once passed Queen Elizabeth Country Park the climbing started in earnest and a few maintenance gremlins started to show. Gilbey’s gears were showing a few signs of ghost shifting but this was nothing compared to Andy’s problems. Every time a climb was encountered he would search for the granny ring only to fire the chain into the spokes. This was followed by a long string of foul mouthed expletives – shame on you Mr. Wilcocks! After several stops and quick fixes it was obvious it wasn’t going to fix itself so Andy and Graham got tools out and 10 minutes later all was well (surprising really as the rear mech was one that had been straightened back into shape with the help of rocks and large branches on a recce ride earlier in the year!) Gilbey had carried on up the hill but as we had a “buddy” system in operation (whereby each rider was responsible for keeping sight of the rider behind) we knew he wouldn’t have gone far……..yeah right!  He was still blasting on hell for leather, so the two stragglers took an unexpected detour before turning round and rechecking the signposts .To his credit Gilbey did an excellent job of navigating (almost entirely from memory of last years ride). Once re-united (and a few stern words) all riders confirmed their support for sticking together so no more time would be lost.

The next key stage was Beacon Hill just after Harting Down. Last year we had taken the route straight over the top (1:1?) which meant riding this section was impossible. The actual SDW trail though is across the contours of the climb, still bloody hard but rideable. We all successfully conquered this one so I silently set myself a challenge of ensuring all the climbs for the day were ridden (something I would regret later in the day when the other 2 were actually walking faster than I was riding!) By 08:00 we were at Cocking (last years lunch stop) but the climb up to Manorfarm Down was a lot easier without a steak and kidney pudding and a pint of stella inside you. At the top, a water stop to recharge dwindling camelbacks and then press on to hit Truleigh Hill by 12:00Hrs.

We were now about 40 miles in and the biggest problem seemed to be aching backs. Andy was suffering most as the Ibuprofen he and I had taken didn’t seem to be having any effect for him. Perhaps a fresh coat of linseed oil would have done the trick! We were still applying the 40 min ride rule which made the pain bearable and to be honest the way Andy was talking you would have had to have broken his back in 5 places before he would give up. Determined or what?  

                                  

The next 20 miles were hard graft. We were still on target for midday at Truleigh Hill but the sun was starting to warm up. The climb up to Beeding Hill was accompanied by a group of ramblers who chatted with us as they kept pace with our rather sad speed of ascent but once at the top the radio masts of Truleigh Hill were clearly visible and realization that we would achieve our lunchtime target spurred us on and we eventually arrived at the YHA at 12:15, 63 miles in and all still fairly comfortable. The planned longer stop for lunch was thrown out by Gilbey having received a call from workmate “Q” promising cream cakes on ditchling beacon if we could get there by 13:00(ish) hrs. Another re-fill of camelbacks and we charged on abandoning the 40 min ride strategy in favour of seeing “Q” and his selection of confectionary. Just before Ditchling, Andy got the first (and thankfully only) puncture of the day so we opted to squirt in enough air to get him up the hill and then he sat and played with rubber solution whist Gilbey and myself scoffed donuts and cream slices….Cheers Q!    

                     

With 30 miles to go it was about  14:00hrs…blimey…. at this rate we’d be in the pub at Eastbourne supping on a well earned beer by 17:00 hrs …….mmmmmmmmmmm…………perhaps not! The sun came out with a vengeance, the hills got higher and the sun got hotter as we crossed the A27 near Lewes. Ok …we’re into the hard bit now, Energy gels were consumed by all before the climb up to Swanborough Hill. Glorious views were pretty much ignored as only one thing mattered, got to get there!  Through Rodmell and Gilbeys gears had given up the ghost so another maintenance stop once across the railway line and once everything was set up as per shimano service sheet 138a issue 2 (kindly loaned by the notably absent Dave M) all was well again and we set off to attempt the slog up  Beddington Hill. ……….Jeez……..what a b*****d!    I swear it was even longer than last year and no taut jodhpurs to spur us on this time either! What we did have however was tea and cakes supplied by my Sis at Firle beacon and my god did we need it. Thank you Denise and Barbara!  

                                     

15 miles to go now and saddle soreness was starting to play it’s part. Gilbeys rear was seriously suffering as he struggled to find a riding position that didn’t chafe. The legs were still working thanks to plentiful eating and drinking but contact points were SORE! The descent into Alfriston was enjoyed by all, but our riding discipline had  long gone. We all needed water but with the end in sight no-one wanted to stop and search for a tap so on we pressed on. 90 miles in and you know you’re going to make it but it’s painful and to be honest you just want to get it out of the way. Hot long climb up Windover Hill. Spirits were raised as we laughed at the site of Mr M’s descent down the wrong valley on the previous SDW ride. Then heads down, suck on empty camelbacks and grind on waiting for that all important sighting of Eastbourne..…………and there it was, the sea in view, tired legs assumed new vigour and we powered on to a final descent from beachy head down onto the promenade. And what a cracker it was, smooth fast grassy trails carving down the hill at god knows what speed…we were there , final arrival time 19:30 hrs!  

