Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fabulous Ride

Went to: Michelmersh, the Deans, the New Forest
Distance: 47.3 miles
Total time on bike: 2:45
Average speed: 17.2 mph
Average heart rate: 154bpm
Fastest speed: 39.8mph (according to my Forerunner 305 GPS)
Total climb height: 460 m

I had a fabulous bike ride this afternoon/evening. The route was picked to try out the 2 main options for getting to Redlynch for a future cycle ride with Alan Chatt who lives in Salisbury.

You may also have noticed that the route image above isn't using Google Maps data, it's an image from OpenStreetMap which is a cool project that provides mapping data without cost or licensing restrictions - it's completely for free. The data is supplied by regular people - I contributed a lot of roads and footpaths in my area as it was pretty sparse. Check it out. If anything you know of is missing then have a go at adding it. It can be strangely addictive.

The way out included a pleasant climb in to Michelmersh - anything that doesn't require the use of 1st gear counts as a good climb in my book.

From there I followed an official cycle route from Lockerly through East Dean to West Dean. It was lovely and flat although I could see I was tracking a mean looking ridge to my left.

Then I turned left. I climbed 122 metres in 1.12 miles and 6:15 minutes. First gear was most definitely employed. Max heart rate was 182bpm which shows I had a little in reserve but this intensity had to be sustained for about 3 minutes and I sounded like a steam train. The steepest part of this hill started at a hairpin bend and was 0.3 miles long and climbs 59 metres. That's a sustained average gradient of 12.2% and it levels off at the top so most of it is about 14%. I averaged 7.1mph up the steepest part.

I reached Redlynch after 1:24 riding time. I'd been using the Maps application on my iPhone for navigation - no backup paper maps. I'd dropped 6 "pins" as way points for the areas that I didn't know. I stopped 4 times to consult the map (and once for a train at a level crossing). The first time I had no O2 coverage for data but the Maps application caches the areas you've recently viewed so whilst I couldn't get any new zoomed-in maps a more zoomed-out map was available and it was enough.

A couple of miles after leaving Redlynch I properly entered the New Forest. You know when you enter because there is a cattle grid to cross, taken slow on a road bike. I've done a few at high speed but it sounds awful and it's pretty violent. It's useful to know that the bike can take it but I'm not intending to do it again.

I really like this part of the New Forest - north of the A36. It's mostly open moors with few forests so you can see much further. I think it's at a higher altitude than the other side of A36 and the views are breathtaking. I was treated to a panorama over miles of moorland with the sun in an early stage of setting - beautiful.

As you might expect there were ponies and donkeys all over the place including some cute foals. I gingerly cycled past some startled-in-to-running cows and calfs at one point, whistling a tune in an attempt to appear less threatening.

After leaving the Forest I went through Blackhill and nearly to East Wellow before heading straight in to Romsey via the most direct route. This meant I took the last section of dual carriageway in to Romsey - down the hill. My GPS watch says I did 39.8mph which is frustratingly close to 40mph - which I haven't yet achieved. But this was after 2:10 riding time and 37.25 miles of cycling so I didn't have fresh legs. One for another day.

I got home pretty tired but after 2:45 of fairly quick cycling that's a good thing - I'll sleep well tonight. I'd bought a couple of fruit and custard tarts earlier so I wolfed one down (Emma enjoyed the other one later) before glugging a probiotic yoghurt drink, chomping a little bit of Easter egg, scoffing a sausage, mustard and ketchup sandwich and having a Weight Watchers pizza. I won't buy that brand of pizza again. The Pizza Express ones are only 25% or so more calories and are much tastier.

All in all, a fabulous ride. I need to work out how to maximize my time in the New Forest without cheating and driving there.

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