2007 RIDE REPORTS
THURSDAY 27th DECEMBER 2007
"XMAS WOBBLIES PUB CRAWL" AVON VALLEY, HAMPSHIRE
Riders: 18 Chris Gilbey, Quentin Hill, Theresa Elliott, Neil Foss, Jon Heath, Chris "Sutts" Sutton, Lynne, Dave Mullard, Karen Mullard, Tim Porter, Dan Rees, Dave Rogers, Ewa Szadkowska, Hanna Szadkowska, Graham Seage, Graham Rendell, Andy Willcocks, James Willcocks.
Pubs: 6; Elm Tree, London Tavern, Alice Lisle, Inn on the Furlong, New Queen, Avon Causeway
Ales: lots, Pickled Partridge being a particular hit....
SUNDAY 16th DECEMBER 2007
"snakecatcher" brockenhurst, hampshire or "wheres mullards marbles?"
Riders: 10 to 9 then back to 10!! Gary Biles, John Fitzsimons, Richard "half man, half machine" Gears, Roy George, Chris Gilbert-Norton, Steve King, Graham Rendell, Graham Seage, Eddie Summers, "Sutts", Matt Whicher
Maps: Outdoor Leisure OL22:
Length: 21.43 miles
Minimum height: 9 metres (A337 bridge, Balmerlawn)
Maximum height: 102 metres (Canadian Memorial, Bolderwood)
Height ascended: 329 metres
Weather: bloody cold but sunnyish!!
Pub: "The Forresters"
The two Graham's and Gilbey arrived at Brockenhurst by train, to be met by Gary, Steve and Eddie of the West Dorset "chapter" well away from their " turf" and then were joined by the other regulars, "Sutts", Matt & Roy, plus John Fitzsimons, on his first outing with the "Wobblies", complete with carbon fibre GT. Dave Mullard was indisposed, having had some "marbles work done down below" a few weeks previously, and was staying away from the saddle for a while, but promised to appear for the "Xmas Wobblies pub crawl" ride. We headed off along the A337 Lyndhurst road and turned off onto the Beaulieu road, passing the Balmer Lawn hotel. Onto the first of many gravel fire tracks, through the large Pignal Inclosure behind Balmer Lawn. We stopped for a team photo and here John was beginning to find the pace a bit quick. Onwards through Ramnor and Parkhill Inclosures. Just before leaving Park Ground Inclosure at Swan green, Graham Seage hadn't seen the wire fence and thinking it was an open area, rode into it, only braking at the last moment! Almost an "Acorn of Achievement" moment, but he'll have to do better than that to win it!!
At Swan Green, John decided to head back to Brockenhurst, via the A35, then the Ornamental Drive past Rhinefield House, so after waving him off, the group pressed on. I recall Richard Hutson peeling away at the same point, the last time we did this ride. At the old wizened tree in Holmhill Inclosure, Roy attempted to climb up it, with a helping shove from "Sutts" but didn't succeed, too many pre-Xmas mince pies and 9.81g coming into the equasion. At the Canadian memorial, we almost spoilt a "David Attenborough" type photographer's moment, as he was set up with tripod, carefully stalking of a heard of Fallow deer, which included a rare white buck, when a noisy, shouting rabble of "Wobblies" rode past!! Onwards towards Burley through North & South Oakley Inclosures. A good pace was set, and we stopped in the woods at Burley Lawn, whilst Roy tried out a rope swing he'd spotted. He seems to have a knack for spotting them...We then passed the Youth hostel in Burley, which was quiet at this time of year, then onto the old, disused Burley to Brockenhurst road, redundant since the railway was closed in 1964, and the new road a mile south was laid over the old trackbed. A furiously pedalling speck spotted behind the group at Clay Hill quickly materialised into........ Richard Gears, who'd completed a 5km cross country run at Fritham that morning, then had cycled to find us. That's determination for you.....or just a Crazy Bastard!!!
So with numbers restored to nine riders we set off skirting the edge of Wilverley Inclosure and Plain, then down across the sweeping grass plain onto the old railway, Eddie having a bit of an SPuD "moment" on the descent. A nice gentle flat ride past Setthorms campsite, which even had some brave, hardy, tented campers on site.......brrrrr! Roy found another swing at the end of the old railway, to have a few moments pleasure on whilst everyone else rode off!! Then back by road to the "Foresters" for a few pre Xmas ales, and as the train was taking the strain for some, a few extra "49rs" were sunk...!! Lovely.....
SUNDAY 18th NOVEMBER 2007
"PLUSH PLAYGROUND" PLUSH, DORSET or "five get soaked in dorset"
Riders: 5 Chris Gilbert-Norton, Lewis Kerley, Robbie Kerley, Graham Rendell, Andy Willcocks.
Explorer 117: Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis
9.90 miles (was supposed to be
20.97 miles , but the weather put paid to that plan!)
, but the weather put paid to that plan!)
Minimum height: 96 metres (Hog Leaze)
Maximum height: 259 metres (Bowdens on Lyscombe Hill)
Height ascended: 329 metres
Weather: s**t !!
