Storm Katie was not forecast to be the biggest storm of the year The Met Office had issued weather warnings for the South of England and the strong winds and heavy rain on the bedroom windows coupled with the odd sound of debris rolling down the road led to a disturbed nights sleep.
The forecast was for the rain to stop by 9am and the wind to gradually abate. At 8am RAF Odiham was still recording rain and winds gusting to 58knots but the Met Office rainfall radar was showing the back edge of the rain just to the West of Alton.
I had decided to cycle out on a route into the wind to Alresford and then a hopefully a tail wind back so with a camera in my jersey pocket I set off to record the local effects of storm Katie.
I turned out of the drive straight into the wind and immediately saw the first casualties in the guise of wheelie bins, bowled over by the wind and their contents decorating the roads and verges. The Binsted Road towards Holybourne is a steady descent but I needed to pedal to make headway into the wind, Turning into Clays Lane towards Wyck the rain started again and the roads were covered in branches mostly of dead wood that had been brought down.
From Wyck I took the road to East Worldham and then to West Worldham and several large puddles to go with the debris. At the B3006 crossroads I turned towards Selborne . As I turned off of the B3006 into Hall Lane the sun came out and prompted the sheep in an adjacent field to all stand up together as if they were acknowledging the better weather. I stopped briefly and watched two pairs of buzzards noisily circling and diving between the trees. Approaching Farringdon I came to a flood at the Western end of Hall Lane but knowing the road I kept to the centre of the impromptu water feature..
At the A32 I turned south to East Tisted and saw my first moving vehicle, eight miles into the ride, that is a record that I am sure will never be repeated, perhaps drivers were heeding the advice to only travel if really necessary. The A32 had plenty of debris and it looked as though the highway maintenance team had cleared a couple of larger branches that had restricted the carriageway. At East Tisted I turned onto Ropley Road towards Four Marks, there were a couple of flooded sections and I watched as a car sped up to go through the water and I must confess to hoping he got his comeuppance and got stuck. At Winchester Wood the road to the lee side of the wood was covered in pine branches and I watched another noisy display by two buzzards , presumably a courting ritual.
From here Hawthorn Road all the way to Four Marks was strewn with debris. From the A31 at Four Marks it was Lymington Bottom Road to Medsted and a long stretch of flooded road, I considered an alternative route but stopped and watched several vehicles test the depth. It only appeared to be about 100mm deep so keeping to the centre of the road I slowly rode through hoping nothing would try to enter the water from the other end.
Medsted was one of the highest points of the ride and from here I turned west down Common Hill directly into the wind. You can normally freewheel down this hill at 25mph but I was pedalling and making 12mph, all the way down the road was covered in gravel indicating the serious amounts of water that had flowed and it required a bit more caution navigating the slope.
At Bighton a tree across the road but local drivers would not be inconvenienced and had churned up the grass verge to pass the obstacle. The route all the way to Alresford is a gentle downhill and required a good deal more effort than usual to just make headway. Hedges and trees deposited branches to form an obstacle course and I was a bit anxious about the possibility of puncturing on the carpet of wood and gravel.
Finally at Alresford I turned north along the Candovers Road and at last a tail wind. There was still not much traffic and at Totford I came across a family cutting up a fallen tree that had taken down the phone lines and was blocking the road, a bit further on and another tree blocking half the carriageway but passable with care. At Chilton Candover a tree had fallen across the road damaging the iron railings on both sides of the road but this was in the last throes of clearing as a mechanical digger was cleaning the water ditch.
The most interesting item recorded on the day was on the side of the road just before Axford where a 3m diameter trampoline was leaning against the roadside hedge, there were not any houses nearby so it must have flown a fair distance. At Axford I turned into Berrydown Lane, the road up to Herriard was much the same with trees and branches littering the road side and with locals doing there best to clear up after the storm. At Lasham the airfield all looked quiet and approaching The Golden Pot crossroads another carriageway closure and an amusing standoff between two cars as to who should give way, priceless entertainment!!
Returning down Froyle Road to Froyle and picking a way through the debris and finally through Isington and up the hill to Binsted. I stopped at the crossroads to take a final picture of the litter that was decorating the road from the fallen wheelie bins and a final twist, well a puncture to be precise but with only 50m to go I could afford to walk home.
A very interesting ride on a route I regularly travel, storm Katie was not the strongest but certainly caused havoc locally, thankfully nothing that cannot be repaired, It was nice to see local communities working together to clear the area of fallen trees and debris and sad to watch some idiotic drivers speeding through floods and over debris with no regard for anybody else but themselves.
Our weather certainly adds a bit of spice to life.