                                

Find a pub, order the beers and ……..now this is different, the beers were on the table, the photo had been taken but we all just sat there, barely enough energy to lift the glass yet alone enjoy the beer. Half an hour later and we had managed to sup our pints but no talk of a second pint, “Where’s the shower? Where’s my bed?” We did eventually venture out from our B&B for a well earned steak and a glass of wine but it was all very restrained. The instant sense of achievement that had been a highlight of the 2004 SDW ride simply wasn’t there. The challenge had been met and the goal achieved but it had been bloody hard! I was banned from even suggesting a follow on challenge for next year. So we all turned in pretty early and snored as the rain clouds rolled in and a 24hr down pour commenced. How lucky were we with the weather?  

Anyhow, it’s over now, Gilbey’s sores have healed up and it’s time to think of a new goal for next year. Possibly a coast to coast ride or SDW east to west (supposed to be harder) but I think my personal favourite for 2006 is “SDWTABITD”. You work it out……..see you there!

Cheers, Graham   

ANDY "CAKE BOY" SHERWOOD's 24 ROAD RACE 16 & 17th JULY

I attempted to spell check Sherlocks report but it couldn't cope with his grammar, so here is his report  in all it's unchecked glory....enjoy...it's a cracker.................................

My interesting few days........
Went to France for a stag do. This was so ace, I saw Lance Armstrong in the flesh, up in the mountains. So many helicopters, music, food birds, in the middle of the flipin alps! Dranks lots and had a good time in mental (very important) preparation for the 24 hr race.
Got back to my grim job, to find that the boss was not happy that I was doing the race then having a hernia operation a few days later resulting in paid sick leave.
He decided to fire me. Anyhow, got a lift up to liverpool on friday after work. and capmed at the HQ and got my fist good night sleep as I had had a throut infection all week. In the morning I rode out of the HQ 2 miles in the wrong direction, after seeing no other riders I returrned to the HQ to find I should have turned right (not left) I eventually got to the start 6 minuits down (so lost riding time) and off I went.
The first few miles were a bit of a drag - no rhythem and that. I managed to forget to tell my support team what I wanted next as I snatched my water and food from them, I also managed to drop some of my food (nerves).I rode for a while with a dry throut.
150 miles later, things were going well. I had managed to keep an average of 20.1 mph and was going strong. It started to get dark at the 200 miles point, average 19.9 I think, and I stopped to put on lights and long length shorts and long top.it got real dark, and real windy at night, it all started to get quite hard. I text my brothers for mental support as my support team prepared for some sleep. befor they slept I stopped,swigged some rice pudding and had some fresh beef steak. put on a camel back and rode without the support for a while. - this is very dificult. come daylight, I took the first oportunity to get my lights taken off as I saw the team awake, so that hill climbs would be more efficient, and got some cooler clothes on.
300 miles so far. 7 hours to do 100 miles - how easy!
But not in real life. from no where I developed a very sore ass ( no shaving this time) just plain nature, My average dropped massivly as I started to slow rapidly and discomfort esalated. when ever i got to my team i had to keep stopping, and getting motivation, then off i would grind - things getting grimly difficult, some of the roads stank of vomit as riders in a similar position where vomiting.I now know even they winner was in a similar situation. but you think that it is just you. I was in so much pain, i had to put on an extra pair of shorts on. this worked wonders,and i picked up some speed. getting to my team and hearing "just 3 hours to go" almost made me vomit myself. Then like a wave from the almighty the circuit closed and everyone was directed to the finishing circuit, and 20 mile ride with 10 mile looped circuit. the terrain was terrible as it was newly laid agricultural grade ashalt which was like riding on pebbles. overpowering the returened pain of the saddle was the yellow fluid that had started to collect in m,y lugs whenever i took an earo position (to beat the wind), apraoching the time keepers i expected to get waived of my bike, but was waived on to the next time keeper 2 or 3 miles away cos i had a couple of minuits to go..... this was the logest few miles ever. when i got stopped, they forced a medal over my neck, i turned to see that the support team had followed me ( didnt even notice them myself) and I was able to crawl into their van.
 