The torrential rain was p*****g down in the Piddle valley as we drove up towards Plush, along flooded roads, with the wipers speed set to "Monsoon". Buffeted by the wind as we pulled into the “Brace of Pheasants” car park at Plush, Robbie Kerley was the only other (foolish) "wobbly" waiting as we arrived, but we were shortly joined by Graham and Andy. I think all the other absent "wobblies" were snuggled up under a toasty duvet, listening to the rain hammering against the window.....sensible chaps!!! The "five fools" left the dry warmth of the vehicles and set off into the icy, heavy rain, and were soaked through within a couple of minutes. Battling a headwind along the road towards the track leading up to New Barn farm, we then were met with a flooded track leading up to the farm. At the junction of the tarmac road at the top of the track, Robbie decided (perhaps wisely) to turn back whilst the going was good and he could still feel parts of his body we were soon to loose to the cold.....
The remaining four battled on and somehow managed to miss the BW through Dole's Hill plantation and rode past Hog Leaze instead. We gambled and picked a grassy track up to the road, which proved the right route. We crossed over for the haul up Hog Hill to the natural bowl shaped Lyscombe Hill. It was a bit misty at the top and we had trouble picking up the BW around the lip of Bowdens. Here the rain was coming UP the hill, somehow the laws of physics being dispensed with in this part of Dorset.. the icy, rain laden wind whistled into the ears and numbed the face, and the visions of the Lulworth "Bataan Death march" ride in 2004 flashed through the minds of those present unfortunate enough to have been present on that delightful ride.
A slight deviation from the bridleway on the way down to Thorncombe Farm, due to the compass in Gilbeys head becoming flooded, ended up with the four descending a steep incline onto a BW passing Lyscombe Farm, then uphill to meet the road at Thorncombe Farm. From here a spray laden dash to the track above New Barn Farm, then down the chalky track, which proved quite slippery, through the "lake" at the bottom of the track then back along the road to the "Brace of Pheasants" for a quick photo stop. The landlord came out of his toasty, warm pub and kindly took a photo of four drowned rats, then went back into his warm, cosy pub. Unfortunately, by cutting the ride short , we were an hour or so too early for the pub.....doh!!
So back into the car park where we tried to change into warm dry, clothes in the back of the cars....not easy with numb fingers and limbs... so then hasty cheerios, then heaters on full blast all the way home, wet, but not defeated, the curse of "plush" WILL be exorcised at a later date, perhaps next summer!!
Oh yeah and Gilbey will be heading back before the summer, to collect his Camelbak which he left hanging on the gate opposite the pub whilst taking the photos!!
SUNDAY 21st OCTOBER 2007
"Handcocks Bottom" PIMPERNE, DORSET
Riders: 12 Gary Biles, Roy George, Chris Gilbert-Norton, Andy Kerley, Lewis Kerley, Robbie Kerley, Steve King, Dave Mullard, Graham Rendell, Ian Sumby, Eddie Summers, "Sutts",
Maps: Explorer 118 (Orange cover) Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase
Minimum height: 43 metres (A350, Smugglers Lane)
Maximum height: 214 metres (Sutton Hill)
Height ascended: 825 metres
A good turnout of riders assembled on this chilly, but sunny October morning, next to the "The Anvil” (ST 907 092) in Pimperne, Dorset. Robbie had turned up on his new bike, fitted with SPuDs, so this would prove to be an interesting ride for him, not having used the SpuDs off-road before. Two new riders, Ian and Steve, the other half of Gary & Eddie's Weymouth "posse", joined us for the ride. So pre ride checks done, the "Dorset Dozen" set off up across Pimperne down and headed towards Smugglers Lane. Smugglers was a fast flowing single track, but there were plenty of fallen leaves to hide ruts, rocks and logs, so most riders were a bit cautious down to the A350. A quick dash around the S bends, then off the road, to pick up the BW beside a house, for the steep ascent up to Hambledon Hill which had some walking at least part of the way up, Andy having a front mech problem at the bottom of the hill and nearly had to ride up in the largest chainring. A misty view across to the ancient fort of Hod Hill was the reward at the top. The descent off the hill was full of cow pats and so the going was "slippery to smooth" with mouths firmly shut, but Lewis managed to fall off over the bars at one stage. A muddy section past Peggs farm and then on through Sutton Waldron village. The 125m steep road climb up to Sutton Hill farm along the side of Combe Bottom had everyone's lungs working flat out. A sprint along the busy main road to the turn off along the tree lined avenue to West Lodge. Lewis managed to plough into the side of Gary's bike at the bottom of a grassy descent at Stubhampton Bottom.
Emerging back onto tarmac at the start of Stubhampton village, we carried on until the turnoff for the Gunville loop, across Main Down. Steve came a cropper on a rutted track and tried to take down some of the other riders, but everyone managed to miss him lying in the middle of the track. Dave M then came a cropper turning his steed around whilst clipped in, but unfortunately there were no witnesses! He'd waited to direct the stragglers, but they'd carried straight on, emerging on the tarmac at one of the impressive stone gateways to Eastbury House. We then all headed off on the BW passing Harbins Park Farm. Stopped just after for a bite to eat to refuel, then onwards towards the single track section at Handcocks Bottom. At a particularly muddy section, Robbie demonstrated the art of unclipping the left foot from his SPuD's, (impressive), but then falling over to the right into the mud, still with the right foot clipped in (more impressive!!)....Acorn of Achievement award perhaps??
The group of riders sped into the forest section and promptly disturbed two men walking far too close for their own good along the track, at the start of Handcocks Bottom. Perhaps Gilbeys cry of "walkers ahead" should have been changed slightly to w**kers ahead" to suit the intimate strollers. "Oooh, you suprised us" was their reply as 12 burly riders sped past. Hmmmmmm??? A speeding up by the stragglers at the rear of the pack was noticable....
