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West Dorset Mountain Bikers

2013 Biking Weekend

alternative titles ................................................................

The Scrivens Scoop All


Nine Go Mad in The New Forest


The Ups and Downs of the Downs and Ups of the Isle of Wight

rose and crown pub

The 2013 biking weekend was organised (over engineered Mr Sumby might say...) by Sue (Akela for the Cubs out there) and Carolyn. The venue was the Rose & Crown in Brockenhurst in the middle of the New Forest (where is the Old Forest?) with a ride in the New Forest on Friday, the Isle of Wight on Saturday and a Sunday morning ramble in the New Forest at Fritham.


As it was the last weekend of the spring half term break and the first decent weather since 2012 the roads were full and the 90 minute drive from Weymouth turned into a marathon of well over 2 hours. However those that arrived for lunch were Gary & Janet, Dick & Deb, Liz & Paul, Sue, Carolyn and Steve. A low turn out this year for various reasons, those with a 'teachers note', or not, were ............

We lunched on some very good food at the pub and there was much jealousy of GB's fish finger sandwich which turned out to be of door step proportions with a very large piece of battered Cod in the middle. Most of the jealousy stemmed from those who had ordered the very tasty, but very small fish cakes! We booked into the rooms which looked like converted stables surrounding a small private courtyard complete with picnic tables.


With Janet not cycling and Deb having some important work to complete the remaining seven of us got ready for the afternoons 'prologue' ride around the New Forest. If we were expecting the usual Friday ride of 10-15 miles with a pub stop we were very much mistaken. Having just returned from a 1000 mile cycle in Italy from Pisa to Sicily Sue was not going to get her bike out for a paltry 10 miles! So off we went meandering around the relatively flat New Forest trails which were very pleasant on a warm sunny afternoon. Sue did mention a boggy area we had to go thru and she wasn't kidding. When we got there it was unridable and we had to get off and pick our way thru some very Exmoor like peat bogs. Having cycled past a couple of pubs with Sue showing no signs of stopping we eventually stopped for a 'Doreen' break and a quick look at maps and distances.


Gary -"how far have come so far?"

Steve - "17 miles"

Sue - "only 10 miles to go then"

Steve & Gary - "what the ...........!!!!!!!!!!!!"


The ride itself was fairly uneventful with no falls, punctures or other mishaps which gave cause for concern to those us with awards to award.


Off we go into the forest


Paul, must be an easy ride as he hasn't got his socks on (see later)

Sue (the other Sue not Steve's wife as someone thought on FaceBook!) and Steve


Liz & Paul

Sue - "only 10 more miles to go!"

Drinks stop, but not at a pub!

Paul, Sue, Steve and Dick

Carolyn and Sue have a 'Doreen' stop


Carolyn in the trees for some reason

Carolyn on the 'bog snorkeling' part of the ride

Paul on the 'bog snorkeling' part of the ride

More 'bog snorkeling' across the fields!



With 27 miles in our legs we returned to the Rose & Crown for a post ride pint and then a shower. Cleaned up and ready for the evening we found huge queue's at the bar. So instead we went to the Spar shop across the road for bottles of wine and cans of beer and sat in the courtyard outside of the rooms consuming said alcohol. Refreshed and with the queues gone we dined very well in pub. During the meal we were briefed by Captain Sue and Staff Sergeant Carolyn on the next days ride, kit inspection at 08:30, ready to go at 09:00, embarkation at 10:05 on the ferry at Lymington to the Isle of Wight, 10:35 disembark D-Day landing style off the ramp and away.


After breakfast, a bit small but perfectly formed, we assembled with bikes for the ride down to the ferry. Passports, visas and inoculations checked we were ready to head off for our first ever overseas foray on a biking weekend. Deb still had work to finish so she and Janet planned to go to the Isle of Wight in the afternoon and meet us there. Paul and Liz were meeting us at Lymington as they were at a camp site a couple of miles away. So the famous five set off for the ferry terminal.


The first part of the ride was off road thru some woodland with a couple of nice short descents. We then hit the road for the final couple of miles to the ferry and Sue took us on a short cut thru Lymington Hospital, not much of a short cut as it was a cul-de-sac and we had to do an about turn and go back to the main road. At the terminal we met Paul & Liz and Sue organised the purchase of tickets. Dick showed proof that he was over 60 to get his OAP discount, personally I would thought that one look at his face would have been enough! The ferry was packed, but cyclists seemed to get preference so we boarded, found some seats and settled down for the short cruise across the Solent.


Sue and Carolyn

Dick and Liz

Carolyn taking pictures of Gary while he takes pictures of her taking pictures of ............
Oh you get the picture!

