FNRttC FNRttC Windsor to Winchester 1 October 2021- ride report


Silencing his legs regularly
…And now, the end is near, we've reached the final curtain. Well, for night rides this year, at least. A bit of a whimper in terms of numbers, but a banging event. And handily placed for a ride home- the ride up turned out less so....

Windsor is a PITA for rail access from the south coast. If I did it post-work, it would be a case of change at Basingstoke, change at Reading, ride from Slough- train all the way would mean going into Clapham Junction and out again. Doable but fiddly. Even worse from Pompey- three hours!! So, when the Blackpool ride appeared to be Im Possible thanks to lack of online bike reservations, I moved the odd day booked for that night to this. Plan B: train to Woking and a straightforward 15 mile ride to Windsor. Plan A, you might have guessed, ride the 61 and a bit miles from home.…

After the early weather forecasts looked decidedly unfavourable, it turned out nicely, with sunshine and winds of the not-too-strong cross variety from mid-afternoon. I set off just before half-five. Due to a closure on the bike path between Pompey and Havant (which, I found out today, had reopened, bah) I began with the climb up Portsdown Hill, then down somewhat faster east to Bedhampton. From there, my traditional route NE towards Guildford and London. A quick shopping stop for some doughnuts and a couple of meal deals at Petersfield Tesco (6.45 or so), then lights on and onward. Off the NE route soon after, heading to Liss and then Greatham, where I intended to join the A325 and stick with it to Farnham…

Get there at 8 or so. Road closed. Diversion via the A3. Er, no. I didn't know if there was a cycle path off the road, and I certainly wasn't riding on it early on a Friday evening (it's not too bad early on a Sunday morning.....). After a bit of back and forth, and consulting the map for possible alternatives, I decided I had no sensible option but to backtrack to Liss, get a train to Woking, and implement Plan B. If I'd ridden back to Petersfield for the option of a faster train, it would have taken 40 minutes rather than 20, and I might have ended up getting the slow train anyway. So, a near forty minute wait, then a near hour journey to Woking, with a bit of a refuel. Rolling again, on the wrong side of the station, just after ten. Time enough to get to Windsor before 11.30, even at middling pace. A nice simple Route One- up the A320 through Ottershaw to Chertsey, then to Staines, Runnymede and Old Windsor. Mostly 50 mph dual carriageway, but fairly quiet and drivers were considerate. Had a track on the Garmin and the phone, hardly needed them. And I was (for me) flying, rolling average nearly 14 mph, and it felt comfortable. Into Windsor just after 11. Took me a while to find Windsor Royal, because all the signage for the Castle seemed to disappear. But I got there in the end, to find Chris, Greg and Martin already there. Ride leader Titus soon joined us, along with the rest of us- a mere dozen, all male, no Bromptons (though Martin was on his Birdy, very nice it was too).

Just after midnight, we were on our way. This was most definitely a ride of two halves. First half mostly flat with the odd short sharp rise, as we headed west to Waltham St Lawrence, then south-west to Winnersh and Arborfield, and onwards to Basingstoke. With such a small group, all of us comfortable with the pace, there were few delays. No mechanicals- I don't think there were any all evening, bar a couple of lights that didn't behave themselves for a while- and little need for waymarkers. Titus reckoned we were going to be in Winchester by six, perhaps earlier, and it wasn't implausible, more likely.

Basingstoke was reached by three (!). Now, I don't think I was being cynical buying two meal deals earlier on, given that McDonalds had turned us away in Abingdon on the Reading-Oxford-Reading ride. And, again, they let us down. I continue to be bemused how cyclists are barred from drive-throughs when motorcycles (a far more dangerous proposition in the circumstances) are allowed. I managed to take a low-speed tumble on the way out, but a very slight bruise to the thigh was the only damage. @frank9755 knew of a nearby bingo hall with a cafeteria, should have been open until five…it was closed at midnight. So a nearby garage it was. There was 'local colour' in the form of a drunken punter who first tried to pick a fight with us (apparently we get in his way and should 'get a proper job' ) and then nearly came to blows with another driver, though they would probably have failed to throw a punch at each other and could barely keep their trousers up. Those who needed food had to get it through the night hatch from the solitary member of staff. Oh joy.

And then, on we went. Part two was rather lumpier, starting with the climb to Cliddesden. Chris soon left for home near Alton (domestic duties), the rest of us carried on through Axford & the Candovers. The rather brutal climb at Northington, which I know all too well, followed, then down to Itchen Abbas and finally Winchester, at six or so. After navigating the unwieldy (i.e. ****) cycle paths, we were at the least-worst/only breakfast option, McDonalds, at 6.15. Queue discussion about the relative nutritional merits of our choices (probably running the gamut from f*** all to bugger all). I went for the options least likely for them to screw up- a bacon roll (porridge not available, bah) and a tea. Passable, nothing more. I was one of the last to leave, at seven. I managed to spend nearly fifteen minutes returning whence I came before deciding to backtrack, which got me on a road going in the right direction. Nearly three hours of grinding away in a headwind later, I was home (there is no flat or easy route for that one!). I just missed the torrential downpours. Tea and a rather needed kip followed. 32 miles from home, then another 105 from Woking to Winch to home. Sadly, our early arrival and departure meant we missed @arallsopp who had been riding to meet us. Oh well, we will meet again…

Thanks everyone, hopefully make this Christmas ride this year...
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Openly Marxist
I know a good pub in Winchester. But it's definitely not on the coast.


Openly Marxist
Good choice! I knew the owners twenty years ago but it may have changed hands by now.
Was there in August, at the end of a long day on the King Alfred's Way. The Summer Lighting went down a treat. And they were relaxed about us wheeling the bikes through the pub to the garden.


Failed Tech Bro
Nice write up as always Stu. I’ll admit I would have been putting in a call of shame rather than face that journey to the start line.

Good to see Amazingstoke putting out the welcome mat. If the Maccies was part of the Leisure Park then I know the area all too well. Feral. Very feral indeed. I may well take in the Basingstoke alps in this morning’s ride.

As for Winchester‘s cycle paths, it’s a city where many of the pavements are single lane with passing places so cyclists get even less consideration. The city council did thing where they closed off some road lanes for cyclists and to give more room for pedestrians during the pandemic, but a recent letter campaign in the Hants Chronicle (actual letters in pen and everything probably, maybe even quill) they’ve been binned.

The Black Boy - haven’t been in there in years. They’ve expanded the empire with a restaurant and a B&B. The restaurant had a Michelin star at one point, but its also had its troubles.
I am also familiar with The Black Boy, a good pub. Not open at 6.15 on a Saturday morn though.
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