The last section past Pimperne Wood was fast flowing and apart from nearly flattening some local's dog, no other major dramas and so most were relieved to reach the "Anvil" after the long tarmac descent from Long Barrow farm into the village. We took advantage to sit outside in the beer garden in the warm October sun, which was just as well as another Sutts Tsunami shockwave was experienced, causing one one lady sitting on an adjacent bench to become quite distressed....!!
FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY OCTOBER 5-7th 2007
AFAN ARGOED & CWMCARN MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS, SOUTH WALES
Penhydd Trail, White's Level Trail (Friday), Penhydd Trail, The Wall (Saturday) at Afan
Cross country trail at Cwmcarn (Sunday morning)
SUNDAY 9th SEPTEMBER 2007
"THE 10 DOWNS (PLUS A FEW UPS)", ISLE OF WIGHT
Riders: 11 Roy George, Chris Gilbert-Norton, Andy Kerley, Lewis Kerley, Robbie Kerley, Dave Mullard, Graham Rendell, Mike Sprague, "Sutts", Richard Waller, Andy Willcocks
Length: 20.76 miles
Landranger maps: OS
Map Explorer OL29
Height: 0 metres
(Yarmouth ferry terminal, 0 miles in)
Height: 209 metres (Brighstone
Forest, 13 miles in)
Height ascended: 665 metres
Terrain: Mixture Road / Off road (bridleways, chalky tracks).
A slighty grey cloudy day dawned as we all gathered at the Lymington ferry terminal for the 3rd "Wobblies" overseas trip to the Isle of Wight. An impressive turn out with 11 riders turning up, including a new face, Andy Kerley's brother, who used to do a lot of road racing but has come over to the "dark side". We got the 08.15 crossing (£10.50 return) to Yarmouth. A strong coffee and brekkie for some on the ferry before disembarking from "Caedmon" and onto the old railway line to Freshwater, alongside the River Yar past Backets Plantation. A good pace was set along the old trackbed, nothing to do with it being dead flat..!
The gravel path climb up onto Afton Down had the "snake" of riders separate and spread out, and we passed a few early morning golfers to meet up with the “Tennyson Trail”. The sun was trying to break through and it promised to be a warm day. The usual views of the white chalky cliffs at Freshwater looked decidely murky and grey this time. We then crossed Compton Down to the 150m high point at Brook Down. Descended down the steep chalky, rocky, and rutted descent to meet the B3399. Climbed from the road for the steep ascent to the 203m summit at Harboro. Some pushed, some made it on bikes. We all regrouped at the top. The fast descent across Mottistone Down, down to Lynch Lane was going well until the left side of the track ended in a woooden fence, spoiling the fast descent for riders unlucky enough to choose this line. Followed the gravel track up the other side and carried straight on at the reservoir picking up the “Worsley Trail” then headed across Limerstone Down. The sun had broken through so there were great views here and we stopped for a few spuds, malt loaf and flapjacks. Refuelled it was all downhill to the B3323 Newport-Shorwell road. TL along tarmac known locally as the Cheverton Shute, and some over 40mph speeds were reported from riders. We then TL up farm track after Rowborough Farm. "Crank Break Hill" loomed in front and there were a few sighs from the new riders when they saw it. The chalky surface was broken up so traction was difficult.
No one actually made a "clean sweep" of the hill, without stopping, so then it was onwards to the highest point on the whole ride, Ballibury Hump (210m). We all had a fast run along the fire road, down through Brighstone Forest, stopping at the signpost half way along, as we do every time, only to decide it is straight on, as we do every time we do this ride (take note for next time, as it breaks up a great fast descent!). We crossed the road at the bottom, then climbed up through Westover Down. The singletrack through the trees from Harboro down to the B3399 road was really fast with no obstacles led across the trail by anti-bike persons, as in previous years, and a flat was picked up at the bottom by Gilbey and Dave Mullard. We took a slightly different route this time and passed to the left of Churchills Farm across cow filled fields, then across a set of fields that had been ploughed, which made finding the BW difficult and these fields took on a distinct desert appearance in the hot sun, the line of 11 bikes leaving an impressive dust cloud behind. Gilbey hadn't fixed the flat too well and spent most of the ride back to Yarmouth stopping and pumping every 5 minutes in Wellow and Thurley. When we arrived at the "Kings Head" in Yarmouth, Gilbey made full use of the pub facilities (the bowl of water in the courtyard, for dogs), to find the offending hawthorn. After a few pints and the "Tsunami" scare from Sutts (see News page), we caught the ferry back to Lymington. A bit of road/off road banter with some roadies on the ferry, who were out doing an impressive 200km, 100km on the IOW and 100kmin the New Forest. Still it's harder doing 20.76 miles off road!! Another overseas jaunt successfully completed.
SUNDAY 19th AUGUST 2007
"REVERSE THEN HARDY?", MARTINSTOWN, DORSET
Riders: 7 Gary Biles, Roy George, Chris Gilbert-Norton, Graham Rendell, Graham Seage, Eddie Summers, "Sutts",
Length: 23.71 miles
Landranger maps: OS
Map Explorer 117
Height: 41 metres (Abbotsbury,
16 miles in)
Height: 240 metres (Hardys
monument, 19 miles in)
Height ascended: 824 metres
Terrain: Mixture Road / Off road (bridleways, farm tracks, grassy fields).