400.88 miles later. My speedo measured 409 by the end. but theres always discrepancies. today I can walk but my feet are still swollen and fat. today was my last day at work before my operation tomorrow, so now i can rest for a while. im just cooking a steak now, then off to sleep. take care Grendal - i would realy reccomend not using energy bars. i didnt. there grim and not realy ideal i think. remeber 65g per hour apprx. fluid salts, fat protein.
 Andrew

"TWO CROSS DYKES"  SUNDAY JULY 17tH

OS Maps: Explorer 118 (Orange cover)  OS Map Explorer 117  Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis  

Length: 9.82 then 18.31 mile loops (28 in total)

Riders: Roy George / Gilbey / Graham Rendell / Dave Mullard / Graham Seage / Martin Sissons / Christopher "Sutts" Sutton

Weather: Sunny and hot, with a cool breeze in places

Minimum height:  35 metres (River Stour crossing, Alders Coppice)

Maximum height: 266 metres (Woolland Hill)

Height ascended: 862 metres

A good turn out of seven riders for the main loop of 18 miles. We have reviewed the lengths of the routes recently and decided on a two-looper, to try and encourage back some riders who have expressed concern at the lengthening ride distances. So an 8am start from the "Black Horse" pub in Stourpaine for Dave, Gilbey & Graham Rendell. We'd planned to do the full 9.82 miles, but not having reccied the route first proved a problem. Quite hot temperature even at 8am. The highlight of the first loop was the 120m descent from The Folly to Durweston village, the track overgrown with bramble bushes and stinging nettles at this time of year, a bushy comparison to the spartan winter rides. The other riders turned up for the 18 miler, and so we all set off at 09.15, immediately cursing the route planner (Mullard!) for including the steep ascent to Hod Hill fort in the first mile of riding. Luckily the track up to the hill fort was mostly sheltered from the blazing sun. Bit of a steep descent on the other side of the fort down to the road, and at the bottom there was definitely a smell of hot brakes..."I love the smell of sintered pads first thing in the morning". Passed the rather grand Handford House school then we struggled to ride along the edge of a field of fully grown corn, some riders choosing to be whipped by the corn as they rode the field, rather than take the bumpy track along the edge. Then through a particularly overgrown bridleway, complete with brambles and stinging nettles, which left most arms and legs at the end of this section, dripping with "claret". Gilbey managed to fall off here, a combination of snagging brambles and a small ditch aiding the "over the bars" job.

            

Roy had a flat just after crossing the River Stour near Alders Coppice, but this was a blessing in disguise as this gave the riders time to recover their breathing, before using all of it again on the very steep climb out of Shillingstone, through Eastcombe Wood, on Shillingstone Hill. A steep, loose, chalky track, with sting nettles (again) all added to the challenge of this 150m climb. Flat section before a great grassy descent from Turnworth Down to the tarmac, Martin leaving the pack here, as he had a dinner appointment. Then a hot, long climb up through Ringmoor, an ancient settlement and field system, which was covered in very long grass at this time of year, to Ibberton Hill. Dropped down through Heath Bottom , a firm uphill favorite on the "Winterborne Stickyland" rides. Better down than up was the joint decision this time however. After passing through Winterborne Houghton, there was a long hot climb across Houghton North Down to the village of Turnworth. Gilbey had a run in with a herd of cows who were initially very timid and nervous, but then became all brave and started chasing him. Another puncture from Roy, before Shepherd's Corner Farm then the group split, some preferring to dash back in the ever increasing heat, whilst Graham Rendell, Andy, Dave and Gilbey tackled the Blandford Forest option, coming down the steep track through Hillcombe Coppice. Slight navigation error led to an extra climb up through Norton Wood, back to tarmac for a fast descent to Durweston. Nipping back across the River Stour past the picturesque water mill, under the old Somerset & Dorset railway line to rejoin the group. As the "Black Horse" was undergoing a major refurbishment, we elected to stop at  the "Anvil" at Pimperne for a second time in 2 months. Graham Rendell, decided that he hadn't done enough training for the "South Downs in a Day", and so as well as riding out from Christchurch to Stourpaine, doing the two rides, then decided to ride to the "Anvil" and to finish off, ride back to Christchurch from Pimperne. Hat's off to you, Grendell, or were you just affected by sunstroke!!

"Handcocks Bottom" (5 go pink in Pimperne) SUNDAY JUNE 19th

OS Maps: Explorer 118 (Orange cover) Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase  

Length: 28.42 miles

Riders: Gilbey / Graham Rendell / Dave Simon / Dave Mullard / Andy Benjafield

Weather: Sunny and bloody hot!

Minimum height:  43 metres (A350, Smugglers Lane)

Maximum height: 214 metres (Sutton Hill)

Height ascended: 825 metres

                                           

 Only 4 riders appeared for 9am at the “The Anvil” (ST 907 092) in Pimperne for the start of this one, most others sensibly opting for the beach or a shady spot in what was to be one of the hottest days of the year so far and without doubt the hottest ride.  2 minutes later a mobile call from Dave Mullard “ Are you doing the ride today” ? “Yes” replied Gilbey…”We’re at the pub, where are you” ? “We’ll I’m at the pub, I can’t see you” ? “Dave, that’s because we’re at the “Anvil”, you’re at the wrong bloody pub”!!      "You b****rds ? ………………………………” Dave!”

