Sunday, 14 October 2012

Circuit of the Forest

Redhill at the start of the Gridiron
By Roy Brown
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 22:01
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Between us we had 2 GPS units, a marked map and a turn-by-turn route sheet. What could possibly go wrong?...

Well, not much as it turns out. Bruce, Nick, Rick and Roy had an early and chilly start from Reigate to drive down, meeting Ian, Andy and Keith at the sign-on. Starting at Pilley, we were away just after 9:30, clockwise around the Forest. After a few miles the fast(er) boys eased ahead leaving B,N,R and R to gently spin to the first control. Only really one hill on this section to worry us, the road undulated via Burley and skirted Ringwood to the first control at Hyde. The last couple of hundred yards were up a reasonably steep hill, going on for longer than I thought when I launched myself up it at the bottom.....

20m done and the village hall control was teeming with all manner of cyclists. Ian and Keith were already there, and free tea and biscuits served by willing volunteers revived the legs for the next stint. After a shortish stop we were away again, passing a bunch of donkeys looking at us as though we were mad. A nasty climb back to the top of the Forest followed - having looked at the profile of the route the next section appeared to be the worst bit but actually was pretty flat - although uphill it was over 5 miles so didn't really trouble. More of an irritation was the occasional wind on the more exposed sections. But we all took turns at the front through the ride so nobody did all the work. We went over a number of fords on the ride, all of which were dry, much to Rick's disappointment. Passing through Godshill, Nomansland and Winsor, the day by now had warmed up and was glorious. On to the second control at Colbury, again Ian and Keith were already there partaking of the refreshment. 40m done, 20ish to go.

The last section took us through Beaulieu where we stopped and had the remains of our rations to keep the energy up for the last 10m to the finish. Past Bucklers Hard, we turned west and had a quick view of the Isle Of Wight over the hedge. Then through Norleywood where finally Rick had his wish fulfilled and we went through a wet ford. Except in the excitement we turned the wrong way afterwards.......we only went about 10 yards before turning around and had a pleasant final few miles back to Pilley Village Hall.

This really was a great ride, and everyone really should consider doing it next year. It's easily manageable by G2ers (if I can do it...) well organised and is a lovely route. It was helped of course by great company, no punctures or mechanicals, and huge congratulations have to go to Nick on what (I think) was his longest ride so far. I'll certainly do it again.