Arriving at the "Brewers Arms" car park in Martinstown , we were greeted by two new recruits, Gary and Eddie, two "local" riders from the area, who had heard about the "Wobblies" from a friend of a friend. After introductions, we set off up the muddy and stinging nettle ridden BW, beside the pub up to the busy A35, where we crossed over and headed down a gravel track to Higher Skippet Farm. The sheep and cows had been busy relieving themselves in the fields, so mouths were kept shut crossing these fields, especially on the bikes being ridden with no mudguards, that's all the full sussers then!! Just before Muckleford, we crossed a field of tall maize, which engulfed everyone from view. Sutts didn't get far, as half way across the field a severe case of chain suck around the front sprocket then had Gilbey, Roy and Sutts tugging, poking and pulling (ooh err missus) in a particular non-technical manner. Roy managed to cut open up his hand when he scraped it along the teeth of the front sprocket. Oouch, must remember to carry a first aid kit in future. However it wasn't serious enough to make a photo on the Injuries section. On setting off to catch up the group, Gilbey nearly had a head on with a horse and rider coming up the track from Muckleford village. We cycled past the rather impressive Frampton House and grounds, then climbed out of Southover village up the tarmac road to the turn off at Longlands Farm, this hill normally a great fast descent, when we've done this ride in the reverse direction, Mr Seage reminding us that speeds of over 40mph had been reached previously. Bit slower climbing up though, speeds of 4mph being reached. Crossed the open countryside above Compton Valence, then we threaded our way carefully through the muddy "pig swill alley" beside the pig barn, last encountered on the Askerswell ride back in October 2006.
After a slight pause whilst the tattered and torn OS map was spread out to pick up the elusive trail, we headed off through a large tree plantation, with some seriously high deer fences, towards the A31. The BW signs in this part of the world were seriously lacking, take note Dorset County Council! After avoiding a near death crossing the A35, we headed up onto Martin's Down, passing a lot of Iron Age or Stone Age Barrows (my history never was very good!) on the top of Whatcombe Down. The view across Lyme Bay towards Lyme Regis and Seaton was really clear and quite breathtaking. We had a good view of the strange fort type house built below, down in the valley. So busy looking at the fort house that we missed the BW, and proceeded to get the bearings slightly wrong coming down to the road off of Whatcombe Down, having to backtrack slightly to pick up the BW, pleasing Roy immensely. Everyone then ended up pushing up the steep hill up onto Tenant's Hill, where we passed the rather unimpressive stone circle, but I'm sure the local weirdy beardys respect it. The next section of BW crossed the rather strangely area named "Grey Mare and her Colts". From here yet more stunning views from White Hill across East & West Fleet lagoons and Chesil Beach to Portland. Absolutely stunning with the sun reflecting the vast expanse of Lyme Bay. Worth the effort to reach this 203m summit. Of course most of us were waiting to experience the next 140m downhill, having on previous "Hardy Monument" rides only ever ridden (and pushed) up the section from Abbotsbury village across the Abbotsbury Plains up onto White Hill. So we all enjoyed the singletrack section, however the bottom section has been "sanatised" since our last visit, most of the rutted gravel and clay section having been flattened and gravelled over. No way! However the smell in the air, at the rear of the group, of hot brake pads, couldn't hide the serious braking action having gone on at the front of the bunch during the descent. All over too quick I reckon...!!
We picked up the old railway line from the old Abbotsbury station, towards Portesham. Shame Mr Mullard couldn't make it for this ride, as the poor effort of "Chatanooga Choo Choo", eminating through some of the riders pursed lips, couldn't come anywhere near as close to his usual magnificent renditioning of this cycling classic (?) whilst riding the old track bed. From Portesham we picked up a new BW which again defeated most of the pack, however Gary and Eddie beat all the "Wobblies" to the top. Shame on you "Wobblies" letting the new "additions" beat us up that small 100m climb!!!! After everyone gathered their thoughts (and breath) at the top, we set off again. Gary and Eddie showed us an alternative route to the one we planned, which skirts around the base of the Hardy Monument, on a fire-road. Mr Seage and Roy decided to go back to Martinstown on the tarmac from here as the ride had taken it out of them. More "Shredded Wheat" and toast and marmalade for brekkie next time lads....As we approached Bronkham Hill, Sutt's seatpost decided to shear off completely. It had been creaking all the way round the ride, and gave up the ghost here. So Bronkham Hill is now officially renamed Broken Hill. Sutts took the BW off to the left which shortcuts into Martinstown, passing Shorn Hill (aptly named too!), so then there were four to press on! Good flowing singletrack along part of the South West Coastal path here. We passed Eweleaze Farm, which has a prestige car dealership attached to the farm, which seems to be in the middle of nowhere. Not sure how much trade it gets..?
The expected rain had held off and the conditions had been just about right, although most riders agreed that the route seemed more difficult in reverse, this time. When we arrived at the pub there was minibus outside, which had offloaded a "hen" party into the pub. "Lucks in, then lads" However, I think the remnants of crossing the fields containing all that cow and sheep pooh, left a slight aroma on some of the "Wobblies", which stopped the lasses from socializing any further. So we drowned our disappointment in a few pints of Cornish "Tribute".....lovely..
SUNDAY 15rd JULY 2007
"Zig Zag", Iwerne Minster, Dorset
The group met at the "The Talbot", Iwerne Minster, Dorset (OS map reference ST 865 142), on the main A350 Blandford-Shaftesbury road.
Riders: 7 Andy Kerley & friend (who's name escapes us!), Dave Mullard, Graham Rendell, Graham Seage, Roy George, Geoff Phillips.