Steve, Dick, Carolyn and Sue on the ferry

Paul & Liz on the ferry

Lymington Harbour

Lymington Harbour

Lymington Harbour

Lymington Harbour

Lymington Harbour - the incoming ferry

Paul & Liz on deck

Passing the incoming ferry


The route we took on the Isle of Wight >>>>>>>>


Arriving in Yarmouth we found the quayside very crowded with people attending The Gaffer's Festival (click here to find out more). Once past the crowds we headed east from Yarmouth on the main road for about a mile then picked up some quiet county lanes heading towards Carisbrooke. This was pleasant enough although Sue did set a searing pace (back in Giro D' Italia mode!) at the front and we got a little bit strung out at times.


After a couple of miles on the quite busy B3401 we came to The Blacksmiths Arms, it was 11:30 and this was a pub, well you would wouldn't you? Apparently we were not stopping for drinks but heading up the bridleway opposite the pub car park. Persuading Sue otherwise would have been to no avail anyway as a man emerged from the pub to tell us, and several people waiting in cars, that they were shut! The views were very good so we had a quick snack break and took some pictures before leaving.


Panoramic view from the Blacksmiths Arms across to the north coast of the Isle of Wight

Liz admiring the view

The Blacksmiths Arms

Paul and his stockings!

Sue and Steve look at the long, dark, uphill path that we must take up on to the downs.

The climb up from the pub was a 2km grind to Idlecombe Down from where we picked up the Tennyson Way, a long path across the island named after Alfred, Lord Tennyson (picture right) who lived on the island (he of the "Their’s but to do and die" poem about the Charge of the Light Brigade).


At the top we regrouped and with a glint in her eye Sue uttered those immortal words, "its straight and flat (ish) from here". Looking at the rolling downs ahead of us I for one somehow doubted this to be true.


To be fair the next 12km were brilliant mountain biking terrain, fast descents followed by steady climbs on good dry tracks as we went across New Barn Down, Brighstone Down, Westover Down, Brook Down, Compton Down and East Afton Down.

Liz and Sue at the top of Westover Down

Gary at the top of Westover Down

Westover Down.

Carolyn on Westover Down.
The decent from Brighstone Down can be seen on the right.

Carolyn stops for a drinks break

Paul's faithful 'domestique' (Steve) shepherds him to the top of Westover Down

Steve and Paul arrive at the top of Westover Down

Re-grouping at the top of Westover Down

The view from Brook Down west towards the Needles

The view from Brook Down north towards the mainland

The view from Brook Down west towards the Needles

Even Sue had to walk to the top of Brook Down

Steve and Liz at the top of Brook Down

Dick near the top of Brook Down.
The decent from Westover Down can just about be seen on the hill behind him.

Dick walking to the top of Brook Down

The south coast of the Isle of Wight

A lovely manor house (couldn't find its name though)

Paul and Carolyn have a chat while rambling. Unfortunately the shots of them riding the last bit of the hill were too fuzzy (they were going to fast!!) to be shown here.

Panoramic view across the downs


At the top of Brook Down more immortal words from Sue, "its all downhill from here to the pub for lunch". For once it was true. It really was a great downhill run straight thru the middle of a golf course! In fact it was so much fun that GB, Steve and Liz went straight down to the club house and waited for the others to arrive. Eventually Sue arrived to tell us that we had missed the turning to Freshwater and needed to go back up the hill, however it wasn't too steep and only a 100m or so back to the turning.


A short decent brought us to the road and a narrow county lane to the Red Lion pub in Freshwater where we were to have lunch. The lane was very narrow and a very impatient 'cock' in a BMW (what else would he be driving!) decided to overtake us and nearly forced GB into the hedgerow. As Ian wasn't with us GB picked up the gauntlet and hurled a volley of abuse at the driver mostly about sex, travel and suggesting that there was a large amount of self abuse going on in the said BMW. The car disappeared around the corner with a flurry of hand signals aimed at the peloton, hopefully to wrap itself around a tree somewhere.


Tempers cooled, we found a very nice garden at the rear of the Red Lion (photo right), parked the bikes and adjourned to the bar for drinks and eats. There we found a very stressed out landlord wishing that people would stop coming into his pub and ordering food and beer! Strange, but true. Anyway we did manage to order some of his very nice ales and food and sat in the sunshine enjoying lunch.


A very nice lunch in the garden at the Red Lion in Freshwater.


Over lunch we discussed the rest of the route back to Yarmouth. Whilst the planned route took in a few more downs and went out to the Needles the consensus was to go back to Yarmouth via a bridleway just around the corner from the Red Lion and see some of the Gaffers Festival before returning to the mainland. So after lunch we left Freshwater and followed the River Yar thru Kings Manor emerging into the middle of the festival in Yarmouth. The place was heaving! Food stalls, craft stalls, live music, dancers, street entertainers, beer stalls, cider stalls, a classic car show and loads more. Also somewhere in throng were Janet and Deb!