Five minutes later Dave arrived still sobbing but happy that he hadn’t been abandoned in the darkest outreaches of Dorset…..and then there were 5. We were off, and new recruit Andy who we met on the Wimborne BHF ride had chosen a baptism of fire (28 miles in scorching heat, no shade and with most of the climbing stacked in the first 10 miles!). Across Pimperne down and then left towards Smugglers Lane. 4 of the 5 riders were sensibly wearing sunnies, which was great until they started the descent down Smugglers Lane. As the trail got faster the roots and rocks got bigger and the undergrowth got denser, prompting cries of “who turned the light out?”. Fortunately no wipe-outs although Dave did see another imaginary black dog half way down (ahh…that’s why you slowed down!!).

Across the A350 and the climbing started. In baking sunshine (even at 10:00 in the morning) the steep ascent up to Hambledon Hill took it’s toll with everyone walking at least part of the way. It was worth it though, the views across the ancient fort of Hod Hill were stunning. Riding along the ridge in the intense heat everyone was starting to question the sanity of a 28 miler in this weather but even madder than us were a couple of runners out with no water and talking about training for a local hill race  between the villages in the area involving climbing all the peaks in one big loop. Even Dave Simon the famous fell runner baulked at this one!

                                                  

As we started the descent off the hill a few minor navigational hiccups stopped us enjoying what looked to be a good downhill section. Next time perhaps!   A particularly rutted field made hard going and there was no escaping the suns fury. We were only 8 miles in but already riders were starting to show concern at dwindling water supplies. A short road section up to Peggs Lane got Gilbey all excited as he recognized this as the signpost from the chandelier edition of ”Only fools and Horses”. To be honest it was just a signpost but remember we are talking here about a plane spotter with more anoraks than Oswald Baileys!

Past Peggs farm and on towards Sutton Waldron Andy decided enough was enough and called it a day, heading back along the A350 towards Blandford. A shame really because he had probably cracked the hardest part of the ride…….they’re not all this hot or hilly mate…. Honest! ...................... And then there were 4. A road climb up to Sutton Hill farm saw a good display of tactical shade hunting as riders noticeably slowed behind anything that could offer some respite from the suns rays. At the top was a massive mobile phone mast disguised as a tree (really!) At West Lodge the local farmer had turned a field crossing into the “ride of a thousand gates” with electric fence dividing the field into strips and makeshift gates every 10 yards, just what you need when the suns rays are burning into your neck. After negotiating a rather large and intimidating herd of cows, plus a heap of cowshit, we were treated to a wooded section through Stubhampton Bottom offering some protection and spirits were raised as we entered the village. 

                                                                                             

Heads were pounding at this point and more water was urgently required. No one had actually run out but everyone was restricting consumption just in case. Debate about whether to do the Gunville loop ensued but all riders were still in favour of riding the route as planned so on we went, and thank God we did. It’s surprising how much pleasure can be had from simple things when the going gets hard, in this case the sight of a tap on a standpipe in Tarrant Gunville was enough to cause whoops of delight as riders splashed and showered their heads turn under cooling water. Camelbacks recharged the group set off with renewed vigor through Hithins Park farm and then eventually hitting the rollercoaster singletrack section at Handcocks Bottom.  

                                                    

I can’t remember much about the last bit except that I was staring at the mileometer counting down the last few miles back to the pub. With only 1 mile to go Dave S decides he’s had enough and wants to take a shortcut back. When Gilbey pointed out to him that the last bailout was 2 miles behind us he said “fook that” and sprinted off for the finish. Back at the Anvil with a cool beer in hand, shaded by a drooping willow tree outside in the garden, the four finishers were in a state that befits a ride called Hancocks Bottom……..hot, sweaty and pretty damn smelly. LOL!

                                                                               

                                              Mr Hancock (perhaps a wobbly wheeler of the future??)

"MARTIN MARCH", BREAMORE, HAMPSHIRE, SUNDAY MAY 15th

OS Maps: OL22 (Orange cover) New Forest   or   Landranger 184 (Pink cover) Salisbury & The Plain, Amesbury

Length: 28.58 miles (cut short due to commitments)

Riders: Dave Mullard / Sutts / Graham Rendell / Andy Willcocks / Jon “the Triathlete” / Saint Tim / Howard./ Graham Seage / Richard Gears (DNR)

Weather: Bright and Sunny

Minimum height:   34 metres, 

Maximum height:  173 metres,

Height ascended:  622 metres

8 riders met at the “Bat and Ball” in Breamore (SU 159 178), Hants on what was one of the sunniest mornings of the year so far. Somehow Richard managed to miss us as he parked his van across the road and then sped off in search of the group who had not yet headed off. This seems to be fairly common that people arrive without a map so to be safe print off the route map that el presidente sends you then if you miss the group you can always catch up. Anyway, off we go up the road and through Breamore wood, 2 new riders Tim and Howard joining us for the first time. Nice to have you along! A few interesting singletrack sections through the wood and then down the hill towards Giants grave. John’s newly fitted SPD’s took their toll here as he failed to negotiate a tight corner and couldn’t unclip in time to save the ensuing fall. Result…one sore shoulder. To add insult to injury as the riders re-grouped at the top of the hill John’s mind was obviously focusing on the newly aquired war wound as he forgot to unclip again and went straight down on his shoulder again. Don’t worry mate, after the first year unclipping becomes automatic.