Length: 21.91 miles, but only a feeble ?? actually ridden.
OS Landranger maps: OS Explorer map 118 Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase, Poole, Wimborne Minster & Blandford Forum.
Height: 55 metres (West
Farm, 3 miles in)
Height: 263 metres (Ashmore
Down, 17 miles in)
Height ascended: 827 metres
Terrain: Mixture Road / Off road (bridleways, farm tracks).
RIDE REPORT FOR THE "ZIG ZAG" TO FOLLOW...............................................................Mr Mullard or Mr Rendell
SATURDAY 23rd JUNE 2007
"SUMMER SOLSTICE" PUB CRAWL, RINGWOOD & AVON VALLEY
Drinkers: Dan Rees & Dale, Mr & Mrs Mullard, Lynne, Martin, Gilbey, Sutts, Mr Seage, Mr Rendell, Q, Geoff Phillips,
Weather: Thundery showers, sun, rain, sun, dark.....
Graham arrived at the "New Queen" car park, to meet the assembled group, riding his ex-postmans bike on it's first outing, but with an addition, an old suitcase on the front rack, with the message "open only in the event of an emergency".
"What's in the case, Graham?" was to become a familiar cry throughout the day, "Wait and see" was to become the stock reply......Hmmmmmm...most intriguing!!
Karen and Dave were looking particularly "flowery", with flowers and ivy adorning both bikes and helmets. Well done you two, a great effort!!
Sutts joined the group at the "London Tavern", the "Tav" having finally succumbed to the dreaded pub makeover, so favoured by breweries these days. Clean, fresh and modern now, but somehow feeling cold and none-too cosy or was that just the "wobblies" after the dash in the thunderstorm from the "Elm Tree". Shades of the weather repeating itself from the 2006 "Summer Solstice".
Chips and mayo at the "Royal Oak", inside, as the heavens had opened soon after we rolled up. A dash in the rain to the "Alice Lisle". "Loggo" and Helen joined us for a beer here. Onwards to the "Furlong", then the "Lamb", which always seems to be the most cosy, and welcoming of all the pubs en route.
Geoff took a spill on the back roads between Ringwood and Avon, taking a corner a bit too fast and sliding on some grit, cutting his elbow deeply. Still, I think the copious amounts of beer acted as a natural painkiller!! Onward to the "Avon Causeway" , where after some cajoling, the secret of what's in the case was finally revealed as Graham opened the case to reveal a.............................................tiny, tiny Santa Cruz bike..................
................the "Official Wobbly Wheelers Emergency Back-up vehicle".
We all immediately went out into the car park and set about trying to tame the "beast", some having more success than others (Martin, Mr Seage....what happened, alcohol affect your coordination!!).
SUNDAY 20th MAY 2007
"BRACE OF BOTTOMS", WINTERBORNE STICKLAND, DORSET
Riders: 7 Chris Gilbert-Norton, Andy Kerley, Dave Mullard, Graham Rendell, Graham Seage, Chris "Sutts" Sutton, Barry Wingrove.
Length: 18.75 miles
Landranger maps: OS
Map Explorer 117
Height: 92 metres (Winterborne
Height: 272 metres (radio
mast, Woolland Hill)
Height ascended: 860 metres
Terrain: Mixture Road / Off road (bridleways, farm tracks, grassy sections).
Even though Mr Seage was promised his shiny new steed from Primera, when he turned up at the "Crown" in Winterborne Stickland, he was still riding the faithful old steed, Primera failing to deliver on time as promised!! We climbed by road up out of the village then left into a field of cows, picking up the Jubilee trail. This field, having been the scene of the Rendell great hidden rock saga in July 2003, chose another victim, in fact two victims, both Andy and Dave not quite managing to stay upright riding around the edge of the ploughed field clipped in their SPuD's. Luckily, Gilbey had camera to hand and was able to catch Mr Mullard floundering in the soil. Three riders picked up punctures riding across the ploughed field, "Harry Hawthorn" being the culprit. After a long delay, as Rendell had to refix his flat twice, we were off in the glorious sunshine, through Charity & Milton Park Wood, emerging onto the tarmac road at Crincombe Bottom.
Passing the farm at Heath Bottom, "last man home" Mullard was straggling at the rear, so a barking dog picked him off, like a Spitfire on a Heinkel. "Get off me, get off me you ******* dog" could quiet clearly be heard from the rear of the group. So we all carried on regardless!! A long climb up through Heath Bottom ensued, defeating some of the riders towards the top of this rocky, flinty section. Emerging onto Woolland Hill great views were afforded across the Blackmore Vale. We turned off the tarmac onto Bulbarrow Hilll, second highest point in Dorset, passing the ancient hillfort of Rawlsbury Camp, then dropped down to Rawlsbury Farm. A steep climb back up the farm track to the radio masts on Woolland Hill. More puncture fixing at the top. There were plenty of horseboxes, horses and riders gathering on top of the ridge and we seemed to have planned the same route as them as our paths were to cross at various parts, on the rest of the route. Sutts was pursued up the gravel track by three horse riders who minutes before had passed us going down the hill. They'd started riding off in the wrong direction! Perhaps they'd graduated from the "Wobblywheelers School of Navigation"?
From the top of the ridge there could only be a great downhill to come and this took the form of the long singletrack from Green Hill, emerging opposite Milton Abbey public school. Schoolboys Sebastian, Tarquin and Julian were spotted playing a game of cricket on the sports field, so we left before any "fagging" was suggested by some of our potential future politicians, keen to experience a bit of the "common man" or sweaty, dusty mountain bike riders!! We were off.... A detour from the scheduled BW had the group cycling a long wooded section through wild garlic to emerge at the church in Hilton, the BW threading through the churchyard.
