31 July â€“ 1 August â€™21
Attendees: Andy M (organiser), Mark C, Trish C, Nicola M, Simon B, Mark F, Marion F, Mike B, Gabby B, Maggie R,
The route started in Tisbury just past Salisbury and finished in Axminster for a direct train back. The Wessex Ridgeway actually runs all the way from Marlborough to Lyme Regis on the Jurassic Coast. Each day was around 42 miles and 1500 metres of ascent so fairly big ones.
Andy, Mark C, Simon, Mark F, Marion F & Mike were all cycling and support crew duties were admirably performed by Maggie & Nicola, Trish and Gabby who opted to join up but plan walks instead.
Day 1 started fighting the traffic at Stonehenge. Once past that we were underway mid-morning. Immediately the route started off with a steep 1 in 5 climb aptly named â€œsteep motherâ€ in Strava. This should have been a good indication of what was to come for the weekend aheadâ€¦
We soon hit the byways and a bit of the mud that was along the route after some very heavy July rains prior to the trip. The route had us turning into a path that was so overgrown that we cycled right past it. Time for our first ad-hoc detour through the nearby sheep field…
The route was really good in places and really bad in others. From great singletrack and bridleways to virtually untrodden paths and untouched boggy farmersâ€™ fields. One path became so narrow and overgrown with ferns, brambles and thorns that it tore us to shreds with plenty of wounds on our arms at legs at the end! Were those faint moans of discontent I could here??? There were gates galore along the route and with some really steep the climbing that we had to push up meant that the route was taking a long time â€“ so far 4 hours in and only 20 miles done. We were on target to arrive at the evening pub (https://dorsetgreyhound.co.uk/) at 8pm when they stopped serving food!!! We decided to cut short the last of the off-road section and head back the last 8 miles on the road to the pub and arrived to meet the rest of the group at 7pm. It had been an epic stop start muddy ride and we were glad to eventually arrive and have a beer and some good food.
Day 2 started with Mark and Marion losing their car and house keys so they had to change their plans but fortunately Mike & Gabby had 3 bike racks on the car to help them get back ok. Simon was exhausted from the previous day and so it was left to Andy and Mark C to fly the NMC cycling flag. Filled with a fantastic cooked breakfast and renewed belief that there was no way the route for day 2 could be as bad as the previous day, we set offâ€¦
â€¦and we were pleasantly surprised with some nice singletrack and wide bridleways â€“ now this was much more like it!!! However, it was soon business as usual as we found ourselves making our way through more non-descript farmersâ€™ fields, gateway galore, long cornfields and more ups and downâ€™s than we cared to mention. Then the heavens opened and we got drenched so much so that it actually started to clean the bikes â€“ result!!!
an hour later the sun was out and weâ€™d dried off. Under wheel the tracks were pretty muddy but we were in full flow with a good rhythm as we cycled through all the way to Lyme Regis powered by the desire for an ice cream. We eventually got there at 5:30pm, which again was much later than expected and it had taken us 6.5 hours to do the 33 miles there. We still had another 8 miles to Axminster to complete up the longest climb of the whole weekend from sea level to the top of Trinity Hill past Uplyme but we hit it at pace and were in Axminster just after 6 to finish with a beer whilst waiting for the train back.
Meanwhile on the Sunday, Maggie had planned a short 4 mile walk for the support crew which managed to turn into an all-day epic. No idea how! Oh, and we never did find out where the keys wereâ€¦
This was another eventful NMC long distance ride like so many others in previous years and weâ€™ve had a great laugh recounting some of the highs and lows of the various activitiesâ€¦