After a couple of miles we climbed up on to Throop Hill and the views over Faulston down were stunning. Basked in glorious sunshine the countryside looked too good to miss the opportunity of a quick photo shoot so once Andy had lined us up for a couple of arty shots we pressed on down the hill towards Bishopstone. Here we picked up a familiar section of track now officially known as Loggo’s Tree and then climbed up to join the Ox drove at Faulston Down farm. This is quite a tricky section as it is very deeply rutted and a few souls were tempted down into the ruts………Stay in the middle lads! Andy “I’ve got no strings” Willcocks came a cropper here with one wheel in the rut and one wheel out of it ….bang……. down he went. At Knighton wood 4 riders were missing, so Andy, Tim, Richard and Graham sunbathed whilst the four stragglers fixed punctures (John,Dave and Howard being the unfortunate victims).

Eventually we got going again completing the ox drove section without further incident and a good fast descent to the Roman Road. Tim had to leave us at this point as he had a ticket to go and watch “The Saints” say goodbye to the premiership. Lucky for him he did as Messrs Willcocks and Mullard had us riding round in ever decreasing circles in Vernditch chase despite having claimed to have recce’d the route the week before (just going to the pub and talking about it doesn’t count as a recce lads!). After a lot of head scratching , swearing, and pondering over Dave’s “I’ll never get lost now” watch we had to resort to asking some passing ramblers which way to go…….oh the shame of it! We crossed theA354 confident that we knew the way now only to find we were still lost. Dave offered to use his watch to plot a northerly course and get us out of trouble but at this point frustration set in and Sutts told him to sod off and just head for the Church Spire which was clearly visible in Martin. With renewed enthusiasm we charged into Martin and then headed on the Road up to East Martin …………..oh yeah ,then we got lost again………..Doh! After some disagreement we headed down the nearest bridleway just happy to be on the move and as luck would have it we back on route. 

                                                    

After a quick photo shoot in a field of Rapeseed (organized by the very artistic Andy) we entered the wood at the bottom of the hill. Another puncture struck wasting even more time and after a few married riders started fearing for their safety having promised to be back just after lunch it was decided to cut short the 29 mile route and hit the road back to Breamore. To their credit Dave M and Andy were the most vocal in wanting to stay on route but a more cynical person than me could say that if they’d recce’d the bloody route properly the first time we would have been back to the pub an hour ago!! After a road sprint back through Rockbourne  inspired by the promise of a cool pint we arrived back at the Bat and Ball. John and Howard, keen to retain their matrimonial status, headed straight off leaving 5 of us to enjoy a pint or two of Ringwoods finest.  Despite a few navigational difficulties the route was a good’un, so well done Mr M for charting new territory. The new recruits (Tim and Howard) seemed keen so hopefully we’ll see them along again. El Presidente Gilbey couldn’t make this ride but as recompense he has promised to buy a pint for everyone that attends the next ride. Should be a good turn out then!!

Cheers, Graham

BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION RIDE, WIMBORNE, DORSET, SUNDAY 8TH MAY

Some did 25 miles, some did 50 miles, all in a good cause, Well Done everyone!!

            

        

       

"WINKLE RUN" EBBESBOURNE WAKE, WILTSHIRE SUNDAY 17th APRIL

Length: 23.28 miles

OS Landranger maps: OS Map Explorer 118 or  Landranger 184 (pink) Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase

Riders: 6  Richard Gears, Gilbey, Dave Mullard, Graham Rendell, Graham Seage, John the tri-athlete, Dave Simon (arrived 5 minutes late, missed the group, and then went home again), 

Weather: Sunny warm day, clouding over during the ride.

Temperature: 12ºC  

Minimum Height:   83 metres (Broad Chalke)

Maximum Height:   251 metres (Winkelbury Hill)

Height ascended:   741 metres 

Terrain: Mixture Road / Off road (bridleways, farm tracks, grassy sections).