Graham stopped in the picturesque village to fix a flat, then after a bit of confusion we found the BW, which threaded it's way up a farm track through Hilton Bottom. The sharp grassy climb back up onto the ridge had many cussing, but most persevered and made it to the summit. Yet more horse riders up here on the same BW, the riders commenting to us "easier up by nag". We could only nod in agreement as most of us were still recovering to our normal breathing patterns. As time was marching on, we trimmed the planned route slightly and opted for the pleasurable ride DOWN Heath Bottom, as we'd earned this treat, having cycled up it earlier on. Barry picked up an instant flat ("snakebite") on the bumpy descent, but after putting in another tube, it went flat again. So it was pedal fast, tyre flat, pump, pedal fast, tyre flat, pump....for Mr Wingrove all the way back to Winterborne Stickland......
Great pint (or two!) of "Ringwood" to end the ride, sat out in the sunshine in the beer garden at the "Crown", home to a very deep well in the garden (check it out if your passing the "Crown"anytime!!). This had definately been a puncture laen ride. Better luck next time!!
SUNDAY 15th APRIL 2007
"MUDDY OX", EBBESBOURNE WAKE, WILTSHIRE
Riders: 4 Chris Gilbert-Norton, Andy Kerley, Graham Rendell, Andy Willcocks
Length: 19.46 miles
OS Landranger maps: OS Map Explorer 118 or Landranger 184 (pink) Shaftesbury & Cranborne Chase
Height: 82 metres (Broad
Height: 251 metres (Winkelbury
hill fort path)
Height ascended: 464 metres
Terrain: Mixture Road / Off road (bridleways, farm tracks, grassy sections).
After getting held up in the Ashley Heath car boot queue of cars for 25 minutes, we arrived nearly half an hour late on an unusual for the time of year glorious sunny and warm Sunday to be greeted by ....ONE other rider, Andy Kerley making the grand total of 4 riders. What a poor turnout for such a perfect day riding Cranborne Chase and the West Wiltshire Downs. Where were the rest of you?? Anyway a 9.30 start from the “Horseshoe” pub car park (ST 990 240) in Ebbesbourne Wake, Wiltshire. A climb up the edge of the field out of West End onto Prescombe Down, then the usual slog up through the grassy valley onto Sutton Down. Andy Kerley decided to fall over to test his SPuD's release mechanisms here.....they didn't!!! See the Injuries section for more details!!
It was beginning to get hot now when we stopped, so we set a good pace along the dusty dry, track on the top of Sutton, Fovant and Compton Down. First time we'd ridden this section with no mud or water filled puddles to contend with. Totally dry. Passed a small hippy camp consisting of an old Devon bus complete with chimney and a gypsy caravan. They had picked a prime location to set up camp, with great views across Knapp Down. Fast run down into Broad Chalke village beside the aromatic fields of bright yellow rapeseed. Quick photo stop outside the "Queens Head" (shut!) before heading up to Knowle Hill. Passed hundreds of pigs in the fields, Andy took his life in his hands to snap the photo of mum and her piglets (see photo above). She grunted as he got close, but then she must have then remembered that pigs don't eat wood so she let him carry on snapping...
Stopped on Knowle Hill for some spuds, malt loaf and polish sweets, courtesy of Eve, then onto the dusty Ox drove for an uneventful ride, even the giant puddle at Cow Down Hill which has nearly drowned unsuspecting "Wobblies" in the past, was totally dry. At Winkelbury Fort, we turned off the Ox Drove for the 1 mile section of singletrack which descends along the edge of the hill down into Berwick St John. Everyone enjoyed this 100m descent, even if the track was littered with large sticks most of the way down, waiting to catch the unwary out. However we all arrived at the bottom in one piece. I thoroughly recommend this descent (OS map reference ST 952 212). Back along the valley through Norrington and Alvediston then back to the "Horse shoe" at Ebbesbourne for a couple of pints of 6% scrumpy, perfect on this hot sunny day....
SATURDAY MARCH 24th 2007
AFAN A GOED MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS, SOUTH WALES
1. The Penhydd Trail (morning)
Riders: 10 Neil Foss, Richard Gears, Chris Gilbey, Jason Lewis, Dave Mullard, Dan Rees, Graham Rendell, Chris "Sutts" Sutton, Barry Wingrove, 1 more.
Length: 10.557 miles (17km)
Terrain: Forest road climbs, with tight, technical, switchback trails through mixed woodland. Open flowing singletrack. Big climbs followed by technical descents.
Minimum Height: 131 metres (Afan Visitor Centre car park)
Maximum Height: 340 metres ("Desolation")
Height ascended: 550 metres
After a 5.30 start from Bournemouth, made easier by the bacon butties, kindly cooked in Daves kitchen by Karen "Mrs M" Mullard, we arrived some 3 1/2 hours later, at the Afan Forest Park visitor centre car park, just outside Port Talbot. After checking that everyone had arrived, an initial climb up "To the Top 1,2, & 3", onto the exposed singletrack "Desolation" and "Brashy Track", these two rocky sections highlighting how "rusty" all the riders technical skill had got over the winter. The tight switchbacks down through "Hidden Valley" proved a challenge, and put plenty of grins on peoples faces. The open but twisty "Sidewinder" lived up to it's name, with people now beginning to get into the flow of the trails. "Dead Sheep Gully" was another wooded technical twisty section. "Argoed" nearly had Gilbey falling off the edge. Onwards through "Bubble", "Squeek" and "Heart of Darkness" back to the visitor centre for tea and breakfast snacks. Jason's rear was hurting and his lungs didn't seem to be coping too well so he retired, whilst the others decided to drive to the next trail "White's Level" at the Glyncorrwg MBR centre.
