2011 Hampshire

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Total distance: 163 miles (260.8 kilometres)

We got the start point of the Hampshire route a little wrong, and finished up doing 70 miles on day one, and over 100 on day two. This actually turned out to be not such a bad thing as on day two we had a strong following wind most of the way eastwards around the Northern edge of the county, but anyone doing the ride again may want to move the start point 30 miles or so West, or change the overnight stop, which in our case was the Spinnaker Inn, at Swanwick on the Hamble river.

Our start point was a pub at Eversley Cross. As usual we had contacted them beforehand and asked if we could leave a van there overnight on the proviso that we would come in and have a drink once we'd finished the ride. We have found that most pubs are perfectly happy to allow this sort of thing as long as it is organised beforehand. A quick phone call the week before is all it takes, and most publicans are actually quite interested in what we're doing.

The first part of the route took us East and South along narrow cycle trails, wooded copses, and flower (and nettle) bedecked glades beside the river. It was all very pleasant, easy, and above all, sheltered. Once we came out onto the Westward leg of the route and climbed up Portsdown hill towards the armories we were up high, exposed, and straight into a headwind. It then became very hard work, and we were quite glad when we got to the overnight stop in the afternoon rather than the evening.

We started day two very early, having realised that we had a long way to go, and stopped for breakfast at a MacDonald's in Southampton rather than wait for the kitchen staff at the Spinnaker Inn to wake up. This probably saved us two hours and gave us a good head start.

Our route took us Westard towards the New Forest, but because of the distance mistake we cut off some of the corner and turned North before the real edge of the county. The final run East seemed to last for ages, but that was because our routemaster kept saying, "Only 15 miles to go" when there were more like 20. He's like that though.