6 riders assembled in the village outside the "Horseshoe" pub for a 9.15 start. Dave Simon was running late and arrived at 9.20, missing us by 5 minutes. Unfortunately, mobile phone coverage here was non-existant so he couldn't contact us and went home again. Great climb up beside North Hill Farm, causing a bit of cussing and wheezing/coughing from the group. Dave M was particularly struggling early on, due to a sinus problem. Then we had a great singletrack descent, right beside a barbed wire fence, down to Norrington Farm, Graham Rendell managing to get Dave wet at the bottom, after a adjacent puddle was well placed. The 107 metre climb up to the Ox Drove, past Winkelbury Hill fort proved the downfall of the group, with all pushing their bikes at one point. This track would make a great descent sometime, so I will have to mark it on the map. The fast descent through Chase Woods gave Gilbey a chance to try out taking some video footage of the group riding along. However this was nearly a "You've Been Framed" moment as Richard reminded Gilbey to watch where he was going, just as a group of girls were walking the other way, loaded up with heavy backpacks. He missed them!!

                                                                                         

On through Deanland, where a quick sprint up a single track footpath, was only completed by one rider, as Mr Seage came to a stop causing a bit of bunching behind. Passed a few dead lambs on the climb up to Middle Chase Farm, one being reduced to a bright red rack of ribs...(which reminds me it will soon be BBQ weather), turned onto the muddy Ox Drove for the section to Cow Down Hill, all going well until Richard came a cropper trying to hop up onto a higher section, then best of all John ploughing into a rather big, deep puddle. We were going to warn him (honestly!) but he had raced on ahead, when we stopped to check on Richard. A bit of scrambling in the hedgerows had the rest of the group pass this section dry feet intact. From Cutlers Corner to Kitt's Grave proved to be a fast singletrack section, then we joined the old Roman Road section parallel to the A354 Blandford-Salisbury, for a undulating flinty section to Reddish Gore. Climbed back up to the Ox Drove once again , then a fast gravel track section along Church Bottom into Broad Chalke. Graham Seage was lagging a bit by now, having not had any breakfast. Not too clever on a 24 miler, others please take note. 

             

From Broad Chalke, we passed the watercress beds at The Marsh, then through Little London, onto a grassy b/w to emerge at Law's Farm in Bowerchalke. Richard seemed to be having problems in the "rear" department and seemed to make heavy going on this bumpy section. Managed to avoid the bull in the field with the "Beware of the Bull" sign stuck on the gatepost. There seemed to be particular haste across that grassy field! Up to Hill Farm on the edge of Ebbesbourne, where two lambs were convinced we were their mums and tried to break out through a fence. Then the steep 60m descent back into the village, Richard and Graham Seage being particularly pleased the ride was over. Into the "Horseshoe" for some descent beer (6X) plus pleasant service from the landlord and his wife. Recommend a visit to this unspoilt country pub for a roast dinner......................

"MUDDY OX" TOLLARD ROYAL, WILTSHIRE SUNDAY 20th MARCH

Length: 23.41 miles

OS Landranger maps: OS Map Explorer 118 or  Landranger 184 (pink) Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase

Riders: 9  Richard Gears, Gilbey, Kevin Lane, Dave Mullard, Graham Rendell, Graham Seage, Dave Simon, Martin Sissons, Mike Whisken

Weather: Misty to start, N/E wind, but cleared to a sunny warm day. Spring has sprung!

Temperature: 14ºC  

Minimum Height:   82 metres (Broad Chalke)

Maximum Height:   259 metres (Monks Down, near Win Green)

Height ascended:   638 metres 

Terrain: Mixture Road / Off road (bridleways, farm tracks, grassy sections).

Nine riders assembled beside the frog filled village pond at Tollard Royal. Kevin just caught the group before they set off at 09.15. Plenty of squashed frogs littered the BW on the steady climb, passing Berwick Down to the summit at Monks Down.  SA and down the track, known locally as Ashcombe Lane. Some of the group went left at the bottom of the descent instead of SA, so had to backtrack slightly.  Met the road at Berwick St John (ST943218). Mouths firmly shut passing Cross Farm in the village as the cow slurry was all down the lane. Riders looked for clean verges to use, avoiding the track.  At this point Richard Gears managed to stuff up his bunny hop over a ditch and went over the bars, unfortunately no-one witnessed this. Plenty of noise was forthcoming from the lambs and sheep around Norrington Farm. The singletrack along side the stream bank proved enjoyable, Dave M nearly falling over the edge. After West End, the good climb up hill beside fence to gate on right, then TR through gate and bear NW across field. 