2. White's Level Trail (afternoon)
Riders: 9 Neil Foss, Richard Gears, Chris Gilbey, Dave Mullard, Dan Rees, Graham Rendell, Chris "Sutts" Sutton, Barry Wingrove, 1 more.
Length: 9.31 miles (15km)
Terrain: 90% purpose built singletrack, long, demanding descents with rocky steps, curving "North Shore" wooden decking in places.
Minimum Height: 215 metres (Glyncorrwg MBR centre car park)
Maximum Height: 460 metres ("Two Tombstones")
Height ascended: 525 metres
A six mile drive up the Afan Valley to the Glyncorrwg MBR centre for the start for the next trail of the day, "White's Level". An interesting climb to start the "White's Level" trail, a 3.72 mile (6km) rocky, sheep track climb up the side of the afan Valley to the top section for the section "y Trwyn" then "Dastardly and Mutley", the ominious sounding "Two Tombstones" . Neil and Dan decided to be brave and rode the black run "Energy" section, whilst the remainder rode on the alternative route, skirting below the huge wind turbines at "Windy Point" , the section of new North Shore decking section unnerving some at "Goodwood", before the deleriously, long, sweeping section of singletrack the "Darkside" back down to the old railway track for the easy warm down to the cafe at the Glyncorrwg MBR centre for beers on the balcony in the glorious sunshine.
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 18th 2007
"STOUR VALLEY STOMP", STURMINSTER MARSHALL, DORSET
Riders: 6 (5 finished) Chris Gilbey, Andy Kerley, Lewis Kerley, Dave Mullard, Graham Rendell, Andy Willcocks.
Length: 22.73 miles
Terrain: Farm tracks, grassy stretches of BW.
Minimum Height: 23 metres (White Mill bridge, Sturminster Marshall)
Maximum Height: 125 metres (Combs Ditch, Charlton Down)
Height ascended: 428 metres
A rather grey, but mild for a February ride, setting off from the "Red Lion" car park in Sturminster Marshall. 6 riders turned up for the off, but if they knew at the start what they knew at the finish of this ride, perhaps the absentees had the best idea staying in bed.....now read on.....
Andy was suffering from a bout of flu and wasn't operating on "all four" when we set off, climbing out of Sturminster Marshall, alongside the old Somerset and Dorset, or "Slow and Dirty" railway trackbed. We then saw possibly the biggest horse in the world, a large Shire horse, who came trottting across his field to see us all. Check out the photo of Gilbey and the equestrian answer to "Digby". We crossed over the A350 onto a BW and immediately started meeting sticky muddy trails which were to become a feature of this ride. Andy decided to turn back, as he was suffering with the after effects of flu, when we reached Westley Wood. At this point Lewis picked up a flat. Setting off again, a short section on the B3075 before turning left onto farm tracks passing Hill & Middle dairies. After passing South Farm, Lewis struggled to meet a "call of nature" as relieving oneself when wearing Freddy Mercury's cast off bib tights is a bit of an effort.
Then Gilbey picked up a flat, and had forgotten his repair kit so borrowed Mullards 1940's steel tyre levers, which just seemed to scratch the aluminium rims rather than get then tyre off. Bring back old Ma's spoons I say, they always did the job......worth the clouts round the head for bending the family silver. Onwards to Charlton Down........ahh Charlton Down........let's just say that the previous weeks rain, combined with horse riders churning up the BW, made for an "interesting " next mile. Everyone ended up pushing their bikes, but this was then hampered by the North Dorset clay and soil sticking together, so then the wheels were jammed up every few feet by lumps resembling birds nests. Even wheeling the bikes up on end didn't help, and so a few expletives began to be emitted from these normally peaceful hedgerows, Gilbey nearly suffering a fully blown "Gilbey Strop". Stopping just past Gorcombe Farm, to try some Korean sushi and kim babs which Mrs G-N, Young Joo had made especially for this "Wobblies ride, a farmer and his family rode up on quad bikes and stopped for a chat. When he opened his mouth, we realised he had the highest pitch voice of any farmer I'd ever met, if leprachauns had a farming division, this guy would be the head of it. "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllo boys, Muddy enough for you is it?" etc etc, still he did mention that him and his friends ride one a year in the Wimborne BHF ride and raised over £10,000 last year which wasn't bad for a bunch of leprachauns.
When we reached Charlton Marshall, we realised that the "BW" shown crossing the Stour on the map, would actually only be possible in a small boat or by swimming across, so we decided to divert from the original planned route and cross the river further down at historic Crawford Bridge in Spetisbury. Graham suggested we ride along the old "Somerset & Dorset" railway line which is now a footpath, so we had a whistling rendition of "Chatanooga choo choo" from all whilst riding the line. Rejoined the original planned route on Tarrant Rushton airfield and made up some time and across Abbeycroft Down and King Down. We crossed the Wimborne-Blandford road and skirted round the edge of the Kingston Lacey estate. The grassy BW was quite boggy and muddy here so the progress was a bit slow as everyone was pretty tired by now, after the "bike dragging" earlier on Charlton Down. Stopped at another historic stone bridge, White Mill Bridge for a few photos before the short trip back into Sturminster Marshall, where Andy had arrived back an hour earlier, after he did a short ride up towards Spetisbury.
