Sunday, May 01, 2005

Real Ale Wobble Around Alton

Phew! Have just got back from Alton, where Bill and I have been cycling on this lovely sunny day.
We loaded the bikes onto the back of the car and headed off for the Chawton Park Wood car park in Medtead and the start of the cycle ride. We had planned to do a 15-mile published ride along bridleways, but the first bridleway we came across was very muddy and slippery so we decided to modify our route to only use roads! Maybe with proper mountain tyres we could have coped, but not with semi-slicks.
First we took the minor road into Medstead, then northwards towards Bentworth. Time for a drinkee already, we visited both the Star (Ringwood Best in fine form) and the Sun (good half of Cheriton Pots from their wide selection of beers) at Bentworth, and ate our sandwiches beneath a tree. Then down a rather hilly single-track road to Alton, where we visited the French Horn, supped some lovely Hook Norton Best and gazed at the funfair opposite the pub on 'The Butts'.
We were still feeling fit, so we decided to extend our route via the Selbourne Arms in Selbourne, so we headed up the B3006. The road looked deceptively flat on the map but we were surprised with some relentless upward slopes! We were well deserving of our Itchen Valley Pure Gold when we arrived (the best beer of the day, in my opinion). It was also pure joy to sit out in the Selborne Arms' beer garden with the cherry-blossom and bluebells out, and the birds singing. We didn't want to leave.
The last stretch back to Medstead involved a hilly road up to Newton Valence, another steep hill on the other side of the A32 towards Four Marks (I pushed my bike up most of it) and a short stretch of the A31 before turning off down the wide residential road to the Chawton Park Wood carpark again.
It must have done me good because my legs were all wobbly when I got off the bike, and I had to sit down for a bit and recover! A lot of work needed I think before I can do the London to Cambridge in July!

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