Paul & Liz and Dick decided to head back on the next ferry whilst GB, Steve, Carolyn and Sue chained up their bikes and went to have a wander around. Not sure what Sue and Carolyn got up to but they did see Janet and Deb and arranged to meet on the 16:30 ferry. Steve and GB meanwhile spent some time chatting to an Electric Bicycle salesman who insisted (3 times) on GB having a go on the 'mountain bike' frame model. GB's only experience of an electric bike was Mr Sumby's homemade 100kg 35mph speed machine, hence his hesitation! However having had a go I now believe they are the future of cycling for the over 60's and in 10 years or so we will all probably have one! We also visited the Classic Car show, saw a very eclectic collection of fine vehicles and did that 'man thing' of admiring the engine!


Back at the ferry they met up with Sue and Carolyn and boarded to go back to Lymington. Never did see Janet and Deb as they had managed to get on a slightly earlier ferry and the timetable bore no relation to the times that the ships were actually coming and going!


Yarmouth Harbour

Carolyn waiting for the ferry

Leaving Yarmouth

Watching the bloke trying to put the sail away


On board GB, Sue, Carolyn and Steve were entertained on the way back by a yacht that insisted on sailing on the wrong side of the channel into Lymington causing the ferry to give a few blasts on its horn and one of the crew who was trying to stow away sail. After 10 minutes or so of trying to fold the sail up small enough to get it thru the forward hatch he gave up threw it violently down on the deck and stomped off. We were convinced that his two mates in the stern had been taking the p*ss and hence the tantrum.


Back in Lymington we had a leisurely 5 mile ride back to Brockenhurst on the same route as we had done in the morning, minus the detour to the hospital. At the Rose & Crown we found Deb and Janet had already been to the Spar (again!) and had started the evenings festivities, i.e. they were getting stuck into bottles of wine. However our first sip of beer was interrupted by the pubs area manager appearing and being quite firm that we could drink as much as we wanted in the rooms, but not in her garden while she was selling beer at the bar! We duly apologised and bought some beers from the bar, although now we had some genuine pub glasses some folk did sneak into their rooms to refill them there rather than at the bar!


Deb fixes her necklace with Gary's tool ("oo er missus!")

Apres Cycling at the

Rose & Crown


We again had a fine meal at the pub accompanied by the news that Dick had won £250 on the horse that won the Derby, with cries of "its your round" Dick went to the bar and re-appeared with 3 bottles of 'champagne' so that we could all celebrate his good fortune. After dinner there many thanks and congratulations to Sue and Carolyn for the fantastic job they did in organising the weekend. Their story of recc'ing the Isle of Wight route in the winter needs another web page all of its own and Sue having just returned from Italy, immediately came down to the New Forest to reccy the Friday route and ensure all was ok at the pub. Well Done Ladies.


We then had the awards where the "Scrivens" made a clean sweep of all on offer .................................


Liz gets the win bottle holder, but I cannot remember what for!
Dick gets the win Golden Helmet, but I cannot remember what for!

Paul wins the Golden Peddle for wearing black stockings (wot no suspenders!) during Saturday's ride.


Post Weekend Note -
Had I known about it at the time there is no doubt that Mrs Summers would have won this award following her horrendous injury on the Friday night in Weymouth, even though she wasn't with us at Brockenhurst, and especially as she should have won it last year!


As everyone there had arranged a biking weekend except Paul & Liz they quickly volunteered to arrange next year's event before they were press ganged into doing so. Camping was mentioned ...... I can hear Mr & Mrs Summers wailing already! Bar bills settled and drinks drunk we toddled off to bed at some time (very) late in the evening.


Other photos from the evening


Sunday morning and the sun was shining again. Following breakfast we packed up and prepared for the walk that Sue had planned. Dick & Deb took their leave of us as they had to collect their dog from the kennels and Steve also had to leave early. A short drive over to Fritham and the rest of us went for a leisurely stroll thru the wooded inclosures around Fritham Plain and Hiscocks Hill.


Sue lagging behind

She's catching up!

Waiting for Sue

The Sunday Morning Ramblers

Note: we are sat on the seat dedicated to the memory of naturalist and filmmaker Eric Ashby


And so ended another biking weekend, the 8th in the current series! Look forward to next year and hope Paul & Liz have a lots of fun roaming the countryside in their T5 looking for venues and routes.


GB - Last updated 14 June 2013

postscript - 14 June

The 2015 weekend, assuming there is one, should be made a special event as it is the 10th 'anniversary' of these weekends away and a few of us will be in our 60th year! Electric bike anyone!

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