         

At summit of hill the group assembled, whilst looking down on the steep rutted descent. Gilbey went first then the rest followed, apart from Dave Mullard and Dave Simon who took the sensible route. Kevin Lane lost it and went over the bars, but in true cat style, managed to land on his feet. Neat trick, Kev. Then the good slog up Church Bottom valley. At the top of the valley various techniques were employed to get up the steep climb, Kev preferring the run up technique, which entailed climbing up one side of the hill, taking a run down the hill he'd just climbed, then coasting/riding up the other side of the hill, defeating the point somewhat. Why didn't he just ride up one side of the valley, instead of both!!  At the top, crossing a particularly nasty flint laden field Graham Seage had a flat  out in the exposed middle of the field. Seem to remember someone getting a puncture here the last time we rode this one.  After repairing it (twice!), we set off, only for Mr Mullards rear tyre to hiss loudly and rapidly deflate. So we took some shelter in a wooded area to get out of the wind, which was a bit chilly. The food stop was combined with the puncture fixing here, to save on time. Again, the tube fixing took two attempts, before a full inflation was reached. Back to puncture repair school for some of the boys I reckon?  

        

We joined the rather dry ridge track BW at Sutton Down. Kev split from the group here due to a prior arranged roast dinner appointment. Everyone enjoyed the fast downhill into Broad Chalke village. Group piccy on the bridge here. Joined the BW for the slog up past Field Barn and up over Knowle Hill . At Hut Farmhouse, TR into OX Drove, cheered on, followed by some lewd shouting from some teenage girls enjoying a food stop (or was it alcopops?) in the woods. We changed the route this year, cutting out the boring road slog from Sixpenny Handley to Tollard Royal, instead staying high up on the Ox Drove, thereby not losing any of the height we'd gained since Broad Chalke. The Ox Drove was proving popular with off roaders today, including lots of motorcrossers and a particularly sad looking bunch of blokes in three Land Rovers. 

                                                

On reaching Monk's Down for the second time in the day, we all got to savour the superb run back down the gravel track to the duck pond in the village, from the top. Scared a few ramblers walking down the track, as most of us were not, or couldn't stop for anybody or anything, even jumping frogs. Dave Mullard's tyre was going flat again so he took the descent rather slower than most. I'd have pumped it up fully, just to get the full benefit of the 136 metre drop. Then we all met up in the sunny beer garden behind the "King Charles" for some ales, joined by the resident "cock" and his hens (no not Sissons and us, the chickens......!).

"TARRANT TRIAL" SUNDAY 20th FEBRUARY

Length: 22.86 miles

OS Landranger maps: OS Map Explorer 118 Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase   South Sheet

Riders: 7  Gilbey, Dave Mullard, Graham Rendell, John the tri-athlete, Paul Jewell, Graham Seage, Simon Weemys

Weather: Very cold strong N winds, but brilliant sunshine.

Temperature: 7ºC

Minimum Height:  25 metres (Shapwick)

Maximum Height:  113 metres (reservoir above Tarrant Monkton)

Height ascended:  348 metres 

7 riders appeared in the glorious sunshine at Shapwick for the ride. Mr & Mrs “Goose” were noticeable by their absence & a call came from Richard Gears, who had woken up at 8.30 and even his driving wouldn’t have got him from New Milton to Shapwick before the 9am start. So immediately the group were riding into a strong bitterly cold, northerly wind towards Badbury Rings by road from Shapwick. We have decided this year to do some of the best rides in reverse, as MBR magazine suggest this when you run out of ideas for new ones. It can totally transform a ride. Anyway the farm track sections to Witchampton were tackled at a cracking pace by all, even Mr Jewell showing a noticeable improvement in his pace. Must be all those Canford Heath weekend rides he’s been doing finally paying off!

The group decided to have a breather at the “Rest and be thankful” round seat outside Witchampton. Fig rolls, Garibaldi’s and some of Mr’s M’s sausage rolls were woofed down. The group set off turning off by a majestic old school building (mine when I win the “Lotto”), then sailing merrily past the turning required on the right, so we had to backtrack slightly. The section up to Manswood was fast paced, and we passed some riders in the woods fixing a puncture. This ride incidentally, turned out to be puncture free, which, I believe, was wholly due to Mr Rendell finally shelling out some wonga for some new tyres, completely removing the puncture element in one swoop. Sure makes a change from riding on the fabric, eh Graham!!

 

Then a climb up to the highest point on the ride above the village of Tarrant Monkton, and then tackled the normally technical bumpy rutted section. However at this time of year all the ruts and grooves were not hidden by overgrown summer grasses, so no one came a cropper this time. Better come back and do it in the summer…

We arrived at the windswept former RAF Tarrant Rushton airfield, the only signs of life now being some cows in the old hangar. We skirted the airfield on the concrete perimeter track, now cracking up after some 60+ years, since it was laid. The BW from the Wimborne-Blandford road down to the minor road back to Shapwick was fast paced and we arrived back at Shapwick around 12, just in time for the pub to open. Shame there was classical music playing and loads of “foodies” sitting down for lunch. The only saving grace for the “Anchor” was the “Durdle Dor” real ale on tap, which seemed to be a hit with the group.

