I was given a nice little book for Christmas, Cycle Tours of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by Nick Cotton using Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 mapping. While perusing the rides I came across a circuit on the periphery of Basingstoke taking in a lot of small villages and country lanes.
Being a loop of 40 miles it was very easy to plan a route to join and leave the course from my home that could increase the mileage to 62 miles or 100km which fitted nicely into my training for an upcoming coast to coast ride.
The forecast for Tuesday was ideal, dry with clear skies, a temperature of 9C and no wind so I managed to re-arrange a few events and it was game on.
On crossing the start line the temperature was just into positive territory and it certainly needed a bit of initial pedalling to warm up but once through Froyle the climb up to Lasham ensured the blood was circulating. On joining the loop at Nashes Green I enjoyed a nice downhill run to Weston Patrick before turning left towards Tunworth. The gentle climb was preceeded with our first flooded road which I must confess I was not expecting especially as I had just painstakingly cleaned the Cannondale. From Tunworth to Old Basing before turning East towards Newnham and more surface water. At Newnham we head north past Tylney Hall to Rotherwick and Lyde Green.
The roads generally in this area were very poor, with running surface water, mud and some vicious pot holes, thank goodness the sun was shining. The short section between Harley Wespall and Turgis Green was the next to test the bike handling skills with a large tractor with flail trimming the hedgerows and completely covering the road and any cyclist passing with a shower of debris.
Across the A33 at Stratfield Saye and a nice fast flat section all the way to Bramley, the only traffic encountered being some manic pheasants facing each other in a showdown in the middle of the road, even my close pass did not deter the feuding pair.
From Bramley to Sherborne St John and the halfway point in the ride, past the National Trust property The Vyne where a cacophony of chain saws sounding like a squadron of high pitched gnats and the smell of woodsmoke announced that arborists were at work.
Another nice quick run to North Waltham before crossing the A30 to Dummer and then Axford. We are now back on home territory, the map is no longer needed and I am familiar with every pothole which makes bike handling easier. Ellisfield is next and the gentle uphill climb to Bagmore before crossing the A339 again to complete the loop. We then retrace our steps to the start, 62 miles in just over 4 hours and a course I will revisit again in the summer.
The ride was one of fifteen listed in the book with a further five off road, they cater for riders of all abilities and all the rides are graded and include an overview of relevant information for cafe stops, nearest railway stations and a cross section profile of the ride.