Cycling in 2016 – finding Hampshire’s hills

A hilly road in sunshine

At the start of the year, I stated that this was going to be my year of cycling. I’ve got a lot of events lined up (including two YMCA sportives, RideLondon and the Wales Sportive). However,  I’ve not been out on my bike very much. I cycle to work every day, but now that I’ve moved, it’s only a couple of miles each way. (Luckily, there are some tough hills, so I get a tiny bit of training in).

I went out cycling with Stuart and Jules at the end of January, but that was the last time I went out for a proper ride, so when Abi asked if I’d like to go out for a ride, I thought I really ought to get out there.

The hills north of Southampton

Abi and I had a discussion about where we would go for our ride. My favoured route is out to Beaulieu in the New Forest, with an additional loop out around Bucklers Hard. The first section, getting out of Southampton, can be quite busy, but by the time we get to Eling the roads are much quieter and the extra loop has so few cars that it’s possible to ride two abreast and chat. However, Abi was keen on seeing somewhere different, so I suggested that we could head out in the direction of Chilworth. I didn’t have a specific route in mind, but I’ve cycled that way quite a lot and was confident that we wouldn’t get lost.

We ended up going on a big loop towards North Baddesley and Ampfield before getting to Braishfield. Once we got there, we cycled around some of the Romsey 5 mile beer race route, which was a slight detour, before we headed off further north to King’s Somborne. This area is very pretty, but ‘rolling’. It felt like there was no let up from the hills. Fortunately, we were both in the mood for a leisurely ride!

Route checking
Route checking © Abi Dent

When we got to King’s Somborne, we stopped for a snack break, which also gave me a chance to check my phone and decide on a route home.

Cow Drove Mountain

I pointed out to Abi that we were right by Cow Drove Hill. It would be a shame to be so close to this steep hill without tackling it. Abi gamely agreed to give it a go. We made it to the top with no problems, but then we had to tackle the descent. We both found that much harder. At the bottom of the hill is the main road and a blind bend, so we had to control our speed. Abi’s arms were tired from her 5km Sport Relief swim and mine were just tired anyway!

After Cow Drove Hill, we headed back towards Michelmersh and Romsey. Then we rode to North Baddesley and then home again. We hadn’t agreed a specific time or distance. We finished within a few seconds of 3 hours, which was a good result.

Now I just need to hope that the weather improves so that I can start getting out on my bike more regularly!

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