This ride was uneventful as far as awarding the “Acorn of Achievement” goes, however Dave Mullard did manage to fall out of the back of his “Star wagon” whilst he was getting changed for the pub. So we agreed he could hold onto it this month, although not as a true “Acorn” winner, as he wasn’t riding at the time…good try though, Dave.!

"PURBECK PUFFER" SUNDAY 16th JANUARY

Length: 18.44 miles

OS Landranger maps: OS Map Outdoor Leisure OL15: Purbeck & South Dorset

Riders: 7 Gilbey, Graham Rendell, “Whisky” Mike, John the tri-athlete, Paul Jewell, Kevin Lane, Andy Willcocks

Weather: Cold & strong S/W winds, also very misty at times.

Minimum Height:  16 metres (nr Corfe Castle).

Maximum Height:  204 metres (Swyre Head).

Height ascended:  793 metres 

Early start for 4 of the lads.....Graham on Sandbanks ferry 7.45am

Seven hardy souls assembled at the village cross in the centre of Corfe village. Four of the seven riders had cycled over from Sandbanks (via the ferry), Kevin having cycled from Ringwood (about 73 miles in total), Graham from Christchurch (61 miles), with Andy & Gilbey (53 miles) joining Kev & Graham on the prom at Boscombe pier.  Kevin was trying out SPuDs on his mountain bike, for the first time (more of him later!). After standing around in the grey, damp air for 30 minutes before the start at 9, having arrived too early from the ferry, the group set off for the mast on top of Rollington hill, via the gentle climb from Corfe village. The "ferry crew" had descended this hill 30 minutes earlier on the descent into Corfe, two MBR riders coming up Rollington Hill had to jump out of the way as the four descended at speed Definitely a case of better coming down than up! Then we set off along the ridge towards Nine Barrow down. The gate openings along the ridge proved extremely muddy, due to the heavy rain during the previous week. Then a very muddy and cow slurry coated descent to Knitson Farm, Mike nearly managing to teeter over the edge at one point. Then the descent by road to the home made jam and cake stop by the railway bridge. Dorset apple cake won the vote, so money in the tin, cake stashed in the Camelback, then we set off for the Priests Way, climbing instead of descending today. A totally different ride though. The surfaced section of the Priests Way is being eroded which means there is still hope for a return to the rutted, bumpy section of old....Kevin decided that the SPuDs needed trying out and proceeded to fall over twice along the track.  One fall was viewed by the whole group, which made it all the more enjoyable. A regroup at Kingston village, the option for the "escape route" easy option not being taken up by any of the riders. Good show!. So in rapidly deteoriating weather (very misty) we climbed up to Swire Head (203 metres). The apple cake was divided up here, Mr Jewell looking extremely "colourful" after the ascent, a strange mixture of red & grey in the complexion!

                              

The track along the ridge to Smedmore Hill was really heavy going with gloopy, sticky mud, clinging to everyone's tyres, making progress extremely slow, two walkers even beating outpacing us! Kevin's bike wheels actually refused to turn at one stage, so he was seen dragging the bike swearing profusely. Bloody "roadies", bit of the brown stuff and they're finished...

Caution was etched on the faces of all at the slippery, downhill descent at the end of the ridge. Crossed the paved road near Kimmeridge, then left onto the BW through the field, more mud appearing on the tyres, hampering progress. Reckon the mud doubled the weight of the bikes.  The slippery, wet steep, rocky descent to Steeple Leaze farm was a real test for some of the "new boys" but all seemed to survive unscathed. The farm dogs were absent this time, so the farmers hosepipe was put to use cleaning off the worst of the mud. Kevin then got a flat on rejoining the tarmac, and had to clean off his tyres ina nearby puddle before fixing it. The zig-zag climb up to Creech hill viewpoint proved too much for some. Then across a misty Ridgeway Hill, Knowle Hill, for the descent to Corfe beside West Hill. On arrival at the "Greyhound" the cleanest rider was despatched inside to buy the beers, all on "John the Tri-athlete", as it was his 40th the day before, cheers mate!!

                                                

Pasties were consumed from the Corfe bakers, with Mr Rendell showing an amazing display of self-control, refusing to have one, saying Gilbey, Andy & Kev would regret them on the ride back along the ridge to the ferry. Kevin & Andy both fell into the gorse bushes together (?) on the 2nd climb of the day up to the mast on Rollington Hill. Kevin blamed Andy, Andy blamed Kevin, but whosever fault it was, it made for a great piccy.  By the time the Obelisk was reached, the four were PUSHING the bikes up the hill, so reckon there was some wisdom in Graham's words of warning about woofing down beer and pasties.

The "Acorn of Achievement" was finally awarded to Kevin for;

A) Riding all the way from Ringwood to Corfe and back

B) Managing to fall off at least 4 times getting used to his SPuD's. Well done Kev, still "roadies" are used to being laughed at...eh...eh!!