SUNDAY JANUARY 14th 2007
"GIANTS GRAVE", BREAMORE, HAMPSHIRE
OS Maps: OL22 (Orange cover) New Forest or Landranger 184 (Pink cover) Salisbury & The Plain, Amesbury
Riders: 13 Richard Gears, Chris Gilbey, Tony Golding, Dave Mullard, Graham Seage, Dave Simon, Mike Sprague, Martin Sissons, Chris "Sutts" Sutton, Richard Waller, Andy Willcocks, James Willcocks, Barry Wingrove.
Length: 21.41 miles
Minimum height: 34 metres (Breamore)
Maximum height: 161 metres (Faulston Down)
Height ascended: 530 metres
A rather frosty chilly day dawned, however by 9am, the car park at the "Bat and Ball" in Breamore had filled up nicely with riders and bikes. An impressive total of 13 riders for this one........great effort lads. Andy "ground loop" Willcocks keen to show all his new Specialized Rockhoppers handling qualities, had a rather nasty mishap, tried to wheelie in the car park but his shiny new Specialized was a bit lighter on the front end and the new SPuD's a bit tight, so he ended up performing a SPuD "looper", which ended with him flat on his back, in true Richard Hammond style. Andy took quite a knock on his arse, but was ok after a helping hand up, amidst stifled giggles from the rest as soon as we realised no serious damage had been done. After this, 13 riders set off in sunshine, climbing up onto the West Wiltshire Downs, west of Breamore village, passing through the grounds of Breamore House, General Eisenhowers HQ, in the build up to D-day in 1944. After the muddy climb through Breamore Wood, out onto the rolling downs, passing over the ominiously named Gallows Hill. Dropping down a nice section of singletrack onto Wick Down, we met a rather flooded BW, not suprising with the amount of rainfall that came down in the previous week. Some opted for the left, some the right and some through the middle. Dave Mullard picked up a flat soon after, so plenty of time to admire the views across Whitsbury Down. A long slog up a rutted track to the Great Yew enclosure, then along a flooded, muddy track, crisscrossed by yew tree roots, which made for some "technical" riding. A couple of fallers here. A group of non "Wobblies" bikers were struggling with a flat as they didn't have the correct valve adapter, so Dave Simon and Graham Seage stopped to help them fix the puncture. A regroup at Pennings Farm gave some the chance of a bite to eat. Dave Mullards tyre went flat again just before the A354 at Greenacres farm.
We rejoined the fast moving traffic on the A354 Blandford-Salisbury road for a short time then we turned right onto the BW besides Jervoise Farm and headed across Stratford Tony Down and Throope Hill. The section before the drop down towards the Manor House in Bishopstone village was picturesque in the January sun and with no wind. Even the temperature had crept up the scale and was around 12 degrees by now. On the climb up the old Roman Road towards the scene of the great "Loggo rope swing disaster" of 2004 on the Bishopstone ride, we passed a farmer on a quad bike who sat patiently on a quad bike, whilst his border collie ran down the hill and rounded up a flock of sheep, in true "Babe" style! An impressive demonstration most agreed. James picked up a flat and so did Gilbey when he rode down the track to help out. "Harry Hawthorn" seemed to be the culprit on todays riding clocking up an . The Strip Lynchets on Faulston Drove up to Faulston Down, the highest point of the ride, made for interesting riding, the small hillocks making riding progress up the hill almost impossible. Most got off and pushed. We had a bit of trouble upon reaching "Grims Ditch" as we had to pass through Toyd Clump to reach the farm track on the other side of the wood, however no path seemed to exist, so we picked a clearish route through the trees (Grims Ditch, or Grims Dyke, is a fairly common name in England. Grim is the Anglo-Saxon word for the devil. The Early English ascribed many artificial features of the landscape as the work of the devil, so you know now!!)
Time by now was marching on and with puncture stops and regrouping this ride was beginning to turn into a long one. "Sutts" peeled off at Toyd Down and so the rest pressed on, passing "Grans Barrow". Between Toyd Down and Wick Down , the group met a rather long flooded section of BW. Only one deep, route across and that meant getting your feet wet. Dr Gears managed to ride (or was it "doggy paddle"?) through both sections, Andy however wasn't having a good day and managed to fall over into the hedge and the water. He didn't look or sound too happy. Looked good on camera though, mate! Two moto crossers turned up at this point, and one stalled in the puddle, trying to get through. Seemed a bit easier pedalling through to be honest. Tony decided to lose the socks and pedal in just wet trainers for the rest of the route. We dropped down to Rockborne, no time to check out the Roman villa remains. A 60m climb up through some impressive looking beech trees next to Dunberry Hill to the fort at Whitsbury. We passed Whitsbury Stud, the former home of "Desert Orchid" the Grand National winner, now available in a tin of "Chum" at a supermarket near you.....
From the top of the Whitsbury Castle ditches, a steep, chalky descent to a muddy BW then Long Steeple Lane which was slightly easier going, for the last drag back to Breamore. Some riders were definitely flagging by this stage, and so the pint at the "Bat & Ball " went down a treat. Start to finish time was some 5 hours, with 6 punctures......a return in the summer months was suggested when the "going" should be dryer and firmer.