Training 7th Mar

Riders John & Andrew
Distance 67.50 mi
Time 5h40m47s
Average Speed 11.88 mph
Ascent 1328 m
Run.GPS Training Profile

This route was adapted from the Highclere Castle Route77Cat sportive route used in 2008 and to be used again in June 2009. Instead of starting at Highclere Castle though we met up at the carpark near Combe Gibbet on Walbury Hill, the highest point in Berkshire.

We headed south through Combe and Faccombe where there was a fantastic swervy descent on a smooth road through woodland. A real rush. After Hurstbourne Tarrant we joined the B3048 initially alongside the Bourne Rivulet and then the River Test at Longparish. Despite the B-road status it was pretty quiet. The scenery was pretty with the clear river close by, the altitude was worrying descending to rather low values and we made quick progress. After Wherwell we rejoined minor raods to Stockbridge and the lowest point on the ride, just 35m above sea level.

We picked up the B3049 for the ascent up to Stockbridge Down and a tea stop. We turned off through Crawley and across the A34 at Worthy Down. We had a rather dull road alongside the A34 next, it was busy and undulating to South Wonston and it was a relief to pick up the lanes to Wonston again. We decided to divert off the route to get to Whitchurch for lunch where we spent about 15mins looking for a good place to eat. The Silk Mill is missing a trick with its tea-room as you have to pay to get into the mill to get to the tea-room. With virtually no competition in the town I’m sure it would pick up passing trade for a spot of lunch or a tea and cake. In the end we bought filled rolls at the bakery and ate them by the river.

Heading north out of Whitchurch we headed back to the planned route, this involved a rather steady climb all the way to the B3051 and onwards to the top of White Hill near Watership Down. With fantastic views ahead we zoomed down the descent only to find we had to regain nearly all of the lost altitude up Isle Hill to Sydmonton.

The final ten miles was all on minor roads but was fairly hard work with several minor ascents through Burghclere, Woolton Hill and Ball Hill (the clue is in the name of the latter two!). We knew we had the massive hill back to the cars at the end of the ride and we braced ourselves. It’s a double whammy as you get to the top only to go straight back down and have to climb up again! It has a couple of very steep sections which we stopped for a breather on. It was a relief to get back to the cars without having to get off and push!

A good route, a couple of dull sections and Whitchurch isn’t the most exciting town in the world. A tough finish after 60-odd miles as well. I’m sure the sportive event that uses